Tips for Breastfeeding Your Newborn Baby
May 19, 2015
If you’re a mom-to-be nervous about breastfeeding or a new mom struggling with breastfeeding, you’re not alone. I’ve been there, and I’ve heard from so many other mamas about their personal struggles with it, too! Breastfeeding can certainly be a challenge, but fortunately, there are things you can learn about now to help make it easier.
10 Tips for breastfeeding your newborn baby:
- Ask for skin-to-skin time and try to breastfeed your baby soon after birth. Your milk won’t come in for a few days after you give birth, but you should try to breastfeed as soon as you can. Your body produces colostrum initially, which I learned with my second child that NICU nurses call “liquid gold.” Colostrum is the precursor to breast milk and is rich with all of the essentials newborns need, like proteins, vitamins, minerals and antibodies. When you go into labor, let your nurse know that you would like skin-to-skin time as soon as you can and make every attempt to breastfeed shortly after delivery.
- Use a pump to help stimulate milk production. As mentioned above, your milk won’t come in for a few days following birth. You can use a breast pump to help stimulate production. Hospitals have pumps available that you can use during your stay. Most insurance companies now, under the Affordable Care Act, provide coverage for breast pumps (or at least a portion of the cost of a pump) so take advantage of that to have a pump at home. A pump will also come in handy later to relieve engorgement or to make a bottle if you leave the baby with a sitter or if you head back to work.
- Take advantage of lactation specialists. Most hospitals have lactation specialists on staff available for consultations to help you with breastfeeding. Ask your nurse to let them visit with you as soon as they can. You can speak to them about latching or any other concerns or issues you are having. Even if you feel like all is going well, let them see how the baby is nursing to see if they have any suggestions. This service is usually included in the cost of your hospital stay and is a wonderful benefit! Additional resources and support are available from groups like the La Leche League. Check to see if there is a local chapter near you.
- Drink a lot of water. As a breastfeeding mom, it’s critical that you stay hydrated. You should be drinking a full glass of water every time you nurse and aim to drink more water throughout the day. Keeping a water bottle nearby while nursing helps, so you can drink while breastfeeding. Most hospitals let you take home your water bottle with you, which holds around 32 ounces of water, so you can use it as your nursing drink.
- Use a Boppy or pillow. A Boppy or pillow is helpful to have while breastfeeding. You’ll find that your arms quickly get sore and/or tired as you hold the baby while nursing. As an added bonus, there are a lot of fun slipcovers to choose for your Boppy. Another option: a good friend of mine highly recommends My Brest Friend, which is also a nursing pillow. Bring the Boppy or nursing pillow with you to the hospital, so your lactation consultant can show you how to use it while nursing.
- Keep a log of when you nurse. This will help you track your baby’s eating—how long he or she ate (minutes) and on which side (left/right). It can also be helpful in tracking which side the baby ate from last so you can alternate sides. Some popular smartphone apps for this include:
- Baby Nursing/Breastfeeding by Sevenlogics, Inc. (Free) – Available on iTunes and Google Play
- iBaby Feed Timer by Fehners Software LLP ($3.99) – Available on iTunes
- Baby Feeding Log by Aron Beaver (Free) – Available on iTunes and Google Play
Or, an even easier trick to use is a safety pin—simply attach it to the nursing bra on the side on which you last nursed!
- Eat well. When you breastfeed, you are the sole source of nutrients for your baby. Eat foods rich in iron, protein and calcium. And, because nursing burns so many calories, be sure you are eating an additional 300-500 calories per day to supplement.
- Use nursing aids. Nipple cream and nipple shields exist for a reason. If you experience pain from nursing, such as cracked or sore nipples, you may want to look into these products to alleviate the discomfort. Lanolin ointment is a topical cream designed to treat dry, cracked and irritated skin. You can find these products at lactation stores, or even Walmart and Target.
- Continue taking prenatal vitamins. Remember those prenatal vitamins you took during pregnancy? Keep taking them while you breastfeed to ensure you and your baby continue to get the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrition.
- Help your uterus shrink. In pregnancy, your uterus expands to accommodate the growing baby, and after the birth of your child, it takes time to shrink back into your pelvis. Did you know that the more you breastfeed, the more it helps your uterus shrink to its pre-pregnancy size? If breastfeeding, your uterus will return to its pre-pregnancy size around six weeks after delivery, compared to about 10 weeks if you’re not breastfeeding.
Some moms prefer to exclusively pump and bottle-feed their babies breast milk. Others may supplement formula with breast milk, while some mothers go the formula route. There is nothing wrong with bottle feeding your baby. You are the mom, and you have your baby’s best interests in mind. So if bottle feeding is the best for you and your baby, then bottle feed! Don’t let others and their opinions or what they perceive as helpful advice guilt you or make you feel bad. Consult your pediatrician with any and all questions and for guidance with bottle feeding.
Whatever your choice for feeding your baby, here are tips to make the bottle-feeding process easier:
- Choosing the right bottle. There are so many different types of bottles available to choose from, and every baby has a different preference. For example, some bottles are designed to be more like a mother’s breast. Try buying several different bottles from different brands and types to test out before committing. This will save you money in the long run by not buying an entire set of bottles to only find out your baby doesn’t like them.
- Get the necessary supplies. Be prepared with these bottle accessories and supplies, which you can find at Target, Walmart or any baby store, like Babies R Us or Buy Buy Baby:
- Bottle warmer (the brand of bottles you choose to purchase usually has a matching warmer)
- Bottle sterilizer
- Countertop drying rack and dishwasher baskets
- Bottle brushes
There are so many new things to learn with a baby, but with time, all of these things, including breastfeeding, get easier. Take advantage of the available resources, including a lactation specialist or your pediatrician, with any questions or concerns. Most of all, enjoy that special bonding time with your baby.
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