Tips for Successful Breastfeeding
When a mother chooses to breastfeed, she can face many challenges from pain and soreness to low milk supply. Below are some of our favorite tips to help you successfully breastfeed your baby!
Feed on Demand
Your newborn may want to eat every 90 minutes. Your 6-month-old still may be nursing every 2 hours. Your 11-month-old may want mother's milk every 3 hours. When your baby is hungry, offer the breast. When nursing, there is no need to stick to a schedule or deny your baby food. Lots of nursing is healthy for your baby. As long as you're both enjoying it, there's no reason to limit breastfeeding sessions.
A nursing baby cannot overeat. Newborns especially nurse for reasons other than hunger. He may be seeking comfort, fighting a cold, or wanting to be closer to Mom. Breastfeeding often should be encouraged. Frequent nursing doesn't mean you don't have enough milk. In fact, babies who nurse often encourage better milk supplies in their mothers.
Do not let your friend, mother, sister, mother-in-law, neighbor, partner, or anyone else, convince you you're spoiling your baby by allowing him to eat when he wants. You can't spoil a baby.
Breastfeeding pillows can be a huge comfort to a mother when nursing her baby. You can purchase a Boppy or Mombo if you like, but truthfully any throw pillows should provide adequate support when nursing and holding your baby.
A Nursing mom may neglect her posture. If you're hunched over your baby, you will develop back pain. Try to sit up straight when feeding your little one. Find a method of feeding that's comfortable for you and your little one.
To accomplish this, you may also want to try a variety of nursing positions. While the cradle hold is indeed very common, many Moms have more success with the cross cradle hold, where your hand is supporting baby's head, instead of the crook of your arm. Nursing mothers have reported they can get a better, deeper latch wit this particular hold. You may want to place a pillow under baby's head to bring him to breast level for the cross cradle hold.
Another excellent position for tired Mommies is the side-lying position. This allows you and baby to get some rest. It's also useful if you have a forceful letdown or oversupply issues. For side-lying, lay down with your baby by your side, on his side, facing you. Use your arm to hold your baby's back. You may also use a rolled-up blanket behind your baby to support him while you support your own head with your free arm.
A proper latch simply means your baby has taken the breast into his mouth correctly. He is able to effectively remove milk from the breast.
- Make sure your baby's mouth is open wide and his tongue is down during the initial latch-on.
- Support your breast with your hand, like you would hold a sandwich, but reverse. Your thumb will be on the top of your breast, with your remaining fingers underneath.
- Glide your nipple from the middle of your baby's mouth to his chin to encourage a wider opening of the mouth.
- When baby's mouth is wide open, bring the baby to the breast. Do not bring your breast to the baby; this will result in back pain and an ineffective latch.
- You baby's nose should be almost touching your breast, but not pressed against it. His lips should be turned out, sometimes called flanged. You should be able to hear breathing and swallowing.
- Even with a proper latch, you may feel pain during the first 30-60 seconds of nursing. This is quite common. If the pain persists for longer than two minutes, remove your baby from breast and try for another latch.
- If you're still having trouble with pain or your baby isn't wetting enough diapers, seek professional help from a lactation consultant in your area.
Set up Nursing Stations
New Moms will have a few places around their home where they enjoy nursing. For you, this may be a living room sofa, your bedroom, and the nursery. Wherever you frequently nurse, set up a "Nursing Station". With a baby, you never know if you'll be breastfeeding for ten minutes or an hour. It's best to set yourself up for success by having essential supplies within reach. At each of your nursing spots, set up a "nursing station". At these stations, have supplies for you and baby on hand. In each room, have a basket with the following items:
- 2-3 Diapers for Baby
- 1 Change of Clothes for Baby
- 1 Change of Shirt for Mom
- Burp Cloths
- Lanolin or Coconut Oil*
- Diaper Rash Creme*
- Bottled Water
- One-Handed Snacks for Mom (Granola Bars, Protein Bars, Almonds, Raisins, Apples, Etc.)
- *If Using
Evaluate Your Wardrobe
Just like regular pillows, some of your regular clothing is already suitable for breastfeeding. If you have wrap dresses, wrap tops, low-cut stretchy tops, or loose shirts that can be pulled up, you've got plenty to wear while nursing. If you can access your chest, it's fine for breastfeeding. There's no need to drop a ton of cash on a nursing wardrobe.
That being said, you may need to find a nursing bra or two. For those first few weeks at home, going braless is perfectly fine. However, if you're heading back to work, have an ample chest, or simply want to wear a bra, you will probably need to be fitted for a nursing bra. There are many options today from molded cups to sports bras. Nordstrom and Motherhood both offer in-store sizing for nursing Moms.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
It's easy to forget to eat when dealing with the round-the-clock needs of a newborn. However, if you're committed to breastfeeding, Mama needs to eat too. One of the best things about nursing is you're able to eat an additional 300-500 calories a day. If you want to keep your supply up, use those calories for galactagogues like foods featuring oatmeal, fenugreek, and fennel.
To combat fatigue and hunger, try to keep some easy to reach, easy to eat foods on hand. Many well-meaning friends and family members will bring new parents homemade lasagnas. While certainly a nice gesture, this doesn't reflect the reality that a new Mom will only have one hand free 90% of the time. Sitting down with a knife and fork to a meal will become a distant memory for most.
Fortunately, there are many healthy, one-handed foods out there. For breastfeeding Moms, Protein Poppers, also known affectionately in the nursing community as Boobie Bites, are a great snack option. These no-bake oat-based treats are delicious and easy to eat while holding, nursing or rocking a baby. Recipes for nursing moms can be found below.
Recipes for Nursing Moms
No-Bake Protein Poppers
- 1 Cup Rolled Oats
- 1/3 Cup Coconut Flakes
- 1/2 Cup Walnut Butter (Peanut or Almond Butter may be substituted)
- 1/2 Cup Ground Flaxseed
- 1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips
- 1/3 Cup Honey
- 1 tsp Vanilla
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix very thoroughly. Refrigerate the mixture for at least one hour. Remove the mixture from the refrigerator and roll the "dough" into 1" balls.
- 2 Bananas
- 1 Cup Chopped Strawberries
- 1/2 Cup Steel Cut Oats
- 2 Tbsp Flaxseed
- 2 Tbsp Brewer's Yeast
- 1 1/2 Cups Almond Milk
- 2 Cups of Ice (More if You like a thinner texture)
Blend steel cut oats alone first. Once well blended, add all remaining ingredients, except ice. Blend well. Finally, add ice and blend to your desired consistency*.
*Note: If you are using frozen fruit, ice is not needed. This will also keep better in the fridge if you are making a large batch.
Choco-Banana Lactation Muffins
- 3-4 Ripe Bananas
- 1/3 Cup Butter
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1 1/2 Tsp. Vanilla
- 1 Tsp. Baking Soda
- 1 Egg
- 1 Tsp. Salt
- 1 Cup Flour
- 1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
- 2 Tbsp. Brewer's Yeast
- 2 Tbsp. Flaxseed
- 1 Cup Chocolate Chips
- 1 Cup Chopped Walnuts
Preheat oven to 350. Use cooking spray or coconut oil to grease a non-stick pan or put muffin wrappers in the muffin pan.
In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas. Add the melted butter and mix well. Add in the vanilla, egg and sugar until blended.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, Brewer’s Yeast and Flax Seed until blended.
Incorporate the banana mixture into the dry ingredients. Once well blended, mix in the rolled oats. Then add chocolate chips and nuts (if using) and mix well.
Once all ingredients have been well mixed, fill each muffin wrapper 3/4 full with batter. Bake 25-30 minutes.