Planning to breastfeed? It can be tough, mama. But you’re tough too. These newborn breastfeeding tips are what I found helped me the most in my 6+ years of breastfeeding.
When you’re just starting to breastfeed with your newborn, whether this is your first or tenth baby, there might be some challenges. That’s why I put together these 10 essential breastfeeding newborn tips to help smooth your path a little.
(Just an FYI, there are affiliate links included in this post to products and services that I found to be essential to breastfeeding my newborn.)
Breastfeeding Newborn Tips #1: Get Comfy
Sometimes it feels like your newborn wants to nurse ALL FREAKIN’ DAY.
That’s normal and actually a good thing!
Babies will nurse for long periods of time or very often not just to get the nutrition they need as they grow rapidly, but to increase your supply and establish that supply.
Your supply is based on the baby’s demands. So in order to build your supply, baby needs to nurse for longer periods and more often some times. This is called cluster feeding, and it normally happens during growth spurts, when they’re sick, or in a developmental leap.
So figure out a way to get really cozy and comfy and settle into a Netflix binge. I love this Brest Friend pillow. It’s made for twins and is huge, but it has a pocket for snacks, a remote and your phone. The ideal cluster feeding pillow.
Breastfeeding Newborn Tips #2: Skip Bottles
Don’t bottle-feed a breastfed newborn unless it’s really necessary.
When you’re establishing the breastfeeding relationship and your milk supply with a newborn, it’s important to only breastfeed if possible. You can eventually introduce bottles, but being diligent about sticking with the breast during the first few weeks or first month can make or break for some moms.
Why should you give a breastfed newborn baby a bottle?
When babies nurse they have to actively suck in order to get milk. But most bottles don’t require active sucking to get milk, there is a constant drip of milk that the baby doesn’t have to work too hard to get.
Using slow flow or preemie nipples are the best option if you need to or want to use bottles in addition to breastfeeding with a newborn as they release the least amount of milk.
But if a baby gets too used to the ease of a bottle they can get a little lazy when it comes to going back to the breast.
Also, since milk supply is dependent on supply and demand if you bottle feed you must continue to remove milk from the breast in order to maintain or build supply.
So even if you use a bottle to get a break and allow others to feed the baby, you’ll still need to pump.
Bottle alternatives for newborns
If you need to feed a baby in a way besides the breast, the best way to maintain supply and also not have the baby be confused with bottle vs. breast is to use pumped milk and try non-bottle ways to feed, like a finger or syringe feeding.
When my little ones needed some supplementation, I used pumped milk in a syringe and it worked perfectly to fill their bellies while we worked in establishing breastfeeding and keep my supply up.
Of course, all instances are unique, so consult with your pediatrician and lactation consultant to see what is best for you and your baby.
How to give a bottle to a breastfed baby?
If you do choose to give a bottle to your newborn and also want to breastfeed, here is what I would recommend based on my experience and research.
First, choose a bottle with slow flow or preemie nipple. This will give the baby the least amount of milk without them having to work for it.
Then, be sure to pump milk. Even if you choose to supplement with formula, it is important to empty the breast so you can keep up your supply.
Finally, be sure to do paced feeding! Paced feeding is the best way to mimic breastfeeding for babies who are used to nursing. It ensures they don’t get too much too fast.
Breastfeeding Newborn Tips #3: Work on that latch
A poor latch is the number one cause of pain when breastfeeding. (You can check out this article for help with breastfeeding tips for pain.)
It’s also important to ensure baby is latching well so that you know they are effectively nursing and getting all they need to fill up and get the proper nutrition.
I shared my best tips for getting the perfect latch here, but to boil it down to the most important thing to get a good latch?
Get the deepest latch you can. Make sure the baby opens very wide and gets the whole nipple plus some areola in their mouth.
Baby’s mouth should be open wide with lips flared out, and they shouldn’t be making any weird noises like slurping or clicking.
You can always get a lactation consultant (preferably an IBCLC) to have a look and give you pointers.
Breastfeeding Newborn Tips #4: Nourish yourself too
Having a newborn is so physically taxing. You thought pregnancy was hard? Having a little baby to breastfeed for what feels like a bazillion hours a day is exhausting AF.
It’s easy to put your needs last during this time, but more than ever you need to nourish yourself and be gentle with yourself.
You’ll see all kinds of products directed at new moms to help with milk supply, or tips to supposedly increase your supply.
While there may be some herbs or other tips that work for some moms, the most important thing is to just take good care of yourself. Nurture yourself.
How to take care of yourself while breastfeeding:
- Eat a healthy diet. You don’t have to live off of kale or anything, but fill up in things that will give you more energy and feel nourished. That will be different for everyone so do what is making you feel good. Pay attention to your body.
- Drink water. You don’t need to go bananas with the amount of water. There’s no evidence that drinking tons of water will help supply unless you’re already really dehydrated. Just drinking enough so you don’t feel thirsty is enough.
