What I’ve heard more than anything in my career as a postpartum nurse is that breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. One of the most difficult parts of being a new mom is not getting discouraged by breastfeeding challenges! I’m here to tell you that everyone has them, especially when they are first time moms!
In this post I’ll have few tips and tricks you can try at home if you are struggling with breastfeeding and do not have access to other help. First I want to say IT GETS EASIER, and there is NO SHAME is asking for help.
Here is my list of tips to try when struggling!
- Most importantly, most hospitals have a support group you can join after discharge. Sinai Hospital in Baltimore has one with a certified lactation consultant, once a week, where they help each mom with any issues they may be having. Look into this with the hospital you delivered at! If you have a regular OB, ask them if they know of any in your area as well! Having someone do it with you a few times is sometimes all you need to get a better hang of it.
- If you have a friend or family member nursing, ask to watch them! Watching what they do and what works for them can help you find different ways to try with your baby.
- Make sure dad is involved! Have dad come with you to meet with a lactation consultant so that he can be your coach at home as well! Make sure dad does his own research as well.
- Feeding on demand is a good way to go if your baby is struggling or sleepy when you try. Some babies don’t need or want to eat exactly every three hours. So, wait for your baby to wake up and start crying before you feed. This will enhance their responsiveness during a feeding.
- If your baby is generally sleepy and can’t through a feed without falling asleep after a few minutes- try exposing their feet, touch their feet, rest their feet on your leg, etc. This will help you keep baby awake and engaged in the feeding.
- Make sure the baby has the ENTIRE nipple in their mouth. Especially the bottom part that you may not have been able to see before. If the whole nipple is not in their mouth, the sucking will be harder and more painful for you! This is best done by waiting to bring baby to your breast until their mouth is WIDE OPEN. Some women have smaller nipples and may need the baby to have even the whole areola in their mouth. Experiment and find what’s most comfortable for you and your baby!
- Avoid formula as much as possible. Sometimes formula is necessary and THAT’S FINE. Some babies need more/supplementation for medical reasons like jaundice or feeding issues like cleft palate or sucking problems. However, if baby is satisfied with your milk, don’t give into the temptation to supplement, especially at night, until your baby has an established feeding regimen (usually first 4-6 weeks). This includes avoiding pacifiers for the same amount of time if possible!
- Don’t push on the back of babies neck! This makes them want to chomp down on you instead of suck. Support the back of their neck when controlling their head instead of their head directly.
- Heal damaged nipples! If you are in too much pain, breastfeeding will not work! Make sure it’s comfortable for you. There are a multitude of products on the market to heal cracked or bruised nipples. Washing nipples with basic soap and water and then applying these products works best. Products we use at Sinai are Lanolin and triple cream. Both require prescriptions so talk to your doctor! There are also OTC items to try such as hydrogel pads.
- Find a comfortable hold. Cradle hold may not be best for you and that’s fine! There are nursing pillows and special chairs to help you get as comfortable as possible.
- Make sure your fingers are not blocking baby’s latch! A lot of women hold their fingers too close to their nipples, thinking this will help them control it better in baby’s mouth. This however can block their latch entirely! Make a C with your hand and put your fingers underneath your breast. You can use your thumb to milk your own breast once baby is latched. Don’t force your nipple into baby’s mouth!
- If baby is sleepy or feeding on demand, use a breast pump! For the first few weeks, you should stimulate your breast every 2-3 hours, whether that be with feeding or a pump. This will help establish your milk supply much better.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t wait! There are support groups all over that are free and accessible to everyone.
I hope these tips are helpful and feel free to message me with any specific questions!