Breastfeeding tips can be a welcome source of info to help you navigate one of the hardest things a new mum can face. Remember, be kind to yourself and follow our 36 expert tips for relatable help and ideas.
As you navigate matrescence in the early months of your baby's life working out how to breastfeed and the different breastfeeding positions to try might feel like another thing to add to the mental load, along with how to teach your baby to breastfeed. Well rest assured that last one is not on you.
Midwife and lactation expert Rachel Fitz-Desorgher tells us; "There is a widespread myth that babies have to 'learn to breastfeed'. This simply isn’t true … thank goodness. If moms and babies had to learn special skills then the human race would have died out. So, remember that, for all the many stories you will hear from friends and family, breastfeeding really is what babies and mums have evolved over millions of years to do and the less we complicate it the easiest it is to do. So rather than worry about how you will teach your baby, relax and let your baby lead you and show you how it is done."
There's a lot of conflicting advice, it can be hard to know what to follow or even how to trust your own instincts, so we've spoken to the experts to help with the top 31 breastfeading tips.
31 Breastfeeding tips from the experts and moms
It's completely your choice whether you want to breastfeed and you should never feel pressured into breastfeeding if it isn't something you're comfortable with. You don't need to decide how you're going to feed your baby until they're born, so you can try at the time and make a decision then. Breastfeeding does benefit both mother and baby in several ways, and you may want to think about the benefits of breastfeeding before you make your decision.
1. Stay hydrated
Mom says: Dionne, mom of three, tells us; "I have never known thirst like it. I cannot stress this enough to any new mum to please always have water or squash in arms-reach. And make sure you can open it one handed - it's the easiest way. My friend bought me the Contigo water bottle and it was a Godsend. Leak proof and open with click of a button."
Expert says: Midwife Lesley Bland founder of myexpertmidwife.com tells us; "Breastmilk is 87% water so prioritising your own fluid intake is vital to preventing dehydration and to maintaining a good supply for baby. If you are losing more water than you are taking on board then dehydration becomes a real risk. Keeping a filled water bottle or glass of water (or juice) within reach and drinking regularly throughout the day, reduces that risk significantly.
"If you feel thirsty, you are already starting to feel dehydrated, so aim for approximately sixteen glasses a day – have a glass at every feed and one in between and you are already there. Remember that caffeine is a diuretic which dehydrates you so if you do have caffeinated drinks have an extra glass of water for each one you have to compensate."
2. Ask for immediate uninterrupted skin-on-skin contact
Mom says: Mom-of-one Lucy tells us; "I was adamant I wanted skin to skin the moment my daughter was born. I made sure it was on my plan and practiced our 'party line' with my husband in case I was in no state to be clear about my needs."
Expert says: Midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, Rachel Fitz-D, tells us; "There is no doubt that immediate, uninterrupted and prolonged skin to skin can protect the breastfeeding journey. Tucked up close to mum, baby no longer wastes valuable energy trying to stay warm, the breathing and heart rate settle and both can take their time to explore each other. All these factors increase the likelihood of breastfeeding starting smoothly whilst decreasing the likelihood of baby losing weight and getting jaundiced. Prolonged skin to skin can ideally be many days and, preferably the whole of the first week of life - time for everyone to snuggle and recover as well as to explore and get comfy with feeding. However, don’t panic if you can’t get that lovely early skin to skin time - babies are, quite simply, hardwired to breastfeed. It is their ‘default setting’ and so, with good support, breastfeeding can take off beautifully even when baby has spent many weeks, or even months, in special care.
Rachel FitzD worked as a specialist infant feeding midwife (both in the NHS and privately) for over three decades. She is the author of Your Baby Skin To Skin and presents regularly at The Baby Show which returns to Manchester (14th – 16th April) and Birmingham (12th – 14th May). She is currently working on her second book.
3. Create your own breastfeeding space at home
Mom says: Mom-of-one Steph tells us; "I didn't have a space as such, but I did makeshift a portable 'breastfeeding station' that I could move from room to room. Main things to ALWAYS have near you, in no particular order are, phone, water bottle, snacks, muslin and TV remote."
Expert says: Midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, Rachel Fitz-D, tells us; "You are going to be spending a lot of time feeding your baby, whether by breast or bottle, so make sure you have a great hang-out zone for feeding and changing. But maybe keep that space in the main living area - setting yourself up with a nice snuggle zone in the nursery sounds cute but you might quickly start to feel isolated and missing your ‘Netflix and Chill’ sessions with your partner.
