Breastfeeding Tips from a First Time Mother

Heather Breastfeeding Poppy 2As a first time mother, I have already discovered a few tricks for breastfeeding my daughter. Some of the tricks I have learned from my doula. Some of the tricks I picked up on my own. All of these tricks I wished I had known right from the beginning of breastfeeding. So, for my readers who will soon be embarking on the journey of breastfeeding, I am here to share my tips now.

First, a newborn has a very small mouth. When engorged with milk, the nipple of the breast often becomes hard. A hard nipple is difficult for a newborn to latch on to. The first breastfeeding trick that my doula taught me was to express some milk before offering an engorged breast to my daughter. Expressing a small amount of milk is easy. Holding my nipple up to my daughter’s mouth, I use my thumb and index finger to gently squeeze some milk into her mouth. Expressing the milk not only makes the nipple soft and easier to latch on to but the milk that gets expressed into her mouth makes Poppy even more interested in breastfeeding.

Second, my daughter is still learning to nurse in multiple positions. Right now we are working on laying on our sides chest to chest while she nurses. This position will make breastfeeding more comfortable and convenient for me at night. However, as I have learned, a newborn does not know how to breastfeed in every position right off the bat. Instead, I have learned that I have to give Poppy some time to learn to nurse in various positions. Babies are smart, but time is the key to breastfeeding success.

Third, breastfeeding can be rough on the nipples. I have so far been lucky in that my nipples have had some tender moments but have never been in pain. I highly recommend that every new mother get herself a good tube of lanolin before her baby is even born. Although I have not had too many problems with my nipples, I still find the lanolin to help soothe the tenderness.

Fourth, for mothers who plan on returning to work but who still want to continue providing their babies with nutrient-rich breast milk, pumping is a much. I began pumping in an effort to build up a stockpile of frozen breast milk as soon as my milk came in. At first, however, I was not getting a lot of milk at each sitting. My problem was that I had not learned how to use my milk let down to my advantage. The trick for me is to nurse my daughter on one breast while simultaneously pumping the other. As the breast she is nursing from lets down, so too does the side that I am pumping. My daughter is getting enough to eat now while I am able to pump enough to feed her later. Plus, removing more milk from my breasts at each feeding while help ensure that I keep producing enough milk in general.

Breastfeeding is the normal and natural way to feed a baby. However, as a first time mother, I have discovered a few tricks to making the journey into breastfeeding a little easier. I hope my tips help other mothers-to-be who are also planning on providing their newborns with the perfect food. Good luck!

Image Credits

Heather Breastfeeding Poppy © 2011 James Johnson

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is a mother, wife, writer, librarian, and linguist. She earned a BA in English studies with a minor in creative writing from Illinois State University in May 2007, an MS in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2009, and an MS in English studies with an emphasis in linguistics at Illinois State University in December 2011.

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