Breastfeeding advice

proserpinaFebruary 25, 2007

I am due in a few weeks and I really really really want to breastfeed, but all my girlfriends seem to be of the "bottle is better" school.

Do you have any tips to share with me on how to successfully beat the initial difficult stage and then continue to do it serenly? Also, if you have tips just in general (like if one bra is better than another or concrete advice like that), I would really really appreciate all your help.


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I nursed all three of my kids. My best advice is to stay hydrated. Mommy can't produce milk if she isn't drinking enough water. It's hard to do when you don't have enough time for yourself.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 9:27PM
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Get the book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and read it. Now. It is the La Leche League manual with lots of good information. I also like Karen Pryor's book.

It is important to be well rested as well as hydrated too. I know that is hard to manage as a new mom, but be sure to take a nap every day, avoid the itch to be too busy or social, and just concentrate on yourself and your baby. Be especially on guard for that 6 week growth spurt, when your baby's appetite seems to double overnight. If you are well rested and hydrated, you will manage it well. And if you make it through that first 6 weeks, you will do just fine. About 6 weeks post partum, mom is feeling great, confined, and wants to galavant. Please wait for week 7 so that you have the 6 week growth spurt behind you.

New babies are sleepy souls and not all that interested in nursing. I found it helps to cool them down as they nurse so they will stay awake. If you leave them all warm and cozy as they nurse, they just fall asleep promptly and quit nursing. So I would unwrap the blanket on them, take off their booties and twiddle their toes or ear lobes to keep them awake and nursing.

I nursed 3 and managed well with the two books I mentioned above as my advisors. It gets easier the longer you nurse.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 10:37PM
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Latching is the most problematic during the first few days. A poor latch can cause alot of discomfort for the newborn and you. Allow others (nurse, midwife) to help you get the hang of latching. For the first few days after the birth of my babies I didn't wait until they were really hungry to try the latch. That way it wasn't frantic and the baby was calm (I was calm) and the process was a lot easier. I was fortunate and was able to breastfeed my first child until 18 months and I am still nursing my second child (15 months). I had problems with my first child with not producing enough breast milk. I wasn't getting the right advice from professionals. After 3 weeks I started to supplement with formula and continued to nurse. This method worked for me. The bottom line is the baby needs to be fed. After about 6 weeks I was producing enough to breastfeed exclusively. Keep in mind that you have to do what is right for you and the baby. I did find breastfeeding to be extremely convenient. For the three weeks I was supplementing with formula the mixing and sterilizing of bottles was just an extra chore at a time when you have enough going on.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 8:31AM
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One way I found to keep my baby awake was rubbing her head. As well as ideas mentioned above.

We had no problem establishing latching within the first 12 hours, but I was under the impression I needed to try every two hours anyways. So, after 26 hours of labor and having an almost 10 pound baby, I tried every 2 hours like was suggested. I found out later, they just reccommend that for practice, baby really gets the sugary liquid (forget the name) in trace amounts until the milk comes in. It is beneficial, but milk is what they need. So, try and take advantage of the rest and help received in the hospital, and not worry so much about getting it right immediately.

Also, my milk didn't come in for the first six days. Baby was HUNGRY by day 2. Everything I read about making breastfeeding work, said DO NOT introduce the pacifier or bottle until after at least six weeks. But, I had to supplement in those first few days, she was so hungry. My husband gave her that first bottle when she was 3 days old in the wee hours of the morning. He said he could hear the thud of the milk hitting her stomach. She did well with supplementation. Also, recent studies suggest that the pacifier can reduce the risk of SIDS.

I didn't make it past 6 weeks, due to other reasons, but am determined to try it again for baby number 2. I've heard a description about breastfeeding as "strapping a treadmill to your boob". That baby weight can drop off like no other diet! My best friend got back to her high school weight on the breastfeeding diet! Christy

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 3:40PM
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When the going gets tough, keep telling yourself, I WILL DO THIS FOR 1 MORE WEEK. Do you know if you PROMISE yourself this continously, before you know it a month will have passed, then two, then 6. In other words, perservere. It is not easy at first, so DO NOT go in thinking it will be. It DOES NOT come naturally at first (how can it, you've never done it, neither has the baby). So don't feel like a failure. BUT, once you get the hang of it, it is so fulfilling. DO NOT worry about how much they are drinking. Go by number of dirty and wet diapers and weight gain. DO NOT go by number of hours between feedings. DO NOT listen to people who have "failed" find people who have succeeded, they will be your best support system.

