Breastfeeding isn’t always intuitive. It can take a lot of patience, observation and work while also managing your baby’s demands for food. We’ve put together this list of tips and tricks to help make breastfeeding easier and more enjoyable for you and your baby.
- Breastfeed right after birth
Breastfeeding within the first hour after birth, or as soon as possible, is key to setting you and your baby up for future success. Having skin-to-skin contact with your baby directly after birth helps send signals to your brain and body to produce breast milk. Typically, your body will produce colostrum for the first few days, which is all a newborn needs. Your body will adjust and produce more breast milk as your baby continues to nurse.
- Try different breastfeeding positions
Making sure your baby latches properly is critical for breastfeeding. Experimenting with different breastfeeding positions can help you find what works for both you and your baby.
Here are some of the common positions:
- Cradle: put your baby’s head in the crook of your arm, supporting their back and bottom with your forearm.
- Side-lying: while lying down, place your baby alongside you with them facing you.
- Football: tuck your baby under your arm with its head resting in your hand.
- Cross-cradle: hold your baby with the opposite arm of the breast you are using.
No matter what position you use, do not fall asleep while nursing, as this can be dangerous for your baby and increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Count dirty diapers
Keeping track of dirty diapers can also be a helpful way of making sure your baby is getting enough milk. During the first week after birth, you should be seeing around four to six wet diapers a day with both urine and stool.
- Don’t wait to get help
A common cause of pain during breastfeeding is an improper latch, which can injure the nipple. A lactation specialist can help you make sure your baby is latching properly and can help you avoid pain while nursing.
- Keep your nipples moisturized
Using a purified lanolin nipple cream or nursing ointment can help keep your nipples moisturized and help avoid them becoming cracked and sore. You can also try expressing a couple of drops of breast milk after nursing and gently rubbing it onto your nipples with a clean hand.
- Treat clogged milk ducts right away
Plugged or clogged milk ducts occur when your milk gets backed up and can cause severe pain. Try breastfeeding on the side with the plugged duct as often as every two hours to help loosen the clog. You can also try aiming your baby’s chin at the duct, which will focus their sucking at the affected duct. A hot shower followed by a cold compress can also help and relieve inflammation.
- Drink lots of water
Your body needs a lot of water to make milk. As your body adjusts to breastfeeding, you will need to stay well hydrated. Keep a reusable water bottle on hand and make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Take breastfeeding one day at a time
A big part of breastfeeding is having patience with your baby and with yourself. Breastfeeding comes with its learning curve and it takes time to figure out what works right for you and your baby. Know that there are many resources available to you and don’t be afraid to ask for support.
Women’s Care offers free breastfeeding classes for all our new moms to help you learn how to breastfeed and the benefits to you and your baby.