Are you getting ready to breastfeed for the first time? Or maybe you tried before and didn’t have the best experience but would like to try again.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to feed your new baby, but that doesn’t mean it’s always simple or always the best fit for everyone. However, with these tips for successful breastfeeding, you and your child can enjoy this special time together when you’re ready to give it a try.
At the bökee, we know that being a new parent brings many challenges. And we honor every family’s feeding journey, whether it includes breastfeeding or not. Ours included breastfeeding, formula, donor milk, and, eventually, a feeding tube. We created our one-handed bottle prep tool to help ease the work and stress that can come with bottle feeding a cranky, hangry baby.
The bökee suctions to your countertop or another hard, smooth surface, making bottle prep much easier for busy parents and caregivers. Choose your bökee today.
Choosing to Breastfeed: Feeding Is a “No Judgment” Zone
There are many reasons to breastfeed your baby. Breast milk is a complete source of nutrition, providing everything your baby needs for the first six months. Late-night feedings don’t involve making a bottle, and your baby’s meal is always ready wherever you are.
But how to feed your child is a personal choice, and no parent should experience shame for the decision she makes. Whether you choose to breastfeed, bottle feed, or try a combination approach, you will find the best fit for your family.
With that in mind, if you choose to breastfeed, here are our top five tips for successful breastfeeding. Some of these are from experts, and some come from our experience.
1. Redefine Successful Breastfeeding
No one is giving out gold medals for feeding your child. There are no rules, regulations, or textbooks to follow when it comes to making sure your child has the nutrition they need. Your choices in feeding your baby are yours, and they are valid.
Our first tip for breastfeeding is to reconsider how you see success in this experience. Some sectors want us to think that if breastfeeding isn’t all rainbows, unicorns, and lovely bonding time, then we’re doing it wrong. Or they try to convince us that something isn't right if we’re not exclusively breastfeeding for at least a year.
Successful breastfeeding is whatever feels right for you and your baby. And it can look different for everyone. Success can include any of the following scenarios and then some:
- Breastfeeding for a short time and then deciding it’s not what you want for you and your family
- Pumping and using bottles exclusively for feeding
- Combination feeding: a mix of breast and bottle
- Breastfeeding for years
- Breastfeeding one child but not another because circumstances change
When you redefine what success looks like for your situation, you can remove significant stress and anxiety around breastfeeding.
2. Take Care of Your Needs
When you settle in to breastfeed your baby, it’s helpful to be relaxed and comfortable. Set yourself up for success by planning for your own needs.
Grab the pillows, Boppies, and blankies that will help support and comfort you and your baby. Put them in easy reach of your chair or other landing space so that you have what you need at hand.
Have some water nearby during feedings since proper hydration is essential to successful milk production and breastfeeding. A lot of parents also like to have a snack for themselves ready during feedings, too.
You’re using up calories as you feed your baby, so refueling yourself is important. Trail mixes are an easy option to snack on while breastfeeding and often have nutritious protein to keep you going.
If your baby tends to fall asleep at the breast, you may be sitting there a while. So be sure to have a book, your phone, the remote, or any other items you may want. And if you think of it, use the bathroom before you settle in to feed so that you’re comfortable.
3. Try Different Positions for Breastfeeding
When you breastfeed your baby, several positions can work well. It’s okay to experiment with what feels best for your body and helps your baby latch and feed well.
Here are a few positions to try:
- The Cradle Hold - Hold your baby facing your breast with their tummy touching yours. Baby’s body should be close to horizontal, but their head should be higher than their stomach. Support their head and body with a regular pillow or something specifically for breastfeeding.
- The Football Hold - Tuck your baby’s body close to your side as if you are carrying a football. Support them with your forearm and pillows to bring their face to your breast.
- Side-lying - This position is ideal for late-night feedings or any time you feel like lying down. Lie on your side with your baby facing you. You may need to roll partially to your back to give your child good access. Support your bodies with pillows or rolled towels to help with positioning and stability.
Regardless of the position you choose, both you and your baby should be well-supported and comfortable to help ensure a successful feeding session.
4. Get a Good Latch
Okay. This step is likely the most intimidating thing to think about when you haven’t breastfed yet. After all, this is a very sensitive part of your body and a brand new experience.
It may take a few tries (or a lot more than a few!), but getting your baby to latch to your breast will be second nature once you get the hang of it.
To help your baby latch, be sure their head, neck, and back are aligned. Their chin should be forward, not tucked into their chest. This positioning will give them better access to the all-important nipple!
When you’re ready, direct your nipple to your baby’s mouth. And here’s the crucial part: make sure your baby gets a big enough bite.
No, it isn’t actually a bite (hopefully). But it’s important that your baby opens their mouth wide and that you insert a generous amount of nipple and areola. Most, if not all, of your areola should be in your baby’s mouth, and here are a few reasons why.
First, as your baby suckles, they use their tongue to compress the nipple against the roof of their mouth. This pressure signals your body to express milk. If they don’t get enough of the breast to do this, your body will have difficulty letting down milk.
Second, you will be more comfortable with more of your breast in the baby’s mouth. This might seem counterintuitive, but spreading the pressure over more surface area is less painful. It’s kind of like how it hurts less when someone steps on your foot with a full sneaker than with a stiletto heel.
5. Get Professional Support
The best part of learning how to breastfeed is that you don’t have to figure it all out alone. By all means, take advantage of the expertise of a lactation consultant any time you need it. Most pediatrician offices offer lactation support or can refer you to someone in your area.
A lactation consultant can help you with positioning and latching, and they can also offer advice on nutrition to support your milk supply. These experts can make all the difference in your breastfeeding journey.
Will You Make Enough Milk for Your Baby?
Many moms worry about whether their bodies will make enough milk for their babies. In many cases, this is not a problem. As you get used to feeding your baby, your body will respond to their needs. Typically, when your baby drinks more milk, your body will start making more.
Here are a few ways to know that your baby is getting enough nutrition:
- They aren’t rooting or sucking their fingers after feeding.
- They have at least six wet diapers a day.
- They are gaining weight. New babies will lose weight for the first four or five days after birth and should return to their birth weight by about two weeks old. After that, they should gain about an ounce a day.
Again, a lactation consultant is an excellent resource when you are concerned about milk supply since there are many ways to help increase your production.
You’ve Got This!
Life with a new baby involves so much adjusting. It will take some time to find your rhythm in this new reality. Be patient with yourself and know that you are the best mama for your amazing baby.
Here at the bökee, supporting your feeding journey is an honor. Whether you’re preparing a bottle, opening a jar, or filling a sippy cup, the bökee is here to lend a hand. Choose your favorite color today.