Even though breastfeeding your baby is completely natural, it doesn’t mean it’s easy! Getting your baby to latch, knowing when to feed, and getting the perfect feeding position down can be really overwhelming.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to help the process go smoother, and make sure both you and your newborn are happy.
Asking For Help Is More Than Okay
First of all, you don’t have to struggle through this alone! Reaching out to professionals for assistance – before your baby is born and when you begin breastfeeding – can make all the difference to your experience.
“Consider meeting with a lactation consultant or another nursing expert before you have the baby. She can share tips that will help in the beginning, and you’ll know whom to call if you have a problem,” suggests Dee Kassing, lactation consultant, to Parents.
To help you find your flow and confidently deal with any hiccups as you breastfeed, I created the Breastfeeding Made Simple course. Through this course, you get the support to successfully navigate this new journey – from birth to weaning.
Create A Comfortable Breastfeeding Area
You’re going to be breastfeeding a lot when your baby arrives – up to 12 times a day – so making sure you’re comfortable can go a long way.
Trying to get your baby to latch while the TV is roaring, you’re in an uncomfortable chair, and with no helpful tools on-hand can lead to a stressful, uncomfortable experience.
Set yourself up for successful feedings by creating your own breastfeeding area. This can be a corner in your bedroom or a little nook in your dining room away from loud noises – whatever works for you.
Add a comfortable chair that you can relax in; have a side table next to you with snacks, nursing pads, and water; download an audio book; and make sure your breastfeeding pillow is within arm’s reach.
“You may realize that you will want to breastfeed comfortably in more than one location and that either setting up multiple spots or creating a portable breastfeeding station that you can carry around the house is right for you,” advises Moms At Odds.
Lock Down The Latch
One of the most frustrating things new moms deal with when trying to breastfeed their newborn is getting them to latch correctly – your baby won’t know what to do when they first arrive.
If your baby doesn’t latch properly, it impacts the whole breastfeeding experience for both you and your newborn. “Without a proper latch, your baby will not get the milk she needs and your breasts won’t be stimulated to produce more, initiating a vicious cycle of poor milk demand and poor milk supply. What’s more, your breastfeeding nipples may become cracked and mighty painful when the latch isn’t right,” explains What To Expect.
You want the latch to include the nipple and the surrounding areola – once you’ve got this down, your baby should start feeding easily.
If the latch is painful, or you’re experiencing bleeding nipples, I recommend speaking to a lactation consultant.
Feed Your Baby On Cue
Pay attention to your baby and what they tend to do when they’re hungry. Noticing cues and getting to them before they start crying is key – a crying baby can have difficulty latching.
Some cues to pay attention to include your little one bringing their hands to their mouth, sticking their tongue out, smacking their lips, and becoming restless. When your baby is giving you signs, take note and begin feeding.
When you feed your newborn on cue, they’ll need less stimulation to stay awake during the feed, plus more breastmilk will be transferred to them making the feed a successful one.
Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Calories
Breastfeeding is hard work – in fact, you can burn about 700 calories in one day just by feeding your baby! Make sure you’re eating enough nutrient dense food to keep you well nourished, and throw in some foods that can help your breastmilk supply.
Dark leafy greens, whole grains, almonds, and flaxseeds have been known to have a positive impact on milk production. However, every woman is different – what works for one mom may not be for you.
For three ways to boost the quality of your breastmilk, click here.
Hand-Express Your Milk If Your Breasts Become Engorged
Many women experience engorged breasts as a result of too much milk production, especially when your baby arrives. Feeding your newborn while your breasts are engorged isn’t easy – they can struggle to latch when your breast tissue is too firm.
When this happens, you can hand-express your milk, or you can pump. I’ve written a series of blogs on pumping – click here for the first one.
Take Care Of Yourself
Newborns are demanding, and they need to be fed every few hours because of their tiny tummies. With this can come cracked, painful nipples. Luckily, there are a few natural remedies.
One of Healthline’s recommendations is breastmilk for its antibacterial properties. After breastfeeding, wash your hands then apply a few drops of breastmilk onto your nipples and let them air-dry.
It’s not only your physical health that you should take care of, but also your mental and emotional wellbeing. Bringing a new baby into the world can be an incredible, but also overwhelming experience. Don’t hold back from calling on your support system when you need it. Take care of you, mama!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of advice out there, don’t worry! I’ve put together a free mini-course, Prepare For Baby With These Three Truths, to help you feel confident, prepared, and even more excited for your new baby.