When it comes to breastfeeding there are so many things you need/want to know. That is why I decided to create a complete guide for the new mom that contains everything you need to know about breastfeeding!
A Complete Guide For The New Mom
- Breastfeeding techniques
- Answers to common questions
- Taking care of yourself
- Potential issues with breastfeeding
- Storing Milk
- Supplemental feedings
- When weaning becomes inevitable
- Potential problems
- What do I need for breastfeeding
- How To Boost Milk Supply
When it comes to breastfeeding, the most important step is to make sure the latch is correct. A good latch ensures that your baby gets as much milk as possible and helps you avoid getting sore nipples.
In order to get a good latch, encourage your baby to root for your breast. Rooting is when the baby opens it's mouth wide and moves it's head quickly from side to side searching for the nipple. In order to get your baby rooting, you can either rub your nipple on the baby's lower lip or on their nose. Once the baby's mouth is open wide, lift your breast with one hand and quickly pull the baby in close to you.
In order to create an easier latch, support the weight of you breast with a "C Hold." This is when your thumb is above your breast and the fingers underneath. Supporting your breast will then allow you to guide the breast into the baby's mouth.
If you do not think your baby is latching on properly, take him/her off of the breast and try again. Breastfeeding takes time and practice, so don't stress if things aren't going as planned from the start. This is a learning process for both you and baby. Once baby is latched, make sure the lips are flanged. If the lips are not flanged this will result in sore nipples.
Before you start nursing, make sure both you are baby are comfortable. Grab a glass of water, your nursing pillow, and a book or your phone to keep you occupied. Or just go right ahead, relax, shut your eyes, and take a snooze right along with baby.
The cradle position is most likely the most familiar. This position is when you are seated and cradling the baby in one arm, with his/her head resting in the bend of your elbow. Tuck the baby's lower arm around your waist, so it is out of the way and the two of you are tummy to tummy.
Lying Down Position
With the lying down position, you are lying on your side, with your baby also lying on his/her side, facing each other and tummy to tummy. You can place pillows behind both of your backs in order to keep you both in proper position and it tends to be more comfortable. Pull your baby to your breast, don't try and bring your breast to the baby. If you bring your breast to the baby, you will most likely arch your back resulting in the position being uncomfortable. This position is great for when you want to rest, when you are nursing at night, or when you need to stay in bed after a c-section.
With the football hold, you will need your nursing pillow or a firm pillow. After you are comfortably seated in a chair or bed, place the pillow beside you, on the side you are nursing on. The pillow should support your elbow and the baby's butt. With your baby facing you, support the baby's neck and upper back, as if you were holding him/her in order to wash their hair. Use the other hand to support your breast. This technique is best when your baby is premature, you have large breasts, you had a c-section and don't want the baby resting on your tummy.
Cross Cradle Position
The cross-cradle hold is ideal for early breast-feeding. This was my favorite position, as it was the easiest way to get my baby to open her mouth wide, in order to get a good latch. Sit up straight in a comfortable chair with armrests. Bring your baby across the front of your body, tummy to tummy. Hold your baby in the arm opposite the breast you're feeding - left arm for right breast, right arm for left. Support the back of the baby's head with your hand. Don't bend over or lean forward, instead guide the baby's mouth to your breast.
Answers To Common Questions
Breastfeeding is a topic that could be talked about for hours, as there are so many things to know along with tips/tricks in order to make it easier. That is why I created a post all about common breastfeeding questions, which can be found here. In this post you can also find common questions about pumping.
Taking Care of Yourself
When you are nursing, you should continue with the same positive lifestyle changes you probably made when you were pregnant. If you smoke, quit or at least try to cut down. Studies have shown that children of smokers are more likely to acquire asthma and other respiratory problems. Smoking before nursing may also hamper the release of milk from your breasts as well. If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit yourself to 1-2 per day. Watch your intake of caffeine, especially if your infant tends to be fussy in the late afternoon or evening
Rest and Relaxation
Take the phone of the hook if you want. Let your family and friends know when it is okay to visit. Use your energy to take care of yourself and your baby. If you have older children, you may need to help them get adjusted to welcoming a new baby in the household as well. And by all means, ask for help! Do not try to do everything by yourself!
