10 Tips for Successful Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding isn't always easy, but a few changes can make all the difference.

Nursing your newborn can be both a beautiful and stressful experience. 

Breastfeeding can facilitate a special bond between you and your baby, but unfortunately, it isn’t always easy.

One of the most important aspects of successfully breastfeeding your newborn is starting off correctly. If you struggle in the beginning, you’re less likely to continue breastfeeding beyond a few days or weeks. The World Health Organization currently recommends breastfeeding for at least six months, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for 12 months.

To help you reach your goal of successfully breastfeeding your child, we’ve compiled a list of 10 things that every breastfeeding mom should know.

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10 Tips for Successful Breastfeeding

  1. Breastfeed as soon as possible after giving birth. According to health professionals, it’s optimal to breastfeed your newborn no more than one hour after delivery.
  2. Focus on bonding and establishing a proper latch. In the first seven to 10 days after giving birth, it’s important to focus on bonding with your child via skin-to-skin contact and establishing a proper latch. A proper latch can be what makes or breaks your ability to breastfeed. An improper latch can lead to sore nipples, a dwindling milk supply and a hungry and colicky baby.
  3. Find what breastfeeding position works best for you and your baby. Finding a comfortable feeding position is another crucial part of breastfeeding success. It’s easy to think that there’s only one way to feed your baby, but there’s a multitude of positions that may work for you and your child.
  4. Don’t introduce any other food unless medically necessary. Many new moms start to stress out in the first couple of weeks, think they’re not producing enough milk and think they need to feed their newborn formula. Fortunately, in most cases, adding formula isn’t necessary. As long as your baby is gaining weight, wetting four to six diapers a day, and pooping regularly, he or she is getting the right amount of milk. If you give formula when it’s not necessary, it can interfere with nursing in two ways: First, your baby won’t spend as much time at the breast, so you won’t produce as much milk. Second, using a bottle before nursing is well established will cause nipple confusion, making it harder for your child to properly latch while nursing.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The sooner you get help, the more successful you and your child’s nursing relationship will be. There are multiple professional resources available to nursing mothers who are struggling to breastfeed.
  6. Don’t introduce a pacifier until breastfeeding is well established. A pacifier offered before a nursing relationship is well established can cause nipple confusion. It’s best to wait to offer a pacifier until your child is at least 1-month-old.
  7. Learn to recognize hunger cues. It’s easier to feed a slightly hungry baby than to feed a starving baby, so it’s important to recognize early hunger cues such as rooting (searching for the breast), sucking on his or her fist, licking lips, and sticking his or her tongue out. By the time your child is crying, he or she has been hungry for a long time, and it will be harder to have a successful nursing session.
  8. Don’t focus too much on the clock, but don’t ignore it either. Babies should nurse every 1 ½ to three hours in the first few weeks, so if your newborn hasn’t fed for three or more hours, you should attempt to nurse. However, if your baby is hungry before a scheduled feeding time and is giving you hunger cues, you should feed them regardless of your scheduled time.
  9. Stay well-hydrated. Drinking enough water while your breastfeeding is vitaly important because nursing increases a mother’s water loss dramatically. However, don’t worry too much if you forgot to drink your required daily intake because studies have shown that mild dehydration doesn’t affect your breastmilk. 
  10. Relax. During the first few weeks of motherhood, it’s easy to want to jump up and get everything done. Unfortunately, stress can interfere with your body’s ability to produce oxytocin, which is the hormone that causes your milk to let down, and this, in turn, can interfere with your ability to feed your child properly. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help, or at the very least, let the housework go until you and baby have found a healthy rhythm and schedule.

Breastfeeding your child isn’t always easy. It takes a lot of trial and error, life adjustments, and possibly a few tears (from both you and baby), but in the end, all your hard work will be worth it because your body is doing something miraculous!

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