Breast milk is a miracle of life. It is the best source of nutrition during the first phase of your baby’s development. It is full of antibodies which boost your baby’s immunity against germs and infections. Breastfed babies are generally free from allergies and asthma as well as more serious diseases like diabetes or obesity. This is why many new mothers are always on the lookout for breastfeeding tips.
Breastfeeding works wonders for mothers too. For one, it helps your body recover from giving birth by bringing back your uterus to its former size. This way, you shed the extra weight in a natural way. It is also the beginning of a lifetime bond with your baby. It doesn’t hurt that while doing this, you save money by not having to use formula. There are also innumerable health benefits such as lowering your chances of getting heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer.
This does not mean, however, that breastfeeding is easy. According to the CDC, 30% of mothers quit breastfeeding six months after giving birth—even though pediatricians generally recommend that breastfeeding is essential for babies especially in the first six months.
Breastfeeding does not have to be an uphill battle anymore. Now, you have this comprehensive list of the best breastfeeding tips that every mother should know.
In life, we all learn new skills that help make life easier, and breastfeeding is an all-important skill that every new mother has to learn. It may not come naturally to you at first but, with help from these tips, it’s possible to avoid the many pitfalls that other moms have had the misfortune of knowing firsthand. It’s time to be familiar with what you need to do in preparation for your baby’s arrival such as what items to buy before you’re due and what to do when your baby finally arrives. It’s important to know what steps to take to make sure that you set yourself up for a successful breastfeeding journey with your newborn baby.
1. Read books on breastfeeding. There’s a lot of time to kill during pregnancy, so make sure that one of your required readings is a few breastfeeding books that will teach you a thing or two about nursing your baby.
2. Attend a class. Some would-be mothers find it valuable to get tips and advice from an expert instructor while bonding with other women who are going through the same experience.
3. Ask a nursing friend a favor. If you know anyone who’s breastfeeding their baby, try to ask them if it’s okay to see how they feed. You can also attend a meeting of a breastfeeding support group like La Leche League so you can witness firsthand how other moms nurse their babies.
4. Prepare necessary items. Do not forget to buy the items that will help you in breastfeeding such as a proper nursing bra, nursing pillows, and blankets. You can also purchase a breast pump in advance. (Check if your insurance policy or local hospital offers a free pump).
5. Give away any free formula. It’s not uncommon for hospitals to offer formula as freebies to new mothers, but research shows that feeding your baby formula reduces the success rate of your baby adapting to breastfeeding.
6. Listen to some expert advice. Arrange an appointment with a lactation consultant or a breastfeeding expert even before giving birth. Their knowledge and experience will be invaluable as you get the hang of breastfeeding. The International Lactation Consultant Association has a directory of highly qualified consultants or IBCLCs that you can look up online.
While in the Hospital
7. Go natural. Women who have natural births find it easier to transition to breastfeeding.
8. Tell your doctor. They can offer more information on properly breastfeeding your baby. They can connect you to a lactation consultant if you want. They can also address questions you may have about how the hospital care could affect your plans for breastfeeding your baby.
9. Call for help. If ever anything feels off, you should tell somebody. Breastfeeding doesn’t have to be painful, so if you’re experiencing pain, do not hesitate to call a lactation consultant or your doctor for help.
10. Include your partner. You don’t have to go through this alone. If possible, ask your partner to join your meeting with a lactation expert, if you’ve ever enlisted one. They could help take note of the pointers coming from the expert and they could remind you if ever you forget anything due to fatigue.
Breastfeeding Tips for Newborns
Most new moms expect that breastfeeding is instinctive. However, it’s not always easy for both mother and child to know exactly what to do. As a mom, you may worry about the many things that can go wrong—your baby not latching properly or your milk getting blocked. It’s time to get answers to your questions by reading these breastfeeding tips for new mothers.
Breastfeeding Tips after Birth
11. Breastfeed your baby right away. Breastfeeding your baby thirty to sixty minutes after delivery sends signals to your body to start producing breast milk. At first, your breast will only have colostrum, a thick, yellowish substance that usually comes before breast milk and is proven to be supremely nutritious for newborns, but as your baby learns to breastfeed, your body will produce more milk. Research shows that physical contact between mother and child after birth stimulates babies to adapt to breastfeeding more easily. Even in cases where a baby is confined to intensive care, feeding them colostrum by hand still helps signal the brain and body to produce milk.
