The struggle of getting your baby the rich nutrients it needs while also working through latching and pumping can be rough.
In its most basic form, breastfeeding is a simple process, you produce milk and your baby consumes it.
Even with the simplicity, there are still learning curves, grueling feed schedules, breastfeeding at work and in public, and ensuring the baby is getting enough.
The best advice you’ll receive is this: Keep at it. Success will happen with persistence, positive thoughts and a few breastfeeding tips.
1. Find a comfortable position while nursing.
It may sound obvious, but many mothers, like you, will find themselves in uncomfortable nursing positions because they’re scared the baby won’t re-latch. You’ll be in this position for a while – you should at least make it comfortable. There are many ways to get comfortable, but we’d recommend:
- Sitting in a reclined position with your baby lying in your arms.
- Lie on your side with the baby facing you.
Read More: Breastfeeding Positions for Mom and Baby
You can explore different positions and find the best one for you and your baby – but don’t be afraid to try new things if those aren’t working. If you have a large couch, plop yourself down on it with pillows to support your arms and back. Like a huge throne, you’ll feel like the queen of the castle!
The earlier you can determine the positions that work best for you, the better and more consistent results you’ll get from your nursing sessions.
2. Take care of your skin and breasts.
Your breasts might be itchy. Maybe they’re feeling engorged. Oh, and they’re so dry. The wonders of breastfeeding are… wonderful! If your breasts are feeling dry or irritated, it’s time to start protecting yourself with a few precautions:
- Use a soft cloth to pat your breasts dry or even let them air out after a warm bath or shower.
- Buy moisturizing balms or serums to help heal your breasts after feedings.
You’ll want to avoid lotions, creams, or any other products without talking to your OB-GYN first. Some products can lead to clogged milk ducts or actually promote dryness instead of solving it.
Be sure to wash your hands before touching your breasts. Avoid using soap or other harsh cleansers on your breasts, as they may promote dryness and irritated skin. Your Montgomery glands, which produce natural oil, keep the nipples and areolas clean and moisturized. Montgomery glands are located in the dark area surrounding your nipples.
3. When you stop breastfeeding or begin to wean your baby, your body will still produce breast milk.
It can be tough to decide when to be done breastfeeding. While you’d love to breastfeed for two years, it may not always be realistic. Work is coming up, you’re exhausted, or it just feels right for you to stop.
When will your milk supply dry up? It may take up to 7 to 10 days for your milk supply to dry up from when you start weaning. Interestingly enough, you may still see drops of milk for weeks or even months after you stop. If you’re still producing a significant amount of breast milk weeks after weaning your baby, consult your OB-GYN about possible hormonal issues.
4. Your breast milk comes in cycles and stages
The first stage of breast milk is colostrum. Colostrum occurs during pregnancy and for a few days after your delivery. It may look yellowish or creamy in color. It’s much thicker than breastmilk you’ll be milking in the future for a good reason. It’s got all the goods your newborn baby needs. Colostrum is high in protein, fat-soluble vitamins, immunoglobulins, and minerals. Immunoglobulins are antibodies you pass to your baby, providing them with passive immunity. Passive immunity will protect your baby from early bacterial and viral illnesses.
After the colostrum milk period, you’ll enter the transitional milk period. Transitional milk contains high levels of fat, lactose, and water-soluble vitamins. It will include more calories than colostrum. The colostrum milk period will last anywhere between two to four days after birth.
After your transition milk period, you will have your mature milk period. This is the final milk that is produced. Mature milk is made up of 90% water and is necessary to keep your baby hydrated. The remaining 10% contains carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that promote growth and give energy. Mature milk comes in two different types: fore milk and hind milk.
Fore-milk comes out first, usually during the first few minutes, and is more water-based and easier to suck. Fore milk contains vitamins, protein, and water. After a few minutes, you will produce hind milk – the fattier part of milk. Hind milk occurs after the initial milk release and contains higher fat levels necessary for your baby’s weight gain.
5. If you’re breastfeeding at work – you’ll want to leave extra parts there
No matter how much you plan out your pumping schedule, you’ll likely forget a pump part (or even have a broken piece). Pump parts are fragile. Like, shockingly fragile. You’ll also want to have some extra equipment such as:
- Milk storage bags or extra bottles to store breast milk
- Cooler bag to transport breast milk
- Microwave sanitizer bags
- Clothes that allow easy access to your breasts and extra clothes for milk leakage
- Pumping bra
- Nursing pads
6. Introduce a bottle to your baby before going to work
You’ll want to introduce a bottle of pumped milk early before your return to work. You’re looking to give your baby enough time to get comfortable with using a bottle because they might reject it. There’s nothing worse than coming home after a long day to a hungry baby who rejected their bottle all day.
If your partner is available, have them give your baby the bottle and step out of the room. If your baby senses your breast nearby, they may be confused as to why you’re switching it out for a bottle. All they know is your breast.
Breastfeeding is tough for any new mother. Challenges will come up as you navigate their needs and wants. They will change daily. Take heart – you got this.