Planning to Breastfeed?
Are you planning to breastfeed? You probably already know that breast milk provides all the necessary nutrients, antibodies, and growth factors that a baby needs for healthy development. Breast milk also helps to protect babies against infections, allergies, and other health problems.
There are many benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and babies. For mothers, breastfeeding can help with weight loss, reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and improve mental health. For babies, breastfeeding can help with brain development, reduce the risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, and lower the risk of obesity and chronic diseases later in life. However, this can be one of the most challenging things for a woman to do. The goal of this post is to try to give you some tips and tricks to help you, if this is what you wish to do!
- This is the most challenging natural thing to do.
- Learn about breastfeeding before giving birth. It can be helpful to educate yourself about breastfeeding before your baby is born. This can include learning about proper latch techniques, how to know if your baby is getting enough milk, and how to manage common breastfeeding challenges.
- Seek support. Breastfeeding can be a learning process, and it is normal to have questions or need help. Seek out support from a lactation consultant, a healthcare provider, or a support group.
- Take care of yourself. Breastfeeding can be physically and emotionally demanding, so it is important to take care of yourself. Get enough rest, eat a well-balanced diet, and drink plenty of fluids.
- Be patient. Breastfeeding can take time and practice to master. It is normal to have ups and downs, and it is important to be patient with yourself and your baby as you both learn.
- Initiate skin to skin and learn those feeding cues right away.
- Typically your newborn will wake to feed 8-12 times per 24 hours. If it feels like you are always nursing, it is because you probably always are!! Once your baby is adequately fed, their hands and body will usually relax and they’ll stop giving you those feeding ques.
- During feedings, you can massage your breast with gentle compression to help stimulate good milk let down. This can help your baby feel more full with each feeding because it can support more milk production.
- Cluster Feeding is when your newborn has frequent feedings over a period of hours. Your newborn is likely going to be fussy during these times and they often occur at night. Cluster feeding can sometimes occur around developmental milestones for baby. Use lanolin to help your nipples during this time, ensure proper latch to reduce pain, and utilize your resources to learn more.
- Your milk won’t fully come in for 3-4 days, when it does, make sure you are emptying properly and emptying enough. Don’t let your breast feel like rocks! You might even feel like you have chills or break out in a sweat when your milk comes in.
- Your breast will feel a sense of fullness and might feel tingly or strange when you are breastfeeding. You might continue to have night sweats with breastfeeding.
- It is normal for it to cause some discomfort in those first few days. Make sure to buy some lanolin to apply to your nipples. If you have pain with latching, use a finger to help break the latch and reposition your baby. Check with the lactation consultant in the hospital to be sure baby has a good latch. A poor latch can cause severe pain & issues.
- Drink LOTS of water!
- The football hold is great for a deeper latch, make sure to look at all the different kinds of holds you can try!
- Meet with a lactation consultant EARLY in the process and don’t be afraid to go back to one after you leave the hospital!
- Take your Vitamin D while breastfeeding. It is best to continue your prenatal vitamin during your breastfeeding time as well.
- As long as your baby is growing and meeting pediatricians expectations, you are doing great! Wait to supplement until it is medically indicated. Be sure to have an honest discussion with the pediatrician about your breastfeeding wishes. Even if you need to supplement, don’t feel like a failure.
- Exclusively pumping? You can also benefit from a lactation consultant. They will help you understand when to stop pumping and make sure your attachments are the proper size.
- Make sure to buy a good basic pumping bra. Bring that and your pump to the hospital for help from the lactation consultant while you are there.
- Never stop pumping when your breast are in the middle of producing milk. Wait to stop until you stop seeing milk production.
- It is very common to feel overwhelmed and exhausted, especially the first few days and weeks after birth. It will get easier. If you are feeling anxiety or mood disturbances, please reach out to your OBGYN. You should start to slowly feel more and more like yourself as the days go on.
- If you feel sadness or strange when you breastfeed, ask your OBGYN about dysmorphic milk ejection reflex.
- Always do what is best for you and your baby. If you feel you are finished, be proud that accomplished however much you did! It’s okay to stop for mental health reasons.
- Try to take naps when the baby naps. Prioritize yourself and what makes you feel good. Utilize your resources, whether that be help from lactation consultants, your partner, or your friends. Let them help you!
- FED IS BEST.
American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children
Texas Tech Health Sciences Infant Risk Center (includes useful information about medications)
Reliable lactation advice and peer support:
New Mom Health
Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine protocols
United States government websites:
Office on Women's Health
WIC Breastfeeding Support
Join a breastfeeding or postpartum support group either online or in person:
La Leche League International
Postpartum Support International
Resources include UpToDate, ACOG, and the advice and support of a network of PA MOMS. Created with care by Amanda Murphy, PA-C