12. Wait for your milk. After giving birth, your body has a small amount of colostrum which serves as your baby’s first milk. Your breast milk will not come until after two or three days or, in some cases, up to six days for some mothers. The key is to keep skin-to-skin contact with your baby until your milk flows.
13. Know that your milk is generally enough. Breast milk is easy for babies to digest and as long as your baby feeds regularly, you shouldn’t worry about adding solid food to his diet or even liquids like water—the only exception is vitamin D drops, which you should still give him.
14. If possible, avoid formula. Unless your doctor recommends it, do not use formula just yet. It might result in low milk supply later on. If you don’t know how long you’ll be able to breastfeed, keep at it at least while you are in the hospital.
15. Keep in mind that babies are always hungry. They have very small stomachs so it’s only natural that they want frequent feeding. This is also good for you since the demand for milk will prompt your mammary glands to produce more milk. It’s how your body learns how much milk it needs. Breast milk is also easily digested so expect that your baby will want to nurse again soon after you feed him.
16. Recognize hunger cues. Feeding your baby is usually easier when they’re awake and alert—simply offer your breast and they’ll feed if hungry. Still, there are other ways to know if your baby is hungry:
- when they’re sucking their fingers or hands
- when hands are near the mouth
- when they smack their lips
- when they bend their arms, kick their legs, or clench their fist
- when they turn their head toward your hand when you touch their cheek or mouth, or what’s called the ‘rooting’ reflex
17. Pass the gas. To prevent your baby from spilling your milk, make sure to let them burp after feeding them. This also lets them manage the gases that form in their sensitive stomachs.
18. Support their feet. Babies generally feel more secure when there’s something touching their feet while they’re feeding. Hold their feet or prop a pillow underneath so your baby can comfortably nurse.
19. Forget scrubbing. You may have heard some advice to scrub your nipples to keep them clean or to toughen them, but there’s no evidence that this is necessary—at all.
20. No need to wean when you’re sick. Your baby has most likely been exposed to the germs that made you sick so there’s no point to stop nursing them. Also, your breast milk has antibodies that will protect your baby from your illness. If you’re worried that your baby is negatively affected by your condition, consult your doctor for medication that’s compatible with breastfeeding.
21. See if your baby is full. There are easy-to-spot clues that your baby is no longer hungry, namely:
- Slowly decreasing their sucks while feeding
- Releasing your nipple or pushing your breast away
- Dripping some milk from the mouth
- Relaxing their bodies by extending their legs or sleeping
- No other hunger cues like sucking their hands
Make sure to watch for these signs so you can keep baby happy and well-fed.
Breastfeeding Latching Tips
It’s important that you find the right latching position for you and your baby. Not getting this right could cost you unnecessary pain and wasted time.
22. Position your baby next to your stomach. His belly should be touching yours. This way, he wouldn’t have to turn his head to search for your nipple. Be sure to direct your nipple to his nose instead of his mouth so your baby will lift his head and secure a deep latch.
23. Get your baby’s mouth to open wide. Hold his shoulder firmly and slowly bring your baby to your breast once he opens his mouth widely. Your nipple should fill his upper palate fully. Remove the latch if it hurts after a few sucks. Find the ideal, pain-free position.
24. Avoid pushing your baby’s head. Place your hands on the nape of his neck and bring him directly to your breast. Pushing the back of his head prompts him to struggle and bite.
25. Find help. Asking for help prevents future problems like plugged milk ducts and breast engorgement from happening. It also helps with current issues you may be having such as milk oversupply. Lactation consultants are nursing experts who can give advice on breastfeeding topics like latching positions and milk supply. They may cost you a little but just consider it as an investment in your baby’s health. If you prefer not to see a consultant, there are other free resources you can find on the internet such as:
- The excellent resources on La Leche League International’s website (www.llli.org)
- The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, a global organization of doctors who promote breastfeeding and human lactation (www.bfmed.org)
- The Kellymom website, which provides informative articles on breastfeeding and parenting and led by an IBCLC lactation expert (www.kellymom.com)
- Dr. Jack Newman’s instructional website featuring articles, videos, and problem-solving tips from one of the leading advocates of breastfeeding (www.drjacknewman.com)
Use these resources to find out more about breastfeeding latching techniques.
First Weeks of Breastfeeding
26. Drink a lot of water. Your body needs a lot of liquid to make milk. Make sure that you always have a bottle of water by your side.
