Breastfeeding isn’t as easy as: have baby, lift him/her to breast, feed. New moms and dads are often surprised by the roadblocks and challenges they encounter when learning to breastfeed. If you are researching breastfeeding or facing some difficulties now as you breastfeed, here are some tips.
Breastfeeding Advice and Tips : Baby Position
Most moms try the laid-back breastfeeding position first, and this one is excellent for skin-to-skin contact. But it’s not the only way. If you’ve had a C-section or your baby isn’t latching, it’s OK to try different feeding positions. One favorite is the football or rugby hold, in which your baby is tucked underneath your armpit. Check out this post for more explanations and photos.
Breastfeeding Advice and Tips : Latching
Some babies have no problems latching; others need quite a bit of help. If your baby falls into that latter category, do not worry! Latching is a frequent question handled by our lactation consultants. Without a proper latch, breastfeeding may be painful. Tips for latching:
- Your baby’s ear, shoulder, and hip should all be aligned, so he/she can swallow more easily.
- Don’t lean into the baby; instead, pull your baby to you, which helps the baby’s position and your neck.
- Keep your fingers away from the nipple, but squeeze your breast and guide it to the baby’s mouth. You want to aim the nipple toward the baby’s lip or even his/her nose — not the middle of the mouth.
- Your baby should open wide; if he/she doesn’t, move back, tickle his lip with your nipple and see if he/she now opens wider.
- The baby’s lips should flange out like a fish. You can use your finger to pull them out if needed.
Breastfeeding Advice and Tips : Pumping
Many women feel like they finally have breastfeeding figured out — and then it’s time to go back to work. Pumping feels challenging anyway and doing so in an odd space (like an office closet) won’t make it easier. If you’re going to pump at work, try it out several times at home first, so you have things figured out in a comfortable setting. A few other tips:
- Find the right size flanges. Flanges are the funnel-shaped pieces that attach to your breast. The nipple should not be compressed in the flange, and you shouldn’t feel pain. The average flange is 24 millimeters (measured in the diameter of the opening). You might need more than one size even during a single pumping session so don’t be scared to try a few sizes.
- Learn about your pump. Your insurance company will send you one in advance (and if not, talk to us about this!). Read the manual and learn the parts so you can take care of it. Sometimes ripped membranes inside the pump lower its effectiveness – and thus your milk supply. Make sure you figure out how to clean all the parts properly and have backup parts on hand.
- Plan ahead for work, with extra supplies, a small fridge if possible, and a change of clothes.
Breastfeeding Advice and Tips : Formula
While breastfeeding is fantastic if you can do it for at least six months, you might also need some formula. And that’s OK. Maybe you’re back at work and just can’t pump, or maybe you’re not producing enough milk. The amount and schedule of formula feedings will differ from a breastfed baby. There are different types of formula out there, and if your baby spits up a lot, you might consider changing his/her formula type.
Don’t prepare formula in advance; it can only be kept at room temperature for an hour. If you warm the bottle, do not rewarm it. Once the baby feeds from it, discard any leftovers to prevent bacteria growth. Also note that you should avoid giving your child cow’s milk before age one, even if you are using a cow’s milk-based formula.
Breastfeeding Advice and Tips : Adoption
Women can stimulate milk production even if they have never been pregnant or had a baby. If you are adopting and want to consider breastfeeding, you can start by using a breast pump every two or three hours. It may take a few days or even weeks to produce milk, but many women find they can eventually produce enough to feed an adopted baby. There are also milk-sharing programs available, and you can learn more about both these approaches as well as others from La Leche League.
Contact Us for Help
There are whole books on the subject of breastfeeding, so this is just an overview. If you need more help, please reach out to our team of lactation consultants and doctors.