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11 Helpful Tips When You Start Breastfeeding Your Baby
If you are looking for tips to get your breastfeeding off on a good start, you’ll find help here. Breastfeeding can be so easy and peaceful – and so stressful and painful. And you can affect it! You’ll find lots of helpful tips in this post.
“What on earth do you do all day long?”
In the morning my husband left me breastfeeding our daughter, sitting on the couch in my dressing gown. In the evening when he came back home, he found me on the couch in my dressing gown breastfeeding. (Only some more nursing pads scattered around me…)
Do I need to say I was quite provoked by his question?
My daughter wanted to nurse every second hour during the first six months of her life. Did I have enough milk? Oh, yes! She became quite big, but that passed once she started eating solid food.
Your newborn baby will eat and eat and EAT… Especially during the first 3 months, many babies are quite unpredictable and might want to nurse very often. One reason is that they grow so fast, another that the breast is also a place for security and comfort, a way to fall asleep.
Do you want to breastfeed your baby? As I’m sure you know, there are loads of good reasons to breastfeed. It’s good for your baby and it’s good for you. And if you’re curious on what you are actually giving your baby when breastfeeding, click here to learn about the components of breast milk.
So what can you do to help yourself make breastfeeding your baby as easy as possible?
Breastfeeding Tips To Get You Started
Get it right from the start
This is definitely my top tip. The first time I was to start breastfeeding I asked a nurse every time at the maternity ward to make sure that me and my baby did it right. This way I didn’t get very sore at all. I know it’s not a guarantee, but if the baby does not suckle the right way, you can be sure to get problems, including cracked nipples, so get help in the beginning!
And don’t believe that you remember if you’ve done it before! Get help with every new baby!
You can check out some very instructive breastfeeding videos here.
If it hurts, get help
If your nipples hurt when you feed your baby, don’t hesitate to contact a lactation expert to make sure it’s just teething troubles and not because the baby suckles the wrong way. It doesn’t have to hurt in the beginning although it is very common during the first days and even weeks even if you do everything right.
If you’ve checked that you do everything right and you don’t have serious problems – endure, the soreness should pass within a week or two.
During this painful time period, express a few drops of breast milk for each nipple after every breastfeeding (it will make them heal faster) and air dry your nipples often.
If you have been able to breastfeed without pain and you then suddenly start experiencing pain again, you might have a breast or nipple thrush infection, which you can learn how to deal with here.
Watch out for lumps
Lumps in the breasts, especially sore ones may mean that you might be at risk of getting mastitis. Not fun, I can guarantee you that! It’s very painful and you might get quite a high fever.
To reduce the risk, stay away from cold drafts. (That is, protect your breasts.)
If you feel lumps, take a really hot shower and massage the lump.
I’m sure you already know – but new lumps that don’t go away may need to be examined by a doctor. You know.. breast cancer…
Don’t go on forever
Don’t go on forever each time, I mean. Even newborn babies usually don’t need to nurse for as much as an hour a time. After a while, you’ll recognize the difference between an eating baby and one that just uses your nipple as a nice pacifier.
Try to release the baby from your breast after 20 minutes or so. You can do that by carefully inserting a clean finger into his or her mouth to take the vacuum from the suction away. If your baby gets really fussy, let them eat some more, but try to avoid becoming a human pacifier!
However, don’t give the baby a real pacifier until the breastfeeding has started to work smoothly, to avoid confusing your baby.
From what I’ve heard recommendations vary from the baby being one week to one month before introducing a pacifier. Check with your nurse at the maternity ward.
I waited 1.5 months with introducing a pacifier to my daughter, but only one week with my son. I guess I felt more sure on what I was doing the second time. No problem in any of the cases, but one week is certainly a very short time and I would not have done that unless the breastfeeding was going really well.
A matter of mindset
Prepare for many hours on the couch, 30 hours a week or so if you breastfeed exclusively. It might seem very boring if you’re used to be active, but it can be quite nice too.
Watch TV, surf the Internet, play Candy Crush, read a book, talk with friends on the phone, sleep or whatever. It can be really nice to just relax if you decide that this is your job right now.
Personally, I read a lot of magazines while breastfeeding, especially when I was a first-time mom. It’s a nice thing to do, you get a bit of entertainment and it doesn’t really matter (as with a book) if you are disturbed. I also tried answering online surveys for cash, and you can read about what I did wrong and right here.
And remember that breastfeeding is practical in the sense that you have the food readily available all the time. No sterilizing bottles, heating water, buying formula etc.
So think positive! It helps.
A nice place to sit (or lay down!)
Whether you sit or lay down, make sure you’re comfortable. It might seem unimportant in the beginning, but the longer you breastfeed and the heavier your baby gets, the harder it will be for your back if you don’t breastfeed in a good position.
