Breastfeeding 101: Whether you’re first time mom or a veteran, here are 12 breastfeeding secrets to help with breastfeeding success.
Breastfeeding wasn’t easy for me in the beginning, especially with my eldest. I wanted to give up every day and would need to motivate myself to keep going. After a few weeks though, I finally got the hang of it.
With my twins, I breastfed easily from the start, as if my body picked up right where it left off with my eldest. But after four months, I got hit with thrush and needed to find ways to cope and overcome that obstacle.
And during both times I breastfed my kids, I dealt with clogged ducts and engorged breasts. Both uncomfortable hassles, no matter how common they may be.
I’ve learned a lot of breastfeeding secrets and tips. Not everything is as picture-perfect as you may assume (as I did) and you may face challenges. Still, you’ll realize some pretty amazing benefits that come from breastfeeding as well.
1. Increase milk supply by pumping the other breast
Trick your body into producing more milk by pumping one side while the baby is nursing on the other. Then at the next feeding, have baby nurse on the side you pumped earlier, and pump on the side he nursed. You can use the extra milk for bottles or freeze for later.
2. Unlatch the baby by inserting your finger
One mistake to avoid is pulling baby right off while he’s latched. This can hurt you especially when baby is sucking hard. Instead, break the suction by inserting your finger into his mouth. Then, gently create an air pocket by moving your finger, breaking the suction. Only then should you pull baby off.
3. Ease engorgement manually if needed
Sometimes your body will produce way more milk than you need at the most inconvenient times. If you’re in the shower, relieve engorgement by pressing down and toward the nipple. Imagine a tube of toothpaste you’re trying to push out of the tube from the bottom.
Doing this in the shower is helpful because you won’t have to deal with any mess. Plus the steam of the room will make the milk come out easier.
4. Offer your less-sore nipple first
There might come a time when you’ll suffer from soreness. If one breast isn’t as painful, offer that one first. Your baby will likely suck more in the earlier part of nursing than the latter.
5. Breast milk comes in cycles
The first few minutes are more water-based, the “fore” milk. Then, a few minutes later, the fattier part of the milk comes down, the “hind” milk.
The first few ounces are lighter-colored. Only later will the milk turn whiter with the fatty milk. To give your child a balanced feed, empty the breast so he gets both cycles of milk.
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6. Wear breast shells to protect nipples from contact
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Your nipples might feel uncomfortable from anything that chafes it, including your clothes. I found comfort in breast shells. They allow your nipples to breathe without coming into contact with clothing. And if you apply cream, the shells will help even more by making sure it doesn’t rub off.
7. Feed often (and eat more) to increase supply
Increase supply by feeding or pumping often. I know, easier said than done. But your body will produce less the less you nurse.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re eating and resting enough. Your body is hard at work converting your calories into milk.
8. If you’re pumping at work, leave several parts there as well
I can’t tell you how many times I broke these darn white membranes. Thankfully I kept a stash at work and at home so I wouldn’t have to skip a pump or run to the store.
9. If you’re pumping, introduce the bottle before going to work
If you plan to pump, introduce the bottle early enough before going to work. Your baby should have had enough time to nurse and latch. But you’ll also want to introduce it early enough that he’ll be comfortable with the bottle.
And when you do, have someone else give him the bottle and leave the room when you do. For instance, have dad or your regular caregiver offer the bottle while you step into the next room. Your baby won’t feel confused why he’s drinking from an unfamiliar item with you right there.
10. Make sure baby’s mouth covers a wide area of the breast
When your baby is latched, his mouth should take in part, if not all, of the dark part of your breast, the areola. As he sucks, he’ll be squeezing the milk ducts beneath that area to draw the breast milk out.
If your baby is only sucking on the protruding part of the nipple, it’ll pinch and hurt you. Plus, the baby won’t be able to suck as much as he can. Instead, encourage him to open wide before latching and sucking.
11. Use breast milk to soothe and prep your nipples
Spread a few drops of breast milk over the nipple to soothe it after a nursing session. You can do this along with the lanolin cream, or if you happen to run out. Not only that, you can also use breast milk to prep the nipple for your baby before he latches. Not only will it moisten the area, your baby will also smell it and find it easier to latch.
12. Prevent common complications
I came down with thrush when my twins were four-months-old and it was so painful. Prevent thrush and other complications by:
- air drying nipples
- eating non-sugary foods
- wearing a clean bra or nursing top
Bonus Reader Tip: Nurse over your baby to get rid of plugged ducts
I had to add this useful tip from SSBE reader Kathleen:
I struggled with plugged ducts until I learned this trick. Lay the baby down, maybe prop their head up a little. Arrange yourself over them so your breast is hanging freely and allow them to nurse. Never had a plugged duct thru more than 2 nursing sessions when doing this. Have passed it on to other women with great success for them, too.
It can be a strange position, but one I’ve done it myself with much success.
I’ll be honest: I had a love-hate relationship with breastfeeding. The first few weeks were some of the toughest. I But I also knew I’d miss the special moments only breastfeeding can offer. After all, this isn’t one of those things you can pause and get back into down the line. I learned to enjoy breastfeeding as much as I could, knowing how beneficial it was for both me and baby.
Read more about breastfeeding secrets and tips:
- My Top Breastfeeding Tips
- What Every Mom Needs to Know about Pumping at Work
- 9 Tips on Staying Motivated to Breastfeed
- Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty for Pumping at Work
- Scared to Breastfeed? Try These Tips!
Tell me in the comments: What are your top breastfeeding 101 secrets and tips?
Track feedings and diapers
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