Breastfeeding…they say it is the most natural thing in the world. It may be natural…but it doesn’t always feel natural. It certainly didn’t feel natural for me in the beginning.
It wasn’t until I met with a lactation consultant (weeks after birth) that I truly got the hang of it. The first few weeks were difficult as we dealt with a bad latch and low milk supply, but I got the help and resources that I needed to continue breastfeeding and was able to give my son breastmilk for the first 12 months of his life.
In this post I’ll be sharing:
- benefits of breastfeeding for mommy
- benefits of breastfeeding for baby
- how to make breastfeeding easier
- how to make pumping easier
- how to maintain your breast milk supply after returning to work
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mommy
- Lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer
- Lowers your risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- Burns Calories
- Contracts your uterus to reduce it back to its normal size and reduce postpartum blood loss
- Delays your menstrual cycle
- Saves soooooo much money (formula is so expensive)
- It really does create an even stronger bond with your baby
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby
- Provides the perfect amount of:
- fats – helps with brain, retina, and nervous system development
- proteins – protection against infection and good for easy digestion
- vitamins – which vitamins will depend on the mother’s diet
- carbohydrates – decrease unhealthy bacteria in the stomach and promotes healthy bacteria in the stomach
- water – aid in your baby’s growth and development
- As your baby grows, your breast milk changes to suit your baby’s needs. Baby’s saliva transfers to mommy’s body, sending information about what the baby needs.
- When Mommy is sick, your body produces antibodies in your breast milk to keep baby healthy.
- Lowers baby’s risk of:
- Childhood Leukemia
- Ear infections
- Lower Respiratory Infections
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Bacterial Meningitis
- Urinary Tract Infection
- Very soothing and comforting
It may sound odd, but when my little one was teething, nursing was the best and most effective solution. It really help to sooth and massage his gums. A couple of my other mommy friends said the same thing in this teething pain remedies post.
How to Make Breastfeeding Easier
Tips from my Lactation Consultant to Help Baby Latch Correctly
I shared in my Third Trimester Checklist post how vital a lactation consultant can be for your breastfeeding journey. The LC we used was a God send and literally saved my breastfeeding journey by correcting all the things I was doing wrong.
The biggest struggle I experienced with breastfeeding was getting a good, deep latch.
Why does a deep latch matter?
If your baby has a shallow latch, the baby is not effectively extracting the milk from your breast. This is painful and can cause clogged ducts, engorgement, decreased milk supply, and weight loss for your baby.
How can you tell if my baby has a deep latch?
Your baby’s mouth should be over most of your areola.
So how do you get a deep latch?
Step 1 – Make yourself comfortable before latching on
Grab all your breastfeeding pillow, water, phone, charger, remote, book, whatever you need because once baby is latched on, you may not be able to readjust or get the items you need.
Step 2 – Tummy-to-Tummy
A mistake I made earlier on was laying my son down flat on his back and turning his head toward my nipple to nurse. Instead, the baby’s stomach should be facing mommy’s stomach. This way, your baby’s body is facing forward at your chest.
Step 3 – Pinch your nipple
Don’t worry, this won’t hurt. You don’t need to pinch hard, just enough so that your nipple fits in your baby’s mouth.
Your newborn’s mouth cannot open wide enough to get a deep latch on his/her own. Help your baby to get a deep latch by pinching your nipple before your baby latches on.
Step 4 – Bring baby to your nipple
With your nipple pinched and your baby’s mouth ready to latch, bring your baby’s head to your breast. Do not stretch your boob to your little one’s mouth.
Soothe Sore Nipples
In the beginning, breastfeeding can be uncomfortable. They say if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong. I totally disagree, your nipples have never been pulled on like this and it takes some adjustment. In the beginning my nipples were extremely sore and two things helped me tremendously…
This is my favorite breast relief product! It works wonders! I buy it for all my friends when they become new mamas.
This was the fastest pain reliever for my cracked nipples and when my little one was cluster feeding. It’s cooling gel provides instant soothing and it’s safe to reuse for 3 days. These soothies also helped against discomfort from my bra rubbing against my skin.
This 100% natural lanolin cream helps to relieve and protect sore nipples. Apply a small amount with clean hands and let it absorb into your skin and begin to heal. It’s safe for baby so you don’t have to worry about washing it off before nursing.
I know, having a baby is expensive and you want to cut unnecessary costs, but believe me when I tell you…YOU NEED A NURSING PILLOW. Holding a baby for an extended period of time (regardless of whether you’re breastfeeding or not) comes at a price, and that price is your back. Using a nursing pillow provides support and comfort to your breastfeeding experience.
And I’m not the only one that used it, my husband, mom, in-laws, and friend’s all held my son with the Boppy Nursing Pillow and LOVED it. It was especially helpful to my mom, she kept my son during the day while I worked, and we all know how much grandmas love to hold their grandbabies.
Feed on Demand
Feeding on demand means to nurse when your baby is hungry, instead of feeding on a schedule (example: every 3 hours). This is especially important when your baby is a newborn and you’re trying to build up your breastmilk supply.
Reason #1: Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. When your breasts are emptied (from nursing or pumping), your body gets a signal to produce more milk.
Reason #2: Some days your baby needs more milk than others. Even when they become big kids, there will be days where it seems like they’re eating you out of house and home, while other days they don’t eat much. You’ll notice your baby may cluster feed during growth spurts. By feeding your child on demand, you’re meeting your baby’s needs.