"So pick your favourite spot on the sofa (preferably near a plug) and shove a box next to it with the remote, a good book, a few great magazines, your tablet and phone, a charging cable and plug, snacks … you get the picture. One thing is for sure - you and the baby should not be hidden away missing out on family life."
4. Be kind to yourself - you're new to this
Mom says: Mom-of-three, Aisha tells us; "It wasn't until baby number three that I was finally a bit more tolerant of myself. I'm human I get things wrong, I want things, I need things and that's okay. It doesn't make me selfish. I pass this on to as many mums as I can now - be kind to yourself."
Expert says: Midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, Rachel Fitz-D, tells us; "There is a wide-spread myth that babies have to learn to breastfeed. This simply isn’t true … thank goodness. If mums and babies had to learn special skills then the human race would have died out.
"Sadly, most women now are ‘taught’ to hold and guide their babies when, in fact, babies have highly evolved reflexes and innate drives to do all the right things if only we didn’t interfere so much. Just like sneezing, the rooting and latching reflex doesn’t need to be learnt, doesn’t need to be helped and can’t go wrong unless someone interferes. Try to help someone sneeze and everyone gets in a sticky mess. Try to interfere with a reflexive baby as it snuffles and muddles around to get on the boob and little one is likely to get upset and mum may well get nipped.
"During that skin to skin time in the first week, lie down to feed as evidence shows that mums who feed lying down during those early days are less likely to experience problems. This is probably because everyone is more relaxed and also because, lying down, mums simply can’t do very much in the way of manipulating their baby to ‘latch and attach’ but have to simply ‘cuddle and muddle’ just in the same way as our ancestors always did."
5. Support baby’s feet
Mom says: Mom-of-one, Laura tells us; "My mum always said to do this as it helps calm the baby down and feel connected to me, and I did in the beginning but a few months in and my other hand was needed for more important things like feeding me. Plus my daughter was clamped onto my nipple - she can't get much more connected than that!"
Expert says: Midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, Rachel Fitz-D, agrees, telling us; "You can hold your baby’s feet if you want to and if they like it but there is no need - personally, my non-cuddling hand was generally occupied with managing an energetic toddler, fiddling with the TV remote or unwrapping a Curly Wurly but each to their own.
"Babies feel most connected through the breast itself - it provides the ultimate calm by providing endorphin-rich milk, the sound of mum’s heartbeat and her unique mum-smell. Babies spend so much time at the breast not because they need a constant flow of milk but because suckling has been shown to be the greatest soother of all and can even wipe out the pain of having early injections and blood tests. So, snuggle your baby in close to your boob even when they simply want to suckle without taking milk down and they will feel super-connected and calm whilst you can get on with relaxing and filling in your best mate on your birth story over a cuppa."
6. Think about positioning
Mom says; Mom-of-one Steph explains how no positioning worked with her son. "With all the best will in world no matter how many times I did 'tummy to mummy' and 'nose to nipple' my son just wouldn't latch."
Expert says: Midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, Rachel Fitz-D, tells us; "The advice to 'position baby nose to nipple and belly to belly helps baby to get a better latch' is around 30 years old - I was around, already supporting women on their feeding journey as a young midwife, to see it come in through what seemed like a long game of ‘Chinese Whispers’ and have, therefore, also seen the confusion and damage it can cause.
"Take a look at classical paintings of women breastfeeding, and even more modern paintings from the 40s and 50s, and you will not see the modern ‘latching and attaching’ cross-cradle positions. This isn’t how your nan held you, an easy cuddle hold, bringing baby in so close that you can feel the mouth pressed to the underside of the breast below the nipple triggers a reflex to open the mouth wide and quickly take in the nipple and areole deeply. Paradoxically, when a mum tries to see and ‘wait for the big mouth’, she has to create a teeny gap between her boob and the mouth in order to see what is going on and the reflex switches off and the mouth starts to close, because they are too far away not 'because baby has a little mouth’. Ultimately trust your instinctive little expert and stop being a back-seat driver."
7. Don't clock watch
Mom says: Mom-of-three, Jas tells us; "As a new mum I remember my nan watching me, mortified, when I stopped my breastfeeding baby because he'd 'been on too long'. And she was right, I was just so used to everything in my life having a shelf life time, I struggled to be baby led beholden to someone elses time."