For some people, a nursing pillow is a real relief. There are different sizes and styles of nursing pillows, and from what I’ve tried, the soft ones are much better since they adapt to your body. Here is a good one to check out. (Link to Amazon)
Keep a burping cloth, some water, some entertainment (book or magazine for example, maybe the telephone, remote control etc within reach.
And if you want to lie down, make sure you can be relaxed. Use a pillow, experiment with lying on your side without tensing your back or neck and put the baby below your breast so that he/she has to look up to nurse. If your baby is too close to your chin, you won’t be able to relax your back and neck while breastfeeding.
And don’t necessarily follow all tips you see to stuff pillows behind your back! I don’t know who got that idea – I’ve tried it several times. It was a hassle and it didn’t help at all! Find a way to relax without the help of pillows. Again, ask at the hospital before going home after giving birth.
Drink a lot of water or I can almost guarantee that you’ll get a headache.
Being at home, I find it so easy to forget to drink water. My advice is to fill a large can of water in the morning and make sure that you empty it during the day.
Also, prepare a big glass of water to keep right by your bed or the breastfeeding chair to keep you hydrated at night.
If you go outside, bring a bottle of water.
This way you won’t become desperate for something to drink, your milk will be of better quality and you won’t get a headache as easily.
You need a good nursing bra! Or actually several of them. But don’t buy them immediately. Wait a week or so (or at least buy a cheap one at first) because that’s when the breasts get the size they will have during your period of breastfeeding. Before that, they tend to be quite swollen and you risk buying a too big bra.
Practical nursing clothes are also nice.
I personally love the tops produced by the company Boob, but they aren’t available in all countries. However, there are, of course, other really good brands too. Check out all the styles sold on Amazon here.
Since nursing tops can be quite expensive, it is good to be able to use some of your regular tops as well. A smart way to do that is to wear a very low-cut undershirt under the top. Then you can pull the top up, the undershirt down over the breast and breastfeed without showing your stomach.
This means you can breastfeed in public in a discrete way. Nice!
Watch out for thrush
Now what’s thrush…?
Well, if your baby seems to have very sticky milk on his tongue or inside his lips, which doesn’t go away within half an hour or so after feeding, he or she might be suffering from thrush.
This is a yeast infection that small babies often get. It’s not harmful, but if it spreads to the baby’s whole mouth and down his throat it might cause him discomfort. It an actually spread through his body to result in a diaper rash! Also, it can spread to your nipples and into the milk ducts. That’s painful! You can read about nipple thrush here.
The thrush may be treated with some sort of antifungal cream. Ask a pediatrician. If it hasn’t yet spread to you, it may also go away without doing anything, if it’s not too extensive. It did with my kids, but I knew I was taking the risk of being infected.
There are also several natural methods to treat thrush.You can read more about baby thrush symptoms and remedies here.
Too much milk?
Is it possible to have too much milk?
Yes, it is actually. It may result in a few problems. First of all, your baby might not be able to empty a whole breast at one feeding occasion. This means that the infant doesn’t get the fatter milk that comes the last. The very sweet and thin milk that comes in the beginning then makes your baby gassy and soon hungry again. If your baby is gassy, maybe has greenish stools and you think you have a lot of milk, try nursing him twice or more from the same breast before switching.
A lot of milk can also mean that it comes out with great force, which makes your baby swallow more air and also choke.
To slow down the speed, you can press a finger or two against your breast above the nipple for a minute or two in the beginning of the feeding.
Too little milk?
It is very common to worry about not having enough milk. And in a sense, all moms do from time to time. As your baby grows, he will require more food.
With my daughter, I noticed her growth spurts very clearly. She became dissatisfied, wanted to eat all the time and didn’t sleep well. This went on for a few days and often I started to worry about having too little milk. Then she calmed down and things went back to normal for a while. And then it started again…
My midwife’s advice is to pick two days and feed your baby every second hour around the clock. This will help the milk supply to adjust to the baby’s increasing need. This is a great tip, despite that I really don’t know how to “pick a day”. My children certainly decided by themselves when it was time!
But the truth is, if your baby gains weight as he should, you have enough milk. Check with your child’s doctor if you are worried!
And if you do have too little milk, there are good substitutes. Follow this link for tips on bottle feeding.
Other common nursing problems may be that your baby falls asleep, bites you or wants to eat all the time. For solutions to these and other common breastfeeding problems, click here.
That was it! I hope this breastfeeding information will help you get a great period of nursing your baby! And before you now it, it will be time to start weaning your baby from breastfeeding.
Do you want to know something about the benefits for you of breastfeeding? Like weight loss, birth control, ovarian cancer…
And the benefits for your baby from breastfeeding?
Good luck with your breastfeeding! 🙂