Congratulations on welcoming the newest member of your family! Whether you are a new mom or have breastfeed before, the breastfeeding journey can be a challenging one. With the appropriate support and information it can also be a very special time for you and your baby. Having just gone through this with my first child, I have outlined 10 breastfeeding tips that helped me get through the first few weeks of breastfeeding.
#1: Staying Hydrated
It is very important you are drinking enough water. Breast milk is about 88% water and in order to ensure you are producing enough milk for your baby you must keep drinking! Get a water bottle and carry it with you wherever you go. Place it on your nightstand for when you are up for night feedings. I found it helpful to get a water bottle with a built in straw, it is easier to drink from while feeding my daughter.
Your body is using up vitamins and minerals to support breast milk production and therefore it is very important you are supporting yourself nutritionally. Breastfeeding moms need about 300-500 more calories per day. Since you may find that your time is limited, meal planning is a must to ensure you are consuming enough calories per day. Supplementing with herbs, vitamins and minerals can also ensure you are producing nutrient dense milk and that you are producing enough milk for your growing baby. Before I went into labour I made a large batch of lactation cookies and froze them. These were a great treat and helped with milk production after my daughter was born. See lactation cookie recipe below.
#3 Get Help!
I can’t stress how important this is. Before you give birth I would recommend making an appointment with a lactation consultant. Even if you think your baby is latching properly it is a good idea to have a professional assess your baby’s latch. If your baby’s latch is not right it can cause nipple damage and may also lead to colic as well as your baby not getting enough milk. I would also recommend making a postpartum appointment with your Naturopathic Doctor (ND). Much like your ND supported you throughout your pregnancy he/she can also support you postpartum. Naturopathic doctors can address concerns related to milk production, post partum healing, postpartum depression, mood changes associated with the fluctuation of hormones, nutrition and any other concerns that develop after your baby is born.
#4 Invest in a breast pump
It is common for women to experience pain in their nipples when they begin breastfeeding. Some women’s nipples will crack, bleed and form pus. It is important to heal these wounds to prevent infection. In order to heal you may need to pump your breast milk and feed your baby with a bottle. Therefore, it is a good idea to purchase a breast pump before you give birth. I needed my breast pump at 2AM on the third night after my daughter was born. I was very thankful I already had the pump. Some women may feel hesitant about using a bottle but it is important to take care of your breasts and heal so that you are able to continue to breastfeed your baby. Consult your lactation consultant about using a bottle. Once you are in a routine of breastfeeding your baby you may decide you would like to pump extra milk in the event that you are away from your little one for several hours. I would highly recommend purchasing a hands-free breast pump bra. This allows you to get things done while you are pumping!
#5 Coconut Oil
I love coconut oil! I used it on my pregnant belly to prevent stretchmarks and now I am using it on my nipples as I breastfeed. Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties and is a great lubricant. It keeps your nipples moist while at the same time it helps to prevent infection and heal the damaged tissue. It can be more effective than over the counter or prescription nipple butters and creams. Apply coconut oil to your nipples after every feeding. There is no need to wash or wipe it off before the next feeding, as it is safe for your little one!
#6 Purchasing Breast Pads, Bras and Cover-ups
Breast pads are a must, especially at night. I used Bamboobies Overnight and Bamboobies Regular for during the day. These pads are reusable and made of organic cotton and bamboo rayon velour with an inner layer of hemp and organic cotton. They were super absorbent and were great in the wash. I would also recommend purchasing nursing bras for each day of the week. You won’t be able to get much laundry done in the first couple of weeks so having a bra for each day of the week can be very helpful. You will be spending the entire day and night in this bra so you will want to change it daily. I use and love the Bravado Nursing Bra. They come in many fun colours! My favourite nursing covers include Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover and the Dria Cover nursing shawl.
#7 Skin to Skin and Baby Wearing
A study published in the journal Pediatrics showed that wearing your baby 3 hours a day reduces infant crying by 43%. Baby wearing can also increase the chance of successful breastfeeding, strengthen the bond between you and your baby and is great for physical and mental development. Baby wearing is wearing or carrying your baby in a sling, wrap or any other type of carrier. Skin to Skin during the first hours of life and for the first few weeks can also lead to successful breastfeeding. It can also help regulate your baby’s blood sugar, temperature and support bonding between you and your baby.
Support from your partner, family and loved ones is very important. During this time your hormones are fluctuating, you are healing and getting used to being a mom. Having someone there to assist you will help to reduce stress. Before your baby is born identify your support system and make sure you reach out to them when in need.
#9 Hang in There!
When I was going through the first few weeks of breastfeeding and I was in pain and unsure if I was giving my baby what she needed I needed reassurance that this is temporary and there is light at the end of the tunnel. My advice is to hang in there! Things will improve around week three. At this time, you have started to follow a routine, the pain is going away or has completely dissipated and you will start to see that you are in fact providing enough nourishment for your new little one. So don’t give up – it does get better and if things get too much call on your support system. Remember to take care of yourself! Take a break and go on a date with your partner or a friend. It is important that you and your partner spend time together and refuel.
#10 Cellphone Safety
When spending time with newborn and breastfeeding make sure that your cellphone is on airplane mode, turned off or away from your baby’s head. The radiation that comes form the cellphone can be harmful to your baby. Another safe technology tip is to turn off your Wi-Fi at night while your family is sleeping. Enjoy your new little bundle of joy. This is an amazing time and your new son or daughter is an amazing gift. Cherish every cuddle, snuggle and smile.
Items Mentioned in this Article:
Medela Double Breast Pump – Snuggle Bugz, Babies R Us Simple Wishes Hands-free Breastpump Bra – Can be purchased on Amazon Bamboobies Overnight and Regular – Simply Green Baby Oakville Bravado Nursing Bra – Snuggle Bugz, The WOMB Milton, Motherhood Maternity Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover – Snuggle Bugz Dria Cover Nursing Shawl – driacover.com