27. It helps to lie on your side. This position relaxes your shoulders and lower back, especially when you’re exhausted carrying your baby in a sitting or standing position. It also helps mothers who’ve had a C-section or having nerve problems like carpal tunnel. For added comfort, place a pillow between your knees or under your head and have someone place the baby facing you.
28. Don’t force your baby to change breasts. Allow your baby to let go of your breast on his own; then, you can offer the other breast. Your baby might prefer only one breast at times and alternate with both at others.
29. Wake him up. To maximize feeding time, tickle your baby’s feet, touch him with something wet or brush his chin to keep him awake.
30. Delay the pacifier. Wait until after the first month before using a pacifier. Pediatricians recommend that using a pacifier might cause you to overlook your baby’s hunger and lessen the time meant for nursing. After a month, it’s okay to introduce a pacifier.
31. Use a stool. Nursing mothers find more comfort when they use a nursing stool. This gives support to your feet and eases the burden on the lower area of your body, especially after childbirth.
32. Expect cluster or bunch feedings. There will come a time when your baby will feed more often than what you’re used to during the first days. This coincides with your baby’s growth spurts which go on for a few days and usually occur at the following schedules: 1 week, 3 weeks, and 6 weeks old and then return at 3 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months old. After this, expect an increase in your milk supply.
33. Watch your baby’s weight. Your baby may not be getting enough milk if he lost a portion of his birth weight (10% or more) 3 or 4 days after hospital discharge, so make sure to check his weight during your first visit at the pediatrician. Another sign is if you don’t feel your breasts getting full of milk. If this happens, consult with a lactation consultant.
34. Check if your baby’s full. A lot of moms worry about how to tell whether their babies are getting enough milk—unfortunately, we don’t have measuring cups for this. One way to know this instead is by counting the number of dirty diapers that you get from your baby. Around five days after birth, you should be seeing 5 or 6 diapers filled with poop and urine as an indicator that your baby is getting what he needs. It’s also a sign you’re feeding him well if your baby makes swallowing sounds while feeding and your breast is a little softer after.
35. Don’t lose confidence in your baby’s growth. Some moms doubt their baby’s progress when they see no visible weight gain or if the doctor comments that the numbers are not satisfactory. However, if you see that your baby looks healthy and happy, with him growing and having normal body measurements and movements, then you most likely don’t have anything to worry about.
36. Look out for jaundice. Bilirubin is waste excreted by the liver which, when reabsorbed by the body, will lead to jaundice. A small amount of jaundice in babies is okay but when your baby is not pooping as much as he should, it could be a problem. When this happens, you can feed him breast milk using a spoon, syringe, or your fingers and seek immediate medical attention.
37. Avoid nipple confusion. It’s a thing when you introduce artificial nipples like baby bottles and pacifiers before you should. If you can, try to focus on breastfeeding during your baby’s first month. You have to somehow train your baby to expel milk on his own before introducing bottle nipples, which tend to discharge milk more freely than real ones and might end up being preferred by your baby.
38. Don’t do housework for a while. You should focus your energy on establishing your breastfeeding routine with your baby. Avoid doing household chores like cooking and cleaning in the first six weeks after giving birth. Any free time you have should be spent taking care of yourself as well.
Breastfeeding Tips for Large Nipples
Some moms with above average nipples may struggle a bit with breastfeeding as the baby might find it hard to latch on a large nipple that tends to occupy a big part of his mouth. To avoid this problem, try the following solutions.
39. You need an extra-wide opening. Encourage your baby to open his mouth widely by pressing your nipple against his upper lip. This way, your baby will lift his head and reach for your nipple, hopefully swallowing part of the areola and the nipple.
40. If possible, use a breast pump. This will stretch your nipples out and make it easier for your baby to latch on. Consult a lactation expert on the right kind of pump for your needs. Remember that this pump is an effective way to keep your milk coming even when your baby isn’t feeding much due to large nipples.
41. Trust your milk supply. Even when having trouble latching perfectly, your baby will still feed well as long as you have a strong milk volume. If you wait patiently, your baby will have an easier time latching later when her mouth is bigger.
Inverted or Flat Nipples Breastfeeding Tips
There are mothers who have trouble with nipples that point inwards instead of out. Babies have a hard time latching when the nipple is not sticking out. Here are tips that can help with this problem.
42. Push your areola down. For flat or inverted nipples, pushing your areola down to your chest helps ease the swelling and bring the nipple out.
43. Play with your nipples a bit. Try rolling your nipple with your fingers to coax it out. You can do this even before giving birth.
