Just because breastfeeding is natural doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. Sometimes it takes time, practice and a whole lot of trial and error to get into a breastfeeding groove and to get a good latch. There is so much to know about breastfeeding a baby, but I am here to help make the process a little bit easier. You will find all sorts of breastfeeding hacks/tips for new mama's below!
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TIPS TO MAKE BREASTFEEDING EASIER AND MORE COMFORTABLE
Skin to Skin Contact- Skin to skin contact is soooo important when it comes to breastfeeding! It helps baby latch and latch well, along with maintaining baby's heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature. The baby is more likely to breastfeed exclusively as well. My OB told me that right after the baby is born to make sure to get skin to skin contact immediately, and I am sure glad I did because it made the start of breastfeeding so much easier.
Rub Baby's Feet- You will find out that the only thing your newborn will want to do is sleep, and yes they will want to eat too. When your baby first starts out breastfeeding they are trying to figure out this whole process just like you are, and they may just want to doze off and sleep. One of the most helpful things to keep baby alert and wanting to eat is to rub the bottom of their feet.
Open Wide- Make sure your baby is opening wide. I found the easiest way to get them to open wide was to brush your nipple against their nose. A good latch is when the mouth covers the areola and the lips are flanged out. If the baby is only latching onto the nipple and not the entire areola, the nipples will become sore.
Support Your Body- Before you begin breastfeeding, make sure you are comfortable first. Find a comfortable position that supports both your back and your arms. If you find yourself feeding in bed, use several pillows to make yourself more comfortable. Always remember to bring your baby to your breast. Bending or leaning over towards your baby will cause discomfort on your back.
Support Your Baby-Just like you, breastfeeding will come easier if your baby is comfortable as well. Your baby should be at the same height as your breast. This is where nursing pillows come in handy (link for free one above). These help in not tiring out your arms and help support your baby.
Support Your Breast- I found it extremely helpful to hold my breast while breastfeeding. Your fingers should be beneath your breast with your thumb above your breast. I found this hold to help in keeping my baby latched, as they aren't fumbling around to find the nipple.
Find Your Hold- Find the hold that is most comfortable for you. If you are not comfortable breastfeeding in the cradle position, try out the football hold or try feeding by laying on your side. When my baby was a newborn I found it the easiest to feed in the cross cradle hold. This allowed me to guide the baby towards the nipple easily.
Find A Comfortable Nursing Bra-Oh, how I love a good nursing bra. This will be an item that you wear EVERY single day. Find one that provides support but also provides easy access to your breasts. My favorite nursing bra can be found here. This bra is not only comfortable but supportive also. They come with extra padding in case you need the extra coverage, but the padding can also be removed. They also come with extenders for those moms that are in between sizes and need that little bit of give. The front clasp provides a quick up and down and an easily accessible way to feed. The best part is you can get a pack of 3 for $20!
Stay Hydrated- Hydration is key! Not only do nursing moms need the recommended amount of water for adults, but additional liquids are also required to make up for what your body uses in milk production. If you are dehydrated you may experience a reduction in milk production.
Ponytail Trick- If you are anything like me, you will forget what breast the baby ate on last. Use a ponytail to keep track of what breast they ate on last. Or get a FREE set of milkbands (use code MAMA12) that serve the same purpose.
How To Keep Your Baby Full Longer- This tip is so so so important. The first bit of milk that each breast produces is called foremilk. It’s a lighter substance that contains smaller amounts of fat. That last bit of milk that comes after the foremilk, is the golden liquid: hindmilk. This thicker milk contains a bit more fat and therefore is the milk more likely to keep baby full. That’s why if your baby always seems hungry even after you’ve offered both breasts, it may simply be because you moved on to the next breast too quickly, and didn’t let them drink that filling hindmilk!
TIPS TO PREVENT AND ALLEVIATE PAIN
Switch Up The Position- I would say that I am extremely lucky when it came to breastfeeding because I was only sore for maybe a max of two days. But if you find yourself to be sore for a long period of time, try switching up the position you feed in. Some moms say that switching up the position helps in preventing sore nipples, as different positions will put pressure on a different part of the nipple.
Use A Nipple Cream- When it comes to sore nipples, the true cause of this problem is a pore latch. So to truly fix the problem of sore nipples, you need to work on correcting the latch. But to help fix sore nipples use a nipple cream, such as Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream. Lansinoh is 100% natural, hypoallergenic, and is free of parabens and preservatives; Lansinoh nipplecream provides effective relief for mom and is safe for baby.
