A lot of new moms don’t know the basics of breastfeeding which is expected because it is a lot to learn! Not everyone is taught about it by their family like you would maybe expect for something so natural, a lot of our parents and grandparents may have not know the benefits, or been pressured to use formula or just not known they had options.
Not to mention the sleep deprivation of a hospital, and the first few weeks, and getting sent home after a whirlwind experience with your first child! A new baby you have no idea what to do with! It’s a lot to handle!
Many moms get scared and discouraged and start supplementing with formula right away, creating a cycle of low supply and nipple confusion for the baby.
Here are my tips to help, it’s a long list but if you get through it all you might learn a lot that you did not know before.
I am not a doctor but these are some things that did help me.
- Before giving birth make sure you are eating healthy natural glucose. Such as: bananas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, honey, dates, pears, etc. The point is to get a glucose storage in the liver. Not having enough glucose storage can cause the milk to not come in. This is not very common but for moms whose milk never came in this may be a reason. Breastmilk is basically sugar water with mom’s antibodies. Remember eating organic is best. It may be more expensive but eating foods with GMOs just gives the liver more of a toxic overload which is not good for you or the baby. Also buy raspberry leaf tea. Don’t drink it too close to your due date because it can start labor, unless you want it to. These are the foods you will want to remember when your supply dips as well. And don’t forget about avocado! Avocados make up is very similar to breast milk.
- B12 is also a good supplement to have on hand. One with adenosylcobalamin. Stay away for cyanocabalamin because it is synthetic. Stress can deplete glucose storage so after giving birth take a few droppers full. Medical medium has a good list of organic and non gmo supplements http://www.medicalmedium.com/preferred/supplements also vimergy.com has the best b12 at the moment.
- Make sure the baby is placed on you right away after birth. Include in your birth plan you want skin to skin right away and delayed cord clamping until the cord stops pulsating. Some doctors will tell you 30 seconds is enough. But 3 minutes is better then 30 seconds if they give you a hard time. Skin to skin contact, and eye contact with the baby helps with milk coming in. Anything you do put in your birth plan, if you make one, will need to be verbally stated to everyone in the room.
- Delay the bath. Breastfeeding rates increase with delayed washing of the vernix. Research all the benefits of delaying the bath. http://s.cleveland.com/2RxNBpf
- Put the baby on the nipple ASAP. Giving birth is hardwork. Include in the birth plan you want the baby to stay in the room and ask them to check the baby on you or to wait until you are ready to ask you if they can take the baby to the in-room scale etc. The first hour is important for bonding and getting the baby on the nipple as soon as possible. They are most awake in that first hour. The sooner they suck the sooner your milk will come in (ie day 3-5). And babies sleep a ton in the beginning, so getting them on the nipple while they are awake the first hour is best. It’s a natural instinct for them to suck.
- Don’t get discouraged if they don’t latch right in the first few days. And try not to freak out and start supplementing. If you start supplementing too soon then your supply won’t come in as well because the supply is based on demand then supply, the more the baby demands the more your body will produce, I wrote about that more further down. Supplementing too soon starts a cycle where your supply is low.
- Try to not use a pacifier right away, or bottles. If you can breastfeed exclusively its best to wait at least 6 weeks before introducing a bottle. Some babies get confused with the sucking patterns for different things and might destroy your nipple or get lazy, if they have too many different sucking strengths needed to get milk.
- I tried to not use a pacifier for a few days but really, I caved pretty quickly and it didn’t cause nipple confusion for my little one and really saved us from falling apart completely in those first few sleep deprived weeks. You can also ask the nurse for one if you don’t have one. But you might want to wait until the baby learns to latch.
- It is a learning process for you and for your little one. You have to learn how to get your boob in their mouth and they have to learn to suck. Your nipples will hurt so ask the nurse for some nipple cream or get some on amazon. I hardly really used the one I bought, the few packs they gave me in the hospital were really enough. My nipples bled in the first week, scabbed and hurt, but after that first week, the baby and I both pretty much learned how to breastfeed.
- They will fall asleep a lot. Basically feed them as much as humanly possible. It’s called feed on demand and you will be doing it for about 3 weeks. Basically live with your nip in their mouth. Don’t feel weird with all of the hospital workers who come into the room seeing your nips either. They see it all the time. And if your family is weird about it… just cover up. But remember to not cover the babies head. It’s a common thought moms should cover the babies head. You should always be able to see your babies face. It’s good for people to see it’s normal as well. Boppys are great, and tank tops you can pull down. I used my maternity pants forever that go high up as well so I wasn’t completely shirtless.
- Ask for help from the lactation consultants. Ask again and again if you need to see them more.
- Most mom’s milk doesn’t come in until day 4 ish fully. The first few days the baby doesn’t really need to eat much. Their stomachs are so small. Also they don’t really even need to eat right away because they still have all of the nutrients from the placenta. So don’t worry if your milk is not in for a few days, but still feed on demand. This is normal and what all moms experience. You will be sleep deprived and so worried. But as long as the baby is pooping and peeing the baby is getting something. The colostrum is thicker and doesn’t flow freely like milk will later, so you won’t necessarily see it coming out. When you get used to how your new mom boobs work you can try to pinch/pull your nipple and you will see some of the liquid come out after a day or two of feeding on demand.
