10 Breastfeeding Tips Every Pregnant Woman Should Know
We’ve been helping women get started with breastfeeding for over 20 years. Here are 10 of the most important breastfeeding tips we think every pregnant woman should know.
1.Breastfeeding won’t always be easy.
There is nothing more natural than a woman breastfeeding her baby. But just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it will always be easy. Breastfeeding takes time for moms and babies to learn.
This is confirmed by research. In a recent study, 92% of women with a 3 day old baby reported having at least one breastfeeding problem. But there is also good news. Most early breastfeeding problems have an easy fix. Some of them, in fact, are preventable. Learning about the basics of breastfeeding and newborn behaviour, before baby arrives, can help to avoid many common problems.
2. Breastfeeding gets easier.
In the first few weeks, breastfeeding is a lot of work. You may even envy your bottle-feeding friends, wishing someone else could occasionally feed your baby for you.
Good news! Breastfeeding quickly becomes much LESS work than bottle-feeding. The work of bottle-feeding (sterilizing, measuring, reheating, cleaning) remains constant. Breastfeeding on the other hand gets much easier. By 6 weeks, you and your baby will be latching like pros. Your breast milk will always be with you, ready to serve, at just the right temperature.
3. Sore nipples improve in 7 to 10 days.
Some women develop sore nipples in the first days of breastfeeding. It can feel like it will never end but research has shown that most nipple discomfort is mild by 7 to 10 days after birth.
This same study showed that a few drops of your own milk on sore nipples is equally (or even more effective) than using nipple creams.
4. Skin to skin is magic.
Research has shown that snuggling your baby skin to skin immediately after birth helps your baby learn to breastfeed. A study divided new moms into 2 groups. One group had skin to skin contact with their babies immediately after birth. Babies in the other group were examined by the doctors, then bundled and brought back to the mother in blankets. The babies in the first group learned to breastfeed more quickly.
Research has also shown that skin to skin care with a newborn increases mom’s milk supply.
5. You are the expert for your own baby.
At first you may feel like a rookie and have lots of questions about how to care for your newborn. You will soon learn that you are the real expert on what is best for your baby.
You spend more time with your newborn than anyone else. You will be the one to know how your baby likes to be held, bounced or rocked. You will be able to sense when your baby is hungry before anyone else has noticed. Trust your instincts.
6. Getting help for breastfeeding difficulties can help to avoid postpartum depression.
Studies show that women who want to breastfeed but do not meet their goals are more at risk for postpartum depression. If you are having difficulties with breastfeeding, reach out for help. Look for someone skilled in helping with breastfeeding such as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
7. Sometimes the best latch requires no help at all.
If you haven’t learned about laid back breastfeeding, you will want to! This is a very relaxed, comfortable position; your baby will use his natural instincts to latch himself to the breast. Some women tell us their baby latches most comfortably in this position. Watch this video to see how it’s done. (It’s the free preview lesson from our video series Simply Breastfeeding).
8. To make more milk, breastfeed more often.
It may seem logical to wait a bit longer between feeds to give your breasts time to fill. But this is not the way milk supply works. Milk supply works on a supply and demand principle. Emptying your breast signals your body to produce more milk. The more often your baby removes milk, the more milk you will make.
9. Your partner CAN help with breastfeeding.
While partners cannot breastfeed for you, they can make your job easier. In fact, research shows that your partner’s support is critical for breastfeeding success.
Simple things such as taking charge of diapering and burping can save you 2 or 3 precious hours every day. Read more about ways partners can help in this post.
10. Trust your baby and your body.
The happiest babies are fed on demand, not according to a schedule or a feed-play-sleep routine. Trust your baby to tell you when he is hungry and trust your body to make the right amount of milk. (Note: Brand new babies may need reminders to feed for a few days but once baby is breastfeeding well and has regained his birth weight, let your baby take the lead.)
Many women worry they have lost their milk about 10 – 14 days after birth because their breasts feel emptier. Softer breasts at this time are natural as they will have adjusted to baby’s needs. If you are concerned, watch your baby. Is your baby satisfied? Is your baby having the right number of pees and poops?
Get more tips on preparing for breastfeeding. Sign up for our free email series: Getting Ready to Breastfeed.
- Borra, Cristina, Maria Iacovou, and Almudena Sevilla. “New Evidence on Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression: The Importance of Understanding Women’s Intentions.” Maternal and Child Health Journal 19.4 (2015): 897-907.
- Dennis, C., K. Jackson, and J. Watson. “Interventions for Treating Painful Nipples among Breastfeeding Women.” The Cochrane Library, 15 Dec. 2014.
- Hurst, N. M., C. J. Valentine, L. Renfro, P. Burns, and L. Ferlic. “Skin-to-skin Holding in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Influences Maternal Milk Volume.” Journal of Perinatology 17.3 (1997): 213-17. NCBI. Web.
- Moore, E. R., and G. C. Anderson. “Randomized Controlled Trial of Very Early Mother-infant Skin-to-skin Contact and Breastfeeding Status.” Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health 52.2 (2007): 116-25. NCBI. Web.
- Wagner, Erin A., MS, Caroline J. Chantry, MD, Kathryn G. Dewey, PhD, and Laurie A. Nommsen-Rivers, IBCLC. “Breastfeeding Concerns at 3 and 7 Days Postpartum and Feeding Status at 2 Months.” Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics 132.4 (2013): E865-75. Web.
Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.
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