44. Suck it out. Try using suction devices like nipple extractors and cups a few weeks before your baby is due.
45. Consider using a pump. Just like with large nipples, breast pumps could help extend the nipple out. Let your baby latch on and he’ll take care of the rest.
46. Nipple shields may be the answer. A nipple shield is a flexible silicone or artificial latex shaped like a nipple and worn over a mother’s real nipple. It has holes at the tip to allow milk to flow and stimulate your baby’s sucking reflex. It instantly reshapes your nipple and solves the inverted nipple problem.
Breastfeeding Tips for Pain
Many new moms think that breastfeeding is painful. Generally, nursing shouldn’t be painful, although there are exceptions to the rule. To avoid pain while feeding, follow the following steps as well as possible remedies when you get an accidental bite.
47. Take charge. One reason that some moms experience pain is that they handle their babies too gently. Remember: Don’t wait for them to reach for your breast. Firmly guide your baby to your breast (and not just your nipple).
48. Try laid-back breastfeeding. For mothers who want to go natural, lactation experts are now promoting what they consider as the most natural breastfeeding position called “laidback breastfeeding.” To do this, you have to recline backward on your sofa and bring your baby facedown to your breast. This is similar with how we see some mothers put their babies to sleep on top of them—only here they’re feeding. Many studies show that babies usually know what to do and they instinctively latch on to feed. This position is especially helpful to mothers who’ve had a C-section or have some pain in their perineum.
49. Moisturize your nipples. Your milk can act as a natural moisturizer for your nipples. After a feeding, you can gently rub a few drops of your milk on your sore or cracked nipples. You can also use purified lanolin to help keep them moist.
50. Don’t use soap. This can dry your nipples and cause cracking. Use warm water instead.
51. Alternate hot and cold treatments. Engorgement happens when your breasts get overfull with milk. To ease this, take a warm shower for 5 minutes or less before nursing your baby. This helps milk circulate better. Doing this for more than five minutes though can worsen the swelling. After feeding your baby, apply a cold compress to your breasts for 10 minutes to further ease the swelling.
52. Seek help. When experiencing pain, it’s best sometimes to find professional help. Having a bad latch is a common reason for the pain and can be usually fixed by simply readjusting your baby’s chin into a flanged or “fish mouth” appearance, but in cases when you’ve done everything you can, it’s time to talk to an expert before doing more damage to your nipples.
53. Treat a clogged milk duct. When milk is blocked inside, it causes serious pain and discomfort. To fix it, aim your baby’s chin at the plug and let him feed on the affected breast every two hours to unblock the milk passageway. Also, avoid putting pressure on that part of your breast by sleeping on that side or placing objects like bag straps and carriers over it. Again, warm compresses on your breast will help milk flow. Cabbage leaves are also proven to be effective in relieving pain and swelling in nipples.
54. Cure mastitis. This is a breast infection that occurs when there’s a backup of milk in the breast such as when a mother does not pump milk regularly. Early symptoms include having a fever and feeling severe pain around a red, hot breast, but the cure is usually natural such as by taking care of yourself better and resting as well as continue using the affected breast to nurse your baby—yes, even when it hurts.
Prevention includes emptying your breasts regularly and not wearing tight bras. When taking antibiotics, it’s best to eat probiotic foods like yogurt to avoid further complications like thrush.
55. Check for tongue tie. In some cases, neither the latch or milk supply is the problem. Instead, the baby may have tongue tie, which is a condition that prevents him from fully moving his tongue and feeding properly. You can consult a lactation expert and confirm if your baby has tongue tie.
56. Treat thrush ASAP. You should also check for thrush, a fungal infection that forms in the mouth and can be passed on to your baby. This can be caused by too much moisture in the nipples, eating too much sugar and yeast-containing foods, and taking steroids or antibiotics. You know you have thrush when your nipples are sore, painful, pinkish, cracked, or itchy or when your baby has white spots inside his mouth.
You can treat the yeast infection with anti-fungal tablets or with gentian violet. To make sure it won’t come back, use only clean bras always, place nipple pads in your bra, air-dry your nipple, and avoid sugar-rich and yeasty food.
Increasing Your Milk Supply
In general, maintaining a healthy supply of milk depends highly on the frequency of your breastfeeding. As noted before, the more you feed your baby, the more milk you produce. Your hormones take care of milk production in the days after delivery. Afterward, it’s all about the laws of supply and demand. Still, it doesn’t hurt to learn other ways that you could level up the amount of milk you make. Here are some techniques that will make your milk flow.
