Ten Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms

posted by Andrea | 12/6/2011

Due to the recent birth of our beautiful baby girl, Nora Faith, I’ve rounded up an All-Star list of moms who effortlessly seem to manage work, home, family, life, and everything in between! You can read all their words of motherly wisdom here, as well as how they manage to “do it all” while still living a life they love.

I’ll be sharing my own thoughts and baby updates soon enough, but right now, I’m simply soaking up their trusted advice while cuddling with my new baby girl! 


The following is written by Karen from Abundance on a Dime:

When I was pregnant with my first child back in 1997, there was absolutely no question in my mind that I would breastfeed. I mean, I was a health professional with a master’s degree in nutrition – how could I not? I knew there were so many benefits to breastfeeding: improved health for the baby, increased bonding between mother and child, and incredible money savings, just to name a few!

Like many first-time moms, I had a very idealistic view of breastfeeding. 

I thought that because it was the natural thing to do, it would be “no big deal”. But a few weeks into my breastfeeding experience, with cracked, bleeding nipples, mastitis, and a clogged milk duct, I was nearly at the end of my rope and wondering how this could possibly be happening to me, of all people!

Fortunately, I did stick it out for those first difficult months, and I went on to have extremely satisfying and long-term breastfeeding relationships with both of my sons. Those early days aside, my nursing experiences are some of my most treasured maternal memories.

I’d like to share some of things I wish I had known back when I began my breastfeeding career, that would likely have made my early days as a nursing mom a little smoother and much less frustrating:

1. Learn as much as you can – before you give birth!

As a first-time mom, I spent hours reading about pregnancy and childbirth – and very little time at all learning about breastfeeding. You’re going to be spending a lot more time nursing than you are in labor, so it makes sense to learn as much as you can about this important topic before the baby arrives. Your midwife or obstetrician can likely recommend a few good resources with accurate information about the more technical aspects of breastfeeding.

In addition, reading about the nursing experiences of other new moms can give you a better understanding of what to expect as a newly nursing mom. The Breastfeeding Café is a wonderful book filled with women’s breastfeeding stories (both the joys and the challenges).

2. Don’t expect overnight perfection.

As the saying goes, “breastfeeding is perfectly natural, but not naturally perfect.” You’re learning a brand new skill, and that usually means some trial and error. Be easy with yourself and try to relax as much as possible (I know that can be hard when you’ve got a screaming baby trying to latch on!)

It may seem hard to believe in the beginning, but you (and the baby) will get the hang of it, and it will get easier and less stressful with time.

3. Establish a breastfeeding support system.

Having a number of different people available to provide assistance and support when you need it is extremely invaluable in the early weeks of breastfeeding. This could include a local La Leche League leader or group, a midwife, a lactation consultant, or a friend or colleague who’s an experienced breastfeeding mom.

Ideally, there’s at least one person in your support system that you can call for advice any time of the day or night, since breastfeeding issues are not limited to the daylight hours!

4. Don’t compare your baby to other babies.

Babies have different nursing styles, so don’t think that just because your baby doesn’t nurse the way your cousin’s or neighbour’s did, that something is wrong. My older son liked to latch on and stay on the breast for about half an hour at a time; my younger son usually stayed on for just a few minutes at a time and liked to pop on and off frequently.

5. Expect to spend a LOT of time breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is “on demand” and feeding times can be very unpredictable. For the first few months of your baby’s life, this is going to be one of the major activities of your day, so keep your schedule as flexible as possible.

6. Create a breastfeeding station in your main living space.

Since you will be spending hours every day nursing, it’s important that you have a comfortable place to do it. Good posture while breastfeeding is crucial for avoiding back, neck and shoulder pain. A nursing pillow is invaluable; you may need other pillows handy for back support as well.

Having music or DVDs handy can help you relax as well ward off boredom if you’re home alone all day with the baby.

7. Learn a variety of nursing positions.

Alternating positions at different feedings can help reduce the chances of milk ducts getting clogged. In addition, the sidelying position is invaluable for nighttime feedings as it allows you to nurse the baby while lying down in bed.

You can find photos of some of the more common nursing positions here.

8. Get to know your breasts.

Most of us aren’t accustomed to paying a lot of attention to our own breasts. However, it’s a good idea to check your breasts daily for any signs of a clogged duct starting to develop, or a crack starting to form in a nipple.

Addressing any problems early on can help prevent much bigger problems down the road (trust me, mastitis is no fun).

9. Keep the lines of communication open with your spouse/partner.

Breastfeeding can be really stressful for new dads, too! If you’re struggling, he is likely feeling scared and powerless to help you. Make sure you let your partner know how you’re feeling, and what he can do to help support you.

10. Be patient.

One of the most important things my midwife ever told me was that it could take up to three months for lactation to be well-established. Many women give up before they get that far!

In fact, I did find that once I hit the three-month mark, breastfeeding had become much smoother sailing, and I was well on my way to a satisfying nursing experience with my son.

What are your best breastfeeding tips?

Karen McLaughlin is the mother of two tween/teen boys with voracious appetites and the author of the forthcoming book Cheap Appétit: The Complete Guide to Feeding Your Family for Less Than $400 a Month (While Eating Better Than You Ever Thought Possible). She writes about living a joyful, rich life on any budget at Abundance on a Dime.
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3 comments

  1. Ten Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms « Simple Organized Living | Diaper Earth

    12/06/2011

    [...] the rest here: Ten Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms « Simple Organized Living Tags: breastfeeding, children, clutter-control, family, family-life, holidays, living-simply, [...]

  2. Sue

    12/08/2011

    Since almost 90% of the milk from a breast is taken in by your baby in the first 5 minutes of nursing, I recommend nursing 5 minutes from the right; burp; 5 minutes from the left; burp; 5 additional minutes on the left; burp; finishing with 5 minutes more on the right breast. I alternated the starting breast each feeding. This seemed to fill my babies up quicker and shorten nursing time.

    [Reply]

  3. Amy

    08/31/2012

    I think after nursing for 9 months now….I would say that it has definitely been worth it. Not only has my little babe never been sick….but I’ve lost a LOT of weight. Yipee! (I needed to, trust me!) BUT….the first 4-5 weeks were VERY TRYING and VERY PAINFUL! If it weren’t for me being TOTALLY determined that this is what I wanted to do…it would have been more comfortable to quit. Apparently (according to the many lactation consultants I worked with) she latched on just one time wrong (the first time when I was in the recovery room)…..and that led to bleeding, scabs on my nipples. The rest of the discomfort was just living with the pain of breastfeeding while my poor nipples healed–and that took several weeks. Not fun. So….hopefully that doesn’t happen to most people….but do expect some pain. I no longer believe people who say “breastfeeding doesn’t hurt”. With your first baby, your nips have to toughen up a bit too :/ But like I said, it’s been totally worth it for both of us in the end. I do love my snuggle-feeding time with her :)

    [Reply]

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