There’s so much information around breastfeeding tips for first time mothers that it can be overwhelming. This list of advice isn’t on the best way to breastfeed — because that looks different for every mama and baby. This advice is from one mom to another: it’s everything I wish someone would have told me.
What They DON’T Tell You…
A simple Google search will tell you about the importance of ‘latching angles’ and ‘when to introduce a pacifier’ and ‘how often to feed your baby.’ All key information like this is usually covered in prenatal breastfeeding classes or by nurses and lactation consultants in the hospital.
I took a prenatal breastfeeding class, read books, Googled everything, and got lots of good breastfeeding advice from my hospital after delivering. BUT there were still plenty of surprises once I got home. In those moments, I’d text my mom friends or peak into message boards online to see what other moms were saying.
And what I found what that there wasn’t one ‘right’ way to breastfeed. Some tips work for some moms and not for others. For example, some moms breastfed their babies to sleep while others swore they never would. Some moms waited weeks to introduce a pacifier and some moms gave it to their babies in the hospital, and both had success breastfeeding.
The point isn’t that you should ignore best practices or expert advice, but that your breastfeeding journey will be full of surprises and ups and downs and that’s OK — that’s normal. It rarely looks the same from one mother to another.
About This List of Breastfeeding Tips:
So these breastfeeding tips aren’t medical advice — for that I’d recommend KellyMom.com — but they’re simple tips that made a difference in my breastfeeding journey and what I wish someone would have talked to me about. Everything from how to be a little bit more comfortable to how to deal with the days when you want to quit:
Breastfeeding Tips for First Time New Mothers
Breastfeeding Tip #1: There’s an app for that!
There’s a few breastfeeding apps on the market, but the one that I loved & used is called Glow. You can use it to track when you start and finish feeding and how often you feed. You can also track which breast baby fed on last (so that you remember to switch sides the next time).
It’s super easy to use and makes tracking everything easy (it also has a log for diaper changes and baby’s sleep). In those early days of motherhood, it’s nice to be able to see how much your baby is eating, sleeping and pooping with a glance at your phone.
Breastfeeding Tip #2: Clusterfeeding is a thing and it’s challenging.
‘Clusterfeeding’ is when your baby wants to eat for several sessions in a row, usually in the late afternoon and evenings. It means a lot of time spent breastfeeding, which is tiring. Not all babies do this, but if your baby start cluster feeding know that it usually doesn’t last long and is just a phase.
Get as comfy as you can and curl up on the couch with a good show for those evenings when your baby wants to feed for what seems like hours on end. And remind yourself that it’s only temporary.
Breastfeeding Tip #3: You don’t have to nurse sitting up.
You can also lay on your side and nurse. This can be comfier and easiest for times when you just don’t want to get out of bed.
Breastfeeding Tip #4: Re-usable breast pads are heaven-sent.
It doesn’t happen to all moms, but most moms have leakage when breastfeeding. Especially at first, you might leak milk at odd times when you aren’t feeding your baby. This can happen even if you hear your baby cry (your letdown reflex for milk can be triggered)! Or when you feed from one side the other might also let out some milk.
So to avoid the classic milk-stained shirts, breast pads are essential. There’s disposable breast pads but I found that washable, reusable ones were most comfortable and convenient.
Breastfeeding Tip #5: Set up a nursing area ahead of time.
A comfy chair goes a long way for all the time that you’ll be breastfeeding. If you can, find a comfy chair or spot on the sofa where you’ll be able to set up with burp cloths, water and snacks nearby. You’ll be extra hungry and thirsty when breastfeeding so it’s nice to have water and food within arm’s reach.
Especially for late-night sessions when you don’t want to go through the pantry, having easily-accessible snacks can be a life saver. And if you have water ready-to-go you’ll be more inclined to drink it and get some much-needed hydration!
Breastfeeding Tip #6: Boppy + burp cloths.
When I was pregnant, I remember other suggesting that I should get a ‘Boppy’ and so I added one to my baby registry. But what those moms should have said was: YOU NEED THIS AND YOU SHOULD ABSOLUTELY GET ONE. Because I used it every day, every time I fed my baby.
A Boppy is a U-shaped pillow that you can use to support your baby while you breastfeed. For me, it made breastfeeding a lot more comfortable. Not every mom loves it, but most moms will swear that it’s a life-changer.
You can also never have enough burp cloths. Budget-friendly ones will do because you’ll want a bunch (6? 20? I don’t know if you can really have too many…) and will go through them quickly.
Breastfeeding Tip #7: It’s OK to stop.
One thing that isn’t talked about much in pre-natal breastfeeding classes is that when it comes time to stop breastfeeding (either because you have to or want to), you might feel guilty. Mom guilt is real and it applies to breastfeeding too. If you want to stop breastfeeding, only you can make that decision for you and your baby. Breastfeeding can feel overwhelming, and it’s important that you care for yourself as a mama first so that you can in turn give the best care possible to your baby.
Breastfeeding is absolutely challenging and hard work, and there will probably be days when you want to quit! Every mom has a different experience.
In the moments that are overwhelming, it’s OK to step away and take a moment for yourself. Or it’s OK to ask for help on other things since you’ll be spending a lot of time breastfeeding. Or you can pump milk so that someone else can feed the baby while you take a break. And it’s OK to stop all together too.
No matter where you’re at in your postpartum journey, YOU’VE GOT THIS MAMA!
Give yourself a little extra grace as you’re learning about breastfeeding and keep in mind that every mama’s experience is different ❤️