Are haveing a hard time breastfeeding, or have no idea how to breastfeed? You’re not alone. We have put together just what you need to know for your breastfeeding journey.
Breastfeeding is the most amazing and frustrating thing you may ever experience. Not all moms struggle, sometimes it just comes naturally and stress-free. But if you’re one of the millions of moms that do struggle, don’t beat yourself up!
It can be overwhelming hearing so many different stories and everyone giving you advice. Just keep in mind, every baby is different. What the lactation consultant may tell you may work for you and not someone else. It’s all trial and error and finding what works for you and your baby.
I have four kids and every time I breastfed for the first time it was different. One was a good latcher, where another not so much. Even my twins were different eaters. It’s not like riding a bike, that’s for sure!
If breastfeeding is causing more stress than anything and taking away from bonding, don’t feel bad to exclusively pump or formula! Fed is best!
If you are wanting to give it a shot and then by all means do it! These tips and questions that are in every mom’s mind will definitely help you in the process.
Pin for later so you always have the tips at your finger tips!
How often to feed a newborn
Newborns eat a lot throughout their few months, they usually eat every 2-3 hours. The first week or so they’ll eat 1-2 ounces per eating. By 2 weeks they’ll eat 2-3 ounces.
When feeding formula it is easy to see exactly how much they are eating at a time. With breastfeeding you can’t really measure or see how much they are getting. So with that, it is good to feed your baby on each breast for 15-20 minutes each feeding.
This is meant to be used as a guideline. Every baby is different, so don’t stress if things aren’t going as planned or what everyone is telling you. If your baby doesn’t eat every 2-3 hours it’s ok, they may eat more, they may eat less. Your baby will let you know when it’s hungry and full.
Babies won’t always eat exactly 2-3 ounces each feeding. If your baby is done eating they will let you know, or if you’re unsure try re-latching.
If they pull away or get fussy when you’re trying to feed them you can try burping them. Once they burp try feeding them again. You can also check if they need a diaper change. When you’ve checked these things and they still won’t eat they are a probably done.
Breastfeeding latching tips
1.The first thing you want to do when getting ready to breastfeed is get comfortable. If you’re comfortable then your baby will be comfortable and eat better.
- Have your baby’s stomach touch your stomach. You don’t want your baby to have to turn it’s head to feed. It will be hard to get a good latch and won’t be as comfortable for you or the baby.
3. Another important thing to keep in mind is breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt. If your baby is latched wrong break the suction by putting your finger into the corner of his or her mouth between the gums, and make a hook with your finger and unlatch your baby.
Never pull the nipple out, that will cause a lot more pain and damage to the nipple
- Position your baby’s head a little up, and aligned the nose with the nipple. Line the bottom lip with the areola and manuveur the nipple into the baby’s mouth. Make sure the baby’s mouth is open wide to make sure the whole areola getting into the mouth. You don’t want the baby latch to just the nipple because that will cause nipple damage. You can tickle the baby’s mouth with your nipple and they will open up their mouth. Make sure the baby’s lips are flanged out.
- There are many types of positions you can try. Try different ones and find what works for you and your baby. There are no right or wrong positions to feed.
Place your baby on your forearm on the side you are feeding. Have your baby’s body turned so your and baby’s stomach is touching.
Have your baby’s head facing up and not have the chin tucked down. With the other hand grab your breast right behind the areola having your nipple pointed slightly towards your baby’s nose.
Tickle the mouth to get your baby to open wide.
Cross Cradle Hold
Place your baby up against your body with stomach touching. Hold baby’s head with opposite hand of which breast you are feeding with.
Hold head with wrist resting between shoulder blades, thumb behind one ear and the other fingers behind the other ear.
Cup your breast with the other hand and feed the same way you would with the cradle hold.
Back Lying Hold-
Lay on your back and get comfortable. Get pillow and lay in a reclining position. Place a pillow under your arm on the side you’re feeding from to give you support while holding your baby.
