Before having my first baby, I was clueless as to how breastfeeding actually worked. I had seen my friends breastfeed, and gotten a few pointers during my prenatal class, but the mystery remained absolute, and was only to be revealed in real-time when baby finally arrived…
Many surprises ensued!
Day 1: Wow, these guys really have practiced their technique in the womb. Already so strong! (Aww 🙂 )
Week 1: Wait a second.. this hurts..
Month 1: Really, again?
And so on.
I didn’t realize to what extent breastfeeding is something you learn, that it takes time to “master”, and that there really are tools to help us get by.
Here are 12 tips that helped me along my breastfeeding journeys.
#1: IT MAY HURT AT FIRST, POSSIBLY ALOT
In the beginning weeks, both of my breastfeeding experiences were very painful. I know that it is usually said that it is not supposed to hurt if baby is properly latched on etc., but in my experience, baby and I had a learning curve we had to get through together, that meant a few days/weeks of discomfort and sometimes lots of pain. But I believed we would get through it, and I put myself in the mindset that it was “normal” to experience this for a certain amount of time. (That said, a lactation consultant can be of great help in case there are latching problems or other, etc.)
#2: GET COMFY
Make sure your entire body is supported. Use as many cushions as you need to support your back, body and arms.
Then see how it feels to relax the entire body, even the neck, face and jaw. (I know that’s hard to do when breastfeeding hurts!) A relaxed body can help to relax the mind, which in turn will be a factor in producing the milk production hormones.
but there are also breastfeeding pillows that give height all around your arm, (which is where I was often lacking and compensating by raising my shoulder, thus tensing my muscles.)
Here are 10 more (fun!) tips for good posture
Drinking plenty of water is one of the most important parts of breastfeeding success. Aim for at least 10 glasses of water a day.
#4: A GIGGLE 🙂
*For low milk supply
Not that you really feel like it in the first weeks if breastfeeding is painful and exhausting, but if you can find a way to get a giggle, it can truly help with let-down reflex and augmenting milk supply as it helps to relax mama and release oxytocin, the hormone leading to milk let-down and production. I discovered this by chance the second time around because of baby herself 🙂 She gets so excited when it’s time to feed, starts sending me cute glances and grinning, which in turn makes me giggle.. which makes her giggle, which makes me giggle and so on. I actually found myself having a laugh more than once and without fail this brings upon a full let-down.
If baby’s not there to make you giggle, there are always bloopers (my favorite)or whatever gets you smiling. (these comics about parenting also helped me out!)
#5: AIR OUT THE BOOBS
*For sore nipples and plugged milk ducts
This is also a point I mention in my “postnatal survival guide” for new moms.
It’s a pretty simple one to understand, but as much as I can, I go, well, “boob commando.” I had problems with plugged milk ducts and soar nipples the first time around and found that « airing out my boobs » was a great help. So when the second time came around, I didn’t hesitate. Not the « chic-est » of all looks, but well worth it :).
#6: NO TIGHT BRAS
*For clogged milk ducts
Ouch, I made this mistake after my first baby, when I started to go back to yoga classes. This unfortunately brought upon plugged milk ducts for me, which was so painful and took quite a while to finally get rid of.
#7: EXPRESSED MILK AFTER A FEED
*For sore nipples
It is a well-known tip, but lightly coating the nipple with breast milk after feeding baby helps to relieve soreness and can prevent chapping.
*For low milk supply
If ever you’re having trouble with milk production, visualization can be a very useful tool.
Close your eyes, and imagine rivers and streams, see them in your mind’s eye. Then imagine that you are in these rivers, being immersed in the water or that the streams are actually flowing through you! I know, this sounds a bit “mystical” :), but this visualization helped me out almost every time when my milk was having trouble coming in.
#9: PARTNER SUPPORT
Your partner can help out by sending over some encouraging words, pillows and glasses of water.
You most likely know of KellyMom already. What an unbelievable resource. A nurturing presence, KellyMom has comforted me so many times during both of my postnatal phases, especially in regards to breastfeeding by helping me feel that I was doing a great job and that I can do this thing.
I love you!
#11: LACTATION HERBAL TEA
Lactation herbal tea helps to promote milk production and is also a tasty way to drink more liquids. Many brands exist, I used Mother’s Milk.
#12: IN TIME, YOU WILL BOTH BECOME PROS
We will both become pros! It may take a couple of weeks or even months, but baby will soon be a champ, and you too. You’re doing an amazing job!
Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comment section below.
Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→
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