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As a first-time mom who breastfed her little for just over 1 year, I totally understand how challenging the idea of breastfeeding is. Breastfeeding for beginners is no easy task, in fact, it can take some serious time to get in the groove!
Not only are you trying to learn how to breastfeed baby for the first time, but shoot, you’re learning how to take care of them in general!
The biggest piece of advice I want to share before diving into this post is this: preparing to breastfeed before baby arrives will be SO IMPORTANT!
Now, I’m not by any means saying you have to breastfeed or you need to actually nurse a baby.
However, if you are planning or thinking about breastfeeding your baby for any given amount of time, you should take an online breasfeeding course or a breastfeeding course through an IBCLC.
Disclaimer: I'm not a medical professional or in any way associated with being any form of a lactation consultant. I've just had my fair shares of challenges with breastfeeding and want to share these Breastfeeding for Beginners tips to help out other mamas.
Breastfeeding for beginners' tips!
1. Your breast milk may not come in for a couple of days.
It might feel like you 'aren't giving baby enough milk' or 'not making enough breast milk' before your milk actually comes in.
But not to worry, typically your breast milk will transition over from colostrum to creamy breast milk between days 2-5. Know some mamas may take a tad longer and that's ok too.
How to know when your breast milk has come in? Oh, girl, you will know! Your breasts will feel very full & heavy and visually appear much larger. During those beginning days it's important to nurse frequently to build up your breast milk supply for your little one.
In the meantime, be sure to keep some heat packs on hand, because once your milk comes in, you could deal with engorgement, which is never fun! The heat packs make for a great home remedy to ease the discomfort!
2. Focus and learn to understand baby hunger cues
Trying to understand what your newborn needs is definitely a challenge. Especially in those early days.
Some common baby hunger cues to watch out for are:
- lip-smacking or sucking sounds.
- opening mouth looking to suckle.
- sucking their hands or continuously bringing them up to their mouth.
- rooting (turning to look for mom's breast to try and suckle).
- acting fussy and squirmy out of the blue.
A crying baby is typically displaying the last sign of hunger. Make sure you watch baby closely and if, in doubt, you can always offer them your breast to see if they will nurse.
Lastly, newborn babies tend to eat, sleep and poop. Sometimes, they want to sleep more than eat, so it's important to make sure you're feeding at least every 2 hours during those early days to make sure their nutritional needs are kept up!
3. Know how to treat sore nipples
I know it sounds horrible. Truthfully, the first couple of days may not feel so great. However, the pain DOES go away once baby becomes more efficient at nursing!
To help soothe painful nipples during the first few days of breastfeeding, using a good breastfeeding cream, like the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter! This stuff worked wonders for me and I highly advise at least trying it out!
Another tip that worked really well for me was to use hydrogel nursing pads in between nursing. These pads have a cool soothing effect to help minimize any irritation. Just be sure to rinse off before you nurse again in between wearing the gel pads!
If you continue to have any lingering nipple pain, cracked or bleeding nipples outside of the first few days to the first week, you should see an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) for help as it could be latching or another issue.
4. Know when does milk supply regulate
Generally speaking, the first 12 weeks are crucial to regulating your breast milk supply.
Key factors to understand is that an empty breast will equate to a faster milk refill in comparison to a full breast which leads to a slow milk refill. To put it simply, it is a product of supply & demand.
5. Establish a solid new mom support group
This group could be made up of friends, family, simply your partner or physically going to a support group.
It sounds silly now, but having a strong support system that supports your breastfeeding choices is going to be so key to having a successful journey.
Breastfeeding is not always going to be a happy journey. You will have moments of frustration, sadness and then happiness and love. This is where your support group will come in to support you and encourage you to keep going when things get tough.
If breastfeeding isn't in your future anymore, they will guide and support you through that decision.
Additional tips to help with learning to breastfeed
Learning how to breastfeed your baby (in addition to applying the tips above) is something that can take some time to get used to.
You'll want to focus on learning:
- how to properly latch your baby to your breast
- utilizing various breastfeeding positions
- taking a breastfeeding class if you're unsure where to start
- how to store your breast milk so it NEVER spoils!
- how to use a breast pump in the event you're unable to nurse your baby
Were these 5 Breastfeeding for Beginners tips helpful for you?
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