Tips for New Breastfeeding Moms
“What are your tips for new breastfeeding moms?” New Little Life recently polled moms. Moms shared things that they wished that they had done differently or general advice if they could go back and do it again. This blog post is going to share these tips for how to make your breastfeeding journey easier!
(This blog post was originally a video. Check it out below!)
#1 Tip for New Breastfeeding Moms: Know Your Resources
The number one tip for new moms is to know your resources and get help early. You have several options to get help with breastfeeding. You have your pediatrician, and your OB. Hopefully you have an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) in your area. There is lactation help at the WIC office and there are home health nurses that can come to your home and help you.
Make a list of your resources before you have your baby so you know who to call if you run into any struggles. An IBCLC should be top of that list. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion if you need to. Know your resources and get help early.
This advice not only applies to breastfeeding problems, but also to postpartum depression. If you are not feeling right, go and get some help. It is not worth it to wait too long.
#2 Be Prepared
Take a course, do some research and have a game plan.
New Little Life has a course on breastfeeding basics. It is about an hour and one half long and you can do it right at home! The course is self paced and will really help you to get some base knowledge in your brain so you can know what to expect, things to watch for and things that are normal or not normal. It is an excellent resource!
If your local hospital has a course on breastfeeding, take one. Sometimes you can even schedule a consultation with a lactation consultant before you have your baby. You really should do something to educate yourself about breastfeeding before baby comes.
#3 Tip for New Breastfeeding Moms: Don’t be a Slave to the Numbers.
There are going to be a lot of numbers. You have a clock, you have your babies measurements, you’ve got ounces of milk, etc. There are so many ways that you can get lost and caught up in numbers. Some people use apps that track numbers and measurements of babies growth. And while umbers are a good way to measure the overall trend of where your baby is going being obsessed with exact timed feedings, or exact ounces of milk is too much stress.
If your baby is losing too much weight and is in need of an intervention, that is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about moms that get so obsessed with watching the clock for feedings, or pumping that they get stressed out if everything is not perfect. Just relax and take a deep breath. Trust your body and your baby (unless you have a reason not to. If you are having a problems and need some help, please find an IBCLC or otherwise qualified medical professional) Trust the process and go with the flow.
#4 Take Advice with a Grain of Salt
Not all IBCLCs are created equal. We all have different areas of specialities and approaches. This advice also applies to pediatricians, OBs, and nurses. If you are feeling uncomfortable with the advice or the style that your provider or lactation consultant has given you, there is nothing wrong with getting a second opinion. Trust your instinct. If your baby is really struggling and losing weight, then you need to do what you feel you need to do. Be careful with advice. Everyone is different. Trust yourself.
#5 Find a Local Support Group
A lot of mom groups that hold Breast Feeding Cafe. I was a leader of a group that did this. We met and breastfed our babies and we had tea. We talked about mom life and questions moms might have had. It was lovely. It was really needed. If something like that is not available in your area, gather together with even just a few mom friends that you know. Or start a group chat with some mom friends if you don’t know anyone in your area. That could make a huge difference. Don’t do this alone. That is not a healthy way to accomplish this goal. Find a friend. Find a support group. You need to do this.
#6 Tip for New Breastfeeding Moms: Your Worth is not Measured in Ounces
The amount of milk that you can make or that you can pump or the formula you choose to give to your baby has no reflection on your worth or your goodness as a mother. Whether you choose to breastfeed, or pump or combo feed with formula, whether you are able to breastfeed for three hours or three days or three years, it does not have any bearing on how good of a mother you are! It does NOT reflect how good of a person you are or how hard you tried. Please stop! The ounces do not measure a fantastic mother.
Worth is not measured in ounces. Do what you can. We are all just doing our best. Everyone’s scenario is different. Stop judging other people and stop judging yourself. Give yourself some grace and do what works best for you and your baby, for your family and your situation. You are awesome regardless of how many minutes you breastfed your child!
#7 Ditch the “All or Nothing” Mentality
It’s not all or nothing! You do not need to exclusively breastfeed or exclusively formula feed. Those are not your only two options. If you have a specific goal in your mind, then do all that you can to reach it! But also don’t be afraid to pivot, change or adjust if you need to.
Giving your baby some formula in the beginning if they need it is not the end of the world. If you want a breastfeeding relationship, you can still achieve that, even if you give your baby some formula.
Some moms are more comfortable with a halfsies kind of thing where you are breastfeeding and also supplementing with formula. If that works for you, awesome! You are not a bad mom. Things are not going to end badly. It’s okay if it looks different than you imagined. It does not need to be all or nothing.
If you decide to night wean your baby, that’s ok. You will likely still be able to breastfeed your baby during the day unless you have other issues going on. Find a happy medium and do what works for you.