Reason #3: Breastfed babies feed more often. You may have heard that formula fed babies are better sleepers and don’t need a bottle as often as breastfed babies. This is likely because formula takes more time for a baby’s body to digest. According to Dr. Amy Brown from kellymom.com, “Breastmilk is low in fat and protein but high in carbohydrates and lactose, which makes it easy – and quick – to digest.“ So your baby will likely need to nurse more often than a formula fed baby.
I nursed everywhere: malls, brunches, weddings, if I was there for more than 2 hours, I likely breastfed. Here’s a pic of me nursing at my husband’s graduation :). With a nursing cover and nursing bra, I was good to go wherever we were. Here’s a full list of what I packed in my newborn’s diaper bag.
With all we do to produce and maintain our breastmilk, there is nothing more frustrating than losing even a drop of your liquid gold.
This awesome silicone breast pump is perfect to use when you’re nursing on the other side. It has a natural suction that helps to extract milk (most effective during let down).
I found it most beneficial during night time feedings. Between both sides, I usually collected an ounce or 2 of milk that would’ve otherwise been lost. The suction bottom and lid on top help to prevent spills.
How to Make Pumping Easier
Wear a Pumping Bra
Without a pumping bra, you can’t move your hands at all. You can forget about eating a snack, skipping an ad on YouTube, changing the song on Amazon Music, or texting back and forth with your bestie. After a few attempts at pumping with my hands clinched to the flanges of my breast pump, desperately waiting on my second let down to finish, I gave in and bought a hands-free pumping bra. With a pumping bra, you have the freedom to use your hands.
Wait for the Second Let Down
This one may be familiar if you read my 11 Mistakes I Made While Breastfeeding and Pumping post. When you first get on the pump, your first let down comes and your boobs just start spraying out milk. The letdown was always exciting to me, but after the letdown, it was pretty dull and boring. My boobs would just drip, drip, drip. After a few minutes of dripping, I’d turn off my pump and go on about my day.
I was MONTHS into pumping when my friend told me that you have TWO let downs. Before, I was just pumping until my first let down ended. Not realizing that I had more milk coming.
I definitely collected more milk during my pumping sessions when I waited for my second let down.
How to Pump for a Freezer Stash
A freezer stash is the excess breast milk that you store in the freezer for baby to drink while you’re away. Having a freezer stash enabled me to be able to provide breast milk to my son for 12 months. It was especially helpful towards the end when my supply began to lessen drastically.
Breastfeeding mothers often notice a decrease in the breast milk supply and production after returning to work and that’s when the freezer stash comes in handy. It’s also helpful during your little one’s growth spurts. I started to pump when my son was around 4 weeks old and was able to store over 200 ounces of liquid gold before returning to work 8 weeks later. And while 200+ ounces may look like a ton in your freezer, it can go down fast.
So here’s what I did to build up my freezer stash and maintain my breast milk supply after returning to work.
Power pumping is interval pumping for 1 hour.
Power pumping completely empties your breasts and signals your body to produce more milk. Your nipples may be a little sore at the end, so don’t forget to put on some lanolin or soothies after your power pumping session.
If you’re returning to work soon, check out the pump bag checklist I used to ensure a comfortable and productive pump session.
Pump After Nursing
Pumping after feeding your baby is helpful for the same reason as power pumping. It ensures that your breasts are empty and tells your body to produce more milk. This also helps to build up your freezer stash for when you’re away for your little one.
When I was on maternity leave, I would pump after nursing and would typically collect a couple of ounces (combined). Then at the end of the day, I’d have a couple of bottles worth of milk to put in the freezer.
This REALLY helped me to be able to have breast milk for my son while I was away. While breastfeeding I read posts about pumping 400 oz. of milk in a weekend and while that’s awesome for that mama, my body simply didn’t produce that much. I made just slightly over what my son consumed so it was vital for me to pump after nursing to have a freezer stash of breast milk.
Wake up and Pump
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but just because your baby slept through a nighttime feeding session doesn’t mean you get to. Now I’m not saying this is mandatory or even that you need to do it every single night, but I’m telling you…this really helps stock up that milk freezer stash and keep your supply up.
If you skip the night time feedings/pumping sessions you’re telling your body that it doesn’t need to produce as much milk which results in a reduction in your supply.
Getting up at 2 or 3 when my son slept through his feeding would yield about a bottle and a half so it was absolutely worth it in my book!
Replace Pump Parts
This is extremely important for two reasons.
Reason #1: It helps to maintain your supply. By replacing your pump parts as needed, ensures that the pump is working at maximum capacity. If your pump accessories are worn down, the suction will likely reduce the amount of milk being expressed and eventually cause a dip in your breast milk supply.
Reason #2: Although you will clean your pump accessories regularly, worn down pump parts can have tiny little cracks and crevices too small for you to notice. These little crevices make it harder to effectively sanitize your pump parts as they can hold bacteria, residue and potentially cause mold build up.
Check with your pump manufacture’s user guide for information on how often you should replace your pump parts.
Okay mama, those are the tips, tricks, and techniques I used to maintain my breast milk supply for 12 months (even after returning to work). I hope it was helpful! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions at all. Breastfeeding is truly a journey and it would be my pleasure to help in any way that I can.