Potential Issues With Breastfeeding
If your baby all of a sudden seems hungrier and wants to nurse frequently, let him/her. They are most likely going through a growth spurt. And by nursing more frequently you will be building up your milk supply as well. Don't worry these growth spurts will subside and they won't be attached to your breast forever.
When a breastfed baby suddenly refuses to nurse, it is called a nursing strike. There are several different reasons as to why a nursing strike may occur, such as teething pain, an earache, stuffy nose, thrush, cut in mouth, etc. Some ways to overcome a nursing strike are by increasing skin-to-skin contact, dry different nursing positions, nursing the baby in his/her sleep, or by expressing some milk onto your breast first. If the baby still seems frustrated or uncomfortable do not force it. Instead feed them by dropper, tablespoon, etc. until they begin nursing again.
Older babies may become distracted by surroundings that they did not notice when they were newborns. For example, nursing by visitors, having pets around, the television on, etc. I noticed this significantly the older Oaklynn got. Anytime her dad would talk she would unlatch and look around the room. If this is a problem, you can remove the baby from the distractions in order to focus on breastfeeding. Try breastfeeding in a dark quiet room.
Slow Weight Gain
Babies may go through a period of slow weight gain, just consult with your doctor to make sure there are no serious health concerns. Most of the time, slow weight gain can be easily solved. It can occur if the baby isn't nursing often or long enough or the baby has a lazy nursing style.
Some doctors may recommend supplementing formula along with nursing until the weight gain picks up. Some other techniques such as the ones listed below can help turn the problem around.
- Nurse more frequently, even if you have to wake the baby.
- Nurse longer. If your baby falls asleep while nursing, try to keep them alert and interested by talking to her/him, tickling their back, or by massaging your breast while the baby nurses in order to increase milk flow.
- Switch breasts. As soon as you hear the baby's swallowing slow down. This will stimulate your baby's sucking response along with boosting your milk production.
- Burp your baby several times during each feeding. Air in the stomach may cause the baby to feel full and stop nursing.
- Don't give your baby a pacifier until breastfeeding is well established.
Rebuilding Your Milk Supply
Your milk supply is determined by how much your baby nurses. The more your baby nurses the higher your supply will be. So for instance, if you nurse less frequently, you are providing your baby with supplementary bottles, or you have to be away from him/her unexpectedly your milk supply will most likely decrease.
If your milk supply has diminished, this does not mean you can no longer breastfeed. You may be able to build your milk supply back up in order to exclusively breastfeed again.
In order to do this rest, drink plenty of fluids, nurse frequently, gradually reduce the amount of formula you are giving your baby if you are supplementing, and pump when you can. Pumping increases your milk supply by tricking your body into thinking your baby is nursing more frequently.
You can find a list of high milk supply must haves here. They will be sure to boost your milk supply.
When collecting breast milk, everything that comes into contact with the milk should be as clean as possible. No, you do not have to sterilize your pump every time you pump, although I do sterilize my pump once a day. After each pump session I rinse with soap water and then at the end of the day I sterilize my pump parts by using this bottle sterilizer which has worked great for me.
When freezing the milk, I prefer to use milk storage bags that are designed for storing human milk. Always label the bag with the date and how many ounces you pumped. Make sure to use the oldest milk first.
How Much To Store
In order to prevent waste, store your breast milk in small portions. I typically store mine in 4 ounce portions. Small babies typically eat around 3 ounces per feeding and even large babies don't tend to drink more than 6 ounces per feeding. After some time you will be able to gauge how much your baby is eating at each feeding.
Do not pour body temperature milk and frozen/cold milk together. This could partially thaw the cold milk and allow for bacteria to grow. Instead chill the body temperature milk before combining the two.
Since bacteria from the baby's mouth gets into the milk during bottle feedings, you should not store and reuse a bottle once your baby has eaten from that particular bottle. Instead throw away any leftover milk within two hours after the baby has finished eating. This is why it is important to store your milk in smaller portions. Breast milk also expands while it freezes, so do not fill milk all the way to the top of the storage container.