Expert says: Don’t clock watch - baby will come off when they’re ready, Midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, Rachel Fitz-D tells us; “Your baby is actually hard-wired to demand almost constant soothing and for the boob to be the best soother.
"Suckling increases these effects but you’ll notice that your baby will spend a lot of the boob time not actually suckling at all. This is just as it has always been and is meant to be - a baby, in arms, face-skin to boob-skin, staying safe and gently soothed. The milk is there and, if she wants a bit, she will take some, and then just lie there and doze for another little while."
On Rachel's blog she likens it to going for a coffee; "Imagine that it’s a cold, rainy day and you have a good book to read and only a few pounds in your purse. You take refuge in a good coffee shop and sit down in the warm and dry on a comfy sofa with a nice cappuccino. You’ll have a lovely slurp of hot coffee and then pop your mug down, get your book out, lean back with a contented sigh and settle down for a delightful bit of “me-time”.
"Every now and then you’ll pick up your mug and have another short slurp, but you’re determined not to hurry this coffee - after all, it’s horrid outside. If the waiter comes and tries to take your mug, you’ll put your hand over the top and say, “I’m not finished yet!” You might even hold the warm mug in your hands and close to your mouth for a while without actually drinking but just enjoying the steam and the aroma. This is how a young baby gets his milk - sure he could take all he needs in 5 minutes flat but that wouldn’t keep him in arms long enough to soothe his breathing, heart rate, temperature, reflexes, protect him against infection or settle his poor, sore gut."
8. Follow breastfeeding moms online who align to you
Mom says: Louise, mom-of-two, tells us; "I found the first few months of motherhood so lonely. I had made a few friends through NCT but not enough to interrupt them at 2am 'just in case they were actually asleep'. So finding moms on Instagram really helped me - their reels were always there."
Expert says: Women's health expert and author of Get Your Mojo Back, Clio Wood tells us; "Absolutely find your tribe IRL and online. There are many different takes on breastfeeding, motherhood and how to raise your kids - don't make yourself feel guilty by following people who are doing the opposite of what feels right to you. There's enough to worry about as a mother already."
9. Attend breastfeeding clinics
Dad says: Dad-of-one, Lee tells us; "My girlfriend found going to clinics really helpful, and I did too. I had no idea just how amazing the female body was, it really has blown my mind all that women go through in childbirth and after. I tell all new dads just how helpful and informative its been. Not so I can mansplain to my girlfriend just so I can understand more."
Expert says: Clio Wood tells us; "Breastfeeding can be hard. It took me nearly 6 weeks to crack it, which doesn't sound like long, but when your nipple feels like it's being chewed by a piranha several times a day, it feels like forever. Clinics can help you to learn what to expect and also identify tongue-tie early on."
10. Don't let mastitis win
Mom says: Sarah, mom-of-one tells us how she nearly gave up; "I judge no mum at all on their choice of feeding. I really wanted to breastfeed and it took me such a long time to settle into it, so when mastitis hit I wanted to curl up and cry."
Expert says: Midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, Rachel Fitz-D, agrees, telling us; "Mastitis is miserable but self-limiting. It's not dissimilar to what mums who choose to bottle feed experience when their milk comes in but they don’t feed their baby - the boobs become over-full and engorged and then they get hot and red and mum feels like she has flu.
"Rarely caused by an infection there should be little to no need for antibiotics even though these are commonly given. Daily breast care with gentle backwards massage using a flat hand (not knuckles) all around the breast from nipple to chest help to keep the breasts from getting engorged and can prevent mastitis. If you do start to feel as if you are going down with it, take regular paracetamol and ibuprofen (if you are asthmatic just take paracetamol), do the backwards massage (this is called reverse pressure softening) before every feed, and keep on feeding on demand.
"Don’t be tempted to only feed on one side, or to shorten feeds or to pump. Your body is desperately trying to work out what your baby needs and introducing a pump or hand expressing is like your body having a three-way conversation. That is bound to lead to confusion. Likewise, people often advise hot flannels which, although they might feel soothing to you and initially soften the breasts, it can actually stimulate your supply and lead to an even worse engorgement tomorrow. Better to use a cool pack after feeds or … nothing at all.
Do get help from a good infant feeding specialist and If your breasts haven’t improved at all after 24-36 hours of reverse pressure softening, paracetamol and non steroidal anti-inflammatories, then it is time to see your GP."
11. Take good care of your nipples
Mom says: Clem, mom-of-two tells us; "My nipples have just always been, well, there. I've never really given them much thought until breastfeeding. Then they became a daily topic of conversation to anyone who would listen. I started using nipple creams from the off but wasn't entirely convinced they were helping...."