57. Snuggle with your baby. Research shows that skin-to-skin care, or what some call us ‘kangaroo care,’ increases breast milk along with other benefits. Here, your naked baby, except for a diaper and a blanket, is placed on top of your naked chest. The contact helps to relax him and improves breathing.
58. Keep on breastfeeding. Let your baby feed as much as he wants. The more he demands, the more your body produces milk.
59. Keep at it longer. The more your baby feeds, the more your breasts are stimulated to make milk. Try to spend at least 10 minutes nursing your baby on each breast. Gently wake him if he falls asleep.
60. Feed from both sides. In order to get a steady milk supply at the beginning of your breastfeeding journey, try your best to breastfeed from both breasts. Also, don’t always start on the same side because the stimulation results in an unevenly larger breast with more milk. After the first few weeks, you can keep on nursing from both sides or just one side according to you and your baby’s preference.
61. See to it that your baby latches properly. This is the easiest way to ensure that you’ll have an ample supply of milk. When your baby has a poor latch, he cannot take in as much milk, which means less stimulation for your breast and less milk made.
62. Do some breast compressions. Gently squeezing your breast while breastfeeding or even when pumping helps get more milk out. It’s also helpful when you have a baby that’s more of a ‘snacker’; breast compressions make milk flow and keep baby drinking.
63. Hand-express your milk. Stimulate your breasts by doing hand expression, a natural way of applying pressure on a breast to let out milk into a container or spoon. The stimulation signals the body to make more milk and should be done after each feeding. It’s also more natural and more comfortable to do during the first few days of breastfeeding, but it can take some to learn. Alternatively, you can use a breast pump.
64. Use a brand-new pump. Do not buy a second-hand pump. Even a good electric pump has a limited life before the suction stops working.
65. Find a stronger pump. When just starting out with breastfeeding, regular hands-free pumps bought at stores or with insurance are generally not strong enough to support a steady milk supply. If possible, try renting a hospital-grade pump. Typically, you should keep on pumping milk for 10 minutes every hour to prompt your body to make more milk sooner.
66. Be healthy. Your lifestyle can also affect your milk supply. Aspects of your routine like smoking, oral contraception, tiredness, and stress can throw your body out of balance and decrease your milk supply. Getting rid of unhealthy habits will go a long way to establish a strong milk supply.
67. Drink lots of water. Ideally, you should drink 6 to 8 glasses of water or any healthy beverage like milk, fruit and vegetable juices. Your milk is 90% water so if you’re feeling thirsty or dizzy, drink more. You may be dehydrated.
68. Relax. It’s natural for a lot of mothers to doubt their breastfeeding process. You may be one of them, thinking that you’re not doing enough for your baby. But as long as there’s no obvious sign that something’s wrong and your baby is feeding well, there’s no reason to doubt yourself. If other mothers can maintain a strong milk supply, then you can do it too. Now, if you really think you’re not making enough milk, it’s best to get in contact with a lactation specialist or to visit any of these resources:
- For information and support for mothers experience low milk supply (www.lowmilksupply.org)
- For information on how to connect with mothers who donate breast milk (https://www.facebook.com/EatsOnFeetsHome?fref=ts)
69. Find time to rest. When you’re a new mom, it’s easy to let stress take its toll, but this can badly affect your milk supply. Make sure that you get enough rest. Take naps while the baby is sleeping. Being well-rested makes it easier to make more milk.
Healthy Breastfeeding Diet Tips
70. Eat a lot. Aside from drinking lots of fluids, make sure you eat an additional 500 calories above your usual food intake each day. Keep on taking your prenatal vitamins for extra nutrients.
71. Have a calcium-rich diet. It’s important to eat from all five food groups and drink 5 servings of milk or dairy products every day. You can also bring back some of the foods that were limited during your pregnancy.
72. Find calcium-rich alternatives. If you’re lactose intolerant or a vegetarian, then you should find other sources of calcium such as tofu, kale, sesame seeds, and broccoli. You can also consult your doctor about taking calcium supplements.
73. Watch your baby. There are some foods that your baby might be allergic to. Monitor how your baby acts, such as being gassy or fussy, after you eat certain foods. For some babies, it’s milk, broccoli, or spicy foods.
