I wrote up these breastfeeding tips for new moms because while breastfeeding is natural, it may not come naturally at first. I know I personally had thousands of questions about breastfeeding when I first started.
This post is all about the breastfeeding tips for new moms that I hope ease your mind and help you have a positive breastfeeding journey from the very start.
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Breastfeeding Tips For New Moms
What are the benefits of breastfeeding?
Before jumping into these amazing breastfeeding tips for new moms, I want to share four incredible benefits of breastfeeding with you. While breastfeeding is a learning process, it is completely worth every minute.
- Saves Money: It’s no secret that formula is insanely expensive. According to the United States’ Office of the Surgeon General, mothers that breastfeed save between $1200 and $1500 on formula in the first year.
- Bonds You & Baby: There is a reason that a baby’s eyesight is only 11 inches when they are born. It’s the distance to your eyes when you are nursing.
- Natural Birth Control: Breastfeeding sure isn’t a full proof birth control method, but exclusively breastfeeding does suppress the hormones necessary for ovulation. This makes it much less likely that you will become pregnant.
- Gives Antibodies to Your Baby: Breastfed babies receive antibodies from their mothers’ breast milk and in turn, end up sick a whole lot less than formula fed babies.
Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms in the Hospital
- Try to breastfeed your baby within the first hour of birth- Breastfeeding your baby within the first hour of birth is an incredible way to begin bonding with your baby right away. It probably won’t be super pretty or lengthy, and that’s totally okay! It’s just meant to connect you and your baby.
- Talk with the lactation consultant in your hospital- Even if you think you have it figured out, it’s valuable to check in with the experts. The lactation consultant can give you recommendations that may help your baby latch better or get you more comfortable. It is also beneficial to have your partner there with you when they come so he can help you implement the recommendations later. I really believe this is one of the most important breastfeeding tips for new moms!
- Check to see if your hospital has a breastfeeding helpline– Many hospitals have a breastfeeding helpline that you can call with any questions you have once you are home. My hospital had one that you could call and zoom with a specialist at any point for free!
- Don’t order anything while you are still in the hospital– Breastfeeding is a learning process and it can be overwhelming when you first start. Right after having my son, I was laying in my hospital bed on Amazon looking for anything that could help. I’m glad my husband talked me out of ordering those things I never would have used. Don’t let the stress push you into buying things you will regret seeing on your doorstep when you get home.
- It may take a few days for your milk to come in– Don’t listen to the lies in your head that say you are a bad mom or bad at breastfeeding if you don’t have much milk for your baby at first. It will take a few days for your milk to fully come in, but your body knows what it is doing. Don’t stress and buy lactation cookies and lactation massagers on your first day home. Eventually, you will start to let down milk the moment you hear a baby crying. Your body is amazing, just have some patience with it. It’s still trying to transition from building a human to sustaining a human.
- If your newborn is falling asleep while you are trying to nurse, tickle them behind the ear– Newborns sleep a lot (especially in the first couple days!) and it can be hard to keep them awake to nurse. Tickling your baby behind the ear stimulates their reflex to suck and helps keep them awake.
Breastfeeding Body Change Tips
- You might cramp more when you first start breastfeeding– Breastfeeding signals your body to begin shrinking your uterus back to it’s pre pregnancy size (now that baby is not inside). Each time you breastfeed in the first six weeks, you may feel your body cramping to do so. Don’t be alarmed.
- Your breasts will continue to change (and grow)– Your breasts probably grew a lot while you were pregnant but they will grow again (probably another cup size) when your milk comes in.
- You might smell like onions– Even though your newborn’s eyesight and hearing are limited, their smell is very developed. Unfortunately that means that your body odor naturally increases to encourage your baby to turn towards you and nurse. Mother nature is pretty cool but it can be a little inconvenient when you don’t have much time to shower. I wanted to include this in my breastfeeding tips for new moms because I found myself googling it all the time to make sure I wasn’t the only one! Just know, this is normal and us moms aren’t judging.
- You are going to leak- As your body gets used to breastfeeding and your milk comes in, you will inevitably leak. To avoid leaking through your clothes like many moms have, I suggest having breast pads on hand. Washable breast pads are a great option to avoid breaking the bank on hundreds of disposable ones. These organic bamboo nursing pads come with seven sets of pads for your whole week and even a bag to wash them in! Plus, they cost about the same as one box of disposable pads. If you leak a lot or don’t feel like doing laundry, you can also get silicone breast milk catchers that hold up to an ounce at a time. These ones are simply dumped and rinsed in the sink between uses. I personally am obsessed with them and used them almost exclusively with my second baby.