Expert says: Midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, Rachel Fitz-D, agrees, telling us; "Nipples are encircled by little tiny pimples which ooze a lubricating substance which smells great to baby and also helps them to anchor well. So no need to use creams and ointments which are more likely to irritate and also to put baby off getting in close - how much would you fancy your dinner if your mum squirted gunk over it? In addition, oils and creams make the breast slippery making it tricky for baby to anchor securely and more likely to slide to the end of your breast, onto your nipple and … ouch! Also worth noting that nipples are highly evolved for breastfeeding and made of specialist tissue ‘designed’ perfectly for the job so there is no need to worry overmuch about them but do make sure that you always keep your baby tucked in very close during feeds - letting a 3.5kg weight hang off them is never going to be a good idea - and take baby off immediately if they nip or start to twist around to see who is coming in the room.
12. Consider using a breast pump
Mom says: Helen, mom-of-one tells us; "I researched the best breast pumps out there as, from the start, I found breastfeeding just too hard but wanted my baby to get as much of my milk as I could before it dried up."
Expert says: Midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, Rachel Fitz-D, tells us; "If intending to exclusively breastfeed then it is essential that your body is allowed to ‘speak’ with your baby and your baby alone for at least six weeks in order that it can get clear messages about needs. This is why it is recommended that new mums do not pump for at least six weeks unless there is a clinical need.
"After six weeks the body generally has gathered enough information (data if you like) to be able to get amounts right day in and day out. At this point, the breasts often go back to being soft and many mums think they have list their milk when, in fact, feeding has become ‘established’. From now on, if you like, you can express and leave a beaker or bottle of milk with your partner or another trusted adult whilst you go out without it interfering with your supply.
13. Embrace being baby-led
Mom says: Zainab, mom-of-two, tells us; "I didn't do baby-led with my first, but by my second I had read more and I'm a big believer in 'know better, do better'. I don't compare as it would give an unfair result. But I'm glad I did go baby led with Zara."
Expert says: Midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, Rachel Fitz-D, tells us; "Being baby led is the same as ‘demand feeding’ and simply means that babies should be brought in to the breast freely, whenever they show a desire to snuggle in, rather than to a routine led by the clock.
"It is worth remembering that the signs that most parents think mean ‘feed me’ such as sucking on their fist, rooting around, and bringing their legs up and down, actually mean ‘pick me up and soothe me’. It is just that, because the English use the term ‘breast feeding’, whenever we see those signals, we think hunger. This is not true of other countries who use terms such as ‘To Calm’ or ‘To Suckle’ in place of ‘To Feed’ when talking about bringing a baby to the breast.
"So, you can stop worrying about why your baby seems permanently hungry and accept that new babies simply need constant soothing and that the best place for this to happen is at the breast where they can stay warm and are more protected against cold, and infection as well as getting milk whenever they want to wet their whistle. However, it is also ok to use non-boob soothing strategies such as rocking, patting, white noise etc when you want to give your boobs a break - as long as you keep soothing your baby, your baby will stay soothed - your little one will soon ask to go back on the breast when all the patting and shh-ing is no longer hitting the spot."
14. Wait before introducing a dummy
Mom says: Sasha, mom-of-one tells us how she didn't wait to give her son a dummy; "I was quick to give Leo a dummy to help soothe him to sleep, but I did see a direct impact on my milk flow and supply."
Expert says: Midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, Rachel Fitz-D, agrees, telling us; "Your body needs to get moment-by-moment information about your baby’s unique needs in order to get lactation just right. This means that all baby’s suckling needs to be done on the boob. By getting the not-hungry-just-soothe-sucking (known as non-nutritive suckling) messages as well as the hungry-milk-sucking (known as nutritive suckling) messages, your body gets the full picture and will respond more accurately. If some of one, or the other, or both types of sucking take pace on a dummy, your body can’t know what is going on and the result can be a lower supply than baby needs.
"This is why it's best to wait a while before introducing a dummy and not only will you be less likely to have supply issues but your baby is also less likely to get thrush and weight loss worries. It is suggested that breastfed babies aren’t offered a dummy for the first 4-6 weeks to allow breastfeeding to establish."
15. Avoid alcohol
Mom says: Jasmine, mom-of-three tells us; "I missed my glass of wine and couldn't wait to enjoy one again but felt that I was judged, so miserably left it out for another 4 months. I won't lie, I became resentful."