Breast milk can spoil and lose its nutrients if not stored properly. Freshly expressed milk can be stored in your refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, it is recommended to put the milk in the back of the freezer or in a deep freeze. Milk can be frozen for up to 9 months and up to 12 months if kept in a deep freeze. Breast milk that is thawed should be used within 24 hours if refrigerated and within 2 hours at room temperature.
Some breast milk may appear yellow or have a blueish tint when taken from the freezer. If the milk does not smell sour or taste bad, the milk has not spoiled. You may also notice that the fat will separate and rise to the top during refrigeration. Gently swirling the milk will bring the milk back together again.
Thawing and Warming Breast Milk
Thaw frozen breast milk by placing in a bowl of warm water or by using a bottle warmer. Shake the bottle to ensure an even temperature. Test a few drops on your wrist to make certain that the milk is not too hot and near body temperature.
Never heat breast milk in the microwave! Microwaves tend to heat unevenly and some of the milk can become very hot resulting in serious burns. In addition, overheating in the microwave will destroy some of the protective cells and vitamins in your breast milk.
At some point during breastfeeding almost every mother will supplement her baby whether it is with formula or breast milk in a bottle. This does not mean you have to quit breastfeeding. Many moms supplement and breastfeed at the same time. For instance my daughter had jaundice, so my Doctor recommended supplementing with formula. As formula can help lower the bilirubin level and prevent the need for phototherapy.
It may take some time for your baby to get use to a bottle, so it is recommended that this hurdle is jumped before having to be away from your baby. This was a major problem for me as I am a stay at home mom, so I nursed my daughter every time she wanted to eat. When it came to a time when my significant other and I wanted a night out, it was difficult to leave Oaklynn as she was not use to taking a bottle. This was then hard on Oaklynn and whoever was taking care of her at the time. So with the next baby I will definitely introduce a bottle much sooner, just for this instance.
It is also recommended that you do not begin supplementing until breastfeeding is well established, which typically occurs around 4-6 weeks. If a bottle is introduced sooner, this could lead to confusion between your nipples and bottle nipples.
If your baby is new to bottle feeding, begin practicing around 6 weeks of age. When the baby is usually too young to make a fuss but after breastfeeding has been well established. When first starting out, let someone other than yourself feed the bottle. This is because your baby is able to smell you and will most likely fuss because he/she wants the breast. Also introduce the bottle when your baby is not too hungry. This will make it less frustrating as your infant learns to get milk from a new source.
Your baby may be fussy on the first few tries due to the fact the bottle nipple feels different than your breast and it requires different sucking skills. If fussiness continues for more than a few feedings try a different nipple. When you are supplementing, don't forget to pump as you do not want your milk supply to decrease.
Regular Nipple- This rounded nipple is easy for some babies to suck on as it is long. Although, this nipple may also gag a baby who is use to a mom's smaller softer nipple.
Short Nipple- This nipple is shorter than the regular nipple and has a flat tip. With this nipple the baby bites it to hold it in it's mouth and hits the tip with her/his tongue in order to control the milk flow. This nipple may cause problems with the mom that is still breastfeeding as the baby may try to bite her too.
Orthodontic Nipple- This nipple is shaped similar to the mother's nipple while it is inside the baby's mouth during breastfeeding.
If you are supplementing with formula there are several Enfamil formulas that will provide your baby with the right balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals that are needed for the first year of life. Do not supplement with cow's milk during the first year, as your baby cannot fully digest cow's milk as easily as they can digest breast milk or formula. Cow's milk also does not supply balanced nutrition, as it lacks amounts of vitamin C and iron that your baby needs during the first year.
When Weaning Becomes Inevitable
As your baby grows you will eventually decide to stop breastfeeding. Weaning should be a gradual process and typically works best if you let your baby take the lead. If you decide to stop nursing before your child's first birthday, a full year iron-fortified formula, is the best alternative.
When it comes to weaning, some times are better than others. It is best to not wean your baby if they are going through a clingy, needy phase. For example, if the child has just started day care, if you have just moved, or any other time of stress or change.
