I am a mom of 4 boys, and I've breastfed all of my boys for about 2 years. Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience overall, and it has so many benefits for both mama and baby. But, breastfeeding can also be really hard, time consuming, and exhausting! Especially if you work, breastfeeding and pumping, and ensuring you have enough milk suply is a really stressful and important job. I had always dreamed of the moment when I would cradle my new baby in my arms and begin our breastfeeding journey together. It felt like a natural next step in bonding and providing for my child. Yet, I quickly learned that, for many new moms like me, breastfeeding could present a myriad of challenges right from the early days. From ensuring a good latch to managing sore nipples and understanding the signs of hunger, breastfeeding was indeed a complex dance between mother and child. It struck me that sharing knowledge and experiences could significantly ease this journey for others.
I wanted to write this article to give you all the breastfeeding tips I found that worked really well. I've tried them all, so I know which ones work and which ones don't, and I also have 2 sisters, one who's breastfed twins, who've helped me with real tips and tricks too! I even have a lactation consultant at Milk Dust, who's helped me discover additional expert tips and tricks that I never knew could affect milk supply.
Through expert advice and personal insights, we’ll explore how to boost milk supply, ensure enough nutrition, and tackle common problems. We wish to empower mothers to feel confident in their ability to nourish their newborns, all while taking care of their own health.
- Understanding the essentials of milk supply and lactation nutrition can enhance breastfeeding success.
- Good latch techniques and comfortable breastfeeding positions are pivotal for a fulfilling nursing experience.
- Professional support and proper use of supplements like Milk Dust can help mothers overcome common breastfeeding challenges.
Benefits of Breastfeeding For Baby:
Breastfeeding offers so many benefits to baby and mama, promoting their overall health and well-being. Here are some of the key advantages:
- Breast milk is a complete and perfectly balanced source of nutrition for infants, containing all the essential nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.
Immune System Support:
- Breast milk is rich in antibodies, enzymes, and white blood cells, providing passive immunity to the baby and helping protect against infections and illnesses.
- Breast milk is easily digestible, making it gentler on the baby's immature digestive system compared to some formula options.
Optimal Growth and Development:
- The composition of breast milk changes over time to meet the evolving nutritional needs of the growing baby, supporting optimal brain development and overall growth.
Reduced Risk of Infections:
- Breastfed babies are less likely to experience respiratory infections, ear infections, and gastrointestinal infections due to the immune-boosting properties of breast milk.
Lower Risk of Allergies and Asthma:
- Breastfeeding has been associated with a reduced risk of allergies and asthma in children, potentially due to the immune-protective factors in breast milk.
Bonding and Emotional Well-being:
- Breastfeeding fosters a close emotional bond between the mother and baby. Skin-to-skin contact and the act of breastfeeding release oxytocin, promoting feelings of love and security.
- Breast milk contains substances that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the baby's gut, contributing to a healthy digestive system.
Reduced Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS):
- Breastfeeding has been linked to a lower risk of SIDS, providing additional protection for the baby during sleep.
- Breast milk adjusts to the baby's nutritional needs, adapting to factors such as age, illness, and time of day.
Convenience and Cost:
- Breastfeeding is convenient and cost-effective compared to formula feeding. There is no need for preparation, and breast milk is always at the right temperature.
Maternal Health Benefits:
- Breastfeeding helps the mother's uterus contract back to its pre-pregnancy size, burns calories, and may reduce the risk of certain cancers and osteoporosis.
Sometimes, just understanding the power of breastfeeding, and how beneficial it is will help keep you motivated to continue pushing through your breastfeeding journey.
Understanding Milk Supply
I found early on that many new moms worry if they're producing enough milk. A plethora of factors can affect milk supply. Early days with a new baby often brought me concerns about whether my own supply was adequate. I learned that everything from the frequency of nursing to the baby's latch plays a crucial role. A lactation consultant once told me that milk production could indeed falter if not properly stimulated. This is where good nutrition enters the picture.
Emphasizing a diet rich in nutrients can significantly increase lactation. I discovered Milk Dust, a protein powder crafted specifically for nursing mothers. It helped not only with boosting my milk supply but also supported my health. For moms struggling with milk ducts not releasing enough breast milk, integrating a supplement like Milk Dust could be a game-changer. It ensures that both you and your little one receive the best nutrition possible during these early weeks and beyond.
