First, let me say this: this post is not meant to start a war about whether or not breast is best.
That’s your own personal decision so I’m not trying to badger you into breastfeeding just because it worked for me. If formula works for you- go for it! I’ll have a few of these posts about breastfeeding tips so let’s start with tips on motherhood for breastfeeding success in the early days when you feel like quitting. Because believe me, those first few days can be rough.
And with Squeaker, I was just about ready to quit after two days in. We ended up surpassing our initial 6 month and even 1 year goal. We made it through a bout of mastitis and well, it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience for us both. Be sure to check out my breastfeeding tips and advice and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions!
Breastfeeding can be an incredibly rewarding and incredibly frustrating experience. There are ups and there downs, but I think it’s all worth it in the end. I’m not a lactation expert, just a breastfeeding mom who wants to share what’s worked with my kiddos. Each of my three were breastfed, but each were breastfed for different lengths of time.
I’ve also got a post coming up for breastfeeding in the NICU so be sure to look out for that one soon.
6 Breastfeeding Success Tips for the First Few Days
1. Try to nurse as soon as possible after birth. While you may not feel in the best of shape after pushing that baby out, ask if you can hold your baby right away and bring them to your breast. While you may not get them to latch right away, establishing this connection can go a long way. Encourage your baby and guide them towards your breast.
Although your mature milk hasn’t developed yet, your breasts are still producing a substance known as colostrum that helps to protect your baby from infections.
2. Vary your nursing positions. You may find that a more “traditional” breastfeeding position is uncomfortable and that’s fine. What works for one mom won’t always work for another mom. For Squeaker and I, in the beginning, the traditional cradle hold did not work. Eventually we realized that the football hold and a side-to-side what was we needed.
If you’re looking to make this more comfortable, consider purchasing a nursing pillow.
3. Hand express if needed. One of the things that I needed to do to encourage Squeaker, was hand express a little bit into her mouth and then guide her to the breast. She was great with latching on, it was just a matter of getting here there.
If you are still having difficulty with pumping later on, consider purchasing a manual breast pump.
4. Check your baby’s latch. If nursing feels painful, then you may need to check the baby’s latch. Ideally, your baby should have most of your nipple in her mouth when nursing.
If your baby has trouble finding or staying on your nipple, you shouldn’t panic. Breastfeeding is an art that will require a lot of patience and a lot of practice. No one expects you to be an expert when you first start, so you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for advice or have a nurse show you what you need to do.
Still unsure? Check out one of these books!
5. Be prepared for when your milk comes in. This can be painful when your milk finally comes in. Use warm compresses or take warm showers. Just be mindful that when you take a warm shower it may trigger a let down.
6. Nurse often and on demand. When your baby is hungry (and you can see them rooting and/or searching for the breast), feed them. Often the cries are the last sign of a hungry baby. Don’t try to set a feeding schedule just yet with your baby and nurse when they want to nurse.
Try keeping a breastfeeding go-to pack in various parts of the house! Breastfeeding essentials include:
- Breast pads
- Nipple shields
- Nursing bra
- Nipple cream
- Heat packs (to help with let-down)
- Ice packs (to help with pain)
You should nurse quite frequently, as the more you nurse the more quickly your mature milk will come in and the more milk you’ll produce. Breastfeeding for 10 – 15 minutes per breast 8 – 10 times every 24 hours is an ideal target.
But, if your baby wants to nurse more, let them nurse more. Start tracking these feedings to see if there’s pattern. Or if you have concerns with how often your baby is nursing, address them with your pediatrician.
Out and about? Don’t fear!
During the first few days, you may have to wake your baby to begin breast feeding, and s/he may end up falling asleep during feeding. To ensure that your baby is eating often enough, you could also wake him or her up if it has been four hours since the last time s/he has been fed.
But that’s up to you.
While some women adjust to breast feeding easily, other moms find it hard to learn. If you feel discouraged, always know that you aren’t the only one. Everyone feels different when starting, it all depends on the mother and the situation.
One thing that I absolutely want to stress: if you cannot find breastfeeding success, you are NOT a failure. You are NOT a lesser mom.
Breast feeding will take practice. Therefore, you should give yourself as much time as you need to get it down to second nature. Always take it one feeding at a time. If you are having a bad day, tell yourself that it’ll get better.
Did you breastfeed your baby? What advice or tips would you share?
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I really struggled with breastfeeding with my babies and got mastitis several times with each baby. I agree with everything you’ve listed but I found that a feeding schedule guided by the baby really helped to get me back in a place of control. Everything feels crazy and out of control. Knowing that I had 2 -1/2 hours from feeding to feeding helped me feel more confident. That said baby will have hungry days and not so hungry days when you have to adjust. I just needed to have a plan.