Breastfeeding Diet Tips
- Make sure that you are eating enough- You will burn somewhere between 300-500 extra calories a day breastfeeding! This can help assist in the postpartum weight loss process, but you also should be careful to never limit your calories in a way that slows your milk production. Never limit your caloric intake lower than 1800 calories and be sure to talk to your doctor before you go on any sort of diet.
- Make sure to drink enough water– Dehydration is a huge reason why many women struggle to increase their milk production. While breastfeeding, you should be drinking the recommended eight glasses of water a day AND a glass each time you breastfeed your baby (which might be 8 or 12 times a day!).
- You will be constantly hungry while breastfeeding– One of the most important breastfeeding tips for new moms to remember is that you are still fueling two people with what you are eating! With breastfeeding burning upwards of 500 calories, you are going to be more hungry. It’s just a fact. While you may feel pressured to get your body back and lose weight right away, remember to always fuel your body first. Don’t deprive yourself if you are hungry. Eat healthy snacks throughout the day to help keep yourself satisfied. If you need ideas here are 22 Healthy and Easy Snacks for Breastfeeding Moms.
Breastfeeding Position Tips
- Try reclining in a comfortable chair or laying down to breastfeed– When your baby is still very little, it can be hard to get comfortable feeding them. I often got shooting pains through my shoulder and upper back when I just hunched over to stop the crying and didn’t try to get in a good position. When I started laying down with my baby, both of us were far more comfortable.
- Don’t be afraid to try different positions and switch as your baby grows– There are so many different positions that you can nurse your baby in. Don’t feel like you need to do what your friend is doing, what your mom says you need to, or the position you originally used in the hospital. This article from Medela has 11 Different Breastfeeding Positions to get you started. I personally love the side lying position when I’m at home and a cradle hold when I’m out and about. But, I started with a rugby hold on the arm of my rocking chair when my baby was really little. It’s okay for it to change as your baby grows.
- Get baby’s feet up against something- Babies nurse better when their feet are firmly pressed up against something. Sometimes that is the arms of a chair and other times you may just place your arm or palm underneath their feet. This will help your baby stop squirming and relax more to nurse.
Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms in Pain
- Sore nipples at the beginning– I almost gave up breastfeeding while I was still in the hospital. My baby was born with a tongue tie and he struggled to get his tongue out far enough to nurse. He bit me over and over again. Even once his tongue tie was clipped, it still took him weeks to learn how to nurse correctly. I talked to nurse after nurse and I was beyond frustrated and ready to give up, with hickies all over my nipples, when one nurse brought me a nipple shield to try. It was an absolute game changer. We had to use one for a couple of weeks until he got better with nursing but he quickly became a breastfeeding champ. So, if you are ready to give up and frustrated, I suggest trying a nipple shield first. Here is the one that I used. It comes with two shields and a carrying case so you can keep one in the diaper bag too.
- You can get prescription nipple cream– Lanolin nipple cream is amazing for sore nipples, but if you are like me and your baby is having a hard time latching this may not be enough at first. While you are in the hospital, your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic nipple cream that does wonders. However, if you are still in a lot of pain after the antibiotic cream is out, make sure to check with a lactation consultant to make sure that your baby is latching correctly.
- Avoid putting soap or body wash on your nipples when showering– Using soap or body wash on your nipples can actually dry them out and make them even more sensitive. Try to only use water on your chest when you are in the shower.
- Be careful to change your bra nursing pads often– If your bra or nursing pads get wet, do your best to change them quickly. If you wait too long, sitting in a wet bra cup will make your nipples get chapped and even more sore.
- Alternate which side you feed on– When your baby is a newborn and is feeding often, alternating which side you feed on gives each side a chance to recover. Since it can be hard to remember which side you fed on last, I suggest putting a hair tie on that wrist as a reminder.
- Use a warm compress if you need to target one area– If you get a clogged duct or an area of your breast that is more sore than the rest, try placing a warm washcloth on it for a few minutes. If you are able, it can also help to massage the area if it isn’t too painful to do so.
- Your baby might not take a bottle from you– If you are pumping and feeding with a bottle while your nipples are healing up, you may want to employ dad or a friend to feed your baby. If your baby rejects a bottle from you, they may still take it from someone else. Babies can smell their mom and know the real thing is right there, which often makes them reject a bottle from mom.
How to Freeze Breast Milk
- Don’t buy breast milk storage bags– This is one of my favorite breast feeding tips for new moms because it will make your life a whole lot easier and it will save you tons of money! Breast milk storage bags are not worth your money! Since a bottle must be thrown out if your baby drinks from it and doesn’t finish it, you will likely thaw a whole bag of breast milk to throw half (or more) of it out. Or you will put one ounce in each bag and go broke buying a million storage bags. Instead, buy a silicone ice cube tray with a lid to freeze your breast milk. Each ice cube is one ounce, making it easy to thaw exactly what your baby will drink. Use tape or stickers to label the tray and you’re good to go!
