Must-read Breastfeeding Tips, Hacks & Products for New Moms! Stop Panicking about Milk Supply and READ THIS FIRST! Increasing Breast Milk Supply, Breastfeeding Must-Have Products, Supply and Demand, Let Downs, Cluster Feeding and Growth Spurts!
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If you’re panicking about breastfeeding, the odds are that you’re a first-time mom. It is super stressful to be solely responsible for the feeding of your new little bundle of joy. Especially when your baby is born Small for Gestational Age, as my son was. He weighed in at only 5.5 lbs. and looked like a little old man with wrinkly hanging skin.
They also terrify you in the hospital, as well as at the pediatrician’s office about your newborns weight. Both my little ones had lost a whole pound of their birth weight by the time we left the hospital before my milk came in. This is perfectly normal!
I was a little naïve when it came to breastfeeding. I’d never done it before. I just assumed that I’d stick a boob in his face, he’d eat till full, burp, and be happy. I didn’t realize how sore my nipples would be, which made the let-downs (shooting of milk from your nipples when stimulated) painful as well. I also didn’t realize that I’d have to teach my child the proper latch technique.
So, let’s dive in to the things I wish I would’ve known about breastfeeding with my first child:
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- Your milk doesn’t come in until 2 – 5 days after delivery, sometimes longer with special circumstances. (Mine took about 3 days with both of my children). Until your milk comes in, your baby gets colostrum and only needs a small amount to sustain them until your milk comes in. This can be nerve-wracking for first time moms! You can get the ball rolling early by taking galactagogues (foods and herbs that are known to increase breast milk production).
- Not all babies know how to latch or even want to latch at birth. My son didn’t (which sucked because he was my first), but my daughter came out of the womb sucking on her fist and ready to eat. How to get a good breastfeeding latch…
- Nursing is supply and demand. There are many galactagogues that helped me a lot, but ultimately your body will produce what your baby is drinking or you are pumping (unless you are an overproducer). Being an overproducer sounded like heaven to me when I was so worried about my son getting enough milk, but it can be very depleting for the mother. Emptying your breasts often is the best way to increase your milk supply. This sends the signal to your brain to make more milk. Easy peezy!
- If you are pumping, and worrying about breast milk supply, the best way to get more milk for your little one is to increase your pumping frequency.
- You absolutely can feed your little one after pumping. You will have less readily available milk obviously, but your body will let down more hind milk (fattier milk that comes after the initial foremilk is gone). I usually distract my baby for 15 minutes, then my body lets down more milk much quicker.
- You will feel the sting of your milk coming in under your armpit on those first initial let downs. I didn’t feel this strongly with my son at first because I was trying to do all breast pump to measure how much he was getting. It wasn’t until I nursed him from my breast as often as he wanted and got a better breast pump, that I felt the armpit sting. My breastmilk was then activated.
- Feeding your baby on demand and letting them suckle for as long as they want is the best way to teach your body how much milk to produce. This is comforting for the baby and not depleting for mom.
- You probably already know this, but you have two boobs! I assumed I had to wait 15 minutes for my body to let down milk again before I could switch my little one to the other side, when one side wasn’t enough. With my 2nd baby, I realized there was milk readily available on the other boob as well if my daughter finished and still seemed hungry. Then, in 15 minutes, if that still wasn’t enough (like when she has growth spurts), I switch her back to the original side and my body lets down again.
- Babies will cluster feed when they are going through growth spurts (sometimes every 45 minutes!) This is normal and doesn’t mean you don’t have enough breastmilk for your little one. My baby’s growth spurts usually only last a couple of days and then they sleep a lot for a couple of days!
- Too much alcohol, caffeine, prescription medications, and things like peppermint and sage will decrease your milk supply. Use these in extreme moderation, or if you can help it, not at all. Eat and drink all other foods in moderation. If your little one is fussy a lot, you can try cutting out things like dairy and chocolate, these tend to upset my little ones.
- Sometimes, your little one just wants to suckle for comfort to fall asleep or when teething. You can try a pacifier or teething ring (if old enough), but I just let my daughter suckle for comfort to fall asleep sometimes. The nipple stimulation will increase your milk supply. She’ll have just ate, and seem to want more milk, when all she really wants is to suckle herself to sleep. Some moms have a problem with this, but I love the bond and don’t care! It’s usually only a couple of minutes.
- You have more breast milk in the morning than in the evening, but your milk is fattier in the evening. This is due to normal hormone fluctuations. I usually drink some Mother’s Milk Tea, eat a Lactation Cookie, or take some Organic Fennel or Organic Fenugreek in the afternoon to help with the evening lag. And, if you feel like making your own lactation cookies, these are THE BEST I’VE TRIED! https://www.howsweeteats.com/2015/02/lactation-cookies/
Be Confident in Your Body’s Ability to Make Milk.