74. Cow’s milk can be bad for babies. Some babies are allergic to cow’s milk that their mothers drink and will show signs like rash, colic, flatulence, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other foods like peanuts and eggs may cause allergic reactions too. Immediately call your doctor if your baby shows any of these signs.
75. Be careful with what you take. Some prescription drugs like contraceptives and antidepressants can get into your milk and to your baby. To be sure, don’t take anything without first talking to your doctor.
76. Limit consumption of alcohol, coffee, and cigarettes. Avoid drinking more than two cups of coffee, tea, or any caffeine-based product. Try not to have more than 1 glass of wine or any alcoholic drink. If you happen to have had a few drinks, wait 2-3 hours before breastfeeding to clear up the alcohol in your blood and milk. Smoking can also negatively affect your baby and lower your milk supply, so it’s best if you quit it too.
Public Breastfeeding Tips
As your baby gets older, you’ll eventually go outside and enjoy a day in the sun with your baby. It’s inevitable that your baby will get hungry while you’re out and about, and no matter what anyone thinks, it’s perfectly okay to breastfeed your baby even outside the comfort of your home. To help you manage the situation, here are tips on how to do breastfeeding in public:
77. Practice indoors. Nothing beats a prepared mom. Before breastfeeding in public, try to do it at home first and anticipate the possible challenges you’ll face. For instance, how will you hold your baby without a pillow? What kind of dress will make it easier to feed your baby as soon as he asks? Practice facing a mirror if necessary.
78. Have a backup pump. In case you feel the need to pump milk while outside, it’s good if aside from the electric pump you have a manual breast pump in your baby bag. You’ll never know when there wouldn’t be any electrical outlet around or when you’ll use up your electric pump’s battery.
79. Dress in layers. If you want to discreetly nurse in public, you can do some layering of clothes. Wear a slightly loose tank top under your shirt. When it’s time to nurse, reach under your shirt and pull the tank top down to free your breast. Then, as you roll your shirt up, bring your baby to your breast and make sure he quickly latches on. This way, only a small portion of your chest is exposed.
80. Think of baby first. Before you cover up, consider if it’s good for your baby. Cover-ups work well with smaller babies, but there should be good ventilation underneath. If it’s a hot day, it may be bad for your baby to be under there.
81. Go somewhere quiet. If possible, find a quiet spot where you can breastfeed your baby with minimal distraction for him.
Breastfeeding Tips for Working Mothers
Coming back to work doesn’t have to mean weaning your baby. He needs you just as much as he did during the early days. You just need a little help and this breastfeeding bible for working moms:
82. Talk to people at work. Try to tell your employer about your plans to pump milk at work. Make them understand the importance of doing this for you and your baby. Ideally, workplaces should have a space allocated as a nursing station. If that’s not the case, you should make arrangements with the management. It’s your right.
83. Find a space in the office. Before returning to work or, if possible, before giving birth, talk to your employer about having a place at work where you can pump. If you don’t have your own office, don’t be afraid to ask them for a space you can temporarily use such as a colleague’s office or an unused, ventilated corner in a storage room.
84. Practice at home. Try pumping milk once every day or every second day so you’ll know what it’s like before going back to work.
85. Pump many times. Even when you struggle a bit finding time to pump, try your best to pump as often as you could instead of pumping for a long time.
86. Know your rights. Congress passed the Breastfeeding Promotion Act in support of working mothers. It offers tax incentives to businesses which provide lactation rooms at work, establishes a standard for commercially available breast pumps, and gives tax deductions to families who buy equipment for breastfeeding.
87. Find a storage place. It’s good if your workplace has a common refrigerator where you can store your breast milk. (Just make sure that you label them). In case you go to a warehouse or work somewhere without a lactation room, refrigeration, or other facilities needed for pumping milk, you’re going to have to improvise. For example, bring a cooler to work or pump in the car. Your breast pump may have also come with a cooling compartment that you can use.
88. Start slow. Think about returning to work later in the week, like on a Wednesday, so you don’t have to be away from your baby for too long during the transition period.
89. Set a schedule for pumping. Set aside time for pumping milk in your work calendar. If you’re using email calendar, block out the time so your colleagues know when you’re away pumping milk. Not having a schedule will cause you to forget and will most likely engorge your breasts and eventually lead to lower milk supply.
90. Get baby to bottle-feed. Ahead of your return to work, try to give your baby some milk in a bottle. This will make it easier for him to transition to bottle-feeding.