Use A Nipple Shield- These flexible silicone covers fit over the nipple and help baby if they are having trouble latching. The nipple shield also provides a barrier for the nipples to get some relief, while still allowing baby to breastfeed, if they are cracked causing pain. Find additional information about nipple shields here and here.
Use Hyrdogel Breast Packs- These provide soothing relief for the most common breastfeeding challenges. Cold Therapy relieves pain associated with engorgement and swelling. Hot Therapy relieves mastitis and plugged ducts. Breast therapy pads are made of professional gel particles and medical grade PVC plastic, which are non-toxic and safe for babies and moms. You can find a breastfeeding starter set for nursing mothers here. This set includes 24 stay dry nursing pads, 1 Lansinoh Lanolin tube, 2 Hyrdogel Breast Therapy Packs, and 1 Latchassist Nipple Everter. Get all of this for ONLY $18!
Drink Pineapple Juice- Pineapple juice is an anti-inflammatory. Who knew? It can help ease the pain that comes with engorgement. Thanks to Life Should Cost Less, for this tip!
Breast Pump- Before you even begin to pump make sure you invest in a high quality, double electric breast pump.
Morning Pumping Session- Pump in the mornings, as your breast milk output is higher.
Hands Free Pumping Bustier- Invest in a hands free pumping bra to give yourself freedom while pumping. I am sure glad I bought one of these, after sitting there holding the suction cups to my breasts for a couple weeks. You will be glad you invested in one too, because nobody wants to have their hands tied up when they could be used to do something else. Or if you have an old sports bra, not getting used anymore, cut holes in it to serve the same purpose as a hands free pumping bra.
Correct Pumping Kit Fit- Ensure that your breast pump suction cups fit your breasts properly. Here are some tips on choosing the correct breast shield size.
Hot Shower- Take a hot shower before you pump as this can help stimulate milk production.
Microwave Sterilizer Steam Bags- Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags are designed for efficient, effective sanitization of most breast pump parts and accessories, including bottles, nipples, pacifiers, cups, breast shields, and more. Each bag can be used up to 20 times and is designed for durability and convenience, whether at home or at work. Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags also double as a great option for neatly organizing and carefully storing breast pump parts and accessories while on the go or during busy days and nights. Recommend these 100% for you moms pumping at work or when going on trips.
Pump Directly Into Storage Bottles- Pump directly into storage bottles or transfer milk into storage bags while milk is still warm. As milk cools, fat can separate into layers making it harder to transfer later on.
Picture Of Your Baby- If you are away from your baby and pumping, look at a picture or watch a video of your baby, as this will help stimulate your let down.
Frequency-When it comes to pumping frequency is more important than length of time.
Milk Storage Tips/Hacks
Soda Can Boxes- These are the perfect size to store bags of breast milk in the freezer.
Room For Expansion- Breast milk expands when it freezes, so make sure you leave some extra room at the top of your breast milk storage bags when freezing.
Store Milk In Small Batches- It is much easier to thaw out bags of milk that are 2-4 ounces rather than 8 ounces. Plus this will ensure that you never waste any of your liquid gold!
Date/Label-I'm sure you already know this, but date/label your breastmilk before freezing. Put the date, how many ounces, and name (if attending daycare).
Store In Back of Freezer- Store your breast milk in the back of the freezer as the temperature in the door of your freezer fluctuates.
Breast Milk Pacifiers- When it comes to the time when your baby is teething, freeze some of your breast milk in circular ice cube trays. But before freezing stick a pacifier into the breast milk, then freeze. These breast milk teething popsicles will provide relief for your teething baby.
Freeze Flat- Freeze the breast milk storage bags flat, as this saves a tremendous amount of room.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Newborns Nurse A Lot-You need to remember that newborns nurse a lot and it seems they are constantly hungry. Although, with the stomach the size of an egg you will understand why babies need to eat often. Frequent nursing also serves another purpose. Your breasts work on supply and demand. The greater the demand, the more milk your body will produce. Your baby is helping your body to learn how much milk it needs to make.
Try Not To Worry About Your Supply- If you are anything like me, you will constantly be worrying if your baby is getting enough food. As long as your baby is making at least six wet diapers a day, your supply is just fine.
Most importantly, always remember practice makes perfect and perfection takes time!
You can find all of my favorite motherhood/baby/toddler products here!
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