As excited as I was about becoming a mama for the first time, there were a few things during my pregnancy and first days with Brooks that I was more than a little anxious about. My number one concern: breastfeeding. I knew that breastfeeding my baby was important to me, but I felt like I had a million questions and didn’t know whom to ask! So I did what I normally do and called upon the experts for some help. My lactation consultant Linda Hanna was nothing short of a lifesaver! She’s taught me so much already and I’m still learning. And since I figured that I couldn’t possibly be the only woman out there with questions about breastfeeding, I asked Linda to share her top 6 tips with all of us…
1. Breastfeed. Yes, that’s right. Breastfeeding itself is the most important part of starting and building-up your milk supply. If you cannot nurse, pump. The cycle of repeatedly emptying your breasts of milk stimulates the production of more milk and a greater amount of milk each time.
2. Nipple pain is normal. Some women find it possible to nurse through nipple soreness, but if you are experiencing pain with latch-on that does not resolve after about 20 to 30 seconds, you may need to give your nipples time to heal before returning to nursing. Nipple cream can be applied after each feeding. Massage some breast milk into your nipples at the beginning and at the end of each feeding and/or pumping session prior to applying the cream. You can also use cooling gel pads between feedings while your nipples are healing. Pump if you cannot nurse every two to three hours. Seek assistance from a lactation consultant to achieve proper positioning and latch-on—that is the key to successful breastfeeding.
3. Don’t set unreasonable goals. No one can predict how long they will be able to nurse their baby. (There are too many factors that affect milk supply.) Plan to breastfeed as much as you can and avoid using the pump and/or supplementing with bottles in the first 4 to 6 weeks of baby's life. Breastfeeding is special and the length of time you nurse is positive whether it is two days, two weeks or two years. You and your baby get to decide how long it lasts. Any amount of breast milk in your baby’s diet is awesome.
4. Don’t take problems personally. Milk supply concerns can happen to anyone. There are many ways to help increase your supply if you feel it is low. There may also be times when you feel you have too much milk. Most treatment plans for low milk supply call for increased caloric intake, plenty of fluids, and herbal supplements such as fenugreek or goat’s rue. In some cases, your physician can prescribe medications that can help.
5. Surround yourself with support. Never be afraid to ask for help. Remind family and friends that you need positive energy around you and your baby.
6. Remember, mommies need naps, too. Take a five to six hour break between feedings once every 24 hours. Nursing requires a well-rested mommy—both physically and mentally. During the break is the right time to offer baby a bottle of pumped milk.
Did you breastfeed your little one?
I’d love to hear what your own experience was like in the comments!
Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.