Babies are all new territory, and they really just cry for everything they need even if that is just a snuggle. As you are trying to figure out what your baby needs and what those cries mean it can be so hard and exhausting.
These tips for breastfeeding a newborn can help you survive though sleepless nights and crying hours. Let me help you make this parenting thing just a bit easier!
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Tips for Breastfeeding a Newborn
Are you pregnant or just had your baby? This is the post to help you navigate those first few weeks with your breastfed baby.
Breastfeeding a newborn is not just about taking care of baby it is about taking care of yourself and your house to. If you are a first time parent this can all be so overwhelming and confusing.
How do you find the time to do it all?
How do moms do this?
Psst…. a little secret we are all winging it!!!
Breastfeeding right after baby is born in by far one of the most important parts of a successful breastfeeding relationship. Your baby needs the comfort of you and your body needs that calm with all the hormones!
This is becoming a common practice even with c-sections, this increases the rate of successful breastfeeding after c-sections. If you have a c-section I have a post of tips for breastfeeding after a c-section to help you keep comfortable and safely breastfeeding your baby.
Skin on skin
After baby is born you should do skin on skin while nursing baby. Skin on skin shouldn’t end there though.
Not only should you keep doing skin on skin daily but so should daddy! It has so many benefits for your baby!
- help baby maintain body temperature
- bonding between parent and baby
- calming effect of having someone near
There is no magical time in which skin on skin doesn’t have benefits. I still do skin on skin with my toddlers especially if they are sick.
Breastfeeding newborn latch
Babies are born knowing how to get to the breast. If you haven’t heard of the breast crawl it is beyond amazing what animals can do. But the latch is not always perfect.
For the first few weeks you will have to help baby get a better more deep latch to ensure transfer of milk. But no worries there are some easy ways to help a newborn latch and know if your baby is full from breast milk.
How to help your newborn latch
- point your nipple to their nose and put it in their mouth when they open it
- if you are large breasted you will need to support your breast so baby can breath
- make sure babies head is level with your breast and you aren’t leaning over baby for this you may need a pillow
- start nursing baby before baby is crying from hunger there are hunger cues before the tears start
How to know baby is transferring breast milk
- listen for suck, suck, swallow
- babies body will become relaxed
- diaper output
You can find out how to know your baby is full from breast milk and feel confident in your nursing journey over here!
Tips for nipple pain
While nipple pain is common and I have yet to meet anyone who didn’t have some sort of discomfort it can be a sign that babies latch is shallow causing to much strain on your nipple.
I’ve read and heard may say you shouldn’t have any pain, but just as you would have some pain if you suddenly started to suck on your thumb day in and day out your nipple isn’t any different.
There are some tricks to help you with the nipple pain. First and foremost is allow you nipple to air dry! When baby is done nursing rub a little breast milk on your nipple and then let it air dry. Breast milk is amazing and often times nothing more than this is needed.
If this trick doesn’t seem to be helping you can try some nipple cream or coconut oil when baby is done nursing. If you are still struggling after a couple weeks and baby seems to be having issues you should reach out to a lactation consultant to check out babies latch and lend some hands on tips to help you.
Newborn breastfeeding schedule
Another question that comes up all so very often is a nursing schedule. This is simply not needed and can cause added stress. You simply need to watch for hunger cues and feed baby when baby is hungry!
You don’t need to pick when your baby eats you need to let your baby decide that.
Pros of breastfeeding on demand
- keep breast milk supply
- happy fed baby
- less stressful
- don’t have to keep a schedule
Try to maintain a schedule is exhausting and hard. Baby may need to nap for an extra hour and then suddenly your feeding later and the whole thing is thrown off.
I am not a fan of schedules for any reason. When life throws a curve ball, which it will, you are left stressed and overwhelmed.
Should you wake your sleeping baby?
Oh the question on every new parents mind. You will hear advice from everyone around you. Some will say never wake a sleeping baby, and some will say your baby needs to eat.
The first day or two your baby will be really sleepy. They just went through a lot and need to rest too. You can always try to get them nurse there is no harm in it.
Once you and your baby are home baby will be awake a bit more often and there for will nurse more. The advice that I follow and did with both of my girls is once baby is back to birth weight let baby sleep.
Babies won’t let themselves starve and will wake when they need to eat. If this is not something you are comfortable with you can always dream feed. What is dream feeding?
Dream feeding is when you don’t wake baby to feed, but still get in a nursing session. You can read more about it and learn how to dream feed in this post.
