Becoming a mother is a transformative journey filled with joy, challenges, and a multitude of decisions to make. One of the most fundamental and intimate choices a new mother faces is whether to breastfeed her newborn.
Breastfeeding, a natural practice, is not only a source of nourishment for the baby but also a profound bond between mother and child.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while 84% of new mothers start breastfeeding shortly after giving birth, only 58% continue to do so six months later.
Breastfeeding can be a physically and emotionally taxing experience, but there are some secrets that all new moms should know to make it easier. In this article, we will explore 17 of those secrets that can help make your breastfeeding journey easier and more successful.
In This Article
- Best Breastfeeding Secrets Moms Should Know
- 1. Stimulating your breasts
- 2. Finetune your latch
- 3. Support your baby’s neck and head
- 4. Avoid pacifiers at first
- 5. Not skipping feedings or using formula
- 6. Use breast pump
- 7. Keeping baby awake
- 8. Try breast compression
- 9. Eating a balanced diet
- 10. Getting enough sleep
- 11. Create nursing zones
- 12. Drinking plenty of fluids
- 13. Practice proper hygiene
- 14. Support your baby’s feet
- 15. Skin-to-skin contact during feeding
- 16. Taking care of your breasts
- 17. Trying different positions
Best Breastfeeding Secrets Moms Should Know
Breastfeeding not only nourishes your baby but also has various health benefits for both mother and child. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), mothers’ breast milk supply increases with frequent nursing. For moms who need more information on breastfeeding, here are some of the best secrets to help you along your journey:
1. Stimulating your breasts
It is important for new moms to start stimulating their breasts early on. This helps promote the production of milk and kickstarts the breastfeeding cycle. Breastfed babies feed more frequently, so it is important for mothers to keep their breasts stimulated and primed. To do this:
- Gently massage your breasts in a circular motion
- Use a warm compress to soothe and relax your breasts
- Try hand expression, which is the use of your hands to manually express the milk supply
- Make sure your second breast gets equal attention as the first
- As we know breast produces colostrum as the first milk, so it is important to keep feeding the baby even if small amounts are produced
However, baby nurses are best when they are calm and relaxed, so make sure you don’t overstimulate your breasts and create unnecessary stress. As we know first few weeks are critical for mother and child bonding, so it is important to understand the baby’s needs.
2. Finetune your latch
A proper latch is important for a successful breastfeeding session. According to a lactation consultant, a good latch helps ensure that your baby gets as much milk as possible while nursing and reduces the chances of soreness and nipple pain. To get a proper latch:
- Bring your baby close to your breast, with their nose level with your nipple
- Support your baby’s head with your hand and guide them to your breast
- When their lips are wide open, bring the baby close so that they attach to your entire areola and not just the nipple
- If you notice any discomfort or pain, break the latch carefully and try again.
Although milk ducts beneath the areola can be quite sensitive, for a comfortable latch avoid pushing your baby’s head deeply into your breast. Moreover, make sure to check your baby’s latch from time to time and adjust it as needed.
3. Support your baby’s neck and head
Supporting your baby’s neck and head while breastfeeding is important to ensure a comfortable feeding position for both you and the baby. To do this:
- Place one hand on your baby’s back to support them from behind
- Use your other hand to cradle their head and neck, keeping them in line with their spine
- Make sure that you don’t put any pressure on your baby’s neck
- If your baby is smaller, you can also support them from below to make sure they are comfortable.
These basic steps will help your baby feed comfortably and get the nutrition they need. Moreover, it also helps reduce their risk of developing a feeding aversion or dislike for breastfeeding. Also, frequent breast feeds help your baby build a strong immune system, so make sure to feed them at least 8 times a day.
4. Avoid pacifiers at first
As per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it is advised to avoid pacifiers or any other artificial nipples for at least the first few weeks after birth. This helps reduce nipple confusion in babies and encourages them to take to breastfeeding more quickly. But when you use pacifiers make sure to do it right.
- Choose pacifiers that are designed for newborns
- Ensure they don’t have any small parts that can break off easily
- Always wash the pacifier with soap and warm water between uses
- Make sure to discard pacifiers when they become worn or torn
- After 6 months, start weaning your baby off the pacifier
Furthermore, if your baby wants more milk supply check the number of wet diapers your baby produces, as it is a good indication of adequate milk intake. Also, use a breastfeeding pillow, it can help you and your baby to get comfortable during nursing sessions.
