Breastfeeding is one of those things that moms-to-be stress about long before baby arrives. Breastfeeding is wonderful, and beneficial to both mom and baby, but doesn’t need to be something that causes anxiety. Here are my favourite tips and tricks for making your breastfeeding journey as smooth as possible!
Get information before baby comes!
Knowledge is power… Gaining accurate information before baby comes can ease your nerves, and make the whole experience less anxiety provoking, and more enjoyable once your bundle finally arrives. Choose where you get your info from wisely! Everyone’s breastfeeding experience is different, so you’re better off to get the basics from a professional. The Mama Coach’s Baby Bumps and Breastfeeding class is a great way to set you up for success.
Get dad involved
Share with him the benefits of breastfeeding, and what your personal goals are. If dad is supportive, research shows that women are more likely to breastfeed successfully. Enlist him as an extra pair of eyes and hands to ensure that you’ve got a good latch. If baby’s bottom lip is tucked in, or their head position is off, dad can help. Give him a job! Staying hydrated and nourished is important for your milk production. Have him make sure you’re staying fed and hydrated since you’ll be too busy worrying about your baby to remember to take care of yourself. One of my personal favorite Dad jobs it burping! Having him on standby to burp baby once the feed is over can make him feel like a valued contributor to the feeding process. It also frees up a bit of time for you to take a trip to the bathroom after all the water you’ve hopefully just consumed.
Get a great latch!
A great latch is key to a successful breastfeeding journey. There are a ton of online resources that can help you know what to look for while baby is feeding. Dr. Jack Newman has a great video demonstrating how to get a good “asymmetrical” latch. This asymmetrical latch is what helps the nipple come in contact with the part of the baby’s palate that stimulates them to suck. There should be more of the bottom part of the areola in the baby’s mouth compared to the top. Watch Dr. Newman’s video on the asymmetrical latch here, but If you’re still having troubles, keep reading.
Get help early
If you are having issues obtaining a great latch, or are experiencing pain while breastfeeding, seek professional help sooner rather than later. Pain is not a normal part of breastfeeding, and often signifies an issue. Having a professional assess for tongue ties, and other potential challenges can help get your breastfeeding journey on the right track with minimal stress or nipple damage.
Whenever possible, feed baby in a comfortable chair with your feet elevated or on a stool. A breastfeeding pillow can be a mom’s best friend. There are several on the market, my personal favourite being the My Breast Friend pillow. It provides a firm support for baby to rest on and attaches around mom’s waist so it’s not slipping out of place just as you and babe get comfy.
Be patient as your milk comes in
Some think that once baby is born, milk will instantaneously fill the breasts. On average it takes 3-5 days for milk to come in, so there is nothing “instant” about it. In the meantime, your colostrum is more than enough for your baby. Although the timing of your milk coming in is largely hormonally controlled, early and frequent milk expression, as well as skin to skin contact have been linked to higher milk production on days 3-4. Cuddle up with your baby and offer the breast every time they show hunger cues!
Know what’s normal
Newborns feed a lot, and this can sometimes be confused with an inadequate milk supply. Frequent feedings are the result of the size of a newborn’s tummy (about the size of a walnut on day three), combined with the fast rate of digestion of breastmilk. Conveniently, this frequent feeding is also helping to establish a plentiful milk supply. It is also normal for babies to go through phases of wanting to feed more frequently. This frequent feeding is referred to as “cluster feeding” and may signify that your little one is going through a growth spurt. Hunker down on a comfy chair with a bottle of water and enjoy the snuggles! These periods of cluster feeding usually only last a few days, but will keep popping up throughout the first year of life.
Start storing your milk for a rainy day
Some moms have bold intentions to pump in the early days, but if you’re anything like me, you don’t have the freezer stash to show for it. Pumping takes time and energy, and most moms of newborns don’t have any extra of either. One handy device that is worth its weight in gold is a Silicone Pump like the Haakaa. It is readily available on Amazon, relatively inexpensive, and allows you to collect milk without any extra effort. Sounds like a dream come true, right? Well it’s as good as it sounds. Attach the pump to the opposite breast of the one you’re feeding on, and collect the letdown that you’d otherwise let go to waste. Keep a milk storage bag in the fridge and add what you’ve collected each feed. Pop it in the freezer by the 48 hour mark, and in no time you’ll have enough milk stored to have an evening or two off without worry!
Be kind to yourself
Yes, breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Breastfeeding can be a huge learning curve for both you and your baby, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t feel like second nature right off the bat. Surround yourself with support and anticipate a few minor bumps in your journey. I always recommend finding a community of people who support your goals. If your goal is to exclusively breastfeed, then have someone on speed dial for reassurance and moral support when things get tough. If you decide to give your baby a bottle of formula during one of those aforementioned cluster feeding spells, then remember that your baby will be just fine. There is never anything wrong with whatever choice you make about how to feed your baby.
Prepare ahead of time for sore nipples
If there is one thing I wish I had done to make my breastfeeding journey more enjoyable in the earliest days, it would be to have picked up some All Purpose Nipple Ointment before baby arrived. Preventing sore nipples is always the best option, but it’s incredibly handy to have treatment available to you if you do find yourself with cracked, sore nipples. You’ll need a prescription, and to pick up the All Purpose Nipple Ointment (APNO) from a compounding pharmacy, but having the prescription on hand will help ease the stress of getting to a doctor when you have a brand new baby at home, and are experiencing nipple pain. As previously mentioned, sore nipples are often a sign of a latch problem, and you’ll want to be assessed by a qualified lactation professional regardless of whether you have APNO on hand, or not.
You Got This Mama!
What are some tips you wish you had been given before your breastfeeding journey began? Share in the comments and tag a pregnant Mama who could use this advice!