91. Know your baby’s needs. At 6 months, your baby will need the same amount of milk as he did in his first month. Your baby has most likely found out how much milk he needs so when pumping milk for the next day, just keep the same number of bottles as other days.
92. Don’t pump too much. Even when trying to make the most of your remaining time with your baby, you don’t have to overpump just to compensate. This may lead to a breast infection, an overactive letdown of milk and, not to mention, exhaustion.
93. Observe some storage guidelines. As you prepare to go back to work, you might be thinking of storing as much milk as you can, but make sure that you follow specific guidelines in properly storing fresh breast milk. For starters, you can store expressed milk on a shelf for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature and up to 24 hours in a cooler containing ice. When storing in a refrigerator, make sure to put the bottled milk in the back where it could last from 3 to 8 days under pristine conditions. Always wash your hands before handling your milk and thoroughly clean bottles and parts. Tightly seal and sanitize storage bags for milk. Frozen milk can be stored for as long as 6 months in a regular freezer and up to a year in a deep freeze. Spoiled breast milk generally smells like sour cow’s milk, so always check before feeding your baby. When you’re not sure, throw it away.
94. Set small goals in terms of duration. Don’t worry too much whether you’ll be able to breastfeed long-term. Instead of deciding to nurse for one year, focus on nursing today. Breastfeed for as long as you can but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t commit.
95. Be careful when thawing milk. Make sure that you use thawed milk within 24 hours. Dump it after this time. You can store milk in 1 oz. containers before thawing it from the freezer so no milk is wasted. It’s also better to warm milk by washing it with warm running water than putting it in the microwave where it can lose some of its nutritional benefits. Heating with a stove and microwave could also scald your baby by accident.
96. Have a support group. No one could better encourage you than other moms. Try to be part of a breastfeeding community that could support and motivate you to keep on going.
97. Don’t forget the benefits of breastfeeding. Many experts encourage breastfeeding for six months after birth, but some moms go for two years or more. Breast milk boosts your child’s immunity and protects him from diseases. It also changes along with the change in your baby’s needs so you can be sure that it has the nutrients he needs as he grows. Even when he starts taking solid foot at 6 months old, you can continue breastfeeding him for additional nutrition.
Tips on Increasing Your Pumping Capacity
98. Make a bra for nursing. No need to buy an expensive nursing bra. You can just buy a form-fitting sports bra (or use the one you have at home) and cut out slits in the nipple area where you can insert the breast shields of your breast pump. Voila! You now have a hands-free nursing bra.
99. Massage your breast before pumping. Doing this helps milk flow and if you’re having trouble with your letdown, massaging for a few minutes may help clear up the plug. The process is something like your annual breast examination. Begin near your armpit. Use the fingers of your other hand and make small circles on that spot. Massage around your breast in a circular pattern until you get to the areola of your nipple. You may use your hand or fist to knead your breast in longer strokes. Then, do the same to your other breast.
100. Listen to soothing music. Download an audio galactagogue, a relaxing recording that’s said to help increase milk supply in mothers. Try it free on iTunes or SoundCloud.
101. Stay hydrated. Drink two glasses of water a few minutes before pumping milk.
102. Size matters. Make sure the size of your pump flange is just right for you. If it’s too big or too small, it can hurt your nipple or limit the amount of milk you could get. Experts suggest that you buy a breast shield that is 2-4 mm larger than the diameter of your nipple.
103. Minimize cleaning time. Contrary to what you may know, it’s not always necessary to wash the parts of your pump. As long as baby is not sick, you can simply store the parts in a sealed plastic bag and store in a refrigerator or a cooler for use later.
104. Be inspired. It helps sometimes to look at your baby or a picture of his while pumping. You should also breathe in your baby’s scent through his clothes or blankets. Your milk letdown will respond to this exposure.
105. Set reasonable goals. On your first day of breastfeeding, you’ll most likely get just one ounce of milk. As time goes on, your milk volume will increase as you pump more frequently. It may not be realistic to expect that you’ll get something like 8 ounces each time you pump milk, especially at the start, but if you keep at it, then you’ll see that you can produce up to 30 ounces of milk—enough to feed your baby for 24 hours.
Tips for Weaning Your Baby
You may have to stop breastfeeding for reasons like work or breastfeeding difficulties. Still, there are steps that could make this process less painful for you and your baby.
106. Take your time. You don’t have to rush weaning your baby off breastfeeding. Doing so may make it hard for your baby to cope and for your body to adjust to changing hormone levels. Weaning also doesn’t mean your body will stop producing milk so you might end up with engorged breasts which might be painful.
