Breastfeeding, although natural, is also a learned skill. Many new and expectant mothers seek breastfeeding tips to help make the journey a little smoother.
However, many of us are visual learners, or learn more quickly when we can see how things are done.
Unfortunately for many mothers these days, breastfeeding is not often seen. While most mothers start out breastfeeding, the rates of any breastfeeding drop each month after birth. By 12 months, less than one third of women are still breastfeeding.
Barb Glare, an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who previously frequented the BellyBelly Breastfeeding Forum, had this great explanation about how things can go wrong:
“For most women these days, it’s like setting off from Melbourne to Sydney without having once looked at the map, and without being able to read the signposts. Most women have an, “I will if I can” philosophy, and, “it’s supposed to be natural isn’t it?” They don’t use the information around them (ABA, breastfeeding education classes, lactation consultants) and unfortunately the one person they asked seems to have given the wrong directions! (sigh). They end up arriving in Adelaide and not Sydney and wonder where they took the wrong turn.”
Nonetheless, being knowledgeable about breastfeeding doesn’t make you immune to breastfeeding problems. Even midwives, lactation consultants and breastfeeding counsellors can struggle with breastfeeding challenges.
10 Best Breastfeeding Tips
Here are 10 top breastfeeding tips including tips from other breastfeeding mothers.
Breastfeeding Tips #1 – Watch Your Baby, Not The Clock
Before having children, many of us had lives ruled by the clock, doing most things at specific times. And, some of us revel in having organised lives as it can make us feel in control.
Hence, having a baby can be a real shock for some of us because all this organisation and control gets thrown into complete disorder. I’ve yet to meet a baby who has read the baby books that tell parents about routines for babies.
Breastfeeding works best when you feed your baby according to your baby’s needs. Scheduled feeding, or feeding by the clock, can be damaging for breastfeeding. You can read more here about this. Forget the clock, just watch your baby.
“Don’t let anyone push you into feeding to a schedule. Babies feed in weird patterns and they know when they need to be fed, not the clock. Feeding when needed helps build up a successful supply.” — Jasmine Andrews
Breastfeeding Tips #2 – A Quality Breastfeeding Book Can Help
It’s common to have questions or concerns along your breastfeeding journey. Having a good breastfeeding book on hand can help provide you with reassurance. Here are some of BellyBelly’s top picks.
Of course there are also volunteer breastfeeding support organisations with peer support breastfeeding counsellors available to help such as the Australian Breastfeeding Association and La Leche League, as well as lactation consultants.
“Do not give up. It’s challenging at the beginning – waiting for milk supply to come in – getting baby to latch properly – it takes patience and perseverance. Stick to it and it becomes a breeze!!!!” — Kristina Patai
Breastfeeding Tips #3 – Seek Help If You’re Worried About Your Supply
While it’s common for breastfeeding mothers to worry about their supply, most of the time, their supply is actually fine. Many mothers worry about their supply due to relying on the unreliable signs to tell if their baby is getting enough milk, rather than the reliable signs.
If you’re concerned about your supply, be sure to seek help from one of the breastfeeding support organisations or a lactation consultant.
Please read our article Low Milk Supply – 7 Incorrect Assumptions Mothers Make.
“Don’t stress if your milk doesn’t come in right away. Babies only need a very small amount of colostrum for the first few days (their tummy is only the size of a marble). Give it time, there is no need to rush out and buy formula to feed bub. Trust your body, and understand that babies don’t need full bottles worth of milk in the first few days.” — Katey Watts-Dodt
“Don’t doubt yourself and your milk supply. Your supply is perfectly matched to bubs demand. Always demand feed and don’t top up with formula thinking baby is still hungry… this is where a milk supply will get messed up and drop. I managed to breastfeed my premmie bub with the help of NICU nurses. Listen to the professionals – lactation consultants etc. Education and knowledge is the key. Give it a good go and in the end if it’s not for you, that’s ok! A happy mum means a happy baby.” — Tamika Stuart
Breastfeeding Tips #4 – Don’t Delay Seeking Help If You Need It
No matter how your baby is fed, the early months tend to be the most challenging. Many mothers experience breastfeeding challenges early on but go on to have a rewarding and enjoyable breastfeeding journey for many months (or years).
