Here are the 40 of the best breastfeeding tips from seasoned moms! Get tips for successfully feeding newborns, soreness, milk production, and more!
Most new moms have a desire to try breastfeeding their baby but often give up a few days into it.
Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, but the chances of success are a lot higher when you have some solid advice from others who’ve been there.
I’ve successfully breastfed three babies to their first birthday, so I compiled the best breastfeeding tips out there so your nursing journey can start on the right foot!
Be sure to check out all my other resources for first time moms, here: First Time Mom? Here’s Everything You Need to Know!
Breastfeeding Newborn Tips
Getting the hang of breastfeeding soon after birth can set you on a path for a successful breastfeeding journey. Here are several tips to help you breastfeed your newborn.
- Breastfeed soon after delivery. After you’ve done skin to skin time, it’s best to try breastfeeding. There may not be much milk in those first few feedings, but baby will get to practice latching and start stimulating your breasts to produce colostrum.
- Pull baby’s chin down to get a good latch. Your newborn’s mouth is very tiny and may be even smaller compared to a large nipple. Once you’ve got your nipple toward the top of their lip, pull their chin down once they open their mouth so they can get their entire mouth over your areola and not just the nipple. You should never push your baby into your breast, however, and you’ll need to make sure their nose isn’t blocked so they can continue to breathe as they eat.
- Try different nursing positions. Holding baby in the cradle position may not be comfortable or effective if you’re a first time mom. There are several different breastfeeding positions and holds you can try until you find success.
- Break the latch by using your finger not by pulling baby away. Once baby gets latched, their suction is strong! If you need to pull baby off to repostion, you’ll want to break the latch by inserting a clean finger in the side of their mouth so you can safely remove their mouth from your nipple.
- You can check that baby is getting milk by their swallowing and by seeing your skin pull. You can know that baby is getting milk by seeing and hearing them swallow while they eat. You’ll also notice a gentle tug on your breast as they eat which means they’ve got a good latch.
- Newborns may fall asleep during a feeding. You can wake your baby up by undressing them and tickling their feet while they eat. If you find that your newborn is constantly sleeping during feedings, you may need to change when you feed them to right after they first wake up after a nap, and also talk to your pediatrician to make sure there aren’t any underlying issues.
- Switch which breast you start with every feeding. To try to regulate your milk production, you’ll want to switch off which breast you start feeding on each time your newborn eats. This is usually the last breast you fed from since that may have had the least amount of milk removed from it. It can be difficult to remember which breast you need to start with in those days right after delivery, so it helps to use a hair tie, safety pin, or app to help keep track.
- Seek help, but also trust your gut. The lactation consultant in the hospital can be helpful if you’ve never tried breastfeeding before, but they can also offer suggestions that slow your progress. Feel free to take their advice but don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself if you want to try something else for you and your baby.
Breastfeeding + Pumping
Planning to breastfeed and pump? Try these tips to help manage your supply and find balance between pumping and nursing.
- Be prepared with a pump so you don’t have to scramble for one after your delivery. Add a breast pump to your baby registry checklist or check with your insurance. Your insurance company may offer a free pump with your plan!
- Start pumping in the hospital. Hospitals provide a pump for new moms to use while they’re in recovery. Take advantage of this to jumpstart your milk supply before you leave.
- Be consistent. Pumping and nursing can be difficult, but you can do it! Get into a good rhythm and stick to it.
- Try pumping on one side while baby nurses on the other. You can use a silicone breast pump to capture any precious milk that leaks out on one side while baby nurses on the other.
- Invest in a hands-free pump! If you’re a working mom or a mom on-the-go, a discrete, hands-free pump can be a lifesaver. Many moms love the Elvie pump that fits in your bra and lets you work or handle other household responsibilities at the same time.
- Watch out for a strong letdown. One side effect of pumping is that you may start to experience a strong letdown. This can be frustrating for baby if the flow is too forceful for them. To help with a strong letdown, you can either start feeding, break the latch before baby gets too much milk, and resume feeding again one the flow is slower. Or you can use your free hand to press on your breast above the nipple to try and slow the flow.
- Memorize the 4-4-4 rule. Once you pump that precious milk, you’ll have a 4-hour window to use it or get it in the refrigerator. Then once it’s in the refrigerator, you have 4 days to use it or freeze it before it should be thrown out. Frozen breastmilk will keep well in the freezer for 4 months.
- Write the date on the breastmilk storage bag before you pour the milk in. It’s much easier to write on a flat surface than it is one filled with milk!
- Use the oldest breastmilk first. When you’re ready to start dipping into your breastmilk stash, use up the oldest refrigerated milk first, and then you can use the oldest freezer milk.
- You should never thaw breastmilk at room temperature. The safest way to thaw frozen breastmilk is in the refrigerator, in a bowl of warm water, or under warm running water.
- You should never use the microwave to warm up breastmilk. The safest way to warm thawed or refrigerated breastmilk is to put it in a bowl of warm water, hold it under warm running water, or use a bottle warmer.
- Never leave out warm milk. Once you’ve reheated the milk, you should use it right away or put it in the fridge for up to 4 hours. Thawed breastmilk should never be refrozen and if your baby doesn’t finish their bottle, the unfinished milk should be thrown out.
Most new mothers experience soreness with breastfeeding in the first few weeks. It’s an unfortunate part of the process, but it doesn’t last forever. Here are some tips to ease and prevent soreness.
