Breastfeeding for Beginners: Breastfeeding Tips for First Time Mothers
This post may contain affiliate links and we will earn a small commision if you make a purchase through these links.
BREASTFEEDING FOR BEGINNERS
Women have been breastfeeding their babies since the beginning of humanity, so it seems like it should be easy, right? While breastfeeding is a natural way to feed your baby, it does not come easy for lots of women.
When you are a first time mom, breastfeeding can seem so foreign and even weird. I certainly felt that way at first.
But it doesn’t have to feel that way! Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your baby, and with some guidance you can do it.
HOW TO BREASTFEED A NEWBORN
It’s important to remember that you and your baby are learning to breastfeed together. Nursing your newborn is a relationship between the two of you, and it creates a bond that only you will share.
It really is something special to provide everything your baby needs with your own body. All of the nourishment and comfort your baby needs is provided by YOUR body. Women’s bodies are truly amazing!
With this in mind, take it slow and have patience with yourself. You are building the foundation for months (or years) of a strong nursing relationship. Building anything wonderful takes time.
BREASTFEEDING TIPS FOR FIRST TIME MOTHERS
I’ve breastfed all 3 of my babies for a combined total of 6 years. That’s a lot of breastfeeding ya’ll!
One of the best ways to learn about breastfeeding is from moms who have come before you. So I’m happy to share my favorite breastfeeding tips and resources for first time moms.
FIND A GOOD LATCH
If you’ve heard anything at all about breastfeeding, you’ve probably heard how important it is for your baby to get a good latch. You won’t hear any differently from me!
It’s critical in the early newborn days to focus on getting a great latch, as it sets the foundation for your entire nursing relationship.
My favorite online breastfeeding class has great info included about getting a good latch. It’s definitely worth checking out!
It can take patience and practice in the first few days and weeks to get the latch just right, but you will get there!
Just remember that you and your baby are learning about breastfeeding together, and anything new takes time to master.
One great way to encourage your newborn to breastfeed is to practice skin-to-skin with your baby. Newborn babies LOVE to be closely snuggled up to their mamas (and daddies!).
Spending time with your baby directly on your chest will help strengthen your bond and promote breastfeeding.
If your newborn is already hanging out on your chest, it should be pretty easy to identify when they are hungry. Breastfeeding your newborn on demand helps to establish your milk supply and helps you understand how often your baby is hungry.
On-demand breastfeeding can also help with engorgement issues.
Newborn babies LOVE to suckle, so try to pay attention to when your baby is nursing for hunger versus nursing for comfort.
As you and your baby get to know each other and you learn your baby’s habits, you can better schedule your day around when you know they are going to need to breastfeed.
PIN IT for later!
KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT ENGORGEMENT
Once your milk comes in you will likely be engorged and leaking milk everywhere. Hang in there! Your body just needs time to adjust to feeding your newborn.
Try not to pump too much, since pumping tells your body to make MORE milk. Pump only to relieve discomfort if necessary, not to completely empty the breast.
Have some reusable breast pads on hand to help soak up the constant leakage.
Or you could just stuff a burp rag in your shirt like I did in the early days 😉
PREPARE FOR SORE NIPPLES
When I was learning to breastfeed I read that breastfeeding should not hurt. Well, I’m here to tell you that I’ve nursed 3 babies and it is NOT comfortable at first!
It makes total sense to me that breastfeeding would be uncomfortable or even a little painful at first. There is a tiny human suckling on your nipple for HOURS each day. And newborns have surprisingly STRONG mouths!
Your body is not used to this type of constant sucking action, and it always caused sore nipples for me.
Enter the best nipple cream EVER. Buy it now and keep it handy. Your nipples will thank you.
Your body should adjust to all that suckling fairly quickly and the sore nipples will disappear within the first month (hallelujah!). If not, I recommend finding a lactation consultant in your area to evaluate your baby’s latch.
GET READY FOR GROWTH SPURTS
Newborn baby growth spurts are legit. Growing a pound a week takes a lot of calories (and sleep). Breastfed babies nurse more often during a growth spurt, so don’t be alarmed if your babe is asking for milk every hour.
This is another reason on-demand nursing is ideal for breastfed babies. When your baby has a growth spurt, the increase in nursing tells your body to make more milk so they always get what they need (aren’t our bodies amazing?).
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
It is really easy to forget about yourself when you are all consumed with your brand new baby. But it is crucial for your breastfeeding relationship that you take care of yourself, mama!
Make sure you are drinking TONS of water, eating plenty of healthy calories and resting as much as possible. You know, that whole ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ thing that everyone tells you. It’s cliché, but DO IT.
Try my favorite lactation granola bars to boost your milk supply and help you tame the monstrous breastfeeding appetite you are likely experiencing.
(P.S. – these freeze wonderfully, so you can make them before baby arrives and stock your freezer)
Pro Tip: Keep a GIANT water bottle with you at all times. I would suddenly become parched as soon as my baby began nursing.
Let your partner, mom or someone else you trust take care of everything else around the house while you focus on nursing and bonding with your baby. Your body needs to rest (birth is intense!) and taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to make sure breastfeeding gets off to a smooth start.
STOCK UP ON MUST-HAVE BREASTFEEDING SUPPLIES
You really don’t need all that much to successfully breastfeed.
Boobs – check.
Baby – check.
But there are some breastfeeding products that make things easier.
I have a complete list of my must-have breastfeeding products here.
LEARN ABOUT BREASTFEEDING BEFORE BABY ARRIVES
If you’re reading HOW TO BREASTFEED FOR BEGINNERS before your baby is here, congratulations! You did more to prepare for breastfeeding than I did the first time around. Ooops.
In my defense, I signed up for a local breastfeeding class, but then my baby was born the day before the class and I had to learn on the job instead.
I definitely don’t recommend that. I had NO IDEA what I was doing and ran into lots of problems because of it.
Thankfully I found a great lactation consultant in my area and a host of online breastfeeding resources that became my saving grace.
What I really wish I had done while I was still pregnant was take an online breastfeeding class.
TAKE AN ONLINE BREASTFEEDING CLASS
You can stop searching the internet for information on breastfeeding for beginners right now, and just sign up for this breastfeeding course. It takes 90 minutes to complete, costs only $19 and when you are finished you will feel prepared and ready to breastfeed your newborn.
The Milkology course is seriously THE course I wish I had taken years ago when I was a new mom. It’s taught by a certified lactation consultant and covers everything from the benefits of breastfeeding to managing your milk supply and getting the perfect latch.
BEST BREASTFEEDING BOOKS
I like to keep some books on hand for when breastfeeding questions come up (and there will be LOTS). Here are a few of my favorite breastfeeding books:
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Diane Wiessinger
- The Breastfeeding Book by William Sears M.D.
- Ina May’s guide to Breastfeeding: From the Nation’s Leading Midwife by Ina May Gaskin
- Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Jack Newman
JOIN AN ONLINE BREASTFEEDING MOM’S GROUP
There is a VAST online community of breastfeeding women who are connecting online and helping each other. Most online breastfeeding support groups I have found are on Facebook.
These groups are wonderful resources for real-time, real-life support from other women who know exactly what you are going through. I’ve linked to a few here, but I encourage you to ask around to find a local to you group as well!
Make sure to check out my extensive list of breastfeeding resources for even more info on the best online and in-person breastfeeding support around.
Remember, everyone is a beginner at some point. Your body was made to feed your baby – you’ve got this!