Breastfeeding, Motherhood

How to Breastfeed-The Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding

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This guide will help you understand how to breastfeed including how to solve the common issues that come with breastfeeding. When I had my first baby, I was a mess. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to breastfeed. Because my baby wouldn’t latch and I wasn’t making enough milk, I was very frustrated with breastfeeding. If you are facing similar problems, continue to read. Surely, this guide will answer all questions about breastfeeding. 

Why should mothers breastfeed?

Breast Milk contains all the nutrition a baby needs and helps protect them from disease and infections since it contains antibodies.

Breastfeeding saves money. If you choose not to breastfeed, formula can cost up to $1800 per year. 

Breast Milk contains the hormone Leptin which regulates appetite and metabolism. Studies have revealed reduced obesity in the future of breastfed babies.

Breastfeeding burns many calories which helps the mommy’s weight go back to normal. It also contracts the uterus which helps push the uterus back to its original place.

Studies also show reduced rates of breast and ovarian cancer in moms who breastfeed.

Understanding Breast Milk

During the first two weeks postpartum, your milk transitions twice. The first milk is called colostrum. Colostrum is thick and it is very small in amount. It is filled with nutrients and gives them antibodies. You may think your body is not making enough, but be patient more milk will be produced soon. From day 3-5, your body will start making more milk. It is called mature milk.

Personal Note: Many doctors don’t like mothers giving bottles to their newborns so their babies can learn to latch. However, if after a week your baby is getting worse and has developed severe Jaundice as my baby did, I recommend giving the baby a bottle of formula. After giving him the milk, my son’s Jaundice went away. He was not getting enough milk from me. Once I increased my supply, I stopped giving him formula. Again this is just my opinion.

How to breastfeed and latch?

The best way to start is skin to skin contact meaning put your baby’s skin against your skin directly. This calms your baby. Your baby will start searching for your nipple. Firstly, put the baby’s stomach against yours. Pull the baby towards your breast. Stroke his lip with your nipple until the baby opens his/her mouth wide and then place him on your nipple. It should not hurt. If it does, put your finger in the baby’s mouth and pull him gently away and try again. 

Some people have flat or inverted nipples. It is still possible to breastfeed! You can try stimulating your nipples with your hands, trying using a breastt pump to pull the nipple out, hand expressing the nipple, pushing back the breast until the baby latches, or holding your breast in a c hold or v hold. The C-hold involves holding your breast with your hand shaped in a c and pressing your breast like a sandwich. The V-hold involves holding your nipple with your forefinger and middle finger. Only those two fingers should be on top of your breast and squeeze. 

Breastfeeding Positions Recommended By Doctors

The Laid-Back Position:

Place your baby’s belly on yours, lay back but not all the way, then help the baby latch.

The Cradle Position:

This involves the mother sitting upright, with her baby on his/her side, and his/her head and neck laying on your forearm and his/her body against your stomach.

The Football Position:

Put a pillow next to you. Hold your baby upwards in your arm. Use your hand on that same arm to support his/her neck.

The Side-lying Position:

You and your baby should lie on your side with bellies facing each other.

The Cross-cradle Position:

Hold your baby in the arm opposite of the breast you’re feeding him.

Should I have a set breastfeeding schedule?

Every mother has a different schedule for breastfeeding, and there is no fit schedule in the beginning. You must look for the feeding cues. Your baby will seem more active and touch his lips. He might keep facing you and cry. Remember the more you breastfeed, the more milk supply you will have.

How long should I breastfeed for?

Babies know when they are full. Your baby might stay up to forty minutes on your breast or may just drink for 15 minutes. If your baby falls asleep, trying waking him up and offer your breast again. If your baby sleeps for more than 3 consecutive hours, wake your baby up and breastfeed. 

Doctors recommend breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months. After 6 months, you should continue to breastfeed, add solids, and may give the baby water. 

Should breastfeeding hurt?

No, breastfeeding should not hurt. If the baby is latching correctly, your nipples should not get sore. It should only be uncomfortable during the first two sucks. If it continues to hurt, reattach the baby to the nipple. If it continues for days or you have a fever, go to the doctor.

What should I do if my nipples are sore?

