Here are some really simple breastfeeding tips from real mums who have breastfed their own babies. Gentle tips that will offer you support, guidance and help to breastfeed your baby.
Breastfeeding seems the most natural thing in the world – the perfect expression of a mother’s bond with her baby.
But boy can it be tough!
After a complicated birth and a tricky few days for my daughter, I settled into combination feeding, a mix of breastfeeding and formula feeding at first. I would say I ended up breastfeeding 90% of the time and continued to do so until my daughter turned one year old.
This post – written with the help of 20 amazing mummy bloggers – brings together all the breastfeeding tips I wish I’d known and understood at the time.
Hopefully, our experiences make breastfeeding a little easier for you …
1. Get as much skin to skin contact as you can in first few days
Give nature the chance to work its wonders in the first few days and get as much skin to skin contact as you possibly can, even if it means lying in hospital with your boobs hanging out!
2. Rest, rest, rest and more rest
People will tell you to sleep when your baby sleeps – do it!
Housework, guests, Instagram can all wait … just get as much rest as you possibly can in those first few weeks.
Rest reduces anxiety hormones and they are the enemy of milk supply.
3. Let your baby discover your breasts all by themselves
You may be shown “the best” feeding position in ante-natal classes that will give baby “perfect” latch … hmmm … this works for some but not for everyone.
In the first few weeks, many mums find it much more helpful to rest with baby – skin to skin – with baby’s head between their boobs and let baby instinctively root for the nipple and latch all by themselves. Guess what – lots of them are darned good at it!
4. Be patient, it takes practice
Do expect it to feel awkward for the first two to three weeks whilst you’re both getting the hang of it. It will take up a lot of hours of each day and often involves initial discomfort and even pain.
5. Each feed takes a long time at the start
Feeds can easily take 40 to 50 minutes at the beginning but they will get quicker. Make NetFlix (or your preferred TV streaming service) your friend. It’s hands-free and will keep your brain occupied whilst allowing you to relax whilst your baby feeds.
6. There are simple ways you can boost a low milk supply
I had to deal with having a low milk supply, it really got me down, so I spent time researching all the ways there were to increase breastmilk supply.
Slowly and surely my breastmilk supply went up and up and I was able to feed my daughter until she was 15 months old.
Read my post on simple tips to increase breastmilk supply to find out more about how you can increase your supply of breastmilk.
7. Eat well
Eating well is SO much easier said than done in those first few weeks, when you have had so little sleep and barely a minute to yourself to shower, never mind cook.
But some food truly works miracles …
A big bowl of porridge with a spoonful or two of flax seed stirred in really helped me. Many mums swear by Mommy Know Best Lactation Cookies – with oats and flax seed in – to get the milk flowing. Fenugreek, alfa alfa and blessed thistle can also help stimulate milk supply.
Healthy, well-balanced meals are essential as well.
If you and your partner are finding it hard to keep up with grocery shopping… let me just say three magic words to you. ONLINE GROCERY SHOPPING.
Seriously, I made the switch from traipsing around the supermarket the second our daughter was born. I have never looked back. To say I am a MASSIVE fan of Ocado would be an understatement. A good grocery delivery service is worth its weight in gold to new mums.
Take a peak at Ocado here – I challenge you NOT to sign up after seeing how easy it can make your life!
Alternatively, there are now a whole array of meal recipe-kit delivery services, that deliver all the ingredients you need to make a meal, alongside a recipe card.
Hello Fresh is super popular. Even if this isn’t a long-term option, ‘treat’ yourself to a month or two of deliveries to make life easier, so you can focus on breastfeeding, sleeping and enjoying your newborn.
8. Practice pumping before baby born
Lots of mums get in a vicious circle whereby baby doesn’t feed well at first, so there’s not enough milk to satisfy them.
There is lots of choice out there for breast pumps and there really is no ‘one pump works for all’ solution. I found reading Amazon reviews really useful. I went for a manual pump rather than an electric one and that worked out really well for me.
Don’t be disheartened if you get tiny amounts of milk at first after ages pumping. Stick with it and you will get there.
9. Line up support before your baby is born … and use it!
There is support out there but it’s hard to access in those first weeks when you’re exhausted, emotional and scared.
Get details from your doctor or midwife of local breast feeding clinics. If you have private medical insurance find out what access to experts it gives.
Have all the details together on a single sheet of paper or e.g. in your phone and then when you need to use them they’re all ready to go.
