Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world for a woman to do. In theory that is true. In practice however, it can be a different situation. A new mom can read all the best books in the world, talk to a lactation consultant or their medical practitioner and watch the entire ‘how to’ series of breastfeeding videos on YouTube. In her mind, she may feel confident and ready to jump right into her new maternal role.
However, after the excitement of the birth and the ride home from the hospital, her body might deliver another message. Exhaustion may set in and a whirlwind of emotions may fill every cell in her body. Logic might seem to vanish in the hormonal buzz that fills a new mother’s body to be totally prepared to breastfeed her new baby, but there is a big difference between planning for breastfeeding and then actually doing it.
Everyone tries to be helpful but sometimes the only people who really can be of any help at all are other moms who have been in the same situation. So, we reached out to our Medela Facebook community moms and asked them what advice they would give to a new breastfeeding mom. Their answers were heartfelt, real and authentic. They may not be as specific as a professional ‘how to’ video, but they speak from the heart of a woman who understands the entire spectrum of emotion. These breastfeeding pros offer the following 12 breastfeeding tips for new moms.
Alanna: “The first few weeks will be an on-going nursing marathon and you’ll feel like all you do is nurse your baby 24/7. It eventually does get easier and less time-consuming! Put on some Netflix, grab some easy to eat snacks and lots of water, and nurse, nurse, nurse!”
Alma: Drink lots of WATER! Breastfeed on demand and always follow your baby needs! Do not give a bottle or pacifier this might confuse the baby to latch on the breast correctly. Most important breastfeed for as long as baby wants.
Jessica: Buy a good breast pump for the initial stage if your baby is not a good sucker J Drink lots of water or soup for milk production. Hang in there! It’s going to be a little uncomfortable initially but it gets better. Get a breast nipple lubricant (lanolin) which is safe for breastfeeding. Don’t give up! There is no easy way out.
Jennifer: If you’re going to pump-and-store, don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a huge oversupply. Most women don’t, despite what everyone wants you to think! Pumping can be just as difficult as breastfeeding, so just pick a rhythm that works for you and only you! Do NOT compare you, your baby, your routines or your preferences to those of anyone else!
Allison: Use the resources available. I went to the breastfeeding clinic many times when I wasn’t sure if my baby was getting enough or if I was uncertain of his latch. Or when he favored one side over the other. They were wonderful. Not to mention I had the support of my coworkers who are nurses specializing in babies and breastfeeding. I couldn’t have done it without them.
Danielle: Get your milk production off to a bountiful start by pumping as well as nursing baby on demand. I tried to pump Am, noon, Pm, and before bed in the first month in addition to nursing baby, just so production would be high.
Lisa: The first week is the hardest week you will go through. You will feel like a single mom because it is all up to you. Pregnancy and labour has nothing on you when you are trying to breastfeed. I think this is the hardest thing any women can do for their child is trying to nurse there new born baby. Stick by your baby’s side because he/she needs you the most right now. Get help as soon as possible if your baby isn’t latching properly, this will determine if you will nurse your baby or not. Know that it gets easier and after all, all of this it was worth it for you baby. Thousands if not more of other women are going through the same thing you are. So know that you’re not alone.
Cassandra: Ask for help! Don’t wait. Do it now. Ask your mother, your sister, your friend, a total stranger at a mommy and me class! I have not met a mom yet that is not willing to talk about her experience and offer any tips/tricks she can. Other moms are also great at reassuring you that nothing is perfect and what you are doing is great!
Di: The first two weeks are hard after giving birth. Stick it out and get help from a lactation consultant. As many sessions as you need. It is so much easier if you hang in there.
Carolyn: Be positive and set yourself up for success from day one. Tell your partner and close family of your goal to breastfeed, find out where you can rent a quality pump to try one out before committing to a purchase, find out where your closest breastfeeding clinic is located and don’t be afraid to ask for help from lactation consultants and groups like breastfeeding buddies or La Leche. I believe I was so successful with my singleton and then my twins because of these steps I took and by keeping a positive attitude even through some challenging times.
Kimberly: Don’t give up and don’t stop breastfeeding because someone else wants you to. It’s your baby and your choice. Do what you feel is best for you baby.
Julianna: Even if it’s frustrating, keep going! Try not to resort to formula as that will decrease your milk supply. Keep up the demand and make sure you’re breastfeeding/pumping 8-12 times in 24 hours in the first couple weeks! Hand express to trigger let down response if needed as well.
Cassandra: Nipples hurt at the begging even if latch is correct. Once they get a little stretched out, it gets better so be patient.
Sarah: It was certainly an uphill climb for me and my little one, but after talking with other moms, I found it very reassuring to know that it was tough for them too…I didn’t feel so alone, and I got some great advice. Perseverance is key.
Alicia: The first few weeks are exhausting, painful (especially if you have had any type of delivery trauma)… You may want to give up but stare into their eyes, cry even. Know that once the pain stops and they sleep a bit better it will become the most amazing, wonderful experience. It will literally makes you feel like you are bursting with happy hormones. It’s an accomplishment!
Jenna: It’s one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. You will want to quit – many, many times. Don’t give up. You can do it.
Morgan: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! It’s so incredibly worth pushing through those first few tough days or weeks. Put away your phone, turn off the TV/radio, and enjoy this time together because it really is special. ALWAYS have healthy food and water within reach as you’ll need it wink emoticon. Make sure your partner stays involved some can feel pretty left out.
Dayanna: Drink lots of water and get lots of rest that will help you keep the milk supply high and most importantly don’t give up!!!
Amanda: It can be hard at first. It will get easier. And there is no feeling in the world that can describe it.
Dawn: Make sure you take care of yourself and eat when you are hungry (and boy are you going to be hungry!) Even if I have to nurse/hold my 2-month-old while I am eating, (he won’t stop eating ha ha) – I make sure I eat.
Amanda: Don’t give up. It’s tough. You may want to quit at times. Get help. Keep at it. The first twelve weeks are the hardest and then it gets better.
Sounds like the main advice is patience, perseverance and love. Remember this advice is from different moms with their unique point of view. We share them because every mama is unique and deals with the breastfeeding experience a little differently. You don’t have to follow their advice, just take it all in and find your own way.
Did any of these comments help you? If you are a new breastfeeding mom, please share your experience or go join the conversation on our Facebook community page!