First Time Breastfeeding Tips #1: Shoot for a Natural Birth (or Few Interventions)
Interventions during birth can have a negative impact on establishing a breastfeeding relationship, and increased interventions have been shown to lead to moms breastfeeding for shorter periods of time.
What is an intervention? It’s basically anything your medical team does to intervene in the birth, like induction, c-section, forceps, etc.
Modern medicine in an awesome tool for moms who desire or need it for their happiness and safety during birth, but each mom also has to weigh those choices with other goals, like breastfeeding. Many interventions can make it harder to breastfeed.
Tons of moms have interventions during birth and go on to breastfeed successfully (including me!), but studies to show it might make it more difficult. So if you want to set yourself up for breastfeeding success, choosing the most natural birth you feel comfortable with might be your best bet.
First Time Breastfeeding Tips #2: Enjoy the Golden Hour
The golden hour is that hour right after birth when you really want to spend time bonding with, being skin-to-skin, and starting to nurse your baby.
Your baby literally just came earthside, they need time to adjust, to get to know you, and to regulate a lot of their bodily functions.
Beyond breastfeeding, according to this article, “Mothers and babies have a physiologic need to be together during the moments, hours, and days following birth, and this time together significantly improves maternal and newborn outcomes.”
So unless there is a dire reason, baby and mama should be spending that first hour close together.
First Time Breastfeeding Tips #3: Follow Baby’s Lead
Baby’s are good at just a few things… eating, sleeping, pooping, and being cute.
So when it comes to feeding them, follow their lead. They are good at know when and how much they need to eat. Babies don’t follow schedules like we do. They might want to be attached to your breast for an hour or more at a time.
It can be exhausting, but it is totally normal. Babies will cluster feed (feeding often and for long periods) a lot in those early hours, days, weeks, and even months. They do this because breastmilk works on supply and demand. They are demanding more to increase and establish your milk supply.
Unless there are other red flags or issues arising, baby feeding often is not a sign of low supply or any other issue, if anything it’s a good sign that they’re doing exactly what they should.
First Time Breastfeeding Tips #4: Keep Visitors to a Minimum
Of course, your loved ones want to come to see the newest addition to the family! I mean… who doesn’t want to cuddle a teeny baby?
But your best bet is to keep visitors to a minimum when you’re establishing your breastfeeding relationship.
If this is your first time breastfeeding, chances are you’re going to feel kind of awkward and are still getting the hang of it for a little while. Having people you might not feel 100% comfortable whipping a boob out in front of hanging around will add a ton of stress you don’t need.
Best bet is to ask people to give you some time before visiting.
First Time Breastfeeding Tips #5: Work on the Latch
You’ve probably heard from lots of moms that breastfeeding hurts, or maybe their supply didn’t come in. There are a lot of issues that can arise your first time breastfeeding, and many happen due to poor latch.
Start off on the best foot by learning how to get a good and deep latch.
Learn my best tips here so you can be a latching pro.
First Time Breastfeeding Tips #6: Don’t Panic
Maybe things don’t get off on the best foot. Maybe you had an emergency c-section and then the baby didn’t latch well and you’re still healing.
It’s ok mama.
It took me like 10 days to really get latching down with my daughter. I had no idea what was going on, and she was a little lazy in trying to latch (I believe from the epidural and fluids I got). But I stuck with it and kept trying.
Eventually, we clicked, and I ended up nursing her for 2.5 years!
If it’s hard, that is ok. It’s hard for ALL moms at some point. I have never met a mom who didn’t have a hard time breastfeeding at some point. If you decide breastfeeding isn’t your for, that’s ok too, but I also would encourage you to try to relax and give it another day if you can. Things can change quickly.
First Time Breastfeeding Tips #7: Get Help if Necessary
There is so much awesome support out there for breastfeeding moms nowadays! There are Facebook groups, local La Leche League groups, lactation consultants, books, and more.
But if you are really struggling and don’t know what to do, seek out an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). While other medical professions and other certifications of lactation consultants might be helpful, IBCLC’s are basically the gold standard of training when it comes to breastfeeding.
IBCLC’s are the best equipped to help mamas and babies.
Breastfeeding is a journey. Some journeys are smooth sailing and some have rocky starts. These first time breastfeeding tips are what helped me establish breastfeeding with my newborns, but your journey may look different, and that’s ok mama.
For more, check out these additional first time breastfeeding tips from REAL breastfeeding moms.
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