#8 Tip for New Breastfeeding Moms: Have Realistic Expectations
New Little Life has a podcast with the goal to help new moms learn from the experience of others and have realistic expectations for breastfeeding. Real breastfeeding moms (and occasionally experts) share their breastfeeding experiences on the podcast. They talk about the hardest parts, the best parts and what kind of things worked for them. Listening to the podcast can help you learn and understand what breastfeeding is realistically like. It’s hard, yes, but it’s also doable!
Chatting with other moms before and after their births can really give you a realistic view of what breastfeeding is like. New Little Life also has a video series where I visited with you each day for seven days after I delivered my little one. I spoke about what you can expect on day one, day two, etc. Things were very fresh in my mind because I was going through it right then. Check it out!
#9 Protect Your Pumping Time
This is really important for working moms. You can’t skip pumping time. You have to keep pumping to maintain a milk supply while you are away from your baby. If you don’t protect your pumping time, if you get lazy or your work is a fast high stress place and you don’t have time, you are going to run into problems. So, if you have that goal to breastfeed your baby for a longer term, you need to protect that pumping time. In the States, there are laws to protect you that your employer needs to abide by. Don’t be afraid to use those to your advantage and protect your pumping time because pumping will help you meet your breastfeeding goals.
#10 Tip for New Breastfeeding Moms: Trust Your Instincts.
You know more than you think you do! You know your baby better than anyone. If something is just not sitting right with you, do something different. Get a second opinion. Trust yourself and your mothering instincts because they are better than you think. Moms really do know what they are doing on a primal level in a lot of situations. Trust your gut. Go somewhere else for help and see if you get a similar answer or a different one.
Maybe it was just a rough day for a provider and they said something the wrong way. I’ve done that before as a professional myself. I came away from talking with someone and I thought, man, as the professional, I’m struggling today. I’m human, too. I probably didn’t say that as kindly or as clearly as I should have. That happens. Switch providers if you need to. Trust your instinct and believe that you’ve got this!
Here are some other tips that didn’t make it on the top ten list but are still great suggestions:
- Limit visitors. This has been a different time with COVID because it has forced us to limit visitors and moms have actually been loving it.
- Do less in the beginning. Do less housework, cooking, cleaning, washing. Just focus on your baby. A lot of moms said that they went back to their regular schedule too quickly. Do less. Great advice!
- Get help! Especially if you have any signs of postpartum depression. Do it early. I know you can make it through postpartum depression on your own. Moms are strong and moms are resilient and it’s hard to ask for help but there is no reason to suffer. You don’t get a gold star for suffering through it with no help. So get some help! Talk with your doctor and get some medication.
- Ignore comments from non-breastfeeders. Moms get a lot of unsolicited advice about their breasts and they way they use them to feed their babies. Just ignore that. Find a support group. Some moms didn’t even know they needed a support group until they tried it and loved it.
- Try not to offer bottles out of convenience. This can effect your supply. Babies can develop a nipple preference.
- Figure out if you need to pump. You may not need to at all! New Little Life has tons of video resources on pumping, but also videos that cover whether or not you need to start pumping in the first place.
- Watch out for tongue-ties/lip-ties. Get diagnosed early. If you are struggling with breastfeeding or you think that your baby might have this issue go and get it checked out. If this issue is not causing a lot of problems with your baby feeding, it could be ok to leave alone, but quite a few moms said that they just wish they had had it fixed and that is was way better afterwards.
- Try side-lying nursing. This is a game changer. I wished someone would have told me this earlier. My little one was about 5 months old when I tried nursing lying down in bed for the first time. It was amazing. If you are in a safe spot, fall asleep. I do! It is so relaxing and you can get so much better rest.
- Remember, pumped ounces are not a measure of supply. We talked about how your worth is not tied to supply, but also remember that the amount that you pump isn’t measured to your supply. If you pump two ounces or so when you are away from your baby, don’t think that two ounces is all that you have in your supply. Trust me, that doesn’t mean anything. That is just how much you pumped. That is not how much milk you have. It is not indicative of supply.
- Don’t be afraid to nurse in public. Our culture is getting better. This is especially true in the States. Don’t be afraid to give it a try. There are ways to be modest if you want, but also if you just need to whip it out and feed your baby, by all means, do it. There are laws to protect you. A lot of moms said that they wished they had done it sooner and not stressed tpo much about it.
- Get your snack station set up. Some moms have little caddies of nursing supplies that they can take around the house with them while they are breastfeeding. You can throw some snacks in there, nipple cream, a water bottle etc. Get something with a handle so you can carry it around where you need it.
There you have it! The top ten tips for new breastfeeding moms, plus a few extra tips as well! Hopefully you have a better idea about breastfeeding now and have some tips to make it easier. If you are still struggling, book a call with me! I love talking to breastfeeding moms, especially moms who are returning to work. Together we can make a plan that will help you meet your goals!