I was recently asked if I have some tips that helped me through the first days of breastfeeding my son.
It became quite an elaborate list, so I figured I’d share those tips with you here.
I had a terrible time breastfeeding Landon during the first two weeks. I was in agony every time L latched on because my nipples were so raw from feeding him on demand, but I found the right support and we never had a problem again.
Once the lactation specialist showed me how to latch him on correctly, we were good to go. That one suggestion made all the difference.
It is crucial to get breastfeeding support and the right information in the first days and weeks after the birth because you only have a limited time to get it right.
For me, and most other moms, breastfeeding is painful because of an incorrect latch that can easily be corrected.
But if you have no one to turn to for support, you may resort to giving formula, which makes your milk supply tank, and then you are even less likely to succeed at breastfeeding.
8 Tips To Succeed With Breastfeeding
1. Go to a La Leche League or breastfeeding support group meeting BEFORE baby arrive:
I went to a free class offered at the Pump Station in Hollywood before L was born, and it really helped me. I met several moms with their infants and babies, and they were all struggling with one thing or another.
They were able to support and reassure each other, and the lactation consultant was able to tell them that she had heard the same concerns hundreds of time.
I left the meeting knowing that breastfeeding isn’t easy at first for many moms — and so I never expected it to be easy and wasn’t surprised when it wasn’t. And I knew who to turn to when breastfeeding became very painful in the second week.
2. Have a support system lined up:
Tell everyone around you that you are planning to breastfeed your child, and that you hope they will support you in that decision. My mother didn’t breastfeed me, but my three sister-in-laws breastfed all their children and were an inspiration for me.
Connect with moms who have been able to breastfeed for as long as you wish to breastfeed — your mom, sister, aunt, or local La Leche League mom. Have their phone numbers and the LLL phone number handy so you can call them for information if need be.
3. Don’t have formula in the house:
My Bradley coach and doula told me that if you want to succeed with breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to throw out the formula samples they give you at the hospital and to not buy formula for “just in case.”
If you don’t buy formula, you won’t be tempted to use it. Worked for us. I had an extra incentive to make breastfeeding work, because I didn’t have formula handy.
4. Stay in bed as much as possible in the first few days:
Stay in bed with your baby. You need to get to know each other, the noise she makes when she is hungry or just wants the diaper changed.
Someone else can do the dishes — have your partner, family, and friends lined up for housework and everything else. And it’s true: sleep when the baby sleeps. Don’t try to be supermom. Ask for help, especially in the first few weeks.
5. Breastfeed lying down in bed at night:
I ended up hunched over and with a stiff neck and bad back from feeding L at night in bed. I’d sit up, get the breastfeeding pillow, and couldn’t wait for him to be done because I was so uncomfortable.
We were bed sharing with L from the first day on; it just made sense to have my baby near me at night. When I’d hear him fuss, I could take care of what he needed right away. I believe L was such a mellow little fellow because he never had to cry for long before he got a cuddle, breast milk, or a diaper change.
Once we both figured out how to breastfeed lying down in bed, night feeding got so much easier and I got a lot more sleep.
All I had to do when he was hungry was to offer him the breast and we would fall asleep again. A baby’s sucking actually has a sleep-inducing effect on moms, isn’t nature amazing?
6. Forget putting the baby on a feeding and sleeping schedule:
Forget the schedule! Babies don’t know about schedules, and he is going to be much happier to be fed on demand, and that also increases your milk supply. L was eating so often, there was no need to keep track of the feedings.
Writing everything down just would have taken precious time from getting to know my baby in those important first days and weeks.
I’m also not a fan of those “breastfeeding apps” they have nowadays that you are supposed to record every poop in — that’s overkill and will just distract you from learning the baby’s cues.
Also, they are usually made by formula companies that are trying everything they can to get you to doubt you are breastfeeding correctly so you run out and buy formula.
The one thing I did find helpful was to put a hair band around my wrist and to move it to the side I had just fed L on so I would remember which breast to latch him on the next time.
7. Limit visitors in the first week (or two):
Really limit visitors in those important first days. You and your baby have to get to know each other and you both have to learn how to breastfeed. Tell friends that they can come by after the first week to avoid distractions.
If you do have family and friends visit, have them help with your household or with stocking the fridge — that’s how they can help out the most. They will have months and years to hold the child.
8. If breastfeeding hurts, find a lactation consultant ASAP:
Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt. I was so stubborn about wanting to breastfeed L, I walked into the support group saying I didn’t care how much it hurt, I’d keep doing it. But every one of the other moms assured me that breastfeeding should not hurt and wouldn’t once I got the latch right.
The lactation consultant took one look at L nursing and told me he was a lazy baby: he’d latch on and then slide down to the nipple, where he’d nurse.
She showed me that he needed to get a lot more of my breast into his mouth, and how to get him to open up his mouth a lot wider. I could tell the difference right away and left encouraged that breastfeeding was going to work out.
These are the eight things that really made a difference in my succeeding with breastfeeding. I hope they will help you do the same. For more breastfeeding resources and information, visit my Breastfeeding page.
I leave you with this adorable video — I wish L was that little again so I could do it all over again.