Expert says: Midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, Rachel Fitz-D, agrees, telling us; "Crikey, all those months of pregnancy when you can’t enjoy a glass of red with dinner and then, just as you reach to clink a glass of bubbly to celebrate the birth of your baby and someone tuts and tells you that you can’t drink if you’re breastfeeding.
"Well that simply isn’t true! Yes alcohol enters the blood stream and so also enters your milk but it also clears from milk at the same rate as it clears from your blood. To put this in perspective, your blood levels have to reach 300mg/100ml before your baby is likely to be mildly sedated and this compares with a level of 80mg/100ml needed to fail the police breath test in England. This does not mean that it is safe to go mad after nine months of abstinence - your tolerance will be lower anyway and your baby is still getting exposed to alcohol.
"So drink minimally, staying within the government ‘safe drinking’ guidelines, avoid binge-drinking, have a few alcohol-free days each week and, if you want to really limit exposure to your baby then wait 2-3 hours after a drink before feeding. There is no need to ‘pump and dump’ if you have had a good night out, and always remember to never co-sleep with your baby if you or your partner have been drinking."
16. Invest in breast pads
Mom says: Maura, mom-of-one tells us; "I was mortified the first time I leaked in public... I didn't realise nipples could or would do that!"
Expert says: Midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, Rachel Fitz-D, tells us; "Some women leak and some don’t. Everyone is different, some of us just have leakier nipples. If you are a leaker then the paper pads are likely to just get soggy and make you sore if you don’t change them really regularly so, if you are a leaky kinda gal then invest in re-usable cloth pads or simply cut up soft towelling into small bra-sized rounds to pop in your bra cups.
"Leaving soggy breast pads in place can increase the risk of you getting thrush so keep your breasts dry and be reassured that, as your supply becomes established, leaking is likely to become more of an occasional thing when a feed is due or you hear your baby (or someone else’s baby) cry."
17. Invest in a good bra
Mom says: Mom-of-one, Laura tells us; "My boobs were so weighty with all the milk they were producing I realised pretty fast that I needed a decent durable and strong bra to support them, but that was also easy to use to feed, the less faff the better."
Expert says: Midwife Lesley Bland founder of myexpertmidwife.com tells us; "Investing in a well-fitting nursing bra can help to prevent problems such as blocked milk ducts and/or mastitis. For example, Lymph, a clear fluid which circulates our lymphatic system and is packed full of white blood cells to help fight infection can build up in breasts causing them to sag. The sagging when combined with the resulting oedema can make it difficult for baby to latch well.
"A bra which doesn’t fit properly can restrict milk flow and cause your breasts to become uncomfortable and even contribute to mastitis (sore and inflamed breast tissue), whereas a good-fitting bra can resolve issues by raising and supporting the breast ensuring adequate lymphatic drainage. Hormonal changes, physical changes to your body and weight gain will all affect the ways your breasts change in size and shape during pregnancy and after birth when your breasts start to produce milk. Wearing a good-fitting supportive bra, without seams near the nipple, made from a breathable natural material such as cotton, wool, or silk, and fitted by an expert can make a world of difference to how your breasts feel. Whatever style of nursing bra you opt for invest in at least three that way you can always have spare clean ones available."
18. Play with positions
Mom says: Susan, mom-of-two, tells us; "All the leaflets I was given about breastfeeding and positions the mums had tiny breasts, mine are FF. So I was terrified to try many positions through fear of suffocating my little one."
Expert says: Midwife Lesley Bland founder of myexpertmidwife.com tells us; "There are so many different positions that you can feed your baby in and as you gain confidence with your and your baby’s ability to breastfeed, you will adapt your positions and may have to try several positions before you find one that suits you both best. There are lots of reasons why one position doesn’t work for all breastfeeding mums and babies, the size and shape of your breasts, the type of birth you had (vaginal, instrumental, or c-section), baby’s preferences and many more. The most important thing about breastfeeding position is that both you and baby are comfortable, that you are pain-free throughout and there is optimal milk transfer.
"Biological nurturing or laid-back feeding where baby is placed on mum who is laid back comfortably on a bed or recliner chair and gently supported to feed is an excellent way for baby to achieve a deep latch if they have struggled in other positions and is ideal when they are skin-to-skin so can be used immediately after birth. Many women successfully use the traditional cross-cradle which tends to suit smaller babies and inexperienced new mums who can use the left hand to support the left breast and the right hand to hold the baby closely across the body.
