Before You Breastfeed: 10 Tips for New Breastfeeding Moms

1. Learn about and use Laid-back breastfeeding technique. This approach taps into your baby's feeding instincts. Your baby is capable of latching and feeding well at the breast.

2. Have a list of things others can do to help you when they come to visit. If visitors must come in the early weeks have a list posted on the refrigerator of small tasks that YOU would find helpful and reduce your stress. Usually someone else holding the baby is not as helpful as someone running a load of laundry or fixing a meal or changing the sheets on your bed. Don't be afraid to ask for help; your job is to spend time with your baby learning about her, feeding her and resting.

3. Spend as much time as possible in skin to skin. Having skin to skin time with your baby has amazing effects on the both of you. Science has proven that skin to skin contact with mom and baby stabilizes baby's temperature and heart rate, helps mother identify early feeding cues, and helps mother bond more deeply with her baby.  Get comfy in a recliner or bed, have baby down to diaper and lay her on your chest heart to heart. You can put a blanket over her back and just relax. Baby may rouse and search for the breast or may fall comfortably to sleep with the familiar sound of your beating heart.

4. Learn about how to know your baby is feeding well. One of the biggest concerns new mothers have is whether or not their baby is getting enough from breastfeeding. Following are some signs to look for:

  • Your baby has adequate diaper output.
  • Your baby wakes to nurse on their own.
  • Your baby is alert and active when feeding.
  • You hear or see baby swallowing as they feed.
  • Your baby is gaining weight well.
  • You may also notice your breast feel softer after a feeding and/or you may notice a let down during a feeding or milk dripping from the other breast.

5. Find or recruit a support system. One of the major reasons women quit breastfeeding before they expect to is a lack of support from family and friends, and research tells us the spouse/partner plays the biggest role. If you are struggling in the early weeks, having family members and supportive friends to lean on and who will encourage you will help you reach your breastfeeding goals.

6. Find a breastfeeding support group early on. Breastfeeding support groups, like La Leche League or hospital based groups, are a valuable resource for help and support in the early weeks of breastfeeding.

7. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Often times moms are so exhausted they forget to eat or drink frequently. Having snacks that you can grab quickly are life savers. You will feel your best if you are also making sure you are resting often and getting plenty to eat and drink.

8. Get help early on if things are not going well. Many moms are reluctant to get help or not sure where to find help with breastfeeding issues, but getting help early is so important! Many times minor issues can turn into major problems if help is not found early on. Getting qualified help is the key when facing challenges. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is the highest accredited breastfeeding helper and has proven skills to assist in many of the common breastfeeding challenges. But not all Lactation Consultants are IBCLC's so be sure to ask!

9. Take a prenatal breastfeeding class. Find a class that is taught by an IBCLC, and attend early in your third trimester.  Often times, classes taught in other locations besides hospitals will focus on prevention of problems and provide more practical breastfeeding information rather than teaching "this is how we do it at XYZ Hospital."  Consider a private class to get the most customized experience.

10. Build your portable nursing nest. Whether you decide to have a special place to nurse your baby or nurse in different locations throughout the house, having a basket of self-care items within hand's reach is invaluable.  Here's a list of things you may want to include in your portable nursing nest:

  • Water bottle - If you forget it, you will feel like you just trekked through the Sahara...
  • Healthy snacks - High protein, high fiber, tasty snacks to keep you satisfied...
  • Cell phone - You will get very adept at texting while nursing...
  • iPod, mp3 Player - Relaxing music...increased relaxation helps those breastfeeding hormones flow better...
  • Burp cloth - For little spits and leaking milk...
  • Breast pads - Disposable or reusable...
  • Lanolin - Your choice of nipple cream, such as Earth Mama or MotherLove, all-natural ingredients...
  • Book/Magazine - Or these days, Kindle, Nook or eReader...

This is YOUR time with YOUR baby...learning together...slow down, relax and enjoy!