Place your baby on top of you, tummy to tummy. You can have your baby lay on you however you’d like just as long as your baby can reach your breast. You don’t need to do much with positioning the breast. You can help direct your nipple. Once you baby is latched both of you can just relax.
This position is good for twins, if you had a C-section, larger breasts or if it’s just a position that works for you and baby. Place a boppy pillow or Twinzee (if you have twins) around the front of your body.
Have the baby lay on the pillow on the side of you. Have the body and head facing you with baby’s legs tucked under your arm.
Hold the baby’s head with your hand you are feeding on. Cup your breast the way you would with the cradle hold.
Place your baby on your thigh facing you. Use the hand opposite than the side you are feeding on to support your baby’s head..Use the other hand to cup your breast and guide it to your baby’s mouth.
Inverted Side Lying
Lay on your side like you would with the normal side lying position. Instead of your baby facing the same way as you have your baby’s body towards your shoulder. Guide your breast with the had you are not laying on. This position helps if you have sore and clogged ducts underneath your breast.
Side Lying Cradle
This is another position where you can get comfortable with your baby and feed. It’s a mix between the lying back, cradle hold and the side lying hold. Lay on your side with pillows propped up, and cradle your baby with your crease of your elbow supporting your baby’s head.
Side Lying Position
This position is great for night time when you are both tired and want to get comfortable. Lay on your side while laying your head on a pillow. Lay your baby on its side parallel to you, tummy to tummy. Make sure there are no other bedding or pillows around to avoid potential suffocation.
How long should a baby sleep without feeding at night
You may often hear to get your baby on a good eating schedule, and to do so to wake them up to ensure they are eating enough. Babies should eat every 2-3 hours, and should not go longer than 4 or 5 hours.
If your baby is underweight it is important to make sure they eat when they need to. Whether it’s when they are crying from hunger or if you need to wake them to feed.
If your baby is at a good weight, it is okay to let them sleep and that way you can get some sleep. If they get hungry they will wake up and eat. If they go longer than 3 hours during the day without eating, then it’s okay to wake them so they get the accurate amount they need.
If you’re lucky and they sleep throughout the night without eating, that is okay. It is important for them to get sleep as well, and we all know a new mom can definitely use a good full night sleep.
How to keep a baby awake while feeding
Your baby gets so comfortable in your arms, it’s easy for them to fall asleep; how could they not be comfortable? You’re their favorite person.
Since they need to eat you should to try to keep them awake during feedings. Having them un-swaddled is a good way to keep them awake because they aren’t as warm and cozy.
It’s okay to move or burp them to keep them alert. Tickling them a little on the feet or on their side while eating is a good way to wake them up and stimulate feeding again.
How long should a breastfeeding session be
Baby’s are very smart from the time they are born. They know what they want and when they want it. It takes time to learn their cues so you know what it is that they want- don’t worry, you’ll learn them.
The guideline to go by is 15-20 minutes on each breast. Make sure to burp your baby when you switch sides, this helps with reducing gassiness.
The reason I say use this as a guideline is because babies know when they are full and when they are not done eating. Let your baby tell you when he or she is done. If they go longer that is okay, it could mean they are going through a growth spurt and need more to eat.
If they don’t eat as long and seem fussy when you try to re-latch them, it’s likely they are done eating. However, before thinking they are done, check their diaper, and or burp them. When that is done, try latching them again. If they are still not latching then they are probably done.
Image by: Kelvin Octa
Can babies overeat while breastfeeding?
When it comes to breastfeeding, it’s impossible to see how much they are eating per feeding. That is why it is good to read your baby’s cues for when they are hungry or finished eating.
Sometimes it may seem like your baby won’t stop eating and needs fed every half hour. If this happens don’t worry, you won’t overfeed your baby.
There’s a few reasons why they never seem to stop being hungry aka “cluster feeding”.
- They are growing
- As newborns they are trying to increase your milk supply
- They need comfort due to being upset, sick or teething
How many ounces should a baby eat per feeding
The first few days your baby will eat very little but more frequently because of their tiny stomachs. The bigger they get the bigger their stomachs are and they will eat more but less frequently.
