The first couple weeks of breastfeeding can be painful, frustrating, emotional, and tiresome. The first couple weeks of breastfeeding my first born, I remember thinking, “How in the world do moms continue breastfeeding an entire YEAR?? This is painful!” Eventually, the pain subsides and you’re able to enjoy the time you spend breast-feeding.
With my first daughter, I breastfed and pumped for about 7 months. The only reason I didn’t continue was because I was traveling a 4-hour roundtrip 4x per week to college (totally serious) and I forgot my breast pump two days in a row. Needless to say, my milk supply dropped significantly and I was unable to continue breastfeeding my baby. I was devastated, but I realized I hit my goal (6 months) and chose to focus on the positive.
When you’re a new mom, breastfeeding can be very overwhelming. It’s not an easy task, especially if your baby doesn’t latch right away. The first weeks of breastfeeding are all about learning, adapting, and developing a routine. For my favorite products that make breastfeeding and pumping 10x Easier, click here.
Breastfeeding Basics For New Moms
Drink LOTS of water
Mamas – if water isn’t already your best friend, it will be. I know it seems like a really simple thing to keep in mind, but with the changes your body is going through and your emotions on high, you’ll likely forget to drink water. Keeping up with your daily water intake is key to building your supply. Make sure you have a water bottle handy ALL of the time (I LOVE my Yeti. It stays cold for over 12 hours). When I was breastfeeding my daughter, I always had water on hand and I made sure I had some everywhere I went. It’s one of those things that’s easy to forget about. *Runs to the kitchen to grab bottle of water I left. Yes I really just did that.* 🙂
Skin-to-Skin contact is key
Most lactation consultants will tell you to strip your baby down when breastfeeding for better bonding. This will help your baby adjust to knowing when and how to latch. It also allows your baby to get used to your smell and recognize that when he/she is stripped down (or at least belly to your upper abdomen), it’s time to eat. Skin-to-skin contact helps soothe your baby, reduce crying, and keep your baby content. Feel free to cradle your baby in a soft blanket after the latch is successful. Breastfeeding shouldn’t be a consistent uncomfortable experience, so make sure you’re in a good position for a pain-free nursing session.
Using a baby wrap is a really good way to strip your baby down and get good skin-to-skin contact before nursing. With Deklyn, I used this Moby Wrap. It will keep your baby close and comforted, while allowing you to be hands-free. (I loved it for catching up on my cleaning!)
Take Care of Your Nipples
Your nipples will be in excruciating pain. Generally give it 1-2 weeks for the pain to subside. Nobody wants sore, cracked or even bleeding nipples. The good thing about sore nipples, is there are a few things that help relieve the pain. What helped me INCREDIBLY was using a nipple shield to relieve pain during breastfeeding sessions. The shield goes over your nipple and covers most of it, but still allows for stimulation and adequate milk supply to your baby.
What helps with nipple pain:
- Using a nipple shield for an added layer of protection
- Lanolin cream before and after nursing
- 3-in-1 Therapy breast pack – this is amazing because you can use it as a warm compress to kick start milk production or place it in the freezer for after nursing relief!
- Another option is to try a different nursing position. Sometimes just switching gears is the best for pain management.
- Make sure you’re changing your nipple pads frequently. NEVER use a dirty breast pad, as this could cause mastitis. I’ve transitioned between disposable and washable nursing pads. My favorite are these Lansinoh brand for diposable and these organic bamboo washable pads.
Your baby may have a hard time latching on. And that’s OK.
Try the “breast pinch sandwich.” Squeeze right behind your areola and match the shape of your baby’s mouth. Put the whole area you have pinched into the majority of your baby’s mouth. At this point, your baby’s mouth should be full. This will help your baby in understanding what to do and how to do it. Contrary to the belief, breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally to every baby or every mom. Sometimes the most natural thing in the world takes practice… and patience.
Another thing to note while breastfeeding is how your baby’s tongue is positioned when trying to suckle. Make sure your baby’s tongue is protruding over his/her lower gums. This ensures your baby isn’t reducing stimulation and is getting adequate milk supply.
Tips for ensuring a good latch:
- Hold your baby close – baby’s tummy to your tummy
- Tilt baby’s head back slightly
- Wait until baby’s mouth is wide open, then insert entire areola very quick. Hold it there until your baby is for sure latched
- You will feel a strong pull when latched. It should not feel painful, but should feel a significant tug
I kept a hair tie on my wrist and every time I nursed on that side, I switched the hair tie to the side that was up next. It helped me in keeping track of which side I nursed last (Yes, you’ll probably feel a little lopsided, hence know which side is up next, but just in case your mind gets sidetracked and you honestly can’t remember).
Usually baby will get his/her fill from one side, but if your baby is still hungry, offer the other side. If your baby eats a few minutes on the other side, still start your next session on that side. This ensures that you’re actually alternating sides. With Deklyn, it was rare, but a few different times she nursed on both breasts for an even amount of time. At this point, I started my next session with the same breast I started the last session with.
Small Tip: look through the breastfeeding apps for your phone. I used the Medela app and it helped me a ton! You can log which breast you nursed from, at what time, whether you nursed or pumped, and when your next session is due. I know there are a few other really good breastfeeding apps out there and I know I’ll be using another this time around because it was SO helpful with my first born.
Pump when needed
When I first came home from the hospital with Deklyn, my milk came in mighty strong. After she nursed, I still felt very full so I would pump after I knew she was content. Not only did this help me build up my supply, but it relieved me from a lot of pain. Listen to your body and do what’s best for you. You don’t want to wait until you have engorged breasts to realize you should’ve pumped.
If you have any questions between alternating nursing and pumping, it’s always a good idea to keep your lactation consultants number stamped on the fridge, in your wallet, or somewhere handy.
Figure out your routine and stick to it
I nursed every 2-3 hours. Roughly 12 times per day. I believe that’s the average and what’s recommended by lactation consultants, but depending on your situation and circumstances, you may be suggested to try something different that works better for you. Don’t compare yourself to other breastfeeding mamas. This goes for your routine, your latching struggles OR your milk supply! We are all different, which comes with different schedules, supplies, and struggles. Stay in your own lane and just know when to reach out and grab the advice of others and when to turn to the professionals. 🙂
Tell me mamas – what were your best tips for breastfeeding? What would you tell the new mama looking for some advice or help when she’s struggling? Comment below and tell us! (You’ll be helping more than just this mama!)
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