Rub breast milk on the nipple. Do not clean with soap and water, that can make things worse. There are many nipple creams you can use to help soothe the pain. You can also use a nipple shield.

What is engorgement, and how to soothe the pain?

Engorgement occurs when your milk comes in too fast or you have not breastfed for a while. It usually happens on days 3-5. If you treat it, it will go away within 48 hours. If not treated, it will go away from 7-10 days. Engorgement is very painful. Your breasts will be swollen, hot, and firm. Fortunately, there are many ways to soothe the pain. Personally, I used a hand pump to take all the milk out of my breast, and after an hour the pain was gone. You can also use a warm compress before breastfeeding, and breastfeed at least once every three hours. A cold compress can be used between breastfeeds. You can use your hand to massage your armpit and breast and let some milk out to reduce the swelling.

How do you know if a baby is getting enough milk? The following are common signals your baby is fine:

  1. If your baby is gaining weight and has enough wet diapers (6 wet diapers a day).
  2. Your baby’s poop is yellow and runny. There are 3-4 dirty diapers a day by the time the baby is 5-7days old. There is at least 1 dirty diaper a day when your baby is 2 months old.
  3. If he keeps breastfeeding. 
  4. Make sure you hear the swallowing sound each time your baby feeds.
  5. If he stops a breastfeeding session. 
  6. Eats 8-10 times every 24 hrs.

What should I eat during breastfeeding?

Make sure you are getting enough calcium. Eat a balanced diet. Eat a variety of proteins, fruits, vegetables, and grains. Take a postnatal vitamin.

What should I avoid during breastfeeding?

If you eat something and give your baby a rash or the baby is fussy, avoid the food. Avoid too much caffeine. Drink a cup of coffee after breastfeeding in the morning. Alcohol should be avoided. It decreases milk supply. 

Can I get pregnant after breastfeeding?

Yes, it decreases the chance of pregnancy but it doesn’t always prevent it. 

Can I still breastfeed as a working mom?

Yes, you should talk to your employer beforehand. You can pump during work hours. Your employer is legally required to give you a private room to pump if your company has 50 or more employees. You can also take time to breastfeed your baby. 

What if breastfeeding didn’t work the first time, should I try again with my second baby?

Yes, every baby is different. 

How to increase milk supply?

If you would like to know how to increase your milk supply quickly, read my other blog post by clicking “A Guaranteed Way To Increase Milk Supply“.

  1. Feed your baby on-demand. Forget about a fixed schedule.
  2. Let your baby empty the breasts, or pump afterward. 
  3. Decrease the amount of formula given to the baby if you are feeding the baby both breastmilk and formula.
  4. Pump between breastfeeding sessions. Let the pump keep pumping until you haven’t seen any milk come out for 5 minutes.
  5. Power pump: meaning choose an hour each day and use the pumps for short intervals. Pump for twenty minutes and then take a ten-minute break then pump again for ten minutes. 
  6. Drink enough water.
  7. Rest and eat a good amount of calories.
  8. Try Fenugreek

If you would like more details on breastfeeding, read What To Expect’s article “Breastfeeding: Tips and Basics For Nursing Your Baby“.

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3 years ago

This is really helpful information. Thank you for sharing!

Deborah Brooks
3 years ago

It’s been a very long time since I had kids this age! Will pass along to some friends great advice

Gervin Khan
Gervin Khan
3 years ago

A beautiful article that contains great and helpful guidelines about breastfeeding most especially to those new moms out there.

3 years ago

This is such a great breastfeeding guide. I did breastfeed my son for 7 months, and the struggle was real. This is really helpful!

3 years ago

Great read ! It’s so many benefits to breast feeding ! I breastfed my last baby and I really enjoyed everything about it

Sandra Hudson
Sandra Hudson
3 years ago

I really struggled with breast feeding my second baby. Blogs like this are so helpful!! Thank you.

3 years ago

Great article! I adopted my girls so I did not breastfeed them, although some lactation specialists say that you can still breastfeed if you didn’t actually birth the baby. Very interesting stuff!

Amber Myers
Amber Myers
3 years ago

I was able to breastfeed my kids. There were some issues, but we worked them out. However, I always tell my friends if it doesn’t work out, not to panic. Fed is best!