"But those who have had a c-section or twins, or who have larger breasts find that the rugby-ball hold is more comfortable. This position involves holding baby with their legs tucked under your arm and towards your back and again pillows can be used to raise baby up. Women with larger breasts or who may have had perineal trauma often report that feeding on their side with baby laying next to them is the most comfortable as it puts no pressure on the perineum and can be easier to support a larger baby. In this side-lying position baby feeds from the breast closest to the mattress."
19. Feed from both breasts equally
Mum says: Mum-of-one, Laura tells us; "Keep a hair tie on your wrist - always keep it on the side you last fed from or if you don't have one I'd simply text one word to my husband ‘left/right’ then I’d know what time too."
Expert says: Midwife Lesley Bland founder of myexpertmidwife.com tells us; "When you are taught about breastfeeding you will find that your healthcare professional is likely to talk about it in terms of feeding from both breasts - feed from one breast and switch to the other either at the next feed, or if baby has fed well from that breast and still wants more.
"But there are occasions where a breastfeeding mum may not be able to feed from both breasts, such as previous breast surgery, injury, disability, or baby may prefer feeding from one breast over the other. Most mums do offer both breasts at a feed, but one-sided feeding can be just as effective. Each breast responds separately so feeding more on one side means that the breast will be stimulated to produce more milk. Likewise, if the other breast is not stimulated as much it will make less. One-sided feeding may be a temporary short-term situation or may be permanent depending on the individual but if you do want to go back to feeding from both sides you may need support to gradually re-establish the milk supply in the breast that has not been used."
20. Use your voice - get your needs met
Mum says: Mum-of-one, Harriet tells us; "I felt like it all landed on me. I just had to get on with it, when really I needed my other half to help - to get me snacks to fill my water up, but I felt lazy asking for these things to be done for me."
Expert says: Midwife Lesley Bland founder of myexpertmidwife.com tells us; "Having an understanding and supportive network around you can be so important to how confident you feel about breastfeeding and research shows that women are likely to continue their journey for longer when they receive support from family and friends.
"In the early days and weeks of breastfeeding you can find your hormones are playing havoc and that, combined with disturbed sleep and feeling that you are doing nothing but feeding your baby, can result in forgetting to look after your own needs so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your partner won’t necessarily know what you want or need them to do so don’t resent that, instead ask them to bring you a drink, a snack, or your phone charger, rub your neck and shoulders or do the shopping.
"Ask friends to cook meals instead of buying more blankets and clothes for your baby and ask for time out from baby to have a bath, a nap, go for a walk or flick through a magazine. Asking for help can be hard to do but you’ve got a team waiting to be asked so do it!
21. Fed is best - and that means you too
Mum says: Siobhan, mum-of-two tells us; "When you're told that your own self-care drops down the list after having a baby, no one is exaggerating. I was surviving on mere basics, my diet was horrendous and consisted of anything I could eat one handed - mainly beige and I was feeling sluggish and meh."
Expert says: Midwife Lesley Bland(opens in new tab) founder of myexpertmidwife.com tells us; "The nutritional content of breastmilk is similar in terms of calorific content for everyone, no matter what they eat. You would have to be extremely malnourished for your milk supply or your milk’s nutritional content to be affected.
"The vitamins in breastmilk, however, do need to come from somewhere and, if you are not consuming enough of a certain vitamin or mineral or are seriously deficient in it, this may lead to health problems for you. The most important nutrients for breastfeeding mums include:
Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and has a role in the process of cell division but is difficult to increase in diet alone as it is absorbed mainly via our skin from sun exposure.
Iron creates healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen around the body. Iron-rich foods include red meat, oily fish, pulses, beans, and green leafy vegetables.
Calcium found in dairy, soya, bony fish, and most green leafy vegetables is vital for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth and as your calcium stores may be depleted during pregnancy replacing it is crucial for your own long-term bone and dental health.
Taking a naturally-derived supplement yourself should boost the amount of these and other nutrients such as the B vitamins and zinc in your breastmilk, but you can also give your baby Vitamin D drops directly."
22. Take those prenatal vitamins
Mum says: Mum-of-one Lucy tells us; "The pregnancy and prenatal vitamins was the first time in my life I religiously stuck to taking vitamins... and the last time. I should probably start that up again."