I took so many galactagogues that I’d wake up soaked in milk at night, and I still didn’t believe that I had enough milk! Simply because I could only pump 4 – 6 ounces a pumping session depending on the time of day. No matter how many galactagogues I took or different breast pumps and flange sizes I tried, I still could only pump 4 – 6 ounces of milk per time! Even when my breasts were engorged and leaking! I found out my baby is much more efficient at removing milk from my breasts than a pump and you should feed them on demand if possible.
Some women just don’t respond well to the breast pump, and apparently, I was one of them. So, since I am a stay at home mom, I’ve had the luxury of just nursing my 2nd child on demand. I let her suck as long as she wants. I burp her, and then put her on the other side. Sometimes she wants both breasts, sometimes she doesn’t. I don’t worry about incessantly pumping and weighing her, or obsessively pumping so I can measure how much milk she’s getting, I just do as God intended.
As long as she’s wetting 4 – 6 diapers per day (now that she’s older, they wet through more when younger), and has a good growth curve on the doctor’s growth charts, I don’t worry.
Get Rid of Embarrassment over Breastfeeding.
With my son, I never breastfed in public. With my second, I have no problem breastfeeding now that I have my 360-degree Nursing Cover-Up! This cover-up has literally been a lifesaver! The stress of feeding my little one in public is now gone! And I really really wish I would’ve known all this with my first!
My Breastfeeding Must-Haves:
- 360-degree nursing cover – A must-have! Great for anytime you leave the house! Take it to the park, family and friends houses, I breastfeed in my car, camping, etc. As a bonus, many of these also double as a car seat cover!
- A Good Breast Pump – Even when you are nursing on-demand, this is a must! My favorite of the three I’ve tried is the amazingly affordable Lansinoh Double Electric Pump. With its ability to be used on just one breast or two at a time, its 2-minute let-down setting, strong motor, adjustable pumping speeds/strengths, and digital timer, this pump is a clear winner! I use this to pump extra milk to have a freezer stash while my baby is napping, or when she is having extra sleepy days after a growth spurt to clear my engorged breasts so I don’t get mastitis (an infection of the breast often resulting from having a clogged milk duct). Clearing the breast often helps to prevent this. P.S. I’ve had this from lazily leaving my breast engorged for too long and it sucks! I’ve had this pump for 2 ½ years and used it every day for a year and a half with my son and it is still going strong!
- Organic Nipple Cream – I am all about organic and natural for myself and my little ones, so it makes sense that I’d choose a natural, organic nipple cream for that initial tenderness when breastfeeding. After all, whatever is on your nipple, your baby eats. I only had to use the cream for the first few weeks while my nipples got used to breastfeeding. I personally use Motherlove Organic Nipple Cream, but am sure any of the organic nipple creams would work just fine. Update: I now use this on my daughter’s dry patches of skin that she gets around her mouth and it works great!
- Hot/Cold Nursing Gel Pads – Covers for your breasts that you can heat up in the microwave or cool down in the freezer (your preference). Sometimes my nipples were so sore, that cold felt great. Sometimes, my boobs were so sore from engorgement that heat felt great. And when I got a plugged milk duct, heat and massage worked wonders!
My Conclusion on Breastfeeding Tricks:
Breastfeeding is a bit of a learning curve, as everything with newborns is! Take the time to perfect your latch (for less nipple soreness) and really bond with your baby! This is a time for ease and joy, not stress and worry! As long as your baby is having plenty of wet diapers (6 – 8/day for newborns, 4 – 6/day for about 3 months and older), don’t stress! Talk to your pediatrician about your baby’s growth and make sure they are gaining weight consistently, and after that, stop worrying so much.
Nurse when your baby is hungry, on demand, if possible. Don’t worry about measuring exact ounces based on your baby’s size and weight. If you’re having a hard time getting enough breastmilk by pumping (such as working nursing mothers), pump more often! It only takes me about 10 minutes to get the bulk of what will come out, out with my pump.
You will learn your baby’s hunger cues. Offer the breast when they are fussy or chewing on their hands or fists. They will suckle when hungry and stop when they are done. It is sooo much easier than I made it on myself the first time around! Good luck and congratulations on your new bundle of joy! Nurture and enjoy them!
If you have any additional questions, please consult a lactation consultant or message board such as the La Leche League. https://www.lllusa.org/
What supplements do you take to increase breast milk supply? Has breastfeeding become easier the 2nd time around? Please leave your comments below!
** Medical Disclaimer. … This Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. **
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