5. Not skipping feedings or using formula
Breastfeeding secrets every mom should know include not skipping feedings, as it can lead to reduced milk supply. Also, breastfeeding your baby on demand is the best way to ensure that they get enough nutrition and are healthy. To keep your supply up:
- Feed your baby frequently, at least 8 to 12 times a day
- Try cluster feeding during the night and early morning hours
- Avoid giving formula or other artificial milk supplements to fill gaps between feedings
- Keep yourself hydrated and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day
- Make sure to follow the breastfeeding tips shared by your lactation consultant
- Also, remember to rest and keep yourself nourished
Moreover, avoid your use first breast milk unless it is expressed for specific medical reasons. This helps ensure that your baby gets the best nourishment available and avoids nipple confusion between breastmilk and other supplements.
6. Use breast pump
Using a breast pump can prove to be very helpful in many situations such as if the baby is not able to latch or when the mother needs to express her milk for any reason.
- Choose the right breast pump for you; manual, electric, or battery-powered.
- For hygiene reasons, use sterile and sterilized parts with each pump session.
- Use the massage mode before starting to express milk, it helps stimulate your body and increases milk flow.
- If you use an electric pump, set the speed at a comfortable level.
- Make sure to store expressed milk properly in airtight and clean containers.
You can also talk to a lactation consultant or other healthcare professionals to learn more about breast pumps and how to use them correctly. However, the baby’s stomach is tiny and gets filled quickly, so it is better to feed baby milk expressed directly from the breast.
7. Keeping baby awake
Breastfeeding can be challenging for new mothers, but it is also important to make sure the baby stays awake during feedings. According to a pediatrician, this helps ensure that the baby gets enough milk and prevents them from becoming over-tired. To keep your baby awake during feedings:
- Change their diaper before each feeding
- Gently talk to them or make eye contact
- Sing a song or play a calming instrumental music
- Give them something to explore such as a toy or a book
- Massage their feet and hands while they nurse.
Moreover, if your baby falls asleep during feedings make sure to wake them up after the first few minutes. Also, make sure to put your baby to bed on their back for safe sleep.
8. Try breast compression
Breast compression is a technique where you gently squeeze your breast while your baby is nursing to help stimulate milk flow and keep the baby’s interest in feeding. This technique can help get more milk out of your breasts, as well as reduce the amount of time spent on each breast. Here are some tips for effective breast compression:
- Place your thumb and index finger on either side of the areola, gently squeezing around the base of the nipple
- Apply pressure while supporting your breast with your other hand
- Compress for a few seconds at a time while your baby is actively nursing
- Move your fingers in small circles to stimulate milk production and release more milk from deeper ducts
- Alternate between breasts to ensure your baby gets an equal amount of milk
Though Lamaze child birth educator suggests that nursing in a side-lying position can help reduce stress for both the mother and baby, breast compression can also be used when sitting upright.
9. Eating a balanced diet
Breastfeeding moms should eat a balanced diet that is low in sugar and fat but high in vitamins, minerals, and protein. Vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, grains, and healthy fats are all good sources of nutrition for breastfeeding mothers. Also, make sure to take prenatal vitamins as recommended by your doctor.
It is important to have snacks on hand during the day and night so you don’t get too hungry while nursing. Some good snack options are:
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole wheat toast with peanut butter
- Fresh or frozen fruits
- Plain yogurt with honey and nuts
- Cheese slices with whole-grain crackers
Moreover, it is also important to keep a food diary to check which foods might be causing problems for your baby. If you find any pattern, make sure to avoid the related food item in the future. Also, instead of relying on processed snacks try to opt for healthier options.
10. Getting enough sleep
Sleep is essential for any new mother and it can be even harder to achieve when you have a newborn. Breastfeeding mothers should strive to get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. To do this:
- Take help from family or friends when possible
- Ask your partner, if available, to take over during the night feedings
- If possible, nap when the baby naps
- Have a regular bedtime routine and stick to it
- Avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime.
Additionally, make sure to include physical activity in your daily routine as it can help reduce stress levels and provide more energy during the day. However, make sure that you don’t overdo it and talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
11. Create nursing zones
Creating a specific breastfeeding area in your home can make nursing sessions easier and more comfortable for both you and your baby. This nursing zone should be comfortable, quiet, and free from distractions. Some things that make up the perfect nursing zone are:
- A comfortable chair with ample support
- Plenty of pillows to help keep you comfortable
- A nursing cover to provide privacy
- A good supply of snacks and drinks
- Soft music playing in the background.
