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Planning on breastfeeding for the first time and don’t know how to even begin? Here are 14 super helpful breastfeeding tips to help you through your first time.
Breastfeeding is a great bonding experience for you and your baby. There are many pros to breastfeeding vs pumping. Even though we know the benefits we could all use some extra tips on breastfeeding for the first time.
However, breastfeeding is hard. It takes some time to get used to for the first time and can get a little overwhelming at times. These tips helped me as a first-time mom with breastfeeding my first baby and then for my second baby and they can help you too.
Check out these 14 helpful breastfeeding tips.
Related Post: 10 Genius Newborn Hacks for New Moms.
1. Take a breastfeeding class.
Learn all you can about breastfeeding during your pregnancy. The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class by Milkology is amazing. It is an online class, so you can take it whenever you want. And then you have access to it whenever you need to reference it.
This class tells you everything you need to know about breastfeeding. Be sure to check it out, it is well worth it!
2. Nurse during the golden hour.
That first hour after delivery is the most important. Your baby is awake and alert following delivery. This is when skin to skin contact is very important.
Skin to skin contact with your baby during the first hour will help their body with thermoregulation and it also helps reduce stress for you. This is also the best time to initiate breastfeeding for the first time.
Your baby’s instinct is to try to nurse. They will try to root around until they come into contact with your nipple. This first hour of bonding time also helps to signal your milk to come in.
3. Make sure the latch is right.
The latch is the most important technique to get right. The latch is how your baby fastens onto your breast during feeding. A good latch insures you minimize any pain and also it promotes good milk flow, so your baby gets enough milk.
In the beginning, you will experience some nipple discomfort until you get used to nursing, but you should not be feeling intense pain. The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class with Milkology has a great video with tips on how to establish a good latch as well as what to avoid.
4. Try different positions until you find one you are comfortable with.
There are five different positions that are great for breastfeeding. Try them all out until you find one that is comfortable for you.
Your baby’s head rests in the bend of your elbow on the side you are nursing from. Baby’s body should be facing you.
Baby’s head is held in the hand opposite of the breast you are nursing from. Your arm and wrist are under baby.
Baby is at your side with their body facing you. Baby’s legs are under your arm on the side you are nursing from.
Usually used for ‘Dream feeding’. Both of you are laying on your sides, tummy to tummy.
Lean back in a semi-reclined position, making sure you are well supported. Put baby on you so you are tummy to tummy and their head is near your breast.
When I first started nursing I liked the football hold. But, once I got more comfortable with nursing and as my babies grew the cradle hold was what I liked best.
5. Nurse on-demand.
Breastfeeding on demand is when you respond to your baby’s hunger cues. You nurse when your baby is hungry or showing hunger cues and continue nursing until your baby is satisfied.
This allows you to keep up your milk supply with the demands of your baby’s needs. Nursing on-demand may mean that may be in public sometimes. If you are looking for the perfect nursing cover for on the go, check out the ultimate buying guide for nursing covers.
6. Don’t let more than 3 hours go between feedings.
In the beginning, make sure you are feeding your baby at least every 3 hours. Your milk supply is still coming in and you want to make sure you continue making enough.
This means you may need to wake your baby in the beginning so that they nurse every 3 hours. Continue to do this at least until they are showing good weight gain.
7. Make sure you eat.
While you are breastfeeding you need on average 500 more calories than normal. Make sure you are getting the right nutrients for you and your baby.
Your body needs calories and nutrients to make the milk your baby requires.
8. Stay hydrated.
Breastfeeding can make you very thirsty. After all, you are not only hydrating yourself but your baby too. Make sure you stay hydrated by drinking the recommended 12 glasses of water.
At the very least make sure you never feel thirsty. Breastfeeding and staying hydrated are also great to help get rid of the postpartum pooch.
9. Learn baby’s hunger cues.
The first sign your baby gives when they are hungry is licking their lips or making smacking/sucking noises. They will then start to suck or try to suck on anything nearby.
They will then begin their rooting reflex and you will see them turning their head and opening their mouth ready to accept a breast. They then will start to bring their hands to their mouths.
If they are still not fed by now they tend to get squirmy and fidgety.
If they start fussing and crying, this is an indication they are really hungry. You will need to calm them first before attempting to nurse them.
10. Get a breastfeeding tracker.
A breastfeeding tracker allows you to see how much your baby eats each day and whether there are any issues you need to talk to the doctor about.
It also lets you know which side you nursed with last so you can start with the other breast for the next feeding. There are a lot of great apps available or a simple breastfeeding chart works too. Check out this App, it has everything you need.
11. Have a nursing station, or nursing supplies handy.
Having a dedicated nursing station makes it more relaxing for both you and baby. You need to have all your essentials nearby and available. That is why it is important to Pack the Perfect Hospital Bag so you can start off breastfeeding while still in the hospital like a pro.
Once you start to nurse you don’t want to have to get up for anything. Next to your comfy nursing chair make sure you have a basket of the following items.
- Nursing pillow
- nipple cream or coconut oil
- Haakaa (these things are amazing for the letdown happening on the non-nursing side)
- nipple shield
- burp cloths
- book or magazine
- breastfeeding log (or phone with app)
- nightlight (for night feedings when the baby is in their room).
12. Relax and don’t stress.
Stress can affect your milk supply. It could cause the flow to slow down. Make sure you enjoy the bonding time with your baby and relax as much as you can. A great way to encourage let-down reflex is to take a warm bath or shower with your baby.
By having a dedicated nursing station you are already allowing yourself to be more relaxed. Stressed from a fussy baby? It could be uncomfortable gas, get your baby relief from gas with these easy tips.
13. Get plenty of rest.
Your body is hard at work producing milk constantly. It can take a toll on you. This can lead to more stress if you aren’t careful. Keep stress away by making sure you are getting the rest your body needs.
14. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you are having trouble with anything don’t be afraid to ask for help. While you are still in the hospital after birth set up a time to talk to the lactation consultant if you have any concerns at all.
If you are feeling intense pain at any time during breastfeeding make sure you talk to your doctor or lactation consultant immediately.
The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class has a ton of resources available including a wonderful guide on troubleshooting common breastfeeding issues. Be sure to check it out! The class has a lot of helpful breastfeeding tips as well.