107. Replace milk with extra attention. Help your baby during this transition period by showering him with hugs, a warm cuddle, and showing your love through skin contact. Also, slowly drop the number of feedings every few days so your body can adjust to the change.
Tips on Breastfeeding in Special Circumstances
Breast milk has immense health benefits and babies born in certain situations need this milk the most. It takes effort and special strategies to make it work, but the payoff is well worth it. Here are tips for successfully breastfeeding babies with special needs.
108. Breastfeeding after a cesarean delivery. Before you deliver your baby, consult your doctor about the best pain medication that will keep you alert after giving birth. Ask a lactation expert about the best way to hold your baby and latch on without hurting your incision.
If possible, have someone like a partner or a friend learn with you so they can assist. Don’t worry if you’re a little behind due to your recovery time or the effects of anesthesia, because you and your baby will get back on schedule as long as you don’t give up.
109. Breastfeeding when you’re sick. Often, there’s no reason to stop breastfeeding even when you’re sick. For minor ailments like diarrhea or the flu, your baby may get your condition mildly, but natural antibodies in your milk may prevent this from getting serious. Abruptly weaning your baby when you’re ill may cause more harm.
For some serious health conditions like diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, herpes, or rheumatoid arthritis, you may still continue breastfeeding without a hitch. When in doubt, talk to your doctor or a lactation expert for advice on breastfeeding.
110. Breastfeeding when a baby is premature. Breast milk can help improve a premature baby’s eyesight and even his intelligence later in life, so he definitely needs breastfeeding the most. It’s easier to digest than formula so it’s good for his metabolism. If, however, your baby is too sick to drink from your breast, hand-express your milk and feed him through a tube if necessary. Ask for the hospital’s assistance in accomplishing this. Your baby needs you at this special time.
111. Breastfeeding multiple babies. After having twins or triplets, your body will certainly produce enough milk to feed them. Instead, what you should work on is getting in contact with a lactation consultant who can teach you strategies on how to nurse multiple babies using effective latching techniques and nursing positions. She can also help you if any problem arises at home. You need all the help you can get, including help with housework.
Essential Tools for Breastfeeding Moms
112. Get a nursing pillow. This pillow wraps around you and helps ease the strain on your neck, back, and shoulders. One example is The Nesting Pillow, which is one of the most comfortable pillows as it molds to you and your baby. Another pillow is My Breast Friend; it’s a strong pillow that aids in latching and positioning. Last is The Boppy which is a classic breastfeeding pillow that has many uses.
113. Use pads. Buy some nursing pads to avoid the embarrassment of having milk leaking around your nipples.
114. Heal the nipples. It’s imperative to have some supply of cures for sore or cracked nipples. One common remedy is a lanolin-based cream, but some doctors warn against a possible allergic reaction in mothers who are sensitive to animal-based products. As an alternative, you can try organic goods like coconut oil and water-based hydrogel pads. Before all this, make sure that your baby is latching properly to avoid more sore nipples in the future.
115. Keep a tracker. Download a free app to monitor your baby’s diaper count, feeding schedule, and doctor visits, especially during the first few weeks of breastfeeding.
116. Have emergency digits. Make sure you have someone you can call in case you have a problem or a question. Get the number of a lactation expert or someone from a breastfeeding support group like La Leche League.
117. Buy a double electric pump. This cuts pumping time for working moms who want to continue breastfeeding. Purchase one that comes with flanges of different sizes and has graduated or gradually increasing suction instead of the simple low, medium, high buttons.
Follow These Tips and Enrich Your Breastfeeding Experience
Being a new mom can be a source of anxiety for you, but you don’t have to sacrifice the quality of care while you’re learning the ropes. Successful breastfeeding largely depends on preparation, having the right equipment, listening to the occasional expert advice, knowing a handful of natural remedies, and your own willingness to learn and try different techniques that will help make breastfeeding a satisfying and pain-free experience. Today is a precious time for you and your baby to form a lifelong bond of trust so it’s not the time to make unnecessary mistakes that could have been avoided with the right know-how. Luckily, you have these breastfeeding tips to guide your path to becoming a more informed nursing mother.
Remember that you are not alone in this journey. Millions of mothers are just like you—wanting the best nutrition for their babies. So what are you waiting for? Start trying out these tips and see which works for you and your little bundle of joy.