The 10 Essential Breastfeeding Tips Every New Mom Needs
7 minute read
If you’ve decided to give breastfeeding a go, you may have a million questions about how to be successful along your feeding journey.
Whether you’re expecting your little one any day now or you’re in the throes of figuring out how to hold your newborn and decode their cries… It’s normal for breastfeeding to feel a little overwhelming at times.
If you’re worried that breastfeeding may be too difficult or feeling stressed that your baby may not be getting the nutrients they need… Know that you’re not alone. These concerns are very common among new moms.
My best advice? Be patient! You and your baby are both learning a completely new skill and it may take a little while to get the hang of it. But the good news is there’s a lot of help and support available to you!
To help calm your worries, here are my top 10 breastfeeding tips every new mom needs to enjoy a smooth feeding journey.
Breastfeeding Tips #1: Nourish Yourself First
Breastfeeding is a wild journey. You go through 9 months of pregnancy, an intense birth and immediately you have a baby on your chest that you are responsible for – even while your own body is in need of healing.
Just because you had a baby, doesn’t mean you no longer matter. As a woman, as a mother, as an individual who just created life – make sure you are honoring your needs through this journey as well.
You can take care of you by resting when your baby rests, asking for help putting baby back to sleep after you nurse them at night, trying to schedule some ‘me’ time, eating healthy, and maybe even giving yourself permission to watch shows you like or read on your kindle while you rest and recover.
If you have a fussy baby, and are not getting sleep at all all night, it’s ok to have the ‘lite’ version of self care for a week or two. But prioritize you as soon as you can. Your rest and nutrition is critical to you establishing your milk supply.
If you’re having a hard time meeting your extra nutritional requirements, hydration requirements and all the things you need to take care of your recovery and health, consider leaning on a postpartum supplement program. You can get nutritional support that will help with destressing, getting enough sleep, hydration support, tissue repair, blood building, and mood balance.
Make sure you are supported so you can give from overflow and abundance – not sacrifice of yourself for everyone else.
We always recommend the supplements from this is Needed for top of the line supplements to support moms in pregnancy and postpartum.
Breastfeeding Tips #2: Understand The Law Of Supply And Demand
A lot of moms worry if they will make enough milk to feed their baby. Unlike formula, you can’t always measure how much milk your baby is actually getting. So it’s natural to wonder if your baby is getting enough.
But, rest assured, your body has had the ability to produce milk for your baby since the second trimester of pregnancy.
Though there are are plenty of ways to boost your milk supply – what you really need to know is that the more your baby nurses or you pump – the more milk your body will make. If you aren’t nursing or pumping, or you shorten or skip feeds, your body will begin to make less.
How to tell if your baby is getting enough food:
In most cases you shouldn’t need to worry if your baby is getting enough milk. You should know that it’s normal for your baby to lose up to 10% of their weight the first week after birth. And if you had a lot of fluids during birth, sometimes they will lose just a bit more.
After that, they should begin gaining. As long as they are making two to three wet diapers each day in the first few days after birth, and six to eight wet diapers 4 to 5 days after birth… You’re in good shape.
But if you’re worried that your little one truly isn’t getting enough milk, here are some signs to look for to tell if your baby is underfed.
You can always call or drop by your pediatricians office for a quick weigh in as well.
What to do if you’re making too much milk
While leaking and having breasts that feel really full is normal in the first 4-6 weeks, oversupply, or too much milk can happen. Medela has a great detailed guide about this. If you feel like your breasts are heavy, hard, and sore, after day 3-4 then you may be making more milk than you want to.
One thing you can do is to hand express to comfort before feeding your little one. Though there is a paradox here. Though you may need to express to make it easier for your baby to latch, the more your express, the more milk your body will make in the long run. So try to express as little as possible. And if you can, try to express less and less each time.
What to do if you’re not making enough milk
One of the most amazing things about nursing is that moms and babies needs are usually in sync. If your milk supply is low, your baby will naturally be hungrier. Likely, your baby will begin cluster feeding.
Cluster feeding is when your baby wants to eat multiple times in a short window. Such as showing hunger cues 2-3 times between the hours of 4-6. Often, moms think that this means they aren’t producing enough milk. The reality is, that this is nature’s way of teaching your body how much milk to make.
If you are still establishing your supply, or your baby just started sleeping longer at nighttime, or is going through a growth spurt, snuggle up and let them nurse.
Sometimes, you can’t just snuggle up and nurse with your baby. If that’s the case, you may want to try adding a power pumping session once a day (usually in the morning when your supply is the highest). Basically with a power pumping session looks like this:
pump 20 minutes
rest 10 minutes
pump 10 minutes
rest 10 minutes
pump 10 minutes
Whether you are experiencing oversupply or undersupply, it is a good idea to check with a lactation consultant if your own trouble shooting isn’t quickly fixing the problem.
