Establishing a good breastfeeding relationship is one of the most important things you will do for your newborn baby. Besides the many health benefits to both mom and baby, breastfeeding is the natural way to feed your baby and is certainly a rewarding experience for many mothers.
Keep in mind, breastfeeding is different for every mother and child. These techniques are a great place to find what works best for you.
While you’re still pregnant, read about breastfeeding. Many parenting magazines, websites, and blogs have articles with nursing information, tips, and more. There are also entire books dedicated to breastfeeding, and your local Le Leche League welcomes you to attend a group meeting where you can chat with other nursing mothers. The more you learn before your baby arrives, the more comfortable you’ll be.
2. Take a class.
A lot of women find encouragement, as well as knowledge, when they take a breastfeeding course. There are classes you can take either before or after you begin breastfeeding. Remember, you’re not the only mom with questions or concerns! Take the time to learn from other mothers, and help them out as well. Erlanger has both live and online options for breastfeeding classes, which you can find here.
3. Make a breastfeeding tool kit.
Spending time breastfeeding can be a time to look forward to. After all, it’s a special “down-time” for just you and your baby. You will feel more prepared for breastfeeding by having some items within reach. Use a tote or basket, and fill it with things you may want while breastfeeding. Here are some suggestions:
- Bottle of water (those with pop top spouts are easiest because they only require one hand)
- Energy bar or other snack
- Something to read (unless you’re studying your baby’s beautiful face, which I highly recommend!)
- Cell phone, for an important call or text while feeding (though you might enjoy letting your voicemail work for you)
- Ointment for sore or chafed nipples
- Burp cloth for when your baby is finished nursing
4. Make sure your baby is latching on properly.
One reason many new mothers experience painful nursing is because the baby isn’t latching on properly. Be sure your baby’s mouth is taking in as much of your areola as possible and not just latching to the nipple. This small adjustment will make the experience less painful for you and easier for your baby.
5. Get your baby in the right spot.
Experiment with different positions until you find what’s easiest and most comfortable for you and your baby.
Many mothers find it helpful to use a breastfeeding pillow. These pillows help prop your baby’s body so that you can concentrate on getting him or her to latch on correctly.
6. Use a partner.
Having someone else with you can be helpful while breastfeeding, particularly in the beginning. Whether it’s a partner, friend, or family member, they will be able to see things you can’t while your baby is nursing.
Another person can help the baby latch on, bring you water or food while breastfeeding, or help you adjust your position. They can even help you hold your baby — it can be a challenge when you first begin breastfeeding.
7. Protect your nipples.
It’s not uncommon for your nipples to chafe when you first begin breastfeeding. Lanolin ointment is a baby-safe, over-the-counter cream that can help with chafed nipples. A mother’s own milk has many healing properties in it, so a drop of hand-expressed milk left on the nipples after feeding will also help heal those tender nipples.
8. Get professional help.
If you experience cracked or bleeding nipples, painful lumps or red areas on your breasts, or if you develop a fever, call your doctor and Lactation Consultant to get extra help in solving these not-so-uncommon breastfeeding problems.
9. Expect the best.
Often, when women read articles on breastfeeding tips (including this one), they dread it or expect breastfeeding to be miserable. Tips you read are only meant to help you if you need it. But you and your baby have your own unique relationship. Once you and your baby get into a rhythm, breastfeeding can seem simple — and even enjoyable. So stay positive!
10. And, relax!
You and your baby are learning together on this one. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Eventually, you will find a solution that makes nursing easy for you and your baby.
From pregnancy and childbirth to heart care and breast health, Erlanger offers a comprehensive array of women’s health services. If you need a doctor or a lactation consultant, learn more at Women’s Health Services or find a doctor here.