4 Tips for Making Breastfeeding Work

dagmar's breastfeeding tips

As a new mom, the thing I was most looking forward to was breastfeeding my baby. I had a romantic notion about the bond we both would have, and I was determined to feed my son the milk that was intended for him, not formula.

But like most moms, I struggled to learn to breastfeed him correctly in a way that wouldn't hurt so much and in a way that he would get enough milk to be satisfied. But I was lucky: I had informed myself about the topic before giving birth and got the support I needed to learn how to encourage him to latch on correctly. I nursed him for five years.

Once I got over the first few bumps, my experience with breastfeeding was wonderful, and I'm still amazed by the healing powers of breast milk. I became a huge breastfeeding advocate and started my blog. Over the years I have blogged about my experience with breastfeeding and I have been able to help many moms with the same issues I had when I started so with that in mind here are 4 Tips That Can Make it Easier to Succeed With Breastfeeding:

Line up Breastfeeding Support Before the Baby is Born

I went to a breastfeeding support group before my son was born and learned from listening to new moms that breastfeeding is not as easy as it sounds. Most of them complained about it hurting so much that they were ready to give up, but then the lactation consultant showed them how to do it correctly, and that made all the difference.

I had the group leader's number on speed-dial so I was prepared when I needed her. And sure enough, after two weeks of bleeding nipples I gave her a call. I went to see her, and she was able to show me what I needed to do differently within a couple of minutes. You may need that kind of support: look for a local breastfeeding support group or a La Leche League group that offers weekly meetings.

Don't Allow a Lot of Visitors in the First Two Weeks

Yes, everyone is going to want to see and hold your precious baby – but it can interfere with your healing, your bonding, and really getting to know your baby. My doula told me to not leave the bed for a few days so my son and I could really get to know each other, and to learn how to breastfeed correctly. It's hard to do that when visitors want to hold baby all the time, or offer to give him a bottle so you can take a nap.

The more time you spend with your baby cuddling, nursing, and sleeping at the same time as him, the better. Your partner and visitors can help with changing the baby, making you food, getting you water, and doing other household chores.

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Tell visitors that there will be plenty of time to hold baby after you’ve established a good routine and breastfeeding is working without a problem. Less visitors also means being able to listen to your own instincts and not having the added stress of too many people chiming in with their suggestions of how you should raise your baby.

Be Patient With Yourself

Knowing how to breastfeed is a learned skill – it's not something that comes naturally to most moms. The fact that many moms end up using formula is an indication that it's not actually as easy as one would think.

If you keep that in mind, it is easier to be patient with yourself and to not get frustrated. You have to learn how to breastfeed your baby, and the baby must learn how to nurse, and that will take some time. You didn't learn how to drive a car in a day either.

If breastfeeding hurts a lot for you, or if you feel like something is just not right, get help right away. Try calling or visiting a lactation consultant or a local La Leche League mother, who will often be glad to help you for free. There are several ways to help with the latch. Nipple shields can ease the pain. YouTube videos can also be really helpful in a pinch. Most of the time the solution is easy, but you need qualified help immediately or you'll have a hungry, crying baby on your hands.

Nurse on Demand

Don't be surprised if you feel like a milk machine that never gets off the couch. I felt like that during the first two weeks – I have never watched so much TV in my life before becoming a mom.

My son wanted to feed all the time. Especially in the first week, he nursed almost every hour. But he was thriving and happy and an easy baby, so I figured I must have been doing something right. I never put my son on a schedule because babies don't understand schedules – they want what they want, when they want it. Besides, keeping track of hours would have overwhelmed and stressed me more than just going by his cues.

When you feed on demand and let your baby tell you when he is hungry, you will feed him all the time – that's normal and important to establish your milk supply. Every bottle that you are tempted to feed your baby will interfere with your milk supply, so I didn't supplement with formula. It's a vicious cycle once you introduce it, so I personally didn't even have formula in the house, not even for “emergencies.” You'll be less likely to give formula if you don't have it in the house.

The most common problem moms have with breastfeeding is a bad latch – which easily can be corrected by a qualified lactation consultant of La Leche League mom, or maybe even a girlfriend who had the same problem. Keeping these four tips in mind can help you with your goal to succeed with breastfeeding your baby. Most moms are able to breastfeed with the right support. 

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Did you struggle with breastfeeding? What helped you to keep going?

More support for breastfeeding:

Quick Tips for New Breastfeeding Moms

Breastfeeding in Public

7 Reasons to Breastfeed into Toddler Years

 

{Images by Dagmar Bleasdale}

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4 Tips for Making Breastfeeding Work

Dagmar tackles motherhood, thrifty home decorating, DIY projects, and green and frugal living on her lifestyle blog Dagmar's Home. She loves finding treasures in thrift stores and sells her handmade candles on Dagmar's Home Decor. Connect with her on Twitter (26,000 followers), Facebook, and Pinterest. ... More

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5 comments

  1. ProudMomma says:

    I stopped breastfeeding my second child because I felt I wasn’t producing enough milk. I plan to try it again with this baby and now know more sources to help me get through it. I am soo excited to try and succeed this time.

  2. KaelinRae says:

    I haven’t started breastfeeding yet. This is my first child and I’m not due until October. I would like to breastfeed and I have signed up to get more information through my WIC office. I will definitely keep these tips in mind. 🙂

  3. Sara says:

    I struggled, but my struggle was with a daughter who didn’t want to do it. maybe I should partly blame the nurse who gave us the bottle to give her the first night when she was latching fine but not sucking and falling asleep instead, only to wake up screaming as soon as we wrapped her up and put her down cuz she was still hungry. she just didn’t want to do the work, and as soon as that rubber nipple gave her food right then, no effort, there was nothing I could do. I pumped as long as possible. I’m looking forward to baby number 2 and trying again. my SIL said her daughter was the same way.

  4. Such helpful tips! Thanks, Dagmar!

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