10 Best Breastfeeding Tips
Many new and expectant mothers seek breastfeeding tips to help make their journey a little easier.
Breastfeeding, although natural, is a learned skill.
Many of us tend to learn faster when we actually see how things are done.
Unfortunately for many women (and men) today, breastfeeding is not seen as part of everyday life.
As a result, many taboos and struggles exist when it comes to breastfeeding.
Research shows 96% of Australian mothers initiate breastfeeding at birth.
However, that number drops significantly each month post-birth.
By two months of age, around 50% of Australian babies are fully or partially on formula.
So you can probably understand why it’s critical to seek breastfeeding tips and advice from a quality source.
Why Are So Many Women Facing Challenges?
There are many things we need to do to increase breastfeeding rates.
Barb Glare, an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) shared an accurate explanation about how things typically 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 (Australian Breastfeeding Association, breastfeeding education classes, lactation consultants) and unfortunately the one person they do ask seems to have given them the wrong directions! (sigh). They end up arriving in Adelaide, not Sydney, and wonder where they took the wrong turn.”
10 Breastfeeding Tips For New Mothers
With all that in mind, here are the best breastfeeding tips for new mothers, to help you avoid common breastfeeding problems and challenges.
#1: Watch Your Baby, Not The Clock
Before having children, many of us had lives and jobs that were ruled by the clock.
Getting to meetings, dealing with deadlines and having tight schedules with rigid structure.
Some of us love having such organised lives, as it can make us feel in control.
However, the changes that come with having a baby can be a shock to the system for some of us.
All this organisation, structure and control gets thrown into chaos when you have a baby.
It can feel weird or even difficult to surrender and go with the flow.
Breastfeeding works best when you feed your baby according to your baby’s needs.
Scheduled feeding, or feeding by the clock, can sabotage breastfeeding success by interfering with milk production.
You can read more about how feeding schedules can be harmful to breastfeeding.
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
#2: Own At Least One Quality Breastfeeding Book
Having a quality breastfeeding book on hand for all your concerns and questions can help provide you with a great deal of reassurance.
Here are some of BellyBelly’s favourite breastfeeding books.
Of course, there are also volunteer support organisations with peer support breastfeeding counsellors available to help.
You can also rely on lactation consultants, ideally IBCLCs.
“Do not give up. It can be challenging at the beginning. Waiting for your milk to come in, getting baby to latch properly… it takes patience and perseverance. Stick to it and it becomes a breeze!!!!” — Kristina Patai
#3: Seek Help If You’re Worried About Your Milk Supply
While it’s common for breastfeeding mothers to worry about their supply, most of the time, their supply is actually fine.
Concerned about your supply?
Please read our article Low Milk Supply – 7 Incorrect Assumptions Mothers Make.
If you need help or reassurance, be sure to seek help from breastfeeding support organisations or a lactation consultant, as soon as possible.
“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’s no need to rush out and buy formula to feed your baby. 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 baby’s needs. Always feed based on need, 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 premature baby with the help of NICU nurses. Listen to the professionals, e.g. lactation consultants. Education and knowledge is the key. Give it a good go and in the end if it’s not for you, that’s okay! A happy mum means a happy baby.” — Tamika Stuart
#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, be it a sore nipple, blocked milk ducts, mastitis or other concerns about milk flow.
But they continue on to have a rewarding and enjoyable breastfeeding journey for many months (or years).
Most challenges have a solution.
Especially if knowledgeable support and accurate information are obtained in a timely manner.
“Don’t wait to seek help. Have someone to call before there’s a real problem!” — Holly Ostovich
“If the latch hurts, re-attach! Seek help early on if you’re struggling. It’s okay to get help – breastfeeding isn’t always as easy as ‘here’s my nipple, eat!'” — Bethany Meakin
#5: Surrender To The Power Of The Boob
“When in doubt, get your boobs out!” — Kim Corke
Breastfeeding can be a time to relax, slow down and put your feet up.
It can feel so good knowing you’re not only nourishing your baby, but you can also do things such as:
- 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
Surender, and let feeding and comfort times weave their magic.
Even if you feel like you’re doing nothing at all… you’re actually doing SO much.
“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
“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
#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.
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.
“I had two very keen girlfriends who breastfed their babies and were part of the Australian Breastfeeding Association (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
#7: Remember You’re 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.
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, 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.
#8: Self Care Is Critical
Being a mother, regardless of how your baby is fed, it 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.
Be sure to keep up your passions and hobbies in some way so you have some YOU time.
It isn’t always easy when you’re a mother, especially with young children.
Hence, enlisting help from your friends and family is really important.
Or if you don’t have that around you, definitely consider hiring a post-natal doula.
#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 baby are ready. I’m now feeding my second (4 weeks 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, even one year old .” — Renee Brown
#10: Learn To Breastfeed Lying Down
Of all the breastfeeding tips, this one is the most relaxing!
Breastfeeding lying down can mean being able to nourish and nurture your baby while relaxing and resting at the same time.
Make sure you read our article 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 great tips from BellyBelly fans
Here are some more great tips from fans on BellyBelly’s 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
“Persist for six weeks. I hated breastfeeding because it hurt, and my daughter 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! She’s now four months, breastfeeding well, and I’m enjoying it too.” — Samantha Power
“I joined the Australian Breastfeeding Association 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!” — Anonymous
The Importance Of Who You Spend Time With
“Initially you’re 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 babies 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
“Persevere in the early days and it will pay off.” — Amanda Mortel
Why You Need People Who Know How To Support You
“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 baby a bottle,” when you’re at your most vulnerable. Constantly being told ‘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
“I was surrounded by women in my family who either didn’t breastfeed at all, or who breastfed their babies for less than 6 months. In order to reach my goal of 12 months of breastfeeding, I wanted to ensure I had people around me who shared a similar philosophy and 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 it’s something I’m so proud of. My toddler and I are well on our way to achieving together.” – Bel Roberts