Weaning is more of a process than an event. If sudden weaning occurs it can be traumatic for the baby. Make sure to be sensitive to your baby's feelings as breastfeeding is not only a way to get food, but also to get love. Instead of abrupt weaning, wean over a period of several weeks.
This process can be started by giving your baby formula instead of breast milk at one feeding. If doing this, I would recommend substituting the formula for the feeding when your breasts are the least full, or when your baby is the least interested. Older babies are most likely attached to the first feeding of the morning, along with those before nap and bed time. Also, if you can, avoid setting a strict timetable for weaning.
Solid foods should not be introduced in your baby's diet until between the fourth and sixth months of life. Before then, breast milk or a full year iron fortified formula provides your baby with all the nourishment they need. Until your baby is a year old, breast milk or iron fortified formula should be the main source of nutrition for your little one.
Iron fortified cereals mixed with either breast milk or formula are typically the first solids that are introduced to your baby. When introducing new foods, make sure to introduce them one at a time with a few days in between. Doing this allows you to see if your baby develops an allergic reaction, such as a rash or diarrhea. If unsure about introducing certain foods, make sure to ask your Doctor.
Some mothers may find themselves avoiding closeness when it comes to weaning, as they believe the physical contact will want their baby to nurse. The only time that this might be a good approach is when it comes close to the time of feeding. Some babies may not take a bottle from their mother, as they know breast milk is available. If this is a problem, get someone to help you with feedings. Never prop a bottle as baby's should always be held when eating.
Tips For Successful Weaning
- Have formula ready for a distraction.
- Near nap time, when your baby is use to nursing, distract them. This could be done by taking them out in a stroller, in a baby carrier, or going for a car ride.
- Get help from someone during feeding times, as this will help distract the baby from wanting to nurse.
Making Weaning Easier On You
Some discomfort may occur when it comes to weaning. Although, if you wean gradually, the discomfort should be minimal. Some tips to control discomfort include:
- Cut back on fluid intake a few hours before a breastfeeding that is being replaced with a formula feeding.
- Pump just enough milk to ease any discomfort caused by full breasts. Although, go slow and easy or you will stimulate your breasts into making more milk.
- Wear a bra with good support.
- Apply ice packs for swelling and discomfort.
Sometimes there are times when mothers are faced with sudden weaning. If this happens to you, feeling uncomfortable will most likely occur for a few days due to the pressure of unreleased breast milk. If you will not be returning to breastfeeding, here are some measures that you can take to reduce discomfort.
- When breasts become engorged and painful, express just enough milk to decrease the pressure. Don't express much though.
- Wear a firm fitting bra day and night.
- Apply cold packs to your breasts.
- Take a mild, non prescription, non-aspirin pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Breastfeeding may not always be pretty, but boy is it worth it. What I mean by this, is that there are times when problems may arise, such as engorgement, clogged ducts, mastitus, etc. This is why I created a post 9 Common Breastfeeding Problems and How To Solve Them.
What Do I Need For Breastfeeding
I am going to share with you breastfeeding must haves that I absolutely love and some that I wish I would have bought! All the way from products that will save you time, help with relief and sanity, along with products so you never have to waste any of your precious liquid gold!
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 here!
How To Boost Milk Supply
For most of us breastfeeding mamas we worry about whether or not our little one is getting enough milk. Yes, majority of the time they are, us mamas just like to worry, but occasionally there are also those times when your milk supply is low.
For me it was around seven months when Oaklynn was starting to eat more and more baby food, and I was not pumping during those missed feedings in order to keep my supply up. You know the whole supply and demand of breastfeeding. I was going to be heading back to my summer job a few days a week and the freezer stash was extremely low, so I began looking around for ways to boost my milk supply. Here you will find my list of high milk supply must haves that I would RECOMMEND to all breastfeeding mamas.
There you have it mamas, everything you need to know about breastfeeding! I hope you enjoyed this post and leave knowing that you are able to conquer the breastfeeding journey!
You can find all of my favorite motherhood/baby/toddler products here.
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