- Sleep. This is so hard because newborns have a mind of their own when it comes to sleep. But do your best to get some rest, and consider hiring a postpartum doula to give you sleep breaks when you’re at your wit’s end.
Breastfeeding Newborn Tips #5: Hire a postpartum doula
This was the best thing I did for myself when I had my twins.
A few times a week during the first month I had a doula come stay with my twins overnight. She would wake me to nurse them once in the night so I could get two four-hour stretches of sleep in.
I wasn’t just the sleep that helped but also being able to unplug my brain. I knew I had someone I could trust with my babies for a few hours so my entire family could get rest. I knew if they needed me, she would wake me up to tend to them.
If it is in your budget, definitely consider this! Even if it’s not in your budget, shop around. Some doulas work on a sliding scale to accommodate different income levels.
Breastfeeding Newborn Tips #6: To pump or not to pump
What I’m going to tell you may or may not be the best thing for you, but is just my own personal experience.
You can consult an IBCLC for more help with deciding what is best for you.
I chose to pump in addition to breastfeeding with my kids. Here is why:
- I wanted to encourage supply ASAP. With my first, I was worried about supply, and with my second it was twins and I wanted to bring in my supply quickly and decided to go with over vs. undersupply.
- With my first, I was planning to go back to work and wanted a supply stash for then.
- It’s nice to be able to have others feed the babies from time to time. I still breastfed the first 90+% of the feeds, but once they got to be around a month old, my husband would give them a bottle of pumped milk once a day so I could have a break.
For some moms, pumping might not make sense. Maybe you know you’ll be home with the baby, and you struggle with oversupply (which is a serious thing!) Maybe you just don’t respond well to a pump anyways, or you don’t plan to be away from baby at all.
It’s totally up to you.
Most insurances will cover the cost of your pump, and Aeroflow can help you figure that out just by filling out a quick questionnaire.
Breastfeeding Newborn Tips #7: Cosleeping is awesome
Baby sleep is a controversial issue and each family will have to decide what works best for them.
I’m a huge fan of co-sleeping, more specifically bed-sharing.
Co-sleeping means baby sleeps in the same room as parents, whether that’s in a crib or bassinets, or in bed with parents.
Bed-sharing means baby sleeps in bed with parents.
- “Place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.
- Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.
- Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
- Avoid baby’s exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.”
Personally I have chosen to bed-share with my kids.
I was so against it as a new mom, but what kept happening is I would end up falling asleep with my first baby in a rocking chair during the night, which is a lot less safe statistically than bed-sharing.
In fact, most infant deaths from sharing sleep with a parent happen on a couch or chair, not a bed.
Once I realized this, I decided to just bring her (and then her brothers later on) to bed with me.
After a lot of research, I felt it was safe if I followed the safe sleep 7, which breastfeeding organizations like La Leche League recommend.
But whether you choose to bedshare or not, keeping baby close-by is best according to research for their safety, but also for breastfeeding.
When baby is near you, it is so much easier to just grab them and latch on for a night feed instead of having to drag yourself into another room to nurse.
Breastfeeding Newborn Tips #8: Try a baby carrier
I don’t know about other moms, but I really wanted to get out and about when I had a newborn. Being stuck at home for so long made me a little stir-crazy.
But of course, baby still needs to feed when you’re away from home.
You can of course always give them bottles of pumped milk when out, but personally I hated dealing with bringing bottles places.
So to be able to simply and effectively feed my babies when we were away from home, I used a mix of the two-shirt method and kept them in a baby carrier.
The two-shirt method is just a way of keeping as much breast as possible covered while nursing without having to deal with blankets or nursing covers.
Not only is figuring out how to nurse the baby in a carrier helpful for when you’re away from home but sometimes a baby will want to nurse for what feels like forever. Being able to babywear gives you more mobility around your home to fix yourself something to eat, go for a walk, clean up a little, or chase other little ones you might have.
Breastfeeding Newborn Tips #9: Learn to nurse on your side
When you learn to nurse your baby while laying on your side, it will completely change your momlife. Seriously.
I’m just going to link to a few articles to help you master it, and once you feel pretty confident in your baby’s latch, defintely give this a try:
Breastfeeding Newborn Tips #10: Ask for help
Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn’t always come naturally. It took nearly 10 days for me to really get my firstborn to latch consistently. Those first couple of weeks were so freaking hard. I can’t even.
But we figured it out after getting support from everyone I could.
I had help from nurses at my midwifery, other moms, Facebook groups, my husband, family, and Google.
We lots of other stumbling blocks along the way, but I was able to nurse her for 2.5 years and my twins are now 2+ years old and still nursing.
The point is that this is a journey, and it might be hard sometimes. That’s ok. Most moms are able to nurse effectively with the right support. So get the support you need. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. We all need a little help at some point.
Breastfeeding newborns can be challenging, but you got this mama! Hopefully, these breastfeeding newborn tips help ease your path a little. For more breastfeeding tips, check this article out!
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