Nutrient Deficiencies that Affect Milk Supply:
Nutritional deficiencies can potentially affect lactation by impacting the quantity and quality of breast milk. I've found, through helping thousands of mamas lose weight while breastfeeding, through nutrition, that targeting the key nutrient-needs while breastfeeding are so important to your milk supply. I always tell mamas I am working with that filling your day with nutrient-dense foods is a non-negotiable. That is why I created Milk Dust, a lactation protein powder specifically made to increase your milk supply by filing in nutrient gaps, and also giving your body extra milk-boosting ingredients like fenugreek, fennel seed, red raspberry leaf and more. Here is a list of nutrients that will affect your milk supply if you don't get enough.
- A mother's body requires a small amount of additional calories during lactation to produce breast milk, but it isn't really the calories itself that are important. You could be eating 5000 calories if snickers bars, and have a low milk supply. Your body wants nutrient-dense calories to fill your breast milk with the right vitamins, minerals, fat and protein for baby. Many mamas are surprised to find that when they switch to clean-eating they can eat less calories, lose weight, and produce more milk at every pump session.
- Protein is essential for the synthesis of milk proteins. A deficiency in protein can affect the quantity and quality of breast milk. This is why I created a protien powder, with organic, plant-based protein as the main nutrient in Milk Dust. Protein is really important to healing postpartum, lactation, hormone levels, and blood sugar levels. A sweet, delicious protein shake is a lot easier to eat than a chicken breast, and you can make it all one-handed, so a protein powder is a great solution for breastfeeding mamas. Also, many babies experience tummy issues with eggs or dairy, which eliminates many protein sources for mama. Milk Dust is a safe, plant-based protein powder that is friendly on babys' tummies!
- Dehydration can negatively impact milk supply. It's important for breastfeeding mothers to stay well-hydrated to support milk production. Remember, breast milk is a liquid, so if you don't keep your body hydrated, it is harder for your body to product the milk it needs to produce for baby. Breast milk is approximately 87% to 91% water. The exact percentage can vary depending on factors such as the mother's diet and hydration level. The high water content in breast milk helps to keep the baby well-hydrated, especially during the early months of life when breast milk is the primary source of nutrition. It also makes breast milk easily digestible for the infant. Ensuring adequate hydration for the breastfeeding mother is important to support the production of this water-rich fluid.
- Iron is important for the production of hemoglobin, and a deficiency may lead to fatigue and a decrease in energy levels, potentially affecting the mother's ability to breastfeed. Studies have investigated the effects of iron supplementation on lactating women, especially those who may be at risk of iron deficiency. Supplementation can be beneficial for mothers with low iron levels, helping to improve their overall health and potentially increasing iron levels in breast milk.
- Calcium is crucial for bone health, and the body may draw on maternal calcium stores to meet the demands of breast milk production. Ensuring an adequate intake of calcium is important to prevent depletion. Some studies have explored the impact of calcium supplementation on lactating women's bone health. Results suggest that supplementation may help prevent bone loss during lactation, especially in women with lower calcium intake or those at risk of deficiency.
- Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium. A deficiency in vitamin D may impact both maternal and infant bone health.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
- Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are important for the development of the baby's nervous system. Including sources of omega-3s in the diet is essential.
- Vitamin B12 is important for the development of the baby's nervous system and the production of red blood cells. A deficiency in B12 can lead to fatigue and may impact milk production. Studies have shown that maternal B12 levels influence the concentration of B12 in breast milk. Mothers with low B12 levels may have lower B12 content in their breast milk. I specifically added vitamin B12 to Milk Dust because this nutrient is so important for both mama and baby.
- Zinc is involved in various metabolic processes and is important for immune function. A deficiency in zinc may affect the overall health of both the mother and the baby.
- Iodine is crucial for thyroid function, and a deficiency can affect the production of thyroid hormones, potentially impacting milk production.
- Folate is important for cell division and DNA synthesis. While folate needs are higher during pregnancy, it is still important during lactation for overall maternal health. I have L-Methylfolate in Milk Dust, which is really important because it is methylated, so your body can absorb it. Many women actually can't methylate specific nutrients like folate and vitamin b12. By using the methylated forms of these vitamins, you can ensure your body is absorbing them. Do your best to stay away from folic acid, which is the synthetic form of folate.
These are specific nutrients that lactating mothers need in order to keep up with milk supply. I have some great meal plans and diet plans that can help you know where to start when it comes to what to eat!