A newborn baby will eat 1.5-3 ounces each feeding every 2-3 hours. When they are about 2 months they may eat about 4-5 ounces every 3-4 hours.
They increase their intake about one ounce a month. At about 6 months they maybe drinking around 6 ounces per feeding.
How to know if your baby is getting enough breast milk
This question pops into every mom’s mind, how do I know my baby is even getting any out and is it enough?
A good indicator that you baby is getting milk out is when he or she is latched right you can see and hear them swallow and drink, you may see some milk in the corner of their mouth.
If your baby is having 5-6 wet diapers every 24 hours after about the fifth day of life, they are getting enough. The early days of feeding, your baby may have a poopy diaper at least three times a day. After around 6 weeks they may start pooping less, even every few days- this is normal.
If your breasts feel empty compared to how they felt before feeding, then they are eating and getting milk.
Another way to ensure you baby is eating enough is if they feel happy and content after their feeding.
Image by: Carlo Navarro
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As a new mom you may think that breastfeeding is a simple task, you put your baby on your boob and they eat. That’s what I thought too.
What to do if it hurts to feed
There’s a lot of moms who struggle with breastfeeding. Some mom’s just can’t get a good latch with their baby, and it is extremely painful. If your baby is latched wrong it can cause your nipples to crack, bleed, and blisters.
There are things that you can do to help heal your nipples if this happens to you.
Your breast milk is crazy magical it is good for so many things, like moisturizing. After every feeding rub your nipples with your milk.
Another thing that is my favorite to use is Lanolin cream. I would use milk when my nipples were slightly cracked, but the cream was the best for when they were really hurting and bleeding.
Soothing gel pads are a must have. You keep them in the fridge to keep them cool and they help your nipples from not being sore, and they help with cracks and blisters too.
I would put the cream on, then the pads. Sometimes the cream with cause your nipple to get stuck to your bra which feels horrible if you’re already hurting, so I would leave the gel pad on even if it wasn’t cold anymore. I would put them in the fridge while I was nursing the babies so it can get cold again. It is a good idea to get two sets for back up.
The cooling feeling may sound completely miserable when your nipples are already hurting, that’s why I was too scared to use them with my first son, and I really regret not trying it! The uncomfortable cold feeling only lasts a few seconds, it’s totally worth it, your nipples will thank you, trust me.
Sometimes moms take a break from feeding their baby directly on them, and they pump to give their nipples a break. It works for some moms. Honestly, for me, it made my nipples worse. They were already sore and the suction made it hurt more, but give it a try it may help you.
If you notice blood in you milk that you’ve pumped don’t be startled and DO NOT throw it out! It’s still safe to feed to your baby, your baby’s body won’t digest the blood and may spit it back up.
Some moms have a hard time producing enough milk even with trying everything out there. There’s a lot of things you can try to produce more milk, like lactation cookies, pumping after breastfeeding.
You can try exclusive pumping, sometimes that works better for some moms and babies.
When to stop breastfeeding your baby
There is no right or wrong time to stop breastfeeding your baby. You do whatever you have to do.
If the whole nursing thing is too hard for you or time consuming when you have other little ones to take care of, then it is okay to stop and formula feed.
If you decided to breastfeed well past one years old, then that’s okay too. Don’t listen to what other people say. This is about you and your baby, and what works for you guys. You do you!
Pumping to build supply
A great way to increase your supply is to pump after your baby has just eaten. This can be daunting and time consuming, but it’s worth a shot.
You can either pump after the feeding or during. How you pump during breastfeeding is feed on one side, then when you switch you can pump on the side you just fed on.
After feeding pump each side for about 15 minutes on each side. If you still see milk pumping out after 15 minutes keep going until there’s no more milk coming out.
Make sure when your breastfeeding and pumping you have a snack and water next to you. Staying hydrated is critical to producing milk, You also burn 200-500 calories when breastfeeding which can make your feel hungry after feeding.
