Everyone knows that breastfeeding is good for mom and baby. The World Health Organization recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively for 6 months and continue a combination of solids and breast milk for 2 or more years.
But, did you know that 13.5% of Canadian moms never breastfeed? Or that about half have stopped breastfeeding altogether by the time their baby is 6 months old? I feel that many moms wish to breastfeed for longer but that the lack of breastfeeding support and education is detrimental to their journey. This is a list of 25 things I wish all new moms were told
1) Yes, Breastfeeding can be hard – BUT it gets easier every single day.
Eventually breastfeeding becomes second nature to you and your baby. Not only does it get easier, it becomes so convenient. No mixing bottles, no sanitizing bottles, no running out of formula, no buying formula, no packing bottles to go out… you get the picture
2) You need a support system
Spouse, family members, health care professionals, online mom group, lactation consultant, etc. Anyone who is going to be supportive and helpful. Know who they are and turn to them when needed. – On the same token, ignore the “Negative Nancy’s”.
3) Don’t wait for the baby to arrive to learn about breastfeeding – start researching now
Read, read, read. Success stories, tips, blogs, magazines, pamphlets, etc. Learn all you can so that you go in feeling knowledgable, equipped and confident.
4) If possible – find and meet with a lactation consultant before baby arrives
The more you know ahead of time the better! Start now to grow your support system and knowledge base. If problems do arise, you will already know who to turn to.
5) When baby does arrive, try to nurse within the first hour
Babies are born with the instinct to want to nurse. The sooner, the better.
6) Keep your baby with you in the hospital room
The sight, scent and closeness of your baby helps stimulate milk production. Also, having your baby stay in the room with you means you are likely to latch/nurse more often in the critical early stages.
7) Insist on a good latch from the beginning – your nipples will thank you!
The baby’s mouth should cover a large part of your areola. A good tip is to wait until the baby has opened his/her mouth wide before allowing them to latch onto the nipple. If the latch isn’t ideal, unlatch and try again – it takes a bit of practice for you both.
8) Nose to Nipple, Belly to Belly
My midwife explained this one. I always pictured nursing as you cradling the baby in your arms with his/her head turned in towards you. But, the better position is to turn the babies whole body into you, nose to nipple and belly to belly. This allows the baby to latch and nurse more easily and efficiently
9) Unless absolutely necessary, avoid all formula in the beginning
Your breast milk works on a supply/demand basis. Therefor, when you supplement with formula, you body gets the message that it is producing too much milk and this can lead to supply issues. It can be tempting in the beginning when you are worried your baby may not be getting enough – but rest assured, a newborn’s stomach is tiny and the small amount of colostrum is typically enough.
10) Also, no soother/pacifiers at first either
Again, this may discourage your baby from nursing and lead to supply issues. In the beginning, you should try not to use a soother.
11) Trust your body
This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks I think. It is easy to doubt your supply, or that you’re able to breastfeed successfully. But, we were made to do this! Trust your body to do what it was meant to do!
12) Wet/dirty diapers, alert healthy baby, and weight gain all good signs
If your baby is having adequate wet and dirty diapers, is alert, and gaining weight then chances are your supply is doing just great. (note – babies do lose weight immediately after being born and can take about 2 weeks to gain it back. Totally normal).
13) Don’t buy a whole new nursing wardrobe – just lift your shirt
Trust me! I hated my nursing tanks, shirts and bras and always ended up opting for a loose-fitting, comfy shirt and a soft sports bra. So much more comfy and easier. – Save the money.
14) Know that nursing needs and formula needs are different
Formula fed babies need their amounts per feed increased. But, due to the nutritionally perfect creation that breast milk is, at about 1 month old your breastfed baby will level out and only require that much per feed.
15) A newborn’s stomach is the size of a marble
It takes very little colostrum/milk to fill a baby’s stomach in the beginning. Don’t stress about your supply as long as you are getting wet/dirty diapers.
16) 6/6 Rule – 6 wet diapers on day 6
By 6 days old, your baby should be having 6 or more wet diapers per day.
17) Relax and enjoy it
Relaxing is tricky but makes breastfeeding so much better. When you are tense your shoulders will ache, your milk won’t let down and it’s just not as pleasant. Enjoy this special bonding time with your baby. Trust that you both can do it and it will go more smoothly.
18) Talk to other moms who have successfully breastfed
They will be a great encouragement and resource. They may have tips, tricks and will be a wealth of knowledge for you.
19) Know that you will doubt your supply
I think every mother wonders at some point if their baby is getting enough. If you are getting adequate wet/dirty diapers and your baby isn’t dehydrated, they are getting enough. Remind yourself that, often. It’s too easy to let doubt set in. You were made for this, you got it!
20) Have a nursing kit/bag/station
In the beginning you will nurse a lot. I found it helpful to have a little bag with snacks, water bottle, note pad and pen, phone charger and such all close by the chair I sat in the most.
21) Try different positions
Try different positions till you figure out what works for both of you.
22) No soap! – or at least limit it.
When showering, avoid soaps if possible on your breasts. It can worsen dry, cracked nipples. I instead washed with a bit of coconut oil and warm water. (Also, that way you are preventing leaving chemicals on your skin where the baby nurses)
23) You can have a drink – and deserve one!
In moderation, I am a firm believe that a drink here and there is not going to hurt you or the baby when you are nursing. There is very , very, very little alcohol that makes it into your breast milk. You don’t have to pump and dump after a small amount of alcohol. The biggest concern is that you don’t drink in excess and be unsafe handling your baby. Limit the amount like you would if you were driving.
24) Feed on demand
Someone is going to tell you that “you need to get that baby on a schedule”. Balderdash! I think it’s far more important at the beginning to feed on demand, and encourage your milk supply. Forcing a schedule can hinder your body’s milk production. (Remember, supply and demand. The more the baby nurses, the more milk you will have)
25) Research safe co-sleeping practices and decide if it’s a fit for you
Honestly, co-sleeping is the only thing that I think has allowed me to continue breastfeeding longterm (13 months and counting as I write). It’s not for everyone and definitely needs to be done safely. But, I think co-sleeping and breastfeeding go hand-in-hand.
Have other tips or tricks that you feel would help a new mom? Comment below!