If you’re a first-time mom who wants to breastfeed your baby, we’ve got your back. Breastfeeding can seem overwhelming – especially when you’ve never done it before. This New Mom’s Guide to Breastfeeding will help you get on the right path to nursing success.
Soak up the knowledge
While you’re still pregnant, right now is a great time to learn all you can about nursing. Do you have a family member or friend you are comfortable with? Ask them if you can watch them nurse. I know it seems strange, but trust me, it will be eye-opening and helpful for you. If you don’t have a friend who is currently nursing, contact a La Leche League near you- they are a great resource and help for moms-to-be who are looking for nursing help.
The facility you plan on delivering your baby is also a great resource. Most hospitals offer breastfeeding classes for both the mom-to-be and the father-to-be. Take a Saturday morning off and go to the class together. It will be a great learning experience for the both of you. But, call your hospital sooner than later, as these classes tend to be popular and fill up fast.
How does breastmilk work, exactly?
You’re probably curious how your milk comes in too. Well, it usually takes about three to four days for new moms to get their milk. If you’ve had a baby before, it can happen even earlier. First, you’ll start to produce colostrum, which is the early, concentrated milk. It is full of nutrients and disease-fighting antibodies, also known as “liquid gold.” It essentially provides everything your baby needs in the early days after birth.
Your baby’s stomach is still very small at birth so the amounts of colostrum you’re able to feed your baby is exactly what they’ll need.
You’ll be able to feel that your milk is coming in by these symptoms:
+ Breast fullness (your breasts may feel heavy, warm and even tingly)
+ Your baby may react differently at your breast once they are able to get more from your breast
+ Visibly, your breastmilk will start to look thinner and whiter
At the hospital after delivery
It is important to have a plan now for what you’d like to do with your baby once they are here. Especially if you plan to nurse. Tell your labor and delivery nurse that you intend to nurse your baby and would like to see the lactation consultant as soon as the baby is here. Secondly, you should request skin-to-skin time with your newborn. This bonding time alone will be an unforgettable experience but this is also an important step to begin breastfeeding.
Try and start nursing your baby within 1-2 hours of their birth. This doesn’t even have to be an official feeding session, but use it as an opportunity for both you and the baby to get familiar with this process. Let your baby put her mouth over your nipple to try and latch.
Steer clear of binkies and bottles
We think this is especially important with your first baby. If you really want to nurse your baby, tell the nurses at the hospital that you don’t want your baby to have binkies or bottles. The main reason is to avoid nipple confusion. You want your baby to nurse from your breasts and get the most familiar with you. This includes not using formula unless you absolutely have to if your milk is not coming in and your baby is not gaining weight.
Have your spouse get involved
For many new moms, they may feel that they need to tackle nursing all on their own. But, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Enlist your husband to help too. Have him with you when the lactation consultant talks to you, as he can be a supportive ear to learn what you are being taught.
Your spouse can also help get you situated in a comfortable position before nursing, help keep the baby awake by tickling his feet or simply telling you words of encouragement to keep you and baby going.
Learn the different nursing positions
You’ve probably seen the standard shot of a mother holding her baby in her arms while the baby nurses, but did you know there are many different nursing holds? These are important to learn about now so you can try different positions once you start nursing. This guide shows both images and details about how to do the different holds.
Give you and baby a goal
It is important to give yourself a nursing goal. You probably hope to nurse your baby for as long as you can, but in the beginning weeks and months with a newborn, tell yourself that you will nurse exclusively for 6 weeks, 2 months or a timeframe that does not seem overwhelming to you. This will help you stay focused on learning how to nurse the best and easiest way for you and your baby.
Use online resources
You may find yourself googling many random questions about nipple soreness, latching and how to’s at 3:00 am. If you do, these are our favorite websites to browse for even more breastfeeding help:
Finally, be positive with your breastfeeding experience. Know that you and your baby are a team and can learn new things together- including breastfeeding! Good luck with your breastfeeding journey!