First Time Parents Guide: My Top "Have To Know" for Breastfeeding Tips
Breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural process, yet for some it is the hardest. No two babies or parents are quite alike, so each experience of breastfeeding will be a unique and an evolving journey. Low supply, sore nipples, engorgement are the most common breastfeeding problems. There’s a lot of good advice out there about breastfeeding, and if you choose to breastfeed, it’s wise to get as much information as you comfortably can. That said, here are a few of my must-have breastfeeding tips I don’t think any new mom should be without.
Be Attentive to your child’s needs and cues
The process of breastfeeding provides you and your baby an excellent opportunity to get to know each other. What your baby needs from breastfeeding will change a lot over time, and the best way to handle it is to maximize your natural intuitive ability to understand what your baby wants and is trying to communicate to you in this moment.
If it helps, you can try logging breastfeeding activity in a spreadsheet to keep track of what’s going on and when. Over time, you will find yourself becoming aware of cycles and patterns in your baby’s habits and appetites. The important thing is to remain mindful and trust the process.
In short, if you make sure to feed your baby as soon as you are aware that he or she is hungry, and use each of your nipples more or less equally, and you should be all right.
Attend to your own self-care
A big part of knowing what’s going on with your baby is to understand what’s going on with you. There’s a reason that airline passengers are encouraged to strap on their own oxygen masks before trying to help others - not because you’re selfish, but because having the clarity and presence of mind that comes from attending to your own needs is absolutely essential to properly care for others around you.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Proper nutrition and hydration are also crucial. Avoid alcohol and tobacco and use only naturally-sourced (organic) foods and products that are aligned with your values and your physical and emotional needs. Breathe deeply and, if it helps, cultivate a practice of presence and mindfulness.
Even a newborn can pick up on a new mother’s sense of well-being, making it all the more important to attend to your own needs and make the most of the experience.
Do not let breastfeeding issues stop you from breastfeeding
The most common breast-feeding issue is sore nipples. Under the normal circumstances sore nipples happen in the first 30 seconds or so of nursing. However persistent sore nipples during breastfeeding can be caused by trauma created from your baby. If your sore nipples continue, you might want to check your baby for the possibility of a tongue-tie or lip-tie that can affect how your baby latches on. Look for symptoms such as inability to properly nurse, clicking noises when the baby is suckling, excessive drooling, poor weight gain, gumming or chewing of the nipple when feeding. The best treatment for sore nipples is to teach your baby how to latch properly. Use a nonstick nursing pad, apply organic ointment or lanolin treatment regularly. Make sure the products you use are also safe for your baby.
Breast engorgement on the other hand is very common especially for first time mothers. About three days after giving birth, your breasts become rock hard as your body is creating a milk supply. This oftens leads to difficulty in even putting your bra on. Breast engorgement normally lasts for only 24 – 48 hours as you get your baby to breastfeed. Using warm, cold compress, massaging your breast while breast-feeding or pumping, hand express, and switching positions are all ways you can alleviate the pain.
Try different approaches
Breastfeeding is a complex process. There are many variables you can experiment with to see what works best for you and your baby.
Trying different holding positions (including cradle holds, a “football hold,” or the lying-down position), different ways for your baby to latch on (whether “baby-led” or guided by you), and ways to increase your milk supply (whether pumping, scheduling, or a mix).
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Raising your baby is one of the most challenging and rewarding things you can do, and you do not have to do it alone!
Never hesitate to ask a doctor or other qualified professional for help. And feel free to take advantage of all the resources and products available, including those here at Ruby & Poe, where we understand your commitment to natural, ethical breastfeeding. Support is always available when we find the courage to ask.