Most breastfeeding challenges have a solution, especially if knowledgeable support and accurate information are obtained in a timely manner, again by using the resources mentioned above.
“No matter how hard it seems today, it will be easier tomorrow.” — Jo Dwight
“Persevere in the early days and it will pay off.” — Amanda Mortel
“Don’t wait to seek help. Have someone to call before there’s a real problem!” — Holly Ostovich
“Perseverance, and taking the rough times one feed at a time.” — Lalla Crowe
“Persist for six weeks. I hated breastfeeding because it hurt, and my DD wanted to feed all the time, cluster feeding for the first couple of weeks. I wanted to give up, but told myself to get to six weeks and reassess. It got easier and now she’s four months and breastfeeding well. I enjoy it now too.” — Samantha Power
Breastfeeding Tips #5 – Surrender To The Power Of The Boob
“When in doubt, get your boobs out!” — Kim Corke
- Send your baby off to sleep in the most natural way possible
- Soothe hurts and tears
- Create a special and unique bond
- Help protect your baby from illnesses
- Create oxytocin, the love hormone
“Welcome the days when your baby needs to feed every 30 mins, put your feet up, rest all day, let someone else do the work. These are days when you get a decent break and your milk supply increases. Make sure people around you understand this and it’s a win win situation instead of a day of stress.” — Vickie Hingston-Jones
“Get comfortable and relax. Don’t listen to judgmental people and never rush baby to hurry along.” — Toyah Sansum
Breastfeeding Tips #6 – Create A Support Network Around You
The saying “It takes a village to raise a child” is so true. Getting breastfeeding working well for you and your baby often requires the support of those around you.
What works best for one mother may be what works least best for another. So, finding the ‘right’ support for you is important.
Fortunately, breastfeeding support organisations (mentioned above) have counsellors who are trained to provide mother-to-mother support. This means that they can help you work out what might work best given you own individual circumstances.
Going along to local support groups run by such organisations can be very helpful too. It can be very healing to spend time with other mothers who may be experiencing or have experienced similar things that you are.
“Initially you are encouraged by everyone to breastfeed, but as time goes on it really can feel like the world is conspiring against you to stop breastfeeding! Having a support network is so important if you are a first time breastfeeding mum. To find and hang out with other breastfeeding mums was such a godsend for me – when we fed our bubs together at a meet up, we felt confident and powerful. We were so grateful to know each other, we knew how hard the breastfeeding journey can be alone, and how many barriers we had faced to be breastfeeding at all.” – Angela Nesbitt
“I thought I would breastfeed “if I could”. I had two very keen girlfriends who breastfed their babies and they were part of ABA. The best advice they gave me is “no matter what try the breast first”. This simple statement and their friendship and through them my friendships with ABA is what helped create my breastfeeding community. A community which has been vital to my breastfeeding journey and growth as a mother and woman.” – Janelle Maree
“I needed a supportive community as I was surrounded by females in my family who either didn't breastfeed at all, or who breastfed their babies for less than 6-months, by choice or due to poor information. So in order to reach my goal of 12-months breastfeeding I wanted to ensure I had people around me who shared a similar philosophy, who had up to date information and could support and advise me through any difficulties or to answer my many questions along the way, and who would also encouraged me with my choices. As a result of having found such communities, my goal has now morphed into 2 years breastfeeding – something I never imagined I would be doing at the outset, but something I am so proud my toddler and I are well on our way to achieving together” – Bel Roberts
“I tell people you need the kind of support that will back you the way you need it, not just undermine your wishes when the going gets tough. You don't need to hear “you need your sleep, here I'll give Bubs a bottle” when you're at your most vulnerable. Constantly being told that “I'm allowed” to give up, or that “it's ok if it doesn't work out”, even with good intent really affected my confidence before I'd even begun.” – Rebecca Sampson
Breastfeeding Tips #7 – Remember You Are A Wonderful Mother No Matter What
Every mother’s breastfeeding journey is different. No matter what happens in terms of breastfeeding, you’re a wonderful mother. Being a mother is so much more than about how your baby is fed.