If your baby starts to sleep longer stretches you may need to pump or you will be dealing with some major engorgement.
Dealing with breast engorgement
No matter how often your baby nurses at some point you will deal with breast engorgement especially in the first 6 weeks as your supply is regulating.
Engorgement is when your breast are heavy and can be hard because they are full of breast milk. To easy this you can nurse your baby while using a Hakka on the other breast to catch let downs.
You will also need to keep an eye out for clogged ducts and make sure that you clear them before they turn in to mastitis, a breast infection.
You can learn more about clogged ducts, how to clear them, prevent them all without losing your supply on this post.
When to start pumping
If at all possible you should wait to pump for as long as possible. If you are staying home you don’t need to pump, but if you are going back to work you may not have an option but to pump.
If you are going to work you should wait until a week before you head back to work to start to pump. Breast milk can last 7 days in the fridge so you can feed baby from the fridge and replenish. Then come the weekend you can throw what you need to in the freezer for back up.
Pumping signals to your body you need more milk which can lead to an oversupply which comes with issues of its own.
You also need to keep in mind that what you pump is not what you make! A baby is way more effective at nursing than a pump will ever be. The average pump session is 1 to 2 oz combined!
If you find you need more pumped milk your best time to pump is first thing in the morning.
And on the other hand if you find you have an oversupply look in to breast milk donation.
Nipple confusion happens when a baby is introduced to a bottle or even a pacifier. This can lead to difficult breastfeeding, tears, and stress.
A bottle is easier to get milk out of then a breast and babies can get lazy. When you do introduce a bottle ensure that whom every is giving the bottle is doing pace feeding.
Just like with pumping you should wait as long as possible before introducing a bottle or pacifier. It is normal for your baby to use you as a pacifier and help your breast milk supply.
You and your baby are learning
Please give yourself some grace. Not only are you learning how to breastfeed your baby is learning how to nurse. It takes time to learn.
Take the time to learn what you can. I recommend Milkology, it is an online breastfeeding class that cost just $19! And do your research, there are so many aspects of breastfeeding that people don’t talk about.
Be sure to check out my resource page of over 50 breastfeeding resources from learning to breastfeed, going back to work, and even weaning.
The hardest part of breastfeeding is in the beginning, but it does get better! The benefits of breastfeeding for baby and mom are unparalleled!
But if your mental health comes in to play please remember your baby needs you to be the best you that you can be and if that means weaning there is nothing to feel bad about.
Take care of yourself
I get really frustrated when I see “breastfeeding diets” sorry but you need those extra calories! Thanks to having gestational diabetes I have had meetings with nutritionist who have shared that during pregnancy you need 300 extra calories, but while breastfeeding you need 500 more!
Your body is taking from you what you don’t give it! Our bodies instinct is too keep the young alive to thrive so you are the one who suffers and then when you do finally eat more your body holds on to it all because it doesn’t know when it will get the extra calories again.
You need to also make sure you are drinking extra water since breast milk is about 85% water. You need to listen to your bodies needs. If you feel hungry try to drink some water and give it 10 minutes and see how you feel. If you are still hungry than you need to eat.
Make sure those extra calories are healthy foods that also provide you extra vitamins and mineral as well as those calories.
Reach out for help with housework
I think the best gift someone can give to a new mom is to come over talk to them and fold a load of laundry or wash some dishes. Sure snuggle baby, but a new mom needs help with the house not baby snuggles.
Your baby needs you to snuggle while they take the time to get use to the new environment and great big world. Between that, lack of sleep, and breastfeeding all the time you are going to struggle to keep the house clean and you know what it is okay!
This where dad can help. Just because he can’t nurse the baby doesn’t mean he can’t lend a helping hand and relieve some stress. Of course men may struggle with what they can do help and you will probably need to point him in the right direction, but do it!
My biggest regret as a parent is not asking for help and losing myself in everything! It is okay to need help!
Best advice for breastfeeding a newborn
In conclusion you need to take the time for yourself and your baby to learn how to breastfeed and bond with each other. Try not to stress over schedules, house work, and having it all together.
Take care of yourself and reach out for help when you need it. Give your partner some grace as well because they are a new parent too, but don’t feel bad for asking for help in ways you normally wouldn’t.
Follow your baby and your instincts to keep on your breastfeeding journey. Please, don’t hesitate to reach out for any help you may need or questions I am more than willing to help in any way that I can.