The Best Breastfeeding Tips on The Internet:
Use Lactation Shakes:
I HIGHLY recommend a daily lactatoin shake. This was one of the biggest factors contributing to me both losing weight and also increasing my milk supply. I didn't have Milk Dust with my first three babies, so I made my own plant-based protein shakes with a plant-based protein powder, frozen fruit and fresh spinach. I have a ton of great lactation smoothie recipes here, and I have drank them all!!
By sticking to your daily lactation shake, you are ensuring you get all the lactation-boosting nutrients in that you need EVERY day! Some mamas start drinking a shake for a few days, then stop, but this is something you need to stick to every day consistently. I promise you will experience more energy and more milk supply if you start your day with a protein shake, or use a protein shake as your mid-afternoon snack when energy levels really seem to drop.
Get a Good Latch
I had no idea how important baby's latch is until I met with a lactation consultant. I didn't realize there are ways you can help baby get a good latch, and that without it, baby isn't getting much milk. If baby isn't extracting enough milk, then your supply will go down. Achieving a good latch often begins with understanding the baby’s anatomy. You might have heard that the baby's lower lip and baby's mouth should form a wide angle; this is essential for stimulating milk ducts efficiently. I discovered a lactation consultant can offer invaluable advice on improving this technique early on. Ensuring your baby's head and body are aligned correctly makes it easier for them to swallow and breathe.
Positioning: Ensure you and your baby are in a comfortable and relaxed position. Bring your baby close to your breast, facing your breast with their nose in line with your nipple.
Cradle Hold: Hold your baby in a cradle position with their head supported by your forearm and their body facing yours.
Cross-Cradle Hold: Hold your baby across your body, using the opposite arm to support their head and neck. This position gives you more control over the latch.
Football Hold: Hold your baby under your arm on the same side as the breast you're nursing from, supporting their head with your hand.
Asymmetrical Latch: Encourage your baby to open wide by gently stroking their lower lip with your nipple. Wait for a wide mouth before bringing your baby onto your breast.
Nose to Nipple: Ensure your baby's nose is level with your nipple so that they can tilt their head back and open their mouth wide.
Wait for the Right Moment: Wait for your baby to open their mouth wide before bringing them to your breast. This ensures they take a deep latch.
Tickle the Lip: Gently touch your baby's lower lip with your nipple to encourage them to open wide.
Bring the Baby to the Breast: Instead of leaning over your baby to bring your breast to them, bring them to your breast. This helps them achieve a better latch.
Check the Latch: Ensure that your baby has a wide latch, taking in a good portion of the areola along with the nipple. Their lips should be flanged outward, not tucked in.
Listen for Swallowing: Once your baby latches, listen for the sound of swallowing. This indicates that your baby is getting milk.
Break the Suction Gently: To release your baby from the breast, insert a clean finger into the corner of their mouth to break the suction gently.
Positioning plays a crucial role as well. Many new moms find the cradle hold comfortable, but don’t hesitate to try different positions. A football hold or lying down might offer the comfort both you and your baby need. Remember, nipple pain during the early days signifies it might be time to adjust your baby's position. If sore nipples persist, consulting a health care provider for medical advice or nipple cream recommendations proved helpful for me.
Caring for your baby's nose and making sure it's not pressed too close can ensure they breathe easily. A good latch means less pain for you and a better milk supply for your baby. It set the foundation for an enjoyable breastfeeding journey for us.
Ditch The Schedule and Feed Baby Often:
The more baby is latched to you, the more milk your body will make. I didn't realize with my first baby that there's no need to stick to a feeding schedule, or assume baby is full. I found that trying to schedule feeding was super stressful, and it made my supply drop. When I allowed baby to breastfeed for comfort, when hungry, and to fall asleep, I found my supply increased dramatically. Of course you also want to feed baby when they are hungry too! Most of the time, new babies signal hunger with softer cries, then overt signs of hunger. Initially, they start fussing and rooting around looking for your breast. If you miss these early cues, their crying becomes more persistent and harder to soothe. All my babies taught me that hunger didn't adhere to a strict schedule. Newborns often needed to nurse every two to three hours, showing me that responding promptly to their needs helped in establishing a good milk supply.
In those early weeks, my eyes were always on the lookout for their small movements and signs of hunger. A hand to mouth, sucking fingers, or even making slight rooting motions with their baby’s nose nudging against me, were all signs that it was time. Feeding them before they reached the point of crying was a lesson quickly learned. This approach not only supported my milk production but also nurtured a deep bond between us. It was a dance of mutual understanding, one that became easier with each passing day.