- Make sure baby has a good latch. A proper latch can prevent painful sores and ensures baby gets as much milk as he or she needs. Before leaving the hospital, take advantage of your hospital’s lactation specialist. This specialist will give you the proper tools to ensure your baby nurses well and avoids a lipstick nipple latch. And once home, there are tons of videos on Youtube that can help, too.
- Use nipple cream. Nipple cream can offer needed relief during those first couple weeks of feeding. Some moms also use expressed milk to help with sores and tenderness.
- Try a cold compress. A cold compress can help with soreness and inflammation. Just don’t leave it on for too long!
- Stand away from the showerhead. The strong stream of water on your tender nipples can cause unnecessary pain! Just keep your back toward the water when your showering or cover your breasts if you need to face the water.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing. In those first few weeks when your body is adjusting to breastfeeding, you’ll want to wear comfortable clothing, including an underwire-free nursing bra. Bras with underwire can put pressure on your breasts which can lead to clogged ducts.
- Breastfeeding should not be painful after your milk comes in and your nipples toughen up. Many moms assume that pain is just part of the breastfeeding journey, but that is not true! Once you get the hang of breastfeeding, there shouldn’t be any pain involved. If you continue to experience pain during breastfeeding after the first month, speak with your doctor and pediatrician to make sure nothing is wrong with baby and you don’t have an infection.
Milk production works by supply and demand and will regulate over time. But, for those first several days of breastfeeding, you may experience discomfort from engorgement.
Here are some tips to handle this phase:
- Utilize a manual breast pump. These silicone breast pumps are great for catching any letdown on the side you’re not feeding on so you can build up a freezer stash for later.
- Alternatively, you can hand express until you’re comfortable. But don’t overdo it! If you pump or express too frequently, your body will continue to produce excess milk.
- Use a cold compress to handle soreness while your body figures things out.
RELATED: Try These Clever Newborn Baby Hacks if You’re a Mom to Be!
Clogged ducts are super painful and can potentially lead to infection. You’ll want to keep an eye on this, but don’t let it scare you.
There are plenty of things you can do to ease and prevent clogged ducts. Here is some great advice to follow:
- Make sure baby nurses consistently, but on demand. Don’t skip feedings if at all possible as this can cause your milk ducts to “backup”. Avoid overproduction unless you plan to pump and store your milk. If baby starts sleeping in longer chunks at night, be sure to have an extra long nursing session first thing in the morning!
- Your baby is the best tool to unclog ducts! If you do feel your ducts are clogged, nursing your baby is the best thing you can do. They are much more effective than a machine at suctioning out your milk even if it doesn’t seem like they are nursing that hard.
- Massage the lump when baby is nursing. Start above the lump and gently push down toward the nipple. Avoid trying to pinch or pop the clog.
- Take a hot shower. The warmth can help soften the lump and stimulate flow.
- Use a warm compress when you’re not in the shower. Keeping a warm compress on the clogged duct several times a day can also help soften the lump and is easier than jumping in the shower every hour.
- Take approved medication that reduces inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s response to bruises and bumps and anything that doesn’t feel normal. This inflammation can restrict your milk’s flow. An approved medication can help get your milk moving again and unclog those ducts.
RELATED: What Every New Mom Should Know About Postpartum Body Changes
How to Increase Breast Milk Production
If you’re struggling to produce milk for your baby, there are lots of options to try. And, don’t be afraid to supplement with formula while you’re figuring things out.
You may have heard the term “breast is best” or you might know others who swear by formula. Breastfeeding trends have changed overtime, and what I’ve learned is that “FED is best”.
If you’re breastfeeding and offering formula, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!
Here are some easy ways to help increase milk production:
- Try breastmilk recipes. Some ingredients thought to increase breastmilk production are: oats, flax seed, fenugreek, avocado, spinach or kale, garlic and Greek yogurt. Here are some awesome lactation recipes you can try from Cafe Mom.
- Pump! If you increase the demand for milk, your body will respond with increased production. Just make sure to pump more often and not necessarily longer.
- Eat balanced meals and drink lots of water. Remember to take care of yourself. Your body needs proper nutrition and plenty of water to be able to make milk for your baby.
- Come to terms with the fact that you don’t produce a lot of milk. Even after trying all of the recommendations above, you may just be an under producer when it comes to making breastmilk. And that’s OK! Many moms breastfeed their babies what they can and supplement with a bottle of formula. There’s no shame! And that way, you can get your partner to help with the feedings.
Baby Feeding and Sleep Schedule
If you’re struggling with figuring out a feeding schedule for baby, it’s likely you’re having a hard time working around nap time and playtime.
- Try these newborn sleep tips that outline how to organize baby’s sleep, playtime, and eating and the exact schedule that’s worked best for me!
How long does the average mom breastfeed?
I’ve known mothers who’ve nursed for 6 months and others who’ve nursed for 24+! But the average, according to Psychology Today, is about 17 weeks.
Nursing your baby can be a beautiful AND challenging experience, so how long you choose to breastfeed should be a personal choice. Hopefully, these tips will help you have the best experience possible!
My final, first-time mom breastfeeding tips, are to be patient and enjoy the moment. Those first few days and weeks with your new baby are a crazy blur.
With a little time, nursing just might become the much-needed break you need in your day and a special time to bond with your baby.
So, take a deep breath. You’ve got this!
What did you think of these breastfeeding tips? Is there any good advice you think I should add? Let me know in the comments!