1. Breastfeeding is an adjustment.
Although breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful and natural things a mother can do for her baby, it also tends to come with a bit of a learning curve. When babies are first born they usually eat every 2-3 hours. Additionally, moms will need some time to figure out what positions work best for them and baby, as well as practice getting a successful latch. Patience and perseverance are important, especially initially. However, with time and practice, breastfeeding your baby will likely become more and more simple.
2. It’s normal for breasts to leak.
Breasts can start leaking colostrum as early as a few weeks before giving birth, however, most of the leaking will take place once a mom is actually breastfeeding her baby. When the milk “lets down” in preparation for feeding it will start coming out of both breasts even though the baby is only latched to one breast. One option to avoid a mess on the other side is to use a nursing pad (you can even keep one tucked in your bra at all times and alternate sides depending on which breast you aren’t using to feed). Another option is to use a wearable breast milk collector. This is a great option for those who want to save all the milk they can or have low supply.
3. There are multiple nursing positions.
Something great about nursing is the availability to feed your baby pretty much anywhere. In addition, there are many positions in which a mama and baby can nurse. Some of the most common positions are: cradle, cross-cradle, football hold, reclined/laid-back, and side-laying. Each position offers different benefits depending on the environment, baby’s size and age, and mom’s preferences. Check out a list of breastfeeding positions here. If you are someone who uses nipple shields then this list of breastfeeding positions for using nipple shields is great.
4. Breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful.
It’s not uncommon for a mom’s nipples to be sore as she’s initially learning how to breastfeed her baby. However, nursing shouldn’t be painful (it should feel like a slight tugging sensation). If there’s pain present when breastfeeding it’s likely one of two things. 1. The baby’s latch is incorrect. Or 2. Mastitis, which is inflammation of the breast, usually due to a bacterial infection via a damaged nipple. Both of these issues can be corrected with help from professionals.
5. Getting a correct latch, and using a lactation consultant, is often vital for success.
A lactation consultant is a health professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. They have extensive knowledge about breastfeeding and their main goal is to help mothers who are struggling with issues like latching difficulties, painful nursing, and low milk production. Having a lactation consultant show a mom how to breastfeed when the baby is just a day or two old is an invaluable opportunity as it can help a new mom get off to the right track and learn tools that will help prevent avoidable breastfeeding issues.
6. Solutions for cracked nipples.
There are many remedies for dry and cracked nipples, but the salt water solution seems to be one of the most effective and is often promoted by hospitals. To make this solution mix ½ teaspoon salt with 8 oz. warm water. Either soak the nipples directly in the solution for one minute after breastfeeding or soak a gauze pad with the solution and rest that on the nipple. You can also use the Haakkaa hack and put the salt solution in your Haakkaa pump and put it on your breast to so your nipple is submerged and soak. Gently pat dry. Repeat after each nursing session until the nipples have healed. Our bite guards can also be a help. They are a partial coverage nipple shield that gives access to your nipple while allowing enough coverage to heal your nipples.
7. You don’t have to wean when your baby starts getting teeth.
Some people think that once an infant’s teeth start coming in they won’t be able to breastfeed. Sometimes this is a non-issue depending on how late a baby’s teeth start coming in, but other times infants can be just a few months old when they start getting teeth. One of the challenges that comes with nursing an infant with teeth is that they need to learn not to nibble/bite the breast, and there are a variety of methods to help them do that. However, if the problem isn’t the biting itself but instead is the location of the teeth and how they press into the breast, Back to Mom’s bite guard is an excellent solution.
8. Your diet can affect your baby's tummy.
There are instances in which babies may be consistently fussy or spitting up a lot. This could be for a number of reasons, one being that there’s something in mom’s diet that’s working well for the baby’s tummy. The two most common groups of foods that tend to create issues are spicy foods and dairy foods. A breastfeeding mom can trial and error by taking one food out of her diet at a time, allowing 2-3 days for results. Usually young infants struggle with certain foods, so a mom may need to abstain for a period of time, but as babies develop the foods can often be reintroduced into mom’s diet later on.
9. It’s common to feel hungry during the weeks/months/years of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy, which can leave a mom feeling thirsty or hungry. Many women report that they find themselves needing to eat more food and eat more often while nursing their infant. During the first year of nursing a baby it’s common for a mom to burn between 300-500 calories daily. The best way to replenish the energy exerted is to drink plenty of water (at least ½ your body weight in ounces) and eat enough of the right kinds of foods every day.
10. Breastfeeding vs. Formula: you are enough.
When it comes to feeding our babies, there tends to be a lot of stigma around breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. Although womens’ bodies do produce the perfect food for babies, breastfeeding might not always work for a variety of reasons including but not limited to: milk supply, premature birth, health issues, and work or scheduling difficulties. Whatever amount of breastmilk or time breastfeeding you can give your baby is enough. And even if the result is that your baby needs to be formula fed from birth, there’s no room for guilt or shame about your success as a mother. Ultimately, a baby being fed enough is paramount to how it happens.
Bonus: If you are someone who uses a nipple shield, the Back to Mom nipple shield weaning kit can be a huge help.