Save Your Sore Nipples
I found myself struggling with sore nipples in the early days of my breastfeeding journey. It seemed to be worse with each baby. My first one I didn't suffer as much, but the following three babies it was a lot worse. I quickly learned that nipple cream became my best friend, offering much-needed relief. I applied it after every feeding, ensuring my skin stayed moisturized and healed. Use your nipple cream right away, don't wait until your nipples are cracked. I would suggest putting it on even if you don't need it, just to be safe.
Use breastmilk to help treat your sore nipples. Breastmilk has a lot of healing properties, and when baby is done feeding, you can extract a few drops and rub some on your nipples. I found this to be really helpful, then I would let my nipples air dry for a bit.
My favorite breastfeeding product to heal postpartum were these Lansinoh Soothies. I’m so thankful my lactation consultant brought me one to try!
They’re sooo soothing and can be reused (and are also less than $6 right now!). Life changing sounds a little dramatic, but during those first couple days (or weeks) of learning how to breastfeed – I loved these!
Hydrogel pads also helped me. I liked the cooling feeling in between feedings for some reason, which didn't necessarily stop the cracking, but it eased any pain I had.
I also took ibuprofen throughout the day in the first few weeks because it seemed to help me a lot! You have to ask your medical professional on this one, but I really noticed a slight difference in the pain by taking some pain relief.
If you get continued cracking, and nothing seems to work, you may have an infection and serious latch issue. This is something you want to get looked at as soon as possible, and even if you aren't sure, have your doctor take a look! It isn't going to hurt to make sure there isn't a yeast issue going on with you and baby.
Find Your Best Positions (breastfeeding positions ranked!):
I loved to sit in a rocking chair with a pillow under my arm when breastfeeding. That was my favorite position, and it worked well for all my babies. Don't be afraid to try all the positions, and make sure you're comfortable. Positions don't always affect your latch, so you should be pretty free to nurse baby however you feel comfortable. Finding the right breastfeeding position can drastically improve the nursing experience for new moms. Here are all the positions you can try, and the cradle hold was my favorite.
- Sit or recline comfortably.
- Hold your baby's head in the crook of your arm on the same side as the breast you're nursing from.
- Your baby's body should be facing yours, with their nose in line with your nipple.
- Similar to the cradle hold but with opposite arms.
- Use the arm opposite to the breast you're nursing from to support your baby's head and neck.
- This position can give you more control over the latch.
Football Hold (Clutch Hold):
- Hold your baby on the same side as the breast you're nursing from, tucked under your arm like a football.
- Support your baby's head with your hand, and their body will extend along your side.
- This position is helpful for mothers recovering from a cesarean section.
- Lie on your side with your baby facing you.
- Your baby lies facing you, with their head at breast level.
- This position is comfortable for nighttime feedings and can be less stressful on your back.
Laid-Back (Biological Nurturing) Position:
- Lie back in a semi-reclined position, and let your baby rest on top of you.
- This position allows your baby to use their natural reflexes to latch on.
- Sit your baby upright on your thigh, facing you, and supporting their bottom with your hand.
- This position can be useful for babies who prefer a more upright feeding posture.
Dangle Feeding Position:
- Sit on the edge of a chair with your baby below you.
- Lean forward and let your baby latch onto your breast from underneath.
- This position can be helpful for babies with latch issues.
- Similar to the cradle hold but with your baby's body lower and angled upward.
- Place a pillow under your baby for support.
Experiment with these positions to find what works best for you and your baby. Remember to use pillows or cushions to support your arms and back, and ensure that your baby's nose is in line with your nipple for a good latch
Utilizing pillows for support can also make a world of difference. They help elevate the baby to the breast, reducing the strain on your arms and back. This alteration was crucial for me in the early weeks, as it lessened soreness and allowed for longer, more peaceful feeds. Ultimately, listening to your body and experimenting with different positions will guide you to a setup that feels natural and sustainable, paving the way for a successful breastfeeding journey.
Collect Extra Milk While Breastfeeding:
This is my favorite of all the best breastfeeding and pumping tips. Stop letting your leaky breast waste milk! We all know how important breast milk is and the thought of wasting it is awful. Whether you choose a milk saver pouch, or my favorite silicone manual breast pump (nursing moms are CRAZY over these), you’ll be doing yourself and your baby a favor! The extra milk you can grab while breastfeeding will really save some time at the pump!