- Mark whether milk was pumped in the daytime or nighttime– When you freeze breast milk, have a container for milk that was pumped during the day and one for milk that was pumped in the evening. Believe it or not, milk that is pumped during the evening contains higher levels of melatonin and will actually help your baby fall asleep easier.
- Keep some formula on hand just in case– It may take some time to build up your supply of frozen breast milk. Even if you plan to exclusively breastfeed, I would highly suggest keeping a small amount of formula in case something happens. I didn’t buy any formula and was woefully unprepared when I got the flu four days after giving birth. My body was struggling to make milk while I couldn’t eat anything and my baby was hungry. If you find yourself in a situation like that, the last thing you will want to do is go to the store (trust me). Most companies will send you a free sample if you give them your email. You can find the links for the various companies in my blog post, “How to Save Money with a Baby: 28 Ways for New Moms to Save Cash.”
Other Breastfeeding Essentials
- Invest in a comfortable chair to nurse in– Most nursing moms spend an average of eight hours a day nursing their baby (yes, seriously). So, invest in something you love sitting in. Getting a good glider rocker or rocking chair will be something you never regret and will love to have for future babies. If you ignore all my other breastfeeding tips for new moms, at least don’t ignore this one!
- Opt for a boppy if you buy a breastfeeding pillow– A simple Boppy Breastfeeding Pillow is a great option if you want to buy a nursing pillow, as it will come in handy later for baby’s tummy time. Many other nursing pillows have a buckle. Trying to maneuver a pillow like this while your baby is crying is difficult and eventually the pillow will collect dust in the corner.
- Skip the nursing shirts and buy nursing bras and tanks– I’ve tried numerous brands of nursing bras and I can say that Target’s Auden Brand Nursing Bras are some of the best out there. I have no affiliation with them and am getting no money for my referral, so you know they are good! Their seamless nursing bra is insanely comfortable and comes in six different colors. You can’t do much better for under $20 (or over either).
- Make your own hands free pumping bra– Grab a cheap bando from Walmart and cut slits in the center for your pump. You don’t need to spend a ton of money on a hands free bra to pump in.
- Buy a 360 nursing cover if you plan to breastfeed through the first year– Nursing covers are extremely helpful for nursing your baby in public. I bought a nursing apron and it was perfect for the first couple of months. However, as soon as my baby got a little bigger, he was constantly pulling the nursing apron off of me (which was the best time). So, if you plan to nurse some through the first year, I would suggest going for a 360 nursing cover. This one also functions as a car seat cover and a shopping cart cover too! This is one of the breastfeeding tips for new moms that I REALLY REALLY wish I would have known before a couple very embarrassing moments in public….
- You can get a free breast pump from your health insurance company– Breast pumps come in a large range of prices and many people don’t want to spend a lot on a pump until they actually try breastfeeding. One great option is to register for a free breast pump with your health insurance company. You can easily register for one here.
Tips on When to Breastfeed
- Do your best to feed your baby at the first sign of hunger– Waiting till your baby is crying and upset makes breastfeeding much harder. Recognizing early signs of hunger can help make the breastfeeding process much easier. If your baby is hungry, they may move their head side to side, put their fingers or fist in their mouth, open and close their mouth, or simply squirm a lot.
- When your baby is full their fingers and arms and legs will relax– When your baby is hungry, they will likely be squirming and their hands/fingers will be in a fist. As your baby gets full, their hands will open and relax and the rest of their body will follow.
- Don’t try to make a nursing schedule- I remember trying to set a breastfeeding schedule shortly after having my son. You’ll think you’ve got them figured out and then it will change the next day. Let your baby determine when and how long they will nurse and work around their schedule. Let them enjoy having control over the schedule for a short time before the tables turn.
As I said earlier, breastfeeding is a learning process and that’s okay! It’s a journey that you and your baby will take together. Also, remember that your breastfeeding journey might be different from your friends’ with babies and even mine! Listen to your baby and trust your mom instinct (and your body!). It may take time, but it will come. I went from “I want to give up” in the hospital to “Everyone should do this! This is great!” in just a few weeks. It’s normal to be overwhelmed with something so new and so foreign to us. Don’t give up.
This post was all about breastfeeding tips for new moms to get you well on your way to a successful breastfeeding journey. Breastfeeding isn’t easy at first but it is so beautiful and worth it in the end. I promise.