Expert says: Midwife Lesley Bland founder of myexpertmidwife.com tells us; "Getting the correct nutrition from your diet in pregnancy is vital. However, not everyone eats a well-balanced diet, whether this is through choice or circumstance. Deficiencies in some vitamins and minerals, such as folate (folic acid in its natural state) and vitamin D, can interfere with the healthy development of your unborn baby and negatively impact your own health.
"Therefore, all pregnant women, those trying to conceive, and those who choose to breastfeed are advised to take these in a supplement form. Going into pregnancy in as nutritionally healthy a condition as you can, will reap the benefits as your body experiences the most intense changes. Ensuring that you have adequate levels of vitamins and minerals, especially iron, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and the B vitamins throughout pregnancy should ensure that you start the postnatal period feeling strong and ready for the demands of breastfeeding."
23. Try to relax about milk supply
Mum says: Courtney, mum-of-two, tells us; "I was always so stressed about my milk supply it literally was all I could talk about - it was a bit of an obsession."
Expert says: Midwife Lesley Bland founder of myexpertmidwife.com tells us; "If your baby feeds for ages, or more frequently than you think she should, if baby take a bottle even after he’s already had a long breastfeed, or if you pump, and struggle to get much milk out you probably find yourself worrying if you have low milk supply? In reality, you probably don’t!
"All of these, and many other common concerns, are usually not caused by low milk supply, which is rare. However, they can sometimes be related to insufficient milk transfer. So, what to do? Stop, take some deep breaths, and relax. One of the most important things you can do is to understand how breastmilk supply works; it’s a basic supply and demand process, so the more baby demands the more your breasts are stimulated to supply.
"It is important in the early days and weeks of breastfeeding that babies are fed frequently and as often as they ask, rather than to a schedule. It’s also really important that babies are latched well to the breast. A less than optimal latch will make it harder for baby to get the milk out, which is tiring for them. In this case, they may drop off and fall asleep but wake as soon as they’re put down or want to feed again after a short time. Babies may often seem to be hungry and unsatisfied. This is because they are! But not because we don’t have enough milk. It’s because the baby isn’t taking in enough of the milk that we have for them. If you are concerned about milk supply start by looking at the latch and position of your baby, and if you continue to be concerned seek advice from your healthcare professional or a lactation consultant."
24. If bottle feeding interests you offer it at 4-6 weeks
Mum says: Laura, mum-of-three us; "I loved breastfeeding, but I couldn't wait to share the feeding with my husband, not only to give me a break but to go give him an in on bonding."
Expert says: Midwife Lesley Bland founder of myexpertmidwife.com tells us; "Many parents wish to know when they can start to introduce a bottle feed to a breastfed baby perhaps so that mum can have time away from baby, or so that someone else can be involved with feeding time, and the answer to this differs widely depending on where you access your information. Generally, it is considered that once your breastfeeding is well established, around 4-6 weeks, introducing a bottle shouldn’t interfere too much with your supply, although you may still want to hand express or use a pump when you feed with a bottle to ensure you do maintain that all-important breastmilk supply. Some babies, however, may struggle to establish their breastfeeding either because of prematurity, health conditions or just taking their time, and so leaving it longer before introducing a bottle for those babies may be more suitable.
"It is important to note that nipple confusion can be an issue for some babies when a bottle is introduced as the technique used to extract milk from a breast is very different to that of a bottle, so take it steady, remain patient and encouraging, don’t force it, consider factors such as the size, shape and flow of the bottle’s teat and don’t be surprised if you have to try a few before finding one to suit your baby."
25. Find out how much milk your baby actually needs
Mum says: Tara-Louise, mum-of-twins tells us; "I hated not knowing how much milk my baby needed or how much he'd actually had. I remember feeling envious of my mum friends who bottle fed and knew almost to the ounce how much their baby had taken."
Expert says: Midwife Lesley Bland(opens in new tab) founder of myexpertmidwife.com tells us; "Every baby needs and wants quite different volumes of breastmilk. Newborns require less than a 6-month old who requires less than a one-year-old, and during periods of intense growth, or warm weather you may find their feeding demands increase. When your baby takes all their feeds directly from the breast it can sometimes make you question if they are getting as much as they need whereas feeding via a bottle shows exactly how much they have taken.
"As a guide you should be thinking about feeding your baby 8-12 times in a 24 hour period as a newborn for anywhere between 5 and 40 minutes each feed depending on how efficient they are at extracting the milk from the breast. As they get older they may feed less often but take greater volumes per feed.