10. C-sections, epidurals and other drugs can make babies very sleepy
Babies who’ve been exposed to a lot of drugs during labour may be very sleepy for two or three weeks and not wake often or long enough to establish demand.
My daughter would sleep for 5 or 6 hours at a time without waking to feed and would fall asleep almost instantly on the breast.
Loads of skin to skin contact and pumping right from the start are key to get enough milk flowing.
11. If your baby just can’t latch check for tongue tie
If your baby can find the boob but just can’t get or hold a latch they may have tongue tie. Tongue tie can be a big cause of painful nipples and can be easily fixed. Mum to Mom and Love Being a Mummy both went through this and have great advice on making sure your baby is checked for it.
12. Nursing cushions can really help
Nursing cushions that keep your hands free whilst your baby is feeding can be a real help if your baby needs some help latching well. It’s a good idea to add a nursing cushion to your baby essentials shopping list.
13. If you’re in pain get help
Unfortunately, a good number of mums do suffer severe pain feeding and may get mastitis.
Mummys Knee went through this and has written about how hard it is to know when you should start ‘making a fuss’ about the pain.
Her message is to shout early and keep shouting if you are in pain – the earlier you do the better the chance of relieving it.
14. Some babies thrive on a strict routine, other’s don’t, do what is right for you
Some very well known baby books advocate a strict routine.
If you like strict routines it may work for you, but even if you follow the routine religiously it may not work for your baby. If these routines don’t work despite your best efforts, it IS the routine that is at fault and NOT you, whatever some ‘gurus’ may say!
15. If you want a routine, make sure it works for you
I tried very, very hard for months to follow a well known routine that tells you exactly when baby should feed. It was a disaster and made us thoroughly miserable. When we established a routine based on my baby’s own sleeping and feeding patterns, we thrived!
16. Be prepared for growth spurts
You may find that just when your baby seems to have mastered feeding and is feeding quickly and easily, they suddenly need to feed endlessly all day.
This is a growth spurt.
Don’t worry. Your milk supply should catch up after a few days and they’ll go back to normal feeding patterns.
17. Pumping after feeds keeps you ahead of demand
You can keep ahead of growth spurts by pumping a little after each feed – that way you will produce a little more milk that you need at any time.
18. Don’t obsess about weight gain
If you’ve got a small baby who doesn’t feed much, it is very, very easy to get anxious about weight gain.
But as, One Organic Mama makes clear in a wonderfully irreverent post, if they keep food down, wee and poo regularly and meet other milestones, they are almost certainly OK and the only thing likely to cause problems with your milk supply is being anxious about it.
19. Don’t obsess about how long you take … but tracking apps can be helpful
Try not to obsess about the length of every feed.
But do check that your baby is not just using you as a comforter at the end of the feed.
There are loads of phone apps now that allow you to track the length and frequency of feeds and these can be helpful if you’re trying to establish a routine after the first month or so.
20. Watch your diet to keep colic and reflux at bay
Avoiding acidic fruit, gaseous green veg and full fat dairy can really help but if you’re baby is really struggling you might want to try an elimination diet like One Organic Mama.
21. Some babies do bite
Some babies do bite when feeding once they’re teeth start coming in – and some babies bite hard!
Hello Bee‘s daughter was a biter and she has great tips for preventing and handling it.
22. Continue to breastfeed for as long as it feels right for you and your child
If it’s taken you three or four months to get really comfortable, there’s a good chance like Birth of a Mum that you’ll want to go on feeding beyond weaning onto solids.
And if everything is going well, you may find yourself feeding happily past one, even if it wasn’t something you planned.
Unfortunately, mums who do choose to continue breastfeeding still face disapproval and as My Mummys Pennies explores, we do need all mums’ choices to be respected.
23. The end of the journey is very bitter sweet
As Mummy and the Beasties describes the end of the breastfeeding journey can be very bitter sweet whenever it happens for you.
The end can come very quickly and be unplanned as it was for Mellow Mummy who breast fed until 8 months.
If the end comes earlier than you hoped it may also be wound up with lots of feelings of regret and guilt as Love Being a Mummy found.
But it’s important to remember that however brilliant breastfeeding is, it cannot come at the expense of the rest of the family and we all can only do what we can within the individual situation we are in.
24. Sometimes in complete exhaustion you will just feel the love
Finally, a beautiful post from Like Mama Like Daughter to remind us that sometimes in complete exhaustion feeding a sick child we can feel the most unbelievable love.
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