If there’s one thing new mothers – or any mothers, even those on their second or third child – struggle with, it’s breastfeeding. This makes plenty of sense since the importance of breastfeeding over using formula is a hot topic. The idea of being a perfect mother and breastfeeding an infant without having any issues causes a lot of stress. In reality, you’re going to need some help. So, we’re here to share some insight. These ten useful breastfeeding tips and tricks are a good start.
Tip 1: Allow Their Feet to Touch Something
Did you know that infants breastfeed best when their feet are touching something? It sounds strange, but it’s true. Why does this work? Well, it could be that it makes the baby feel comfortable, knowing that they are fully physically supported while eating.
Since this is one of the best tricks to try, make sure that no matter how your infant is positioned, they have something that their feet can touch. It could be your lap, one of your hands (depending on how you’re holding them), the armrest of your nursing chair, or a million other options. The key is to keep them supported just right, while their feet have something to touch. They don’t necessarily need to be supported by their feet, just touching an object. If you’re having trouble breastfeeding your child, then give this one a shot.
Tip 2: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Don’t feel ashamed. Before you give birth, go to breastfeeding classes. If you’re struggling, ask to see a lactation counselor. If your baby doesn’t latch on before you leave the hospital, ask the nurse for assistance or to see if they can send an expert to your room.
You may need help from more than one source in order to finally breastfeed your child, and this is nothing to feel bad about. In fact, asking for this kind of help isn’t a sign of weakness at all. Instead, it shows that you care so much about your child that you want the very best for them and aren’t afraid to request a helping hand.
Tip 3: Keep Your Little One Awake While Latched
Does your infant fall asleep while they’re latched on? While you may think that this is cute, as well as the goal – to get your baby to sleep properly – it can be detrimental to the breastfeeding process.
They may not be getting all of the nutrients that they need when they fall asleep on your breast, and it isn’t a habit that you want to encourage. Otherwise, you may end up with an infant who will only fall asleep while being held. Instead, when you feel your little one falling asleep while eating, simply tickle their chin a little to wake them up. They’ll perk up a bit, finish eating, and then you can lay them down to sleep.
Tip 4: Carry Pumping Supplies
Having the right equipment on hand, especially if you need to pump while you’re at work, out shopping, or running errands, makes life easier. Since you won’t always have access to a special pumping room or station, you may find yourself doing it in your vehicle, a bathroom, or any other secluded location.
Start by finding the right bag to carry everything. One that doubles as a diaper changing station, a bottle caddy, and has plenty of organizational pockets makes this much easier. Otherwise, you may find yourself switching bags a lot, and that’s a good way to forget things. Keep pumping supplies, like hand towels, the pump itself, something to store your milk, and a Ziploc bag (to put the pump and its parts once you’re done) in a special compartment of your bag, all together, in order to simplify the process.
Tip 5: Don’t Stress
Stress and anxiety are two things that your child will pick up on. They can feel those stressful and anxious feelings radiating from you, and they will behave accordingly. This means that if the idea of breastfeeding makes you feel anxious, then they won’t want to do it, and they will avoid latching on, refuse your nipples, and add to those stressed-out feelings of inadequacy that you’re no doubt carrying around.
To counteract this, simply relax. Realize that everyone has issues breastfeeding, no one is perfect, and you are not the only one who’s struggling. Accepting that perfection isn’t possible may be enough to calm both you and your little one down, and you’ll be surprised at just how quickly they latch on after your anxiety goes away. Remember that there are plenty of others who weren’t perfect breastfeeders and their babies are just fine.
Tip 6: Use a Nursing Pillow
Nursing pillows seem like those things that you place on a registry, receive, but never use. This isn’t true at all – they are actually quite useful! These pillows can help you support your infant as they breastfeed, ensuring that both you and your precious nugget are in a comfortable and pain-free position.
Especially if you’ve had a c-section or an episiotomy and are in quite a bit of pain and don’t want to put any pressure on those areas of your body, a nursing pillow becomes the absolute best solution. It will keep the baby in the right spot and support them so that you don’t have to place all of that extra weight on your body just yet.
Tip 7: Eat a Healthy Diet
Once you give birth, the pressure to lose weight is on. Even if your spouse or significant other doesn’t care about your weight (after all, you just gave them the best gift of all), you more than likely feel as though society is judging you for your inability to lose the baby weight.
This is the wrong thing to do when you’re breastfeeding, as you actually need those additional calories in order to create enough nutritious milk for your infant. According to the experts, you need around 300 extra calories per day, on top of your normal healthy diet, in order to make enough milk to feed your child.
As far as the food itself goes, stick to the main food groups (protein, vegetables, fruits, healthy oils, water, and grains) according to the new food plate. This will provide the nutrition you need to ensure that your baby gets the nutrients that they need.
Tip 8: Find the Best Position
You may have to try several different positions in order to find the best one for breastfeeding your infant. There isn’t one single option that works best for everyone, but here are some positioning techniques to try:
- Some experts recommend sitting up straight and laying the baby against your chest so that you’re belly to belly, with their head facing your nipple straight on.
- If they have to turn their head, then they may not fully latch on. So, that same position, while laying on your side (again, your baby would be on their side), might work as well.
It all depends on what’s comfortable for you and your child. What worked best for your well-meaning friend may not be the right option for you. Experiment a bit to see what’s the most comfortable position for yourself and your little one.
Tip 9: Set Up a Breastfeeding Station in Your Home
Before baby arrives, take the time to set up a breastfeeding station in your home. What do you plan to do while your infant is latched on? Do you want to listen to eBooks, podcasts, TV shows, or music? If so, you’ll need a charging station for your tablet and a pair of headphones next to your comfortable chair. If you want to read, then you’ll need a good light, one that won’t disturb your baby, but that will still provide enough illumination for you to see the words on the page.
On top of the comfortable chair, you’ll also need a breastfeeding support pillow (should you choose to use one) and a nearby place to store a bag filled with necessary supplies, like spit rags, a change of clothes, and clean diapers.
Tip 10: Get Your Spouse or Significant Other to Help
While your spouse or significant other may not be able to breastfeed your baby for you, they certainly can provide plenty of support. Make sure that they attend any lactation counseling sessions with you, are present during that first hour after birth when you try to breastfeed for the first time, and feel comfortable enough to ask questions to your nurses, counselors, or other helpers before you settle in at home with your baby.
Since you’ll be overwhelmed with emotions (and may have some lingering anxiety around breastfeeding “perfectly” the first time), you probably won’t be listening clearly or asking all the right questions. So, give them the freedom to do that for you so that you have another source of information when you need it.
Whether you’re a first-time mom or a seasoned veteran, breastfeeding is a new and beautiful challenge with every child. What works for your first-born may not work for your second, and what works for your best friend’s child may not work for yours. Just remember to soak up all these precious moments and not get overwhelmed if things don’t work perfectly on the first try.
With these ten tips, you’re sure to find a breastfeeding regimen that works for you and your precious little one. Enjoy the ride, and don’t blink because it all goes so fast!