Your new baby is precious! Her little fingers wrap around just one of yours, and tiny toes fit into impossibly small socks and shoes. It’s hard to imagine she’ll ever grow up. You would do anything for your baby and, for many moms, this will include breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is a great way to bond with your baby and provide all of the nutrients your new one needs, but you might encounter some challenges along the way. Every mom has her own experience with breastfeeding, and it may take some time and patience to figure out what works best for you and your baby. If you are struggling with breastfeeding, you are not alone. Try these tips and tricks that have worked for other moms and let us know how they work for you!
Moms who are breastfeeding may notice they are thirstier while lactating, and it is important to stay hydrated. While the notion that you must consume more water than the recommended daily amount for adults in order to make up for your additional milk production is a myth, it is important to listen to your body’s signals – drink when you feel thirsty. We recommend carrying a water bottle around with you, or placing full water bottles around the house, especially when you are breastfeeding. Having water bottles within reach will ensure you stay hydrated.
Relax and Get Comfortable
It’s important to relax as best you can before and during breastfeeding as this will lead to a better overall experience for you and your baby. In fact, when you are able to relax during breastfeeding, your body is more likely to release oxytocin, which will initiate a letdown. Choose a comfortable chair with armrests and use pillows and blankets to support your body. Support heavy breasts with your hands or a rolled-up towel, if needed and take long, deep breaths.
For even more comfort, create a nursing station for yourself including water, snacks, magazines, books, the remote to the T.V., burp cloths, or anything else that will help you relax even further. Or, consider turning your smart speaker onto some soothing sounds or classic music.
Alternate Nursing Positions
Changing positions can decrease the risk of clogged milk ducts and help to prevent nipple soreness. There are many nursing positions to try (such as the cradle hold, the cross-cradle hold, the football hold, and more), and you may find some work better for you and your baby than others. Whichever position you choose, it’s important that your baby be well-supported so that he or she feels safe and you both feel comfortable when breastfeeding.
Get the Most Out of Your Breast Pump
When you use your breast pump, many of the same rules apply. Get in a comfortable position and relax. Looking at a picture or video of your baby will help initiate a letdown. When you’re using your breast pump, let comfort be your guide. If something hurts or feels uncomfortable, make some adjustments.
Two common mistakes are incorrect flange size or improper suction. Make sure you are using the right flange (also called a breast shield) size for your body. Each breast pump manufacturer sells a range of accessories to increase comfort and maximize your milk output. For example, Medela sells the PersonalFit Breast Shields while Ardo sells Breast Flanges in a range of sizes.
Check the settings on your breast pump to make sure you have right suction and speed levels. It is tempting to think that faster speed and higher suction will result in more expressed milk, but in many cases, higher/faster settings are just leading to more pain. Find the settings that best mimic your baby and you’ll be rewarded with a more comfortable experience and a higher volume of milk.
To learn more about the specifics of your breast pump, please visit our Knowledge Center.
Breastfeeding can be a wonderful bonding experiencing for you and your baby, but it takes some practice to find what works best for the two of you. Try these tips and let us know what has worked for you!
If you have any questions or concerns, it is important for you to reach out for support. There are a variety of resources such as IBCLC’s (International Board of Lactation Consultants), CLC’s (Certified Lactation Counselor), WIC, and LaLeche League that can help you.
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