If your baby Is fully fed and satisfied:
- They will appear relaxed, may fall asleep at the breast, or take themselves off.
- They will increase the number of wet and dirty nappies they have over the first week until they are having 5+ heavier wet nappies and at least 1 or 2 poos daily.
- Their poos gradually change colour from sticky black meconium to deep brown, khaki and eventually a “korma” or mustardy yellow. This will change again to a more formed darker stool when they start weaning to solids.
- Baby is a normal colour. There is a period when your baby’s skin may look very slightly yellow or tanned (if light-skinned) or the whites of their eyes may look slightly yellower than normal (if dark-skinned), this is a normal physiological process called jaundice where baby is clearing out waste from their body. In a healthy well-fed baby this should disappear within a few days.
- A baby who is taking the milk they need will be gaining weight.
26. Check if your baby is getting enough milk
Mum says: Steph, mum-of-one tells us; "I remember feeling at a loss as to how to know or find out that my baby was getting enough milk, I found it terrifying not knowing, especially when the nurses would ask me at check ups."
Expert says: Midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, Rachel Fitz-D, agrees, telling us; “Simply check those nappies. If your baby is having plenty of really wet nappies (6 or so a day) and seems alert, active and settles when allowed to stay safe in arms, then he is taking milk. After all, your baby can’t make wee out of fresh air."
27. Get help for tongue tie if needed
Mum says: Dionne, mum-of-twins tells us; "One of my girls had tongue tie and I struggled to breast feed her for the longest time - I just didn't understand why she wouldn't latch. Until my HV spotted the tongue tie."
Expert says: Women's health expert and author of Get Your Mojo Back(opens in new tab), Clio Wood tells us; "Tongue-tie can make breastfeeding incredibly painful - it did for me. Did you know that tongue tie used to be systematically identified and cut before the rise in popularity of bottle-feeding? Now we are pushing breastfeeding again, but haven't re-introduced more consistent tongue-tie checks."
28. Avoid using a milk track app
Mum says: Mum-of-three Lou tells us; "I used my milk track app religiously with my first but it really did just stress me out. One week I left my phone at my mums and couldn't track for two days as she'd gone away, and I realised it was just adding to my milk-anxieties so I stopped."
Expert says: Midwife and author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, Rachel Fitz-D, tells us; “Avoid apps that promise to tell you how long and how efficiently your little one has fed - they really do more harm than good by tricking you into thinking you should have control of your baby’s behaviour. There is absolutely no way of knowing how many minutes of a baby’s time at the breast is milk-taking time."
29. Try not to compare yourself
Mom says: Mom-of-one Steph tells us; "I was consantly comparing me, my body, my baby to everyone else, it was demoralising and exhausting. It wasn't until my friend said; 'you are the best mum for Ted' that I realised, it's just us. No one else need apply."
Expert says: Women's health expert and author of Get Your Mojo Back, Clio Wood tells us; "I couldn't agree more, comparison is the thief of joy. I was never able to express much at all, and my breastfeeding journey was pretty hard (in different ways) with both my daughters - so don't compare your 'failure' to others' breastfeeding journeys, you're doing your best and what's right for you."
30. Allow baby's head to move
Mom says: Mom-of-one Shira tells us; "Hollywood was where I got most of my 'mum expectations' from, so I did hold my baby's head completely with my whole hand for a few weeks until my midwife told me the better way..."
Expert says: Certified Lactation Professional Dr. Prachi Kathuria Gera tells us; "Don't support the baby's head with your whole palm. As this can restrict the movement of baby's head and neck which is extremely important to achieve a deep latch. Instead support baby's neck and the lower part of the head using 2 fingers " C shape"
31. Don't swaddle a feeding baby
Mom says: Mom-of-one Kelly tells us; "I swaddled my baby all the time, even during feeding. But now I'm pregnant with my second I know better, I'll do better."
Expert says: Certified Lactation Professional Dr. Prachi Kathuria Gera tells us; "The Baby's hands should be free to explore and touch the breast. Promotes skin to skin. Help in release of hormones like oxytocin. Promotes initiation of breastfeeding. Sense of touch is really important for the baby to establish deep latch.There should be no barrier.
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Stephanie Lowe is Family Editor at GoodTo covering all things parenting, pregnancy and more. She has over 13 years' experience as a digital journalist with a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to all things family and lifestyle. Stephanie lives in Kent with her husband and son, Ted. With his love of choo-choos, Hey Duggee and finger painting he keeps her on her toes.
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