- Some moms supplement with formula because the baby has jaundice. It’s not necessary unless the jaundice is very high. If your doctor says supplement and that is what you want to do of course do it. My baby had jaundice and we just continued to breastfeed. My milk did not fully come in until day 4. And not heavy for a few days later. Her jaundice peaked and then started to go down day 4 as well. I don’t think it fully left her system for a few weeks. But she gained weight like a champ. Literally I have a huge baby.
- Your baby will lose weight, and then start gaining, this is normal! But if your worried talk to your doctor. My baby lost about 1.8 lbs in the first few days, but by the end of the week was back to her birth weight.
- Drink 6-8 oz of water everytime you breastfeed.
- Don’t try sleep training until around 4 weeks, but learn about it. Babies aren’t able to self soothe until 4-6 months so cry it out is useless. But there are other ways of sleep training. I used the babywise book, and never used cry it out. First 2-3 weeks don’t even look at the clock just feed constantly. If the baby is sleeping you will wake the baby up every 2.5-3 hours to feed, and then try to keep them awake for a bit after you feed them. This is play time and hygiene time.
- What I took from the babywise books: Basically at 4 weeks, the baby is able to sleep 4 hours at night (capable but doesn’t mean they will). 5 weeks old, the baby can sleep 5 hours at night, 6 weeks/ 6 hours at night, and so on, until 12 weeks, the baby can sleep 12 hours at night. They probably won’t, but they can (if they are the right weight). Breastfeeding moms are recommended to not go past 10 hours generally to keep supply up, if needed.
- Learn about the “5 S’s” as well.
- Don’t supplement with formula because the baby is crying in the first couple of days. Babies cry. Hold your baby, feed on demand. They will hate their bassinets, hold them and cuddle.
- The little one will sleep a lot and fall asleep while feeding. It’s ok. Rub their feet, pat their back, try to wake them, move them around. But it won’t work half of the time. Just let them sleep on you and suck while they sleep.
- The more they suck, the more your body will produce. It’s is DEMAND and THEN SUPPLY. The more they suck/demand, the more your body will know they need and so will supply.
- How much milk should you be making? I see moms getting upset because their boobs only produce about 3 ounces and I get confused why moms think their boobs will make more. Most babies only drink about 3 ounces every 2.5-3 hours the first few weeks and even all the way until 6 months. That’s all they need. In the mornings, once your milk is more regular you will probably get around 5 ounces.
- I see moms also get mad at one boob because it makes less then the other. This is totally normal. Especially if that was the boob the baby last fed on.
- Some lactation consultants will tell you to do 15 minutes on each boob at a feeding. I just did one boob at a time. And I still do generally just feed my baby one boob at a time. Both options is ok and whatever you do is fine.
- Try to remember which boob the baby fed on last, and start with the opposite boob the next time. You will literally be exhausted and have a hard time remembering especially right away. A trick I learned is to wear a bracelet on whichever hand you fed on last and switch it over when you feed, so you can remember which boob is next.
- Your supply will be higher in the mornings. Especially when the baby starts to sleep more through the night. Your milk gathers while you sleep and rest the most.
- If you are pumping and not getting enough remember that sucking usually gets more out because the baby can suck better then the pump.
- If you are feeding the baby stored milk, remember that you would have to pump around that time or your milk supply might be lower the next day. Nothing an adjustment can’t level out the following day.
- You can squish milk out of the ducts. Seriously as you get farther along you will learn your boobs are like that song “do you ears hang long, do they wobble to and fro, can you tie them in a knot, can you tie them in a bow?” Like forreal. Play with your boobs, move them around, get that milkies out!
- Don’t worry if your milk supply gets low. Foods to eat the whole time you are breastfeeding are potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas and raspberry leaf tea. But utilize them especially when you need a supply boost.
- Raspberry leaf tea is amazing. Buy a few boxes and use it whenever you need to make more milk.
- Your supply will even out around 3 months.
- It seems hard at first, but it really gets so easy.
- Also for babies who have a hard time latching, some moms use nipple shields to help, if their nipples maybe don’t stick out, or something like that.
- Some moms pump for every feeding too, because of latch issues.
- Some other things: babie have hiccups and silent reflux, Gripe juice helps with both. Drinking milk helps get rid of hiccups as well.
- I thought my baby had reflux bad but really she just was learning how to poop and that’s why she was grunting so much when we put her in her bassinet. Some moms buy crib wedges or resort to have their babies sleep in rock and play sleepers. Just research or ask your doctor.
- You will probably try 100 different swaddles. My favorite was the miracle swaddle because it has an extra set of flaps to hold the baby’s arms down so they can’t escape. You can also use a flannel swaddle inside of a velcro one, or inside any swaddle to hold the baby’s arms down. Fold in into a strip, under the shoulder area of the baby, and fold it over the baby’s one arm, and repeat on the other side, tucking it under the baby. Then swaddle regularly. Make sure the baby’s arms are not too tight and fingers aren’t squished.
- Some supplements can make breast milk dry up. Your prenatal will be fine, remember organic is best. I also take vitamin c and zinc especially when I’m feeling like I might be coming down with something or around someone who has. This is fine for the baby and supply as well.
- Just keep going! Breast is best because of the antibodies and for other health benefits but if for some reason you do have to supplement, your an amazing mom and whatever you need to do is what YOU DO! Your the mommy, you will do what is best, what you do, is what is best.
- If you get sick you don’t have to stop feeding! Keep feeding just wash your hands a lot.
- If baby gets sick, saline nasal spray, nose sucker, lots of breast milk, and whatever your practioner tell you.