5 Tips for Successful Breastfeeding

Many women often think breastfeeding will come easy because the female body is designed to produce milk to nourish offspring. However breastfeeding often gets off to a rocky start for many, many mothers. There are a multitude of factors that contribute to establishing successful breastfeeding. Some factors are within our control and/or we can strongly influence, however other factors may present us with enormous obstacles to overcome. I would like to offer five suggestions that could positively influence your breastfeeding relationship. These do not cover solutions to specific breastfeeding concerns or issues, rather they provide evidence-based information regarding establishing successful breastfeeding.

1. Nurse on Demand – What does it mean to ‘nurse on demand’? It means following baby’s hunger cues as opposed to following the clock. A rigid feeding schedule often does not meet a newborn’s nutritional or emotional needs nor does it adequately establish a mother’s milk supply. By responding to early hunger cues such as rooting or sucking on hands, you are also likely to have an easier time getting baby properly latched on as opposed to responding to late hunger cues (ie-crying).

2. Offer Milk Frequently – In addition to nursing on demand, you might consider frequently offering your newborn the opportunity to nurse throughout day and night. Newborns are obviously still developing the ability to regulate their hunger and elimination needs, so you don’t want to just passively wait for them to tell you they are hungry. You want to remind them on a regular basis that milk is available to them. Additionally this allows you lots and lots of opportunity to practice positioning and getting baby latched on properly which are much easier to do when baby is calm and peaceful as opposed to fussy and tired.

3. Surround yourself with support - Surrounding yourself with compassionate women who have breastfeeding experience and will positively support you in your breastfeeding journey is invaluable. This may include family members or friends who have older nurslings than you and can offer gentle, loving guidance. However if you don’t already have someone in your life who fits that description, you may seek out such friendships through attending La Leche League Meetings (many of my dearest friends are women I met at LLL). Other places to seek out a community of support might be a breastfeeding class held at a hospital or a local store store that sells breastfeeding accessories might host social and/or informational gatherings for breastfeeding mothers.

4. Understand How Birth Choices Can Impact Breastfeeding – By informing yourself how certain birth practices can positively or negatively impact breastfeeding, you can make educated decisions that will optimize your breastfeeding relationship. You can also better advocate for yourself and your baby to ensure you receive attentive care that supports best practice for successful breastfeeding.

5. Seek professional help during early stages of struggle – No matter how minor you might feel a breastfeeding concern is, addressing it promptly can ward off further more complicated issues. Therefore seeking out professional help during early stages of struggle is typically a wise investment. It may help you avoid further and more costly complications and ultimately help preserve your nursing relationship. If you wait until there are major problems to seek out support, irreversible damage to the breastfeeding relationship may have already occurred. You can ask your maternal health care provider for a recommendation for a Lactation Consultant or do a search on the International Lactation Consultants Associations website to find a provider near you.

What breastfeeding tips would you give to a new mommy? What helpful breastfeeding tips were given to you? Would love to hear from YOU! :)

-Sarah

Tags: breastfeeding concerns, breastfeeding relationship, evidence based information, la leche league, lactation consultant, milk supply, newborns

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