While breastfeeding may come easy for some, it doesn’t for all moms. And no matter the journey or its length, nursing and pumping take tremendous amounts of time, energy and commitment.
Here are five tips for successful breastfeeding to help aid you in the journey:
Nurse as Soon as Possible After Birth.
While nursing right after birth is ideal, it’s not always an option for some moms, especially after a C-section. But if possible, hold your baby close to you, skin to skin, covered lightly together. Babies are often more alert and interested in feeding in the first hour following birth. The skin to skin touch will help your milk production and baby’s feeding reflexes are triggered.
For caesarean births, the mother or father can hold the baby skin to skin until the baby can enjoy his or her first feeding. Keep in mind it can take several days for your full milk supply to come in, so don’t get discouraged. Speak with the Lactation Consultant at the hospital after you have the baby to help assist you and answer any questions.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t always come as easily or naturally as expected and the first good latch can take some time, but Lactation Consultants are there to help guide you and help you on your road to breastfeeding/pumping success.
Collect the Right Tools for Breastfeeding.
It’s important to have comfortable, easy to nurse/pump bras and clothing. Fortunately, there are really great options in nursing bras and other wearables that are made without irritating elastic, snaps or zippers now making nursing and pumping an easier and more enjoyable experience.
Get a good nursing pillow, one that wraps around your body and helps with positioning. It will also relieve stress on your back, neck and shoulders. Keep a number handy for a lactation consultant in the event you have questions or problems.
Also keep a few important items close by in a couple spots in your home where you’ll be nursing and/or pumping. Include snacks (like trail mix, fruit and granola bars), bottled water, nursing pads, nipple cream, burp cloths, your phone and magazines and books.
Invest in a Good Breast Pump.
When selecting your pump, your best bet is a hospital-grade double breast pump with graduated suction-level settings (rather than just high, medium, and low) and several sizes of flanges (breast shields). Check with your insurance company to see what type of pump is covered and to find out if your insurance covers hospital-grade pump rentals.
The more powerful the pump, the better chance you’ll have getting going pumping. If you’re able to produce enough milk pumping, it will allow others to feed baby so you can have breaks away.
Take Care of Yourself so You Can Take Care of Your Baby.
Busy, overtired moms tend to skip self-care and not give themselves proper attention. Drink plenty of water while breastfeeding (aim for about 8-10 glasses a day) and make sure you’re eating as well! Breast milk is made up of about 90 percent water so it’s important to drink plenty of fluids. Drinking enough water or other fluids will keep you healthy and hydrated. It will also help you to make and maintain your breast milk supply.
Take the phrase “it takes a village to heart.” Don’t be afraid to accept and ask for help with housework, meals and care of your new baby and your other children from family and friends or just some help with the baby while you can sneak in a nap or step outside for a walk and fresh air.
Give Yourself Some Grace and Trust Your Instincts.
Remind yourself that you’re doing an incredible job, giving your baby an amazing gift and this is no easy task. Though we often expect breastfeeding to come naturally and hopefully it does, it can bring challenges as well. Trust your mama instincts and don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether that’s from family, friends, lactation consultants or medical resources.
Katie Blouin and Maggie Phipps are former attorneys and moms who co-founded the brand Larken and Larken X—the all in one nursing and hands free pumping bra—while pregnant with their youngest daughters. Both struggled with breastfeeding and pumping for their oldest daughters, finding undressing and redressing in and out of uncomfortable pumping garments with clips, zippers and snaps several times a day to be both time-consuming and stressful. Frustrated with the options on the market, Katie and Maggie took a methodical approach to learning the field and designing a solution. The very first prototype arrived on Maggie’s doorstep the same day that Katie went into labor with her youngest daughter. The brand now offers a full selection of ultrasoft,hardware and tag-free essentials that can take moms through pregnancy, nursing, pumping and beyond.