How To Get Started Breastfeeding: A Guide For First Time Moms

How To Get Started Breastfeeding: A Guide For First Time Moms

The day I was handed a baby, I learned quickly that time was precious and that multi-tasking was a must. And, I learned that everything was not going to always come easily to me … like breastfeeding

My son and I went on quite the adventure!

But luckily, I had a lot of help, support, and I learned to remain calm, patient, and to persevere to accomplish my nursing goals.

If you’re a first time mom, breastfeeding can be pretty overwhelming—it can even be painful! 

Most importantly, it can be an amazing, bonding experience for you and your baby.

Not sure what to do? Read on to learn how to get started!

When's The Best Time To Start Breastfeeding?

If you talk to anyone who has breastfed before, they’ll tell you that it’s essential to start nursing in the hospital as soon as your baby is cleaned up, you are cleaned up, and you get the opportunity to hold your baby.

This works great because it instantly connects the two of you together and just goes along with basic baby and mommy instinct, which is something you’re born with.

5 Steps For How To Position Yourself And Your Baby

There are some simple steps you can follow to ensure your baby is positioned properly, so they have success with nursing right from the get go.

Get Belly-to-Belly

Your baby should be propped up on her side with their belly touching your belly. It’s best to do this with skin to skin. 

Hold Your Baby Up To Your Breast

If you need some help with this step, use a bed pillow or a nursing pillow to help prop
your baby up. If you’ve just had a C-section, this step is important. This will allow your
baby to be perfectly aligned with your breast and nipple. 

Stimulate Your Nipple

Place your fingers and thumb around your nipple to stimulate it. This will also encourage
some drops of milk to gather around the nipple and aerola, which your baby will be able to sense and smell.

Guide Your Baby Toward Your Nipple

Don’t lean over your baby or bring your breast to them. Instead, remain relaxed but postured and guide your baby toward you. It’s more inviting and also allows you to remain comfortable during a feeding.

Position Your Nipple Upward

Your nipple should be positioned upward, toward the roof your baby’s mouth, rather than stuffed inward and toward the back of their throat. This can take some practice!

5 Tips For Getting Comfortable

Here are a few tips to ensure your comfort:

  • 1
    Use a nursing pillow. There are a few different kinds of nursing pillows on the market that allow for perfect placement and a mom’s comfort.
  • 2
    Wear a button-down top. This way, you don’t have to continue to lift your shirt up and out of the way!
  • 3
    Sit in a peaceful setting. You can actually gain comfort and produce more milk in an environment where you feel completely serene. Choose a comfy chair by a window and set your room’s temperature to a comfortable level.
  • 4
    Utilize blankets. Wrap your baby in a soft, comfortable receiving blanket to keep them warm and cozy, and to also mop up spills or spit up.
  • 5
    Experiment with positions. One position doesn’t always fit all. So, it’s wise to know about all kinds of holds and positions. One day might work with one position, and another day might require another type of hold to be comfortable.

How Often Should You Nurse?

When you first deliver, you need to feed frequently—this helps get your milk production going.

Expect to feed every hour or so to get things started (this is called on demand feeding).

Once your baby hits the one month mark, they’ll need to nurse about 7 times each day.

It can take some time to put your baby on a feeding schedule, but once you can seal the deal, the whole process becomes less taxing and less tedious.

How Do I Know That My Baby Is Hungry?

Babies aren’t shy about letting their mommy know when they’re hungry. The biggest indicator is their loud, frequent cries.

You may also notice that continuously put their fists in their mouth and also purse their lips together, making sucking motions and sounds. As they get older, they may also pull your shirt and lean in toward your breasts.

Typical Obstacles To Expect

Nursing isn’t a cake walk for everyone. Some women really struggle with some different aspects of breastfeeding. It’s normal to expect:

  • Feeling overwhelmed. Your hormones are raging, you lack sleep, you have no idea what you’re doing: it’s normal to feel overwhelmed.
  • Sore nipples. Until your nipples toughen up, they may crack, feel sore, and even bleed. Be sure to utilize a nipple cream for protective and healing purposes.
  • Baby not latching. Don’t be surprised if your baby doesn’t latch at first. Some need a bit more guidance, which is where outside help comes in to assist you and your baby.
  • Nipple confusion. If you want to pump and serve your baby a bottle for personal reasons, nipple confusion is a common phenomenon. 
  • Exhaustion. Since your baby is going to need to nurse on demand, your sleep is going to be interrupted in a big way. Don’t lose hope or focus! Try to push through the tiredness.
  • Not producing enough milk. You may have difficulty judging if your baby is consuming enough milk or not. The biggest indicator of this is if your baby isn’t gaining as much weight as they should. Your pediatrician will monitor this and will also require regular visits if they are under their weight until they gain what they are supposed to.

Getting Help

If you’re struggling with nursing, you are not alone. Many women have trouble with some of the examples above. It’s important to know that there are many supports available.

  • Nurses at the hospital. Labor and delivery nurses are specially trained to help you with all of your baby related questions and concerns. 
  • Lactation consultant. This is a specialist who primarily works with nursing moms. They can be obtained in a hospital or on the outside. In fact, many insurance companies cover this service!
  • Friends and family. Your friends and family members who are moms have been down this road before. Why not utilize their help? They may have a few tips and tricks to share.
  • Online resources. These web resources are great for visual learners who need to watch clips and snippets about nursing. You may also find some articles online from popular mom bloggers who wish to share their successes and struggles.

Wrapping Up

When you breastfeed, you join a whole community of moms who want the best for their baby.

While it may come natural and simpler to some, others may stress and struggle.

If nursing your baby for their entire first year is your goal, then keep your eye on the prize.

It’s important to educate yourself and understand that the process takes time and it’s ok to get help from outside sources.

Kate Trout
 

Hi there, I'm Kate! I started Maternity Glow to be a place for new and expecting moms to come to for practical pregnancy advice, parenting tips, and baby care tricks.

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