BREASTFEEDING TIPS & TRICKS FROM MOTHERS & EXPERTS
Experts tell us that that breast milk is the best gift a mother can give her baby, because human milk contains both specific nutrients and protections against illness that babies need to thrive. Breastfeeding can also be daunting and overwhelming for new moms — but it doesn’t have to be. As we jump into this article, going over personal anecdotes, tips and tricks from mothers and a lactation expert, one theme comes through — believe in yourself, trust your intuition and relax!
Tips and tricks from lactation expert and parenting coach
Lauren Quinonez of Tutti Bambini
- Manage expectations and prepare in advance for the first few weeks of breastfeeding the baby at home.
- Take a prenatal lactation class to truly prepare yourself.
- There is no schedule with breastfeeding in the early weeks, it's all supply and demand. Feed baby early and often. The more demand there is, the more supply you'll ultimately have later on.
- You can't pour from an empty cup, make sure mom is eating enough too. Plenty of water, hydration is key.
- To prevent nipple damage, always express milk and rub it on the areola before and after feeding to truly help care for the nipple.
- Breastfeeding is a long term relationship, eat and drink what you want. An occasional social drink or two is totally fine, no need to pump and dump in these scenarios. Just try not to get inebriated.
- A proper latch is key. We want to avoid any nipple damage, because it's much more difficult to fix once it's cracked and bleeding. Get help early from an expert as it shouldn't be a difficult process.
- Breast reduction can affect breastfeeding as it reduces supply of the milk ducts. Speak to an expert with any concerns you might have.
Advice from real breastfeeding moms
We asked women of different ages and experience — with children from infancy to fully grown — for tips about breastfeeding.
Barbara J., mother of three breastfed children that are now adults:
“The first three days are the most important, when you’re producing colostrum, before your milk comes in. At first it's antibodies and more, you're giving your child your immunity, so if you can't breastfeed the whole time, just try to do it the first couple of days. They say you’re supposed to breastfeed from both boobs each time but I never did. I would do one until they fell asleep and then do the other the next time. Also make sure that while you're feeding one boob, to have a pad on the other as it can leak!
I also never woke my babies up to breastfeed. When they woke up, that was when I breastfed them and I never had any problems. Something I was surprised by is when you first start breastfeeding you get really bad stomach cramps. It's good pain, it's contracting all your stomach muscles. It's helping you get all your muscles and stomach back to what it was before the baby. The nurses at the hospital kept saying ‘Don’t worry, it's good!’
I got pregnant with my third while still breastfeeding my second. Don't treat it as a contraceptive.”
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Emily R., mother of 2 children in elementary school:
“I didn't realize how soothing and wonderful breastfeeding would be. I realize it's not like that for everyone — given possible difficulties, etc. — but it was for me. I loved every minute of it. I knew when it was the right time for me to stop (for me and my babies) and I feel like women should listen to themselves and not feel pressured to stop when they aren’t ready, or to keep going when you feel the time has come to end.
My daughter had colic, and we’d be up all night together — and watching the sunrise in the morning! I was losing my mind from lack of sleep. Finally I tried probiotics made for babies. You just put a little on before breastfeeding. It made her colic go away within a week. I wish I had known about them from the beginning.
For when those little sharp teeth come in, I read somewhere that if the baby bites you, put them down and walk away. I tried that with my babies and it worked — they each stopped biting after I made it clear the feeding stops immediately.
I really liked my breastfeeding pillow. I was almost too dependent on it. I'd love to know if there are on-the-go versions of this, or other ways women found to bolster their babies and be comfortable when they didn't want to lug a giant curved pillow around.”
Our favorite nursing pillows, big and small: https://niniandloli.com/collections/nursing-pillows
Marissa S., mom with a new baby in tow:
“At the hospital the nurse just tells you to hold and just do it, but when you get home you don't know what to do. I hired a lactation nurse. You can't tell how much milk they're getting. And my baby used to scream and I didn't know why and then the lactation nurse helped me figure out it was because I was overproducing. Overproduction is also a huge issue. I had mastitis three times where my boob was infected. For her to eat, it was coming out too fast and too much. So my baby taught herself how to slow down the flow by clamping down on the nipple which the expert let me know could cause painful permanent damage. Which is why I started pumping and it slowed the flow down. This ended up being the right choice for me because there was too much. You have to do what's right for you.
Another reason pumping was good for me was because it allowed for my baby to get the right amount of hindmilk and foremilk that she needed. I didn’t know this before, but there’s hindmilk and foremilk, and foremilk isn't as nutritional. The lactation nurse explained that hindmilk keeps them more full because it 's more nutritionally dense. Baby was happier and so was mommy.
My milk production just all of a sudden cut in half, I spoke with the expert, and I had to supplement with formula. It just happens sometimes. I cried and was upset, but I breastfed as much as I could and gave formula to make ends meet. There's a pressure and stigma around formula, but push comes to shove, there's no shame in it. You're not going to let your child starve! I had a really hard time being OK with it because of that stigma. But looking back on it, I shouldn't have been as upset since I was doing what was best for me and my baby.
Follow your instinct/intuition on what's right for you and baby, that’s my tip for new moms. People told me that before I became a mom, but I never really grasped it until I found I was putting unnecessary stress on myself.”
Our formula recommendations: https://niniandloli.com/collections/formulas
Ultimately, it comes down to you. This is not one size fits all. If you decide to breastfeed your baby, figure out what works for YOU and don’t be afraid to ask for help.