16 Breastfeeding Secrets to Help You Succeed

After you’ve welcomed your baby into the world, you’re going to begin navigating the intricacies of breastfeeding almost immediately. Most babies begin breastfeeding within the first hour after birth and doing so will increase the success of that initial latch. Over time, you may find that breastfeeding comes easily, or you might be one of the millions of women who struggle in one way or another. Regardless of where you fall, here are 16 breastfeeding secrets to help you succeed.

1. Stick to the Basics

Many breastfeeding problems can be traced to some type of deviation from the basics. Usually, there are simple ways to alleviate problems. Low milk supply can be caused by infrequent nursing, sore nipples may be due to specific breastfeeding positions, and attention to your baby’s feeding cues can do wonders. Avoid some of the most common breastfeeding mistakes and try not to overcomplicate things. Here are some great tips on breastfeeding for beginners and if you need help, reach out to your doctor.

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2. Ensure a Good Latch

One of the most crucial aspects of successful breastfeeding is getting a good, deep latch. A good latch creates a strong milk flow and reduces pain or soreness associated with nursing. There are several different ways to approach this and working with a lactation consultant can help if you’re struggling. To start, try to position your baby so that your nipple is at their nose and both of your bellies are touching. This creates a neutral spine, so your baby won’t have to turn his or her head to latch. When stimulated, your baby will then lift their mouth upwards, which can help to keep the mouth wide and create a deeper latch.

Never push the back of your baby’s head to attempt to deepen a latch as this will have the opposite result and can lead to negative latching behaviors.

3. Prioritize Skin-to-Skin Contact

Skin-to-skin contact is one of the best ways to bond with your baby, whether you’re nursing or not. By including plenty of contact during breastfeeding, you’ll help create a calming, safe environment for your baby to relax and strengthen their relationship with you. These factors increase the success of breastfeeding and can even improve latching.

4. Find a Schedule That Works

To make breastfeeding easier, try to find a schedule that works for your baby. Some women prefer to utilize responsive feedings while others try to use a timed method. It might take some trial and error but stick to whatever works for you. Don’t get too hung up on which method is ultimately better. If it’s working, your baby is gaining weight in a healthy, normal manner, and you aren’t having sleep regression issues, stick to it.

5. Utilize a Breastfeeding Pillow

There are millions of different pregnancy and baby products available, but not all are created equally. A breastfeeding pillow is one investment that’s well worth the money. Breastfeeding pillows can help improve your baby’s position and increase your support during nursing sessions, so you get the most out of your feedings. There are plenty of different options online ranging from inexpensive (or DIY) to pricey, so take some time to shop around and find something that works for you.

6. Stay Hydrated

Hydration is essential to staying healthy during breastfeeding and maintaining a strong milk supply. Water helps your body function and can increase the effectiveness of your glands when producing milk. If you aren’t sure about your hydration levels, try keeping track of your water intake. Aim to drink about one gallon of water per day while breastfeeding, more if you’re engaging in vigorous exercise.

7. Continue Taking Prenatal Vitamins

Your prenatal vitamins are packed with essential nutrients that can be delivered to your baby through your breastmilk. Prenatal vitamins have been shown to help improve milk production and create more nutrient packed milk. If you have any questions about your prenatal vitamin, talk to your doctor today.

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8. Eat for Nutrition

While you might still have some lingering cravings, try to eat for nutrition during most of your meals. Everything that you ingest, your baby ingests too, so healthy eating is key to providing essential nutrients. When you start breastfeeding, keep an eye on your baby’s bowel movements and behavior. Certain foods have a tendency to upset a baby’s stomach and may increase colic, gas, or diarrhea.

9. Have a Support System

When learning about breastfeeding, nursing, and lactation consultants, make sure that your partner is there with you. This is especially important if the information is being digested immediately following delivery. You’ll want a support system that knows all the crucial information so they can help you if you feel overwhelmed or discouraged. This will also be beneficial when your partner helps with nightly feedings using pumped milk. The more information that your partner knows, the more supported you’ll feel. Enlisting help from friends or family is another option. As they say, it takes a village. For the most comprehensive support system, schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant.

10. Get Educated

To take a more proactive approach, consider seeking out classes or support groups before you deliver. This gives you a chance to better understand what to expect, learn about potential hurdles, and find ways to cope with breastfeeding stress before you’re put in that position. There are several breastfeeding classes and support groups available that can help you better understand breastfeeding secrets that will help you succeed.

11. Trust Your Instincts

Even if you’re a first-time mom, always trust your instincts—you know more than you think. If you’ve tried everything and you can tell that your baby is not getting enough milk or something is off, seek additional help. There’s no shame in finding outside help from a lactation consultant and doing so before things progress is a great way to ensure your baby continues along a healthy development. During your hospital stay, ask your doctor for a recommendation of a trusted lactation consultant. You may also want to consider meeting with a lactation consultant before your delivery date to find someone that you get along with and is respectful of your wishes.

12. Be Ready for Difficult Days

No mother goes through the entirety of breastfeeding without having a few bad days. While you’re probably going to face most of the difficult days in the beginning, it’s important to remember that things will get better. Take each feeding one at a time and just keep trying. Be prepared to be open with your support system about any bad days you’re having and work with a lactation consultant to help overcome any problems. Eventually, you’ll look forward to the unbeatable bonding that occurs during breastfeeding.

13. Ease Engorgement

During those beginning weeks of breastfeeding, your body is still adjusting to your baby’s feeding schedule and overall needs. This can lead to instances of engorgement, which can be quite painful. If you’re experiencing breast engorgement, take the time to ease the pain and help stimulate the glands. Some women find relief with heat from a hot shower or bath, while others prefer ice. Massage your breasts to help alleviate and stimulate the glands or you can ease engorgement by using a breast pump.

14. Find a Good Nursing Bra

Nursing bras can make breastfeeding easier and more convenient, especially if you’re out in public or are around company. While breastfeeding moms have the right to nurse wherever they are, a nursing bra can simplify the process. Finding the perfect nursing bra doesn’t have to be difficult. We recommend doing this ahead of time, so you’re prepared and can try them on before your hands are full.

15. Work with a Lactation Consultant

Working with a lactation consultant has been mentioned a lot throughout this article because it’s one of the best ways to increase the success of breastfeeding from day one. Lactation consultants are professionally trained to help you improve your baby’s latch, find a breastfeeding position that maximizes both comfort and efficiency, reduce problems and breastfeeding associated infections, and create a more positive breastfeeding experience. You can work with a lactation consultant both before and after delivery for as long as it takes. Find an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) through doctor recommendations or online and meet with them before moving forward to make sure that you have a good relationship with mutual respect and trust.

16. Use a Breast Pump

A breast pump is an essential tool in the success of your breastfeeding journey. It allows you to build a milk supply so that caregivers can feed your baby while you’re away and gives your partner the opportunity to bond during feedings. Breast pumps can also help ease engorgement and reduce overall irritation. There are different models on the market, so do your research to find one that works best for you.

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