Breastfeeding is one of the most amazing and incredible natural ways to care for your baby.
But breastfeeding is HARD.
Don’t be ashamed if you are struggling with breastfeeding. I struggled big-time with breastfeeding, I’m not going to sugar code it. Breastfeeding was painful and stressful, especially in the beginning. I experienced it all, I remember one time I had horrible mastitis and I was just praying that my milk supply will just disappear so I don’t have to go through this pain anymore.
But I am so glad, that I didn’t give up on breastfeeding.
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Breastfeeding Tips I wish I knew from the beginning.
1.Importance of Latching
This is the most important part of successful breastfeeding, you want your baby’s mouth to cover the areola and not just the nipple. That was my problem, I assumed that the baby just needs to grab the nipple, that is why I experience so much pain in the beginning. Make sure your baby takes a mouthful of the areola, also a good latch is when the baby’s lips are flanged out like a fish.
2. Find Your Feeding Position
Get comfortable and as relaxed as you can, and try out different feeding positions and see which one you like the best and which one works for you. Some popular feeding positions are:
- The Football Hold – place your baby under the arm as if you would to hold a football, and hold your baby’s head to help them latch.
- The Cross Cradle Hold – use the opposite arm to support the baby’s head and back.
- The Side-Lying Position – mom lies on her side and brings the baby’s mouth in line with the nipple. I have friends that absolutely love this position, they don’t have to get out of bed in the middle of the night. But for some reason this was my least favorite breastfeeding position, I felt really awkward, l just couldn’t find that comfortable spot with this position. But it may work for you.
- The Cradle Position – This is my favorite position, you would sit upright and turn the baby towards you, and not just the head, make sure the spine aligns with the head. The cradle position allows your arm to support the baby and the breast.
3. Boppy Pillow is a game-changer.
Comfort is huge when it comes to breastfeeding, Boppy Pillow provides your back support and allows your hands to be free. My only regret is not investing in one earlier, a boppy pillow is essential and makes breastfeeding much easier.
4. Invest in a good pump.
My biggest breastfeeding tip is to buy a Good Quality Electric Pump. One of the reasons why I experienced so much pain, is because I used a bad cheap pump that did not get all the milk out, and I actually end up having mastitis. Not to mention bleeding and cracked nipples from such a strong suction.
When I finally bought This Pump I couldn’t believe the difference. It was lifechanging with it comes to breastfeeding world. A good quality pump should mimic a nursing baby, and express all the milk out.
5. Take Care Of Your Breasts.
Protect your breasts from cold, especially in the winter months. You might think that’s silly, but Vasospasm can occur with breastfeeding and it can cause a lot of pain in the nipples and breasts.
It might be a coincidence, but I was nursing my baby in the winter months and our laundry was in the garage with poor insulation so the garage was always cold. I kept running to the garage to do my laundry, and although I didn’t go to a doctor to confirm, I believe I experienced Vasospasm. All the symptoms I researched online about vasospasm, I had. And it was horrible, its probably a good idea to be on a safe side and be a little more cautious.
Also, protect your nipples, I remember at the beginning (especially with my horrible pump) my nipples were so painful. There are a number of things that contribute to sore and cracked nipples, one of them is your baby can suck very strongly on the nipple. Make sure you always apply Nipple Cream and when it becomes too painful to breastfeeding, try using a nipple shield.
6. Stay Hydrated
Make sure to drink lots of water throughout the day, and keep a bottle of water next to you when breastfeeding. Water is important for milk production, breastmilk is made up of about 90% water, speaking from personal experience, I found myself more thirsty while breastfeeding especially during Suckling.
7. Increase Milk Supply by Snuggling with your Baby
One of the hormones that affect breastfeeding is called oxytocin, it makes milk already in the breast flow to the baby. Oxytocin starts working when mom is expected to feed, and that is why experts say skin to skin is so important.
Looking, smelling, touching, and thinking about your baby helps oxytocin to be released. For more information about The Physiological basics of breastfeeding, I found this Article very interesting and helpful. It also mentions that if a mother is in pain or emotional upset, it may affect the oxytocin reflex and may cause milk to stop flowing.
8. Help your Baby Nurse
I know they say to let the baby find the breast, but using your hands to help and support the baby is what helped me. Hold your breast as if you would hold a “Sandwich”, tilt your baby’s head so the nose is across the nipple and have the baby take a mouth full or chomp down. Watch out and make sure your nipple is not creased but is round. I did not know this, and this was one of the reasons why breastfeeding was so painful for me.
9. Nurse Often
Offer the breast as often as you can, in the beginning, babies sleep a lot. And there is debate wheater to wake up a sleeping baby or not. If your baby is sleeping more than 3-4 hours,(good for you, your the lucky one) then its probably a good idea to wake her up.
Frequent nursing helps increase your milk supply and is the key to preventing encouragement. Also if you go too long without breastfeeding, the baby might become fussy because she’s hungry and will have a harder time latching on.
10. If you feel pain, don’t ignore it
If you feel like your baby did not empty all the milk out, you need to express that milk out. Don’t be afraid to use the pump, to prevent engorgement or mastitis.
Prevention is the key, and if you feel burning, tingling sharp pain in your breasts please don’t ignore it.
Let me tell you mastitis is not fun, it was horrible. As a first-time mom, I thought that pain is just part of breastfeeding.
No pain is Not Normal!
Listen to your body, and if you are not feeling better in a couple of days, its time to see a doctor.
Breastfeeding is amazing and it has so many benefits. Advice is great and all, but in the end, you know what’s best for you and your baby. Preparation, Knowledge, and Experience is the key to successful breastfeeding.
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PS. I am not a doctor or lactational specialist and the information provided is for educational purposes only and not substitute professional health services