Breastfeeding Tips #3: Take A Babymoon To Solidify Your Milk Production
Many moms leave the hospital being told that their baby should be fed every 3 hours – often on a schedule. And then on top of that, they are told to pump to solidify their milk supply. This is not always the best idea. If you’re trying to get breastfeeding established and your baby seems to want frequent and lengthy nursing sessions, that is okay! Listen to your baby!
When your baby is born, their little tummy is only about the size of a marble. By day ten, their tummy is about the size of a ping pong ball. Can you imagine expecting a baby that only has space for a teaspoon or so of milk to eat at the same time interval as a baby that has enough for 2 ounces? That is a big difference!
One of your needs for post partum recovery is spending almost all your time in bed – so make a babymoon out of it. Cozy up, cuddle up and let your baby nurse as often as they want. Skin to skin is even better! Most newborns need to eat every 1.5 hours not every three.
It can be helpful to know that most babies breastfeed about eight to 12 times in every 24-hour period. But, in those first15 days, you should always feed your little one “on demand” when you see their hunger cues.
After your 15 days or rest and establishing milk – then begin to move to a 3 hour feeding routine and start extending your night feeds with a dream feed. If your baby seems ready.
Breastfeeding Tips #4: Learn Your Baby’s Hunger Cues
All babies give cues to how they’re feeling and what they need from you. So even though your baby can’t talk to tell you when they’re hungry, that won’t stop them from using their body language to communicate!
But rather than waiting for your baby to cry — which is often one of the final cues that your baby is hungry — you can anticipate their needs by watching for a few tell-tale signs:
Moving their head from side to side
Opening their mouth
Sticking out their tongue
Bringing their hands and fists to their mouth
Puckering their lips as if to suck
Nuzzling against your breast
Holding their hands in tight fists
As you and your baby get to know each other, you’ll learn your baby’s specific cues and what they tell you about how your baby is feeling.
When you notice your baby’s body language and respond quickly to their needs, this makes your little one feel safe and secure. This helps you to build a strong relationship with your baby, which is vital to their development.
Breastfeeding Tips #5: Have The Right Nursing Gear
Preparing for parenthood can feel a bit consumerism driven. So much of the advice is about having the right stuff instead of developing your heart, spirit and honoring this unique and beautiful time of life. I hope you have all the space to feel the feels and enjoy this time.
But sometimes, the right stuff helps. That’s how it is for nursing bra’s in my opinion. Like your feet may ache when you are breaking in a new pair of shoes, your breasts may be a bit sore as you begin nursing.
And though you definitely don’t need a bra to snuggle skin to skin with your little one – once you’re up and moving the support makes a big difference.
I liked having a simple collection that fit all my needs:
2-3 simply easy sleep bras to have a bit of soft support, like someone was holding and soothing my tender breasts
2-3 structured bras to go out in, that have a bit more padding to absorb any leaks
2-3 exercise bras for when I wanted to move or walk and didn’t want the ta-tas bouncing quite so much
Kindred Bravely has a great guide for finding a nursing bra that will actually be comfortable. And though you may want one or two bras to get your through the first few weeks, it’s a great idea to wait and see how your breasts grow and change. Buying your bras is a decent way to pass time in those last days of your babymoon.
Breastfeeding Tips #6: Follow Your Baby’s Lead – But Not Too Much
Breastfeeding is a balance where everyone has needs. This means there is a give and take. During the first fifteen days, it’s great to give your baby unlimited snuggling, skin to skin and breastfeeding time.
After that – you deserve to get a bit of your own routine down.
Keeping your baby awake can help them fill their belly all the way up. Some little ones get very sleepy at the breast and that is okay as long as you are okay with the extra feedings.
If they are not eating a full meal because they are sleeping, start playing some games with them to help them learn the difference between eating and sleeping time.
Tickle their toes, pat their back, talk to them while they nurse. Keeping them alert for 10-15 minutes on each side will help them get a full meal. Which will lead to more fun during awake periods and more sleep during sleep times.
Breastfeeding Tips #7: Find A Comfortable Position
On average, most moms spend around 1,800 hours breastfeeding before their baby’s first birthday. This isn’t that far off from a full-time job when you consider that a 40-hour work week — with 3 weeks of vacation — is 1,960 hours of work time in a year!
That’s why where you nurse matters! A cushioned chair with good arm support can make all the difference in the world. That’s why I recommend getting a chair that you can get really cozy in. Modern Nursery has one of the best collections I’ve seen to date.
Find a comfortable position where you feel well supported: sitting, lying back or lying down. And use blankets and pillows to help make yourself as comfortable as possible.
Trying to maintain an uncomfortable position for a prolonged period of time can lead to significant back, shoulder, and neck pain. So before you settle in with your little one — make sure you are setting yourself up for success.
