It’s World Breastfeeding Week!
What better way to help mothers succeed in nursing than to compile some tried-and-true tips and tricks?
I’m no pro, but I have successfully breastfed two babies. I nursed my first until she was 15 months and am currently nursing my 4-month-old. It’s certainly no walk in the park. It’s exhausting, frustrating, lonely, and painful. But, it’s also rewarding, convenient, and the perfect food for baby. Did you know your breast milk changes according to baby’s age, health and needs – even the time of day ?
Pretty cool stuff.
When I had my first baby, I struggled. Heck, I even struggled with my second. Every baby is so different. Some don’t latch correctly, some are lazy eaters, and some simply flat out refuse and prefer a bottle. I struggled with feelings of failure and I sought out help through Mercy Medical Center’s weekly breastfeeding support group. I met a handful of moms who, like me, had a hard time knowing what to do, what’s normal, and how to increase supply. They were a godsend in giving me a push in my breastfeeding journey.
Whether you’re far along in your nursing journey or a new mom, I’m here to offer up some tips and tricks on how I succeeded in breastfeeding:
1. Get a Good Latch
Ensure baby’s mouth opens wide enough to get most of your areola in their mouths. A shallow latch doesn’t give baby as much milk and will ultimately make your nipples sore.
2. Try Different Positions
There are many ways to feed your baby. Football hold (holding baby like football, with their head at your breast and their body against your side), Cross Cradle (baby laying across your chest/lap) and even side nursing (facing your baby, both laying on your sides). It’s important to change positions to fully empty.
3. Nurse on demand the first few weeks.
Don’t try to get babe on a schedule at first. Offer the breast as much as you can to establish supply.
4. Lazy Eaters
Try undressing completely or nursing in the bath. Don’t try to rush baby when feeding.
5. Block feeding
If baby struggles to gain or if poop is frothy green, it could be too much foremilk (the watery milk that baby gets before the fatty hind milk). By block feeding, you’re offering just one breast (and pumping with the other) at each feeding, so baby gets more of the good stuff.
Strangely enough, some breastfed babies don’t need to burp after feedings, but I’d recommend trying. Nothing is worse than a baby who spits up all that “liquid gold.”
7. No Need to Pump & Dump
Experts now say that a beer or two is fine before feeding baby. As long as you’re not drunk, your milk isn’t drunk. If you’ve had too much to drink (or perhaps medication that is not breast-friendly), you can pump that milk and save it for milk baths, for sunburns, for skin or eye irritations – no need to dump it down the drain!
8. Nipple Soreness
Use nipple cream, lanolin, or vitamin E for cracked, bleeding or tender nipples. A cooling gel pack can also provide relief for engorged breasts.
9. Keep Your Supply up
Pump or nurse every 3 hours to keep supply up. Some babies will sleep for hours. I know parenting advice says not to wake a sleeping baby, but for slow gainers, wake up and feed every 3 hours in the early weeks.
10. Say No to Scents
Don’t use fragrance or essential oils on or around your breasts. Babies are extremely sensitive and may even resist the breast if scented products are used. Peppermint essential oil, for example, can reduce supply, so steer clear!
11. Increase Your Milk Supply
Take fenugreek, brewer’s yeast, Mother’s Milk Tea, oats or dark beer. Keeping hydrated with electrolytes also helps! You can find some great lactation recipes here.
12. Clogged Ducts
If you are having trouble with clogged ducts, take hot showers and massage towards the nipple. You can also try reverse pressure technique if you’re very engorged or swollen.
For further support or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of Cedar Rapids’ lactation consultants through St. Luke’s Hospital or Mercy Medical Center. There’s also a great support network via KellyMom and La Leche League.
More helpful breastfeeding tips from Cedar Rapids Moms:
- Nursing Swag – Helpful and Not So Helpful Products for Breastfeeding
- Nursing-Friendly Fashion for the Fall and Winter
- Breastfeeding Support Cart for the Nursing Mama
- Pumping at Work: Everything You Need to Know
- Pumping on the Fly: Traveling While Breastfeeding
- Moo-ve Over Cheese: Dairy-Free Eating Tips for Breastfeeding Mamas
Nurse on, leaky mamas!
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