Also, make sure that you have everything you need within reach so that you don’t have to get up once you are settled down. Moreover, try to keep this area for exclusive breastfeeding only, so that your baby associates this area with feeding time.
12. Drinking plenty of fluids
Staying hydrated is important for new moms who are breastfeeding. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, mothers should drink 8 to 12 glasses of fluids every day. While breast milk is mostly water, mothers should focus on drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated. The best beverages for breastfeeding moms are:
- Low-fat milk
- Coconut water
- Herb and fruit teas
- Juices made with fresh fruits and vegetables
Also, make sure to stay away from sugary and caffeinated drinks, as they can have an adverse effect on your baby’s health. However, a breastfeeding support group or your doctor can provide more information on what drinks are best for you and your baby.
13. Practice proper hygiene
Hygiene is an important factor when it comes to breastfeeding and keeping your breasts clean and healthy. According to the Lamaze Child Birth Educator, moms should practice proper hygiene by:
- Washing their hands before and after every nursing session
- Changing breast pads, bras, and nightwear often
- Keeping the nipples dry and clean at all times
- Doing a monthly breast exam to ensure there are no lumps or bumps in the breasts
Furthermore, it is important for mothers to keep track of their milk supply and the amount of time they spend breastfeeding. That way, it is easier to monitor breast health and make any changes that may be needed.
14. Support your baby’s feet
Supporting your baby’s feet during breastfeeding can help reduce backaches and strain on the neck. The best way to do this is to:
- Support your baby’s feet with one of your hands
- Hold them close enough to you so that their feet touch your chest or stomach area
- Allow them to lean in while holding their body weight with your arm.
- Make sure you support their feet when they latch onto your breast.
Furthermore, ask your doctor or lactation consultant for advice on how to support your baby’s feet during breastfeeding. This will help ensure that you are doing it in the most optimal way and that both you and your baby remain comfortable.
15. Skin-to-skin contact during feeding
Skin-to-skin contact during breastfeeding is important for both the baby and the mother. It helps to promote bonding between the two, reduces stress levels, and encourages breast milk production. Here are some tips on how to do this:
- Place your baby without clothing or diaper right against your bare chest after you have settled into a comfortable position
- Let your baby latch on to breastfeed
- Make sure to keep the contact going even when your baby has fallen asleep
- Gently stroke and talk to your baby as they feed.
Skin-to-skin contact during breastfeeding is also known to increase the levels of oxytocin in both you and your baby, which are hormones responsible for helping to reduce stress levels.
16. Taking care of your breasts
It is important for new mothers to take good care of their breasts before, during, and after each feeding session. Here are some tips on how to do that:
- Avoid using soap or any other cleansing agents on the nipples as they can irritate the skin
- Wear loose clothes while nursing and avoid tight bras
- Use warm compresses to soothe sore nipples and apply lanolin cream when needed
- Check your breasts regularly for any signs of infection such as redness, itching, or rashes.
Additionally, always talk to your lactation consultant or doctor if you have any concerns regarding breastfeeding. Also, make sure while breastfeeding your baby, your one breast is not completely emptied out before switching sides. This helps maintain a healthy milk supply in the long run.
17. Trying different positions
Trying out different breastfeeding positions can not just help you and your baby get comfortable during nursing sessions but it can also reduce the chances of sore nipples and boost milk supply. Some of the popular breastfeeding positions are:
- Cradle hold: Both you and your baby sit in a comfortable upright position, with the baby facing toward you
- Side-Lying: You both lay on your side with your baby nestled close to you
- Football hold: You are seated holding your baby at one side of the body
- Reclining Hold: This is similar to cradle hold but instead of sitting, you both recline on the bed or couch.
Experimenting with different positions can help you find the one that works best for both of you. Also, make sure to alternate between different positions during each session to prevent strain and sore spots.
To wrap it up, the journey of breastfeeding is a unique and deeply personal experience for every new mother. These 17 secrets unveiled in this article shed light on the practical, emotional, and physiological aspects of breastfeeding. From mastering the latch and understanding milk supply to the importance of proper hygiene and rest, the journey should be one of joy for both mother and baby. We hope this article was helpful to you as you embark on this journey!