When I started The Smother Mother, my intentions were to share attachment parenting advice. But looking at my breastfeeding tab, the only resources I have given you guys is about weaning. YIKES!
In my defense, the lack of breastfeeding resources is because when I started this blog, my son was almost 20 months old and we were in the weaning process. So if you’re wondering why I have only shared weaning tips, it’s because that’s what stage my son and I were in. On top of that, if you’ve ever looked up weaning blogs, they stink and I wanted to share my experience to help other struggling mothers.
I’ve found very little information out there for the weaning process, especially when your baby is as old as mine. Weaning a toddler is not like weaning a 6-month old! You can read more about all that here.
So let’s go back to the basics. Back to my first year as a breastfeeding mother. Here is my best advice for new mothers who choose to breastfeed.
The Smother Mother’s Breast Feeding Series
I will be breaking my breastfeeding journey out into four parts, as the The Smother Mother’s Breast Feeding Series. This four part series will include:
- Part 1: Breastfeeding a Newborn
- Part 2: Breastfeeding 3- 6 months
- Part 3: Breastfeeding 6-12 months
- Part 4: Breastfeeding after a Year
Breastfeeding a Newborn Baby
So I’ll admit it. I was scared to death about breastfeeding. I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to do it. When I was 20 years old, I had a breast augmentation so I thought my future of breastfeeding would be doomed from the start.
The day my baby was born, he did the breast crawl and latched on. I was so proud and excited. Such an intimate moment with this little bundle of joy that my husband and I had created.
I had read so many baby books before my due date, so I felt prepared. But let’s be honest. You can never be prepared for motherhood, one of the best jobs in the entire world. What I gathered form all of my reading, is that feeding my newborn would be a ton of work. No kidding!
Breastfeeding a newborn is a full time job! Those first few days in the hospital were a blur but I remember feeding Beckham around the clock. Every hour if I’m being honest. I was so tired. You’re going to be tired too, but I promise it’s worth it.
Lucky for me, I had a lactation consultant visit me before our hospital departure. Even though I thought Beckham was getting milk and we were doing a good job, she actually advised me that his latch could be improved.
Her best advice to me was to take my pointer and middle finger and put it in a scissor motion. Act like you’re going to snip your nipple AND areola, grip them both in your fingers, touch the tip of his nose as he opens wide, and stick all of it into his mouth. You want to also make sure that when you’re cradling for a feeding, your baby’s entire body should be facing you, tummy to tummy.
Once I was home, KellyMom was also a very good resource for me and all of my breastfeeding questions.
Once you’ve got a grip on the latch, you’ll need to be able to tell when your baby is showing signs of hunger. Beckham was pretty good at letting us know by either sucking on his fingers or rooting around.
What is Rooting? Rooting is when your baby moves his mouth and head toward a stimulus, such as the touch of something to his cheek or lips. He opens his mouth, either widely for a good second or two or in quick little movements (open-close-open-close).
Don’t wait until your baby cries, to feed him/her. Crying is actually a late hunger cue and may make it more difficult to breastfeed. Try to pay attention and learn your baby’s early hunger cues.
Once we got home, the breastfeeding continued around the clock. We fed every 1-2 hours. Each feeding session was about 30 minutes or so but sometimes he would stay latched for an hour. I think it was a comfort thing sometimes but I loved it. I was attached to him as well. I never followed a “feeding schedule.” I fed around the clock. According to Kelly Mom, it’s honestly not recommended to follow any type of “feeding schedule” when breastfeeding a newborn. Let your baby lead the way. This not only helps your baby get used to the world outside of your tummy, but also helps you establish your milk supply.
Responding to a baby’s feeding cues (both of hunger and satiation), whether they are breast or bottle fed is an important step to helping a baby develop not only a secure attachment relationship, but in establishing longer term positive eating behaviors. Responsive feeding takes advantage of a young baby’s natural ability to regulate their intake of calories – something that can disappear when a baby gets older3. Feeding when they are hungry and being able to stop when they are full helps them to retain this ability4. (Source: KellyMom)
Confession: On the fifth day of our breastfeeding journey, I broke down. Beckham wanted to be attached to my breast at ALL TIMES. I honestly couldn’t do anything. I contemplated pumping so that my husband could at least help me with the feedings, but my doctor advised me to wait until I had established my milk supply. Fair enough. This is actually how we got roped into cosleeping. It was the only way I could get any sleep. I would just roll on my side and feed him through the night and we both would fall back into a slumber.
Around 6 weeks is when I pulled my breast pump out. Like I said, my doctor advised me to hold out until this time. I don’t recommend doing it any earlier unless you absolutely have to. Pumping before you have established your milk supply may tell your body to OVERPRODUCE which can lead to pain and engorgement. I understand that some mamas return to work sooner though, so if you have to pump before 6 weeks, do it.
If you have health insurance, they are required to offer you a breast pump, free of charge. My first breast pump was from Ameda and it was terrible. Yes, it did the job, but it was loud, it hurt my nipples, and I just didn’t like it. Since I was home for the first 12 weeks of my baby’s life, and didn’t NEED to pump, I hardly used the thing unless my husband and I had an outing and I wanted to pump a couple bottles.
Once I returned to work, and was pumping every day, I purchased a Spectra S2 from Amazon. It was about $130 dollars but worth every penny. It was much quieter and also had a few extra functions that the Ameda lacked. My favorite feature was the letdown mode. YES, there is such a thing! It basically mimicked the fast suckling that infants do when trying to get a letdown from the breast. Amazeballs!
I’ll be creating a video about my favorite breast pumps. I have tried three different brands and YES there is most certainly a difference.
My Best Advice for Breastfeeding a Newborn
My best advice for breastfeeding a newborn is to hang in there and follow your baby’s lead. There is a light at the end of the tunnel! The first three months are hard, no doubt. You will feel like you are feeding around the clock. (Click here for info on clusterfeeding) But once you get to the 90-day mark, it gets easier.
Other things to keep in mind:
- Watch for early hunger cues. If you see your baby rooting around or eating his fingers, he could be hungry.
- Sleep when your baby sleeps. You are going to be so tired those first three months. Sleep whenever your baby sleeps.
- Gatorade is known to increase milk supply. Other foods that increase lactation include: oatmeal, salmon, carrots, fenugreek, yogurt, and eggs.
- Pay attention to what you eat while nursing. What YOU eat effects your baby’s tiny tummy. I had to cut out all dairy until Beckham was 6 months due to a dairy intolerance. I also couldn’t eat hot wings.
- Invest in a Boppy. A Boppy can reduce pressure on your body and back and help you to cradle the baby easier while feeding.
- Nipple cream. If you’re nipples seem raw or crack, rub nipple cream several times per day.
- Breast is not best. Fed is best. Don’t feel like a failure if breastfeeding doesn’t work for you and your baby