13 Breastfeeding Secrets Every New Mother Should Know
Cake Maternity offers some helpful advice!
Breastfeeding is completely natural, but doesn’t always come naturally to every mama and baby. Even those that take to it straight away can have off days, meanwhile those who struggle to breastfeed may be pumping litres a day. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but if you equip yourself with enough knowledge you’ll be a-okay, mama.
1. Perfect your latch straight away.
Bad habits are hard to break (just ask Ed Sheeran) and if babies learn an incorrect latch, they’re likely to struggle to change it down the track. Speak to your lactation consultant or medical professional to make sure your latch is correct right from the get-go.
- The latch should be comfortable and pain-free, feeling like a gentle tug.
- Your baby’s spine should be straight with their chest and stomach against your body (even better if skin-to-skin).
- Baby’s chin should rest on your breast.
- Baby’s mouth should open wide and cover your entire nipple and some breast skin.
- Baby’s lips should turn outwards, like a fish.
- Baby’s tongue is poking out, on top of their lower lip.
- You can see/hear them swallowing.
If you are unsure, unlatch and start again. To unlatch, simply press your finger into your breast at the corner of your baby’s mouth to break the seal. Do not pull them off when they are suckling as this can be very painful.
2. Drink lots of water.
It takes water and energy to make milk, so make sure you are drinking around 3L of water per day, and eating at least an extra 500 calories. Every time you nurse your bubba, have your own snack and cup of herbal tea or filtered water on hand.
Your milk flows more steadily when you are relaxed, so get comfortable, relax your shoulders and your neck, and focus on your breathing. Be aware of your shoulders tensing and try to let them relax throughout the feed, as they have a tendency to ‘shrug up’ when nursing.
4. Be present.
The more distracted you are, the less milk will flow. When oxytocin is released, this triggers a letdown. Oxytocin can be produced when looking at your baby and stroking their skin, so do this instead of online shopping or talking on your phone.
5. Listen to your baby.
Be in tune with what they are telling you and your surroundings. If they are fussing, then they are probably not hungry, or may be distracted. It might sound great to head out to coffee with friends but this might not be the best time to nurse your baby.
If they are crying and still hungry, there may be something wrong with the latch or they may be going through a growth spurt/need to burp. You’ll get to know your baby’s signals the more you pay attention to them.
Massage your breasts towards your nipple when breastfeeding to encourage flow and help inhibit duct blockages. If you have a blocked duct, massage this when your baby is nursing to help it along. Your baby responds to touch also, so don’t be afraid to massage their feet, backs, arms, shoulders, and legs.
7. Breast milk.
Rub a little breast milk on your nipple after each feed to help cracked nipples. If your baby is not interested in feeding, squirt a little breast milk onto their lips as an appetiser.
8. Wear a comfortable bra.
Your breasts will be heavier and the skin will be under a lot more strain than usual, so wear a comfortable and supportive bra that will fit you whether you’re just about to feed, or have just fed.
9. Nursing clip practice.
When you’re pregnant, you can practice one-handed, so when you do have a bundle of joy, you won’t be fumbling.
10. Nursing clothing.
Wear clothing you will be comfortable to nurse in. Practice ‘whipping out the boob’ so you’ll be able to do it swiftly when the mood arises for your baby.
11. Foremilk and hindmilk.
Just like when milk settles in a bottle, the cream remains on top. Your breast milk works in a similar way. The foremilk (the milk that comes out first) is more watery, and the hindmilk is the good stuff that’s more calorie dense, with more nutrients and fats. If your baby is not sleeping well, make sure they’re getting the hindmilk and completely finishing a feed.
12. Supply issues while pumping.
If you’re pumping and having difficulties, follow the same procedure for when you’re nursing. Relax your shoulders and look at your baby. If you’re away from your baby, look at photos/videos of them. If you can record them breastfeeding, this is also a winner.
13. Don’t over pump.
It’s so exciting to see liquid gold being collected, but don’t overdo it as this can lead to engorgement, and possibly mastitis, very quickly. The more you pump/nurse, the more you make, and the more you must pump/nurse to help ease the pressure building up inside you.
All of us mamas have good days and bad days, as do our babies. So, try to take each day as it comes and each feed as it comes, too. You’re doing a great job and what works one day, might not work the next. Be kind to yourself and enjoy the journey because it’s a short, beautiful, and sleepless one to remember.
We Want to Hear From You
Which of these tips was most helpful for you? Do you have any advice of your own to add to this list?
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About the Author
Katie is the proud mom of two beautiful girls and has been responsible for all the designs, style and fit at Cake Maternity for over a decade now.
Katie is a nursing bra specialist and a fit, pattern and grading technician. She is passionate about breastfeeding and the many benefits it offers to both mom, baby, and the environment.
She is determined to make the breastfeeding journey a comfortable, supportive, and beautiful one for all moms, understanding that it doesn’t always come easy to everyone. That’s why she has made it her mission to empower women as they mindfully navigate the world of motherhood and help make breastfeeding easier, through experience-driven innovation.