Check out La Leche League’s guide to breastfeeding positions. My favorite to teach new moms is side lying!
Breastfeeding Tips #8: Stay Hydrated
Breast milk is nearly 90% water! As a nursing mom, it’s important to drink plenty of water so that you don’t get dehydrated while feeding your baby.
You also need more nutrients than ever when you’re nursing – because you are giving so much to your baby. Which is why we love the hydration packets from out favorite prenatal vitamin company. They will help restore all the trace minerals you are using and help support your lactation.
But how much water should you drink? If you do any research you’ll see warnings for drinking too much or too little water… A good rule of thumb is to drink half an ounce of water per pound that you weigh when you aren’t breastfeeding.
For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, aim for 70 ounces of water each day.
You can make sure you’re staying hydrated by drinking water often throughout the day. It also helps to pay attention to your body — the hormone oxytocin is released while you’re breastfeeding which triggers your thirst.
If you feel thirsty, that’s probably a sign that you’re already slightly dehydrated. This is your body’s way of making sure that you are getting enough water to produce breast milk.
And while being slightly dehydrated may not affect your milk production, it can influence your mood, amount of energy, and skin health.
Breastfeeding Tips #9: Pay Very Close Attention If You’re Sleep Training Your Baby
A new fad is to have baby sleep 12 hours a night by 12 weeks old. The idea of having a good night’s rest sounds amazing when you’ve been up multiple times a night for 3 months straight. But, this can come with some downsides.
Many of these programs recommend that your baby should only eat 4 times a day. But- breastmilk is digested quickly. If they only eat 4 times a day, then they need to be eating 8 ounces with each bottle. At this time in life, most babies are only eating 3-4 ounces at time when they nurse.
Your baby should have 2 longer stretches of sleep at night. If you time it well with a dream feed, then you should be able to get a reliable 5 hour stretch of sleep yourself.
Beyond that, many babies are going to stop gaining needed weight and may be troubleshooting health problems at the pediatricians office at the 4 month checkup.
Breastfeeding Tips #10: Adjust Your First Hour Expectations
In an ideal world, your baby is born then immediately latches and your beautiful, blissful time of breastfeeding begins. Although this is how breastfeeding is painted in many childbirth classes, it’s not always the case. SOME babies latch quickly when they are born. Some do not. And that is okay.
In this first hour, babies are initiating their natural reflexes. This means that they are getting ready to nurse. Sometimes they are a bit sleepy, or recovering from birth, or clearing their airways of amniotic fluid.
It is okay to give them time to get cozy before encouraging them to nurse. Talk to them, gently pat their back and watch for them to show sign of being ready to eat. These signs are sticking their tongue out, opening their mouth wide, their head turning or trying to suck on their hands.
Remember, you just gave birth too. If you feel overwhelmed and need a moment, it is okay for your partner to hold your baby skin to skin for a few minutes so you can regroup and enjoy the first couple hours with your baby slowly and leisurely.
You don’t need to rush and neither does your baby.
Breastfeeding Tip #11: Protect Your Supply
There are legitimate reasons your baby may not breastfeed or latch perfectly in the first days of breastfeeding. Whether they are born premature, or have health difficulties that require close monitoring, or are having trouble regulating their blood sugar levels, or simply have a tongued tie – sometimes you will make a legitimate reason to supplement with formula, donor milk or expressed milk.
It is fine to use the tools needed to keep your baby healthy in their special situation. But – if your long term plan is to breastfeed, make sure to pump or hand express milk any time you would normally feed your baby. That way, when your baby is ready, or the problem is solved, your milk supply will be ready to support them.
A Final Word on Breastfeeding Tips:
Remember: even though breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world… Breastfeeding is a learned process. None of us — not even your baby! — are born knowing how to do it.
Yes, there are unbelievable benefits to breastfeeding and these breastfeeding tips should simplify your journey. Plus, choosing to breastfeed can help you avoid some of the problems with baby formula. But, if you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional for help. You do not have to do it alone.
If you are nursing after having a c-section, you may have a few other specific challenges. That’s why we created you your own guide to breastfeeding after a c-section.
But putting these 10 tips into practice will help you to have a smoother journey as you and your little one get into a feeding routine.
I know that breastfeeding can be a little overwhelming at times, but be patient, follow these tips, and reach out for help if you need it!
feeling great about birth is our gift to you. Let us help you make your beautiful beginning a reality.
""I confided in Suzzie that I struggle with anxiety and a lot of self doubt. To be honest, I just wasn't sure I was cut out to do birth. After a conversation with her, I realized that the process of overcoming these doubts and fears was going to be an amazing gift. She gave me confidence to start working towards the birth I wanted. I went into birth feeling safe and ready. And I had a great experience. I'm glad I had the courage to start. That was the hardest part." - Olivia-Grace , a mom who took the first step and kept on going