If breastfeeding doesn’t work out but you weren’t ready for your breastfeeding journey to end, it can be heartbreaking and even depressing. As you grieve your loss, it can help to seek support from a breastfeeding counsellor or grief counsellor.
No matter how long you breastfed for, whether it was for one day, one week, one month or one year etc, it’s something to be proud of.
“Your milk is liquid gold – ANY amount you give is worth the effort.” — Sharon Barber
Also, if given your individual circumstances, it was best for you not to breastfeed, you can also be proud that you’ve done what was best for you.
Breastfeeding Tips #8 – Take Care Of Yourself
Being a mother, regardless of how your baby is fed, can sometimes feel like you’re on a daily emotional roller coaster ride. It can be more difficult to ride this if you are not taking care of yourself. It’s important to look after yourself (and enlist any helpers you can) so you can look after your baby.
Regular exercise, healthy food, keeping up fluids and sleep are all important factors for looking after yourself, but aren’t always easy when you are a mother, especially with young children. Hence, enlisting help from your friends and family is really important. They’re there to help, you just need to ask.
Breastfeeding Tips #9 – Ignore Unhelpful Comments
It’s not uncommon for breastfeeding mothers to encounter unhelpful comments or suggestions.
If what you’re doing is working for you and your child, then there’s no need to stop.
If someone (e.g. a health professional) says something to you that you’re not sure about, ask for a second opinion. Even better, when it comes to breastfeeding related questions, ask a breastfeeding counsellor or lactation consultant.
“Don’t let anyone tell you when you should stop breastfeeding… do it when you and bub are ready. I’m now feeding my second (4weeks old) and fed my first for 14 months. Once I reached 12 months I was often asked “Are you going to stop breast feeding soon?” It was really annoying and felt judgmental….I’ll be feeding my second as long as suits us.” — Sally Baldock
“Don’t stop breastfeeding when people start to say that your baby is getting ‘too old’ to breastfeed! This seems to happen when they are still so young, 1 year old etc.” — Renee Brown
“Don’t start giving your baby bottles just because your family is telling you too. Breastfeed as long as you and your baby want. Who cares what everyone else wants.” — Elizabeth Freed
Breastfeeding Tips #10 – Learn To Breastfeed Lying Down
Breastfeeding lying down can mean being able to nourish and nurture your baby while relaxing and resting at the same time! Winning!
Read about how to breastfeed lying down and the benefits of doing so.
“Learn to do it lying down. Great for resting, bonding and your supply.” — Tanya Minotti
“Lying down and breastfeeding is so much easier at night time.” — Lizzie
More Breastfeeding Tips From BellyBelly Fans
Here are some more great tips from fans on our Facebook page:
“Don’t buy formula! Seriously, if I’d have had it in the cupboard during the hardest times, I definitely would have used it and it can be a slippery slope…” — Jocasta Wetherall
“If the latch hurts, reattach! You shouldn’t grimace your way through a feed… reattach until it’s comfortable. Seek help early on if you’re struggling. Its ok to get help – breastfeeding isn’t always as easy as ’here’s my nipple, eat’! Be aware of ‘nipple lash’ when your distracted baby sees something and takes your nipple with him then let’s go of you OUCH! On a positive note – enjoy it. Breastfeeding can be a beautiful time of stillness, closeness and gives you both time to stare at each other – touching, bonding, loving… before you know it they’ll be running off. I miss snuggling up to my babies!” — Bethany Meakin
“I joined ABA and did a breastfeeding class designed for expectant mothers. I think all women should do a class whilst pregnant. It was great!” — Belinda Foord
“Patience and trust yourself. I had cracked nipples for the first 10 weeks of breastfeeding, so bad I used to cry putting my babe on to feed. A lactation consultant helped with attachment and positioning and it slowly got better. Now he’s 10 months and I’m still breastfeeding!!”