Breastfeeding is incredibly hard. There’s proper positioning, timing it right (or timing it constantly), making sure baby is transferring milk adequately -– the list goes on and on. Fortunately, there are breastfeeding tips and tricks to help you on your journey as a breastfeeding mom!
Tip #1 – Set yourself up for breastfeeding success
First-time expectant moms assume that breastfeeding will come naturally, but for many women, that’s just not the case. Even many women who eventually go on to breastfeed like pros experience challenges in the early weeks.
To set yourself up for success, lay some groundwork. Read a book or some articles on breastfeeding. (See? You’re ahead of the game already!) Find out what supplies your insurance company will and won’t cover. Gather a few of those supplies ahead of time so you won’t have to rush out with a newborn.
(Of course, don’t go overboard. You may ultimately decide not to breastfeed or to stop breastfeeding early. In that case, you won’t want a year’s supply of breast milk storage bags sitting in your cabinet.)
Find out if the hospital where you’ll be delivering supports breastfeeding by offering free lactation classes, lactation consultants, and breast pumps for use while you’re in the hospital, etc.
Tip #2 – Be flexible (with timing feedings, that is)
If you’re breastfeeding for the first time, you may have read a lot of literature to prepare. As a first-time breastfeeding mom, I felt a little let down by some of that literature. All the books say you’ll be breastfeeding every two to three hours, but for most moms, that’s not realistic.
Eventually, you’ll probably be breastfeeding every few hours, but in the early days, you’ll basically be breastfeeding constantly. Plus, even if your baby goes “two hours between feedings,” those two hours start at the beginning of the feed. If your baby feeds for 25 minutes and then eats again 95 minutes later, that’s considered feeding every two hours.
What kind of demonic mathematics is that?!
(And don’t even get me started on cluster feeding!)
If I had known up front just how constantly I’d have been breastfeeding my newborn, I think it would’ve made things a lot less overwhelming in the end.
Tip #3 Experiment with different breastfeeding holds
If you’ve never breastfed before, you probably envision a breastfeeding mom in one particular position – the cradle hold. On the rare occasion breastfeeding is depicted in the media, that’s how it’s shown.
You might be surprised to learn that there are actually many different breastfeeding positions you can use. The cradle hold is probably one you won’t actually use for the first few weeks or even months.
Tip #4 Know where you can get help if breastfeeding tips and literature aren’t enough.
Many moms are surprised to learn their OB/GYN has little to no experience with breastfeeding support or breastfeeding problems. Sure, if you get mastitis, they can probably diagnose it and prescribe antibiotics.
But if you’re just having trouble getting your baby to feed adequately? They’re likely not going to be your go-to. In my experience, a child’s pediatrician is 1000x more equipped to support breastfeeding challenges than an OB/GYN.
It’s also wise to have a list of lactation consultants in your area. Check with your insurance (ahead of time, if possible). Many plans now cover visits with a lactation consultant, but you have to see a provider within your network.
Of course, some plans won’t cover any such visits. It’s best to do the research into this ahead of time because if you find yourself struggling with breastfeeding, the last thing you’ll want is added insurance hassles.
Breastfeeding can be challenging, but worth it.
Breastfeeding offers numerous health benefits to mother and baby. It can certainly be a challenge, especially at first, but don’t give up. These breastfeeding tips will help put you on the path to breastfeeding success!