Breast Milk Storage and Pumping Tips:
Store Your Freezer Milk in Diaper Boxes/12 pack Pop Boxes
If you choose to pump breast milk and create a freezer stash, storage is going to be an issue. You want a method to your madness to be able to find the right quantity of milk with the oldest date. I used a diaper box, cut the flaps to section it off and sorted my breast milk by date! Another option is to use a 12 pack pop/soda box and organize your freezer milk like Love Lucky Life.
Many new moms find that breast pumps become invaluable tools in their breastfeeding journey. They allow for milk storage, ensuring that your baby always has enough breast milk, even when you're not there. I discovered that using a breast pump helped me maintain my milk supply, providing extra calories for my baby and giving me some much-needed flexibility.
If you’re planning to pump – I highly recommend you get your hands on a hands free pumping bra (pun intended). It’ll make your life so much easier, whether you’re working or just pumping at home to create a freezer stash.
Maintaining an effective pumping routine may seem daunting at first. Yet, it was a good idea to initiate using a breast pump in the early days, ideally within the first hour after birth if possible. This practice supported my milk production and eased the transition for my baby.
Here are a few tips I've gathered:
- Choose a comfortable chair: Comfort is key. A good start involves sitting comfortably with a glass of water nearby to stay hydrated.
- Find the right breast pump: Not all pumps are created equal. Consulting with a health care provider or lactation consultant can lead to finding the one that suits your needs.
- Store milk safely: Understanding the guidelines for milk storage ensures the health and safety of your baby. Freshly pumped milk can significantly alleviate concerns about your baby's nutrition in your absence.
Breastfeeding Snack Station:
I can't tell you how many times I was sitting in a chair breastfeeding, starving or thirsty. It seemed like I was always in the middle of making some food for myself, when I had to feed the baby, or I didn't even know I was hungry until I sat down. Having a snack station with water, Milk Dust Bars, crackers, trail mix and electrolytes is really helpful. I I made sure I had extra nutrients that fueled my body to not only produce enough milk but to ensure the milk was nutrient-rich. I made it a habit to keep a glass of water within reach, especially during those early weeks, and noticed a considerable difference in my supply.
With Milk Dust in my routine, I committed to enhancing my diet for better milk quality. This wasn't just about my own health; it directly influenced my baby's growth and development. Recognizing signs of hunger became easier as my milk supply stabilized, offering both of us comfort and reassurance. Interestingly, consuming a balanced diet rich in nutrients did more than just support lactation; it helped me gradually return to my pre-pregnancy weight without compromising my milk's nutritional value.
For new moms navigating the challenging yet rewarding breastfeeding journey, understanding the significance of these nutritional needs can pave the way for a smoother experience. Adequate hydration and a nutrient-dense diet are the foundations of a successful breastfeeding story.
Losing Weight While Breastfeeding:
After Birthing 4 Kids, I Was Able To Lose Weight While Breastfeeding Without Sacrificing My Milk Supply & My Babies Nourishment.
Here’s How I Did It…
MANY MOM’S ARE STRUGGLING WITH THEIR MILK SUPPLY WHILE TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT…
Not knowing what foods are healthy for their body & babies’ nourishment. Eating the right food is very important to helping you achieve you lose weight & maintaining milk supply...
However, it can be hard to push away some of those unhealthy eating habits that come from sugar cravings - make it harder than ever to stick to a healthy diet and lose weight.
AFTER HELPING MYSELF & OTHER MOMS LOSE WEIGHT WHILE BREASTFEEDING I REALIZED THAT…
The best way to lose weight while breastfeeding is to actually give in to those sugar cravings…
It may sound backward, but it’s true! However, instead of eating foods that raise your blood sugar, don’t fill you up, and make you even more hungry...
You satisfy your sugar cravings with clean, nutrient-dense protein that is specifically made for postpartum healing, nourishment, lactation, and helping you achieve your pre-pregnancy figure.
WITH THIS REALIZATION, I CREATED - MILK DUST!
Your best friend for lactation and getting back in shape. In creating Milk Dust, I handpicked specific vitamins like folate (L-methyl folate). Which is as important during lactation as it is during pregnancy.
I also chose vitamin B12 for energy, and superfoods like chlorella, spirulina, spinach, and blueberries. To help mamas combat sugar cravings, I included stevia, monk fruit, and organic cane juice so mamas can enjoy the sweetness with very little sugar. Plus, herbs like turmeric and cinnamon bark, and minerals like chromium that are proven to stop sugar cravings and balance blood sugar. Milk Dust is one of the best tools you can use to increase your milk supply and encourage your breastfeeding journey because it targets the root causes and nutritional needs that determine a low or high milk supply.