Even when they are out of you, they are still sucking everything out of you LOL.
Image by: rawpixel.com
There are many items that will help make your breastfeeding experience more enjoyable and successful, so you can actually appreciate the experience and not dread it.
These items I used with my babies, and would recommend them to everyone.
Breastfeeding bra– I liked this bra because it was very comfortable and supporting. This type is more like a sports bra which I found more comfortable for breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding Tank Top– I loved using nursing tank tops. I wore them all the time because it was so convenient and I can wear the tank top and a cardigan over it and have a cute outfit. I also loved it because if I was wearing a tee shirt that isn’t really breastfeeding friendly, I can lift my shirt up and my stomach won’t be exposed- I felt more comfortable that way.
Breastfeeding cover– I tried two different ones. I liked them both, they both have their own pros and cons.
This one I liked because it was easy to put on and it cover everything. I liked how the neck part stuck out so I could see what I’m doing and air can circulate for the baby. The only thing is if the baby moved or pulled on it, it was easy to be exposed.
This one I also liked because it’s super cute and you can use it as a top for your outfit. This was really easy to use and I got the full coverage I wanted. Also it’s a 3-in-1. You can use it as a feeding cover, a cover for your baby’s carrier, and a shopping cart cover.
It was a little hard to see what I was doing, but once you get the hang of feeding, you won’t really need to see to get your baby to latch.
Breast pump– There are a few out there, but this one I really loved and a very popular one to use. My sister gave it to me when she was finished feeding her son, and I used it with all 4 babies. So this is a very durable pump. My favorite part was it doesn’t have to be plugged in to work.
There is a portable battery compact where it enables you to pump anywhere.
I took it on a road trip and pumped when i needed to in the car, it was super convenient so we didn’t have to pull over every time my son got hungry.
If you can’t afford a breast pump, you can call your insurance, many times insurance companies can pay for your pump or help pay for one. There are resources out there that can help you.
Hands Free Pumping Bra– These are amazing! Pumping can take time, and as a new mom, time isn’t something we have much of. This bra hooks onto the nursing bra you are already wearing, so no need to have to take your bra off.
This comes in handy for when you are vacuuming, need to cook, working at your desk and anything else you need to do. With the portable battery compact makes it super easy to carry your pump anywhere you need so you can pump hands free.
You simply insert the flanges inside the holes of the bra, and hook the bottle to the flanges.
Lanolin Cream– This cream is a life saver for you and your nipples. Put this on every time after a feeding and you won’t experience cracked and bleeding nipples.
Soothing Nipple Gel Pads– These are great for when your nipples get sore and hurt. I would use these after every feeding, even it I wasn’t hurting, to prevent it from hurting. I would put the cream on first then the pads on top of that.
Twinzie Pillow– This pillow is for twins but I would recommend it for anyone. I had twins and used this and I loved it! I wish I had it for my other two.
This is a multi purpose pillow. I had my newborns sleep in it the first 2-3 months. When you feed, the middle part pulls up and is used a comfortable back support and buckles in the front so it doesn’t move.
It’s also great for helping them learn to sit up, and for tummy time. It’s extremely comfortable and can easily be used for one baby.
There are many items that will make breastfeeding easier, even on the go.
I hope this really helps you with your breastfeeding journey. Mama, if breastfeeding isn’t working for you and your baby, then do not feel bad or guilty if you have to move to formula.
I had to with my last three. My first I feed until he was about 18 months, because I didn’t work and I was able to keep him on me all day if I had to. My second I fed until he was about 8 months, because I had to work and I couldn’t get enough from just pumping- working made it hard to keep up.
My twins I fed until they were 3 months. With them I was feeding every 30-45 minutes because tandem feeding wasn’t working for us. I couldn’t spend all day feeding when I had two other kids to watch out for. So the somewhat easiest thing for us was to formula feed.
You are doing great! Just remember, fed is best! 🙂
What are some breastfeeding struggles or questions that you have? What was the hardest part of breastfeeding for you?
Leave a comment and let us know!