DD#1 when she nursed her baby worried because "she's not drinking enough, she wants to eat every two hours", I was out of town of vacation, so she switched to the bottle after a week. Guess what, baby still ate every two hours. She was getting enough. Daddy and the other Grandma were not supportive.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 5:20PM
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One clarification. The "first milk" is colostrum, and it is very important food. It contains all kinds of antibodies to illnesses the mother was exposed to that now protect her baby. It is a rich food for the baby, so it is important food. I had no trouble breastfeeding. It is just that you are new at it and have to figure it out.

DD had some trouble, in part because her baby came a little early. He was not latching on well and would get impatient because he was so hungry and wouldn't wait for the let down. The nipple shield was a miracle for her. Grandson is nursing like a champion now and looking chunky and sassy.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2007 at 12:45AM
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Ah, Colostrum, I couldn't think of the word. Thanks! Of course it is beneficial, they just don't drink very much, and then milk comes in. I was suggesting that resting while in the hospital would be more beneficial than waking up to hit the 2 hour practice mark. My DD is now 18 months old. The OP is asking for advice, perhaps explain what the nipple shield is? I've don't know what it is, either :) Christy

    Bookmark   February 27, 2007 at 9:26AM
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I breast fed dd1 until she was 8 months and went to solid foods and dd2 until she was 16 months old. We are expecting number 3 in July and plan on breastfeeding him/her too.

One thing is to find a comfortable bra, I read somewhere that underwire bras can contribute to mastitis so I went with a bra without an underwire. Make sure the bra fits, is comfortable and easy to open with one hand:)

Second thing is to find someone that has successfully breast fed to help you find the ropes. My mom was a great help with the first one making sure I was holding her right, that the baby was latching on correctly and reminding me to drink water.

One thing that I was told as a hint was everytime you sit down to feed the baby, drink a big glass of water to stay hydrated.

I totally feel that breastfeeding is so much easier than bottles, remember when ever the baby is hungry, you always have the food ready:)

Last thing is don't be shy about breast feeding in public. DH is a coach and I have breast fed both my girls at every kind of sporting event, restaurants and stores. With number 1 I tried to feed in the bathroom but realized how stupid it was to be hiding in a bathroom stall sitting on a toilet to do what nature finds normal.

Best of luck and feel free to email me for support.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2007 at 9:32AM
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Wow, thank you all so much. I have been thumbing through the books and I have been asking some women I just met their experiences too so it's helped a lot!

Stacie, and I suppose everyone else, what is the best etiquette when breastfeeding in public? I am a fairly "comfortable" person but I live in a somewhat conservative area: what is the best way to breastfeed in public? Do you step away? Do you cover up? None of those? My husband is a coach as well so I'll be on the sidelines quite a bit....

Oh, also, what is y'all's take on schedule vs. feeding on demand?

Boy, is he kicking tonight!!! He must know I'm thinking about him......

    Bookmark   March 1, 2007 at 10:03PM
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The one thing I learned (By accident) from the start if you make sure you cover the baby either by a blanket or with your shirt up to the babies nose with your shirt, NOTHING SHOWS. Start that right away and they'll accept that...don't and they want that b00b exposed entirely when they nurse.

Guess what, unless someone is really looking, they can't even tell you're nursing if the shirt if up to the babies nose, and if their looking that close..shame on them. You can get them to latch on and off descretly with practice. Otherwise the blanket over the shoulder is a hint..I'm nursing. No need to hide. I've nursed in resteraunts, shopping malls, etc. I've seen people that "taught" their kids to nurse while walking. How convienent!!! Nursing is pretty much on demand, at least it was when I did it. BUT they do fall into their own schedule.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 9:53AM
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About the walking while breastfeeding, on Halloween, a woman dressed as a witch was walking with her three children and a child that was breastfeeding... for a second I thought he was a doll, but when she saw my amazement, she shrugged and called him her little champion! I thought she was the champ!!!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 4:10PM
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Feed on demand at first. Breastmilk digests more readily than formula, and at first they don't always nurse well every time, so you want to be sure to feed them when they are hungry. I never used a schedule, but some do. I was not comfortable nursing in public. Some babies suddenly pop off the breast and leave you hanging out there in all your glory. So a blanket over them is a good idea. If someone at the game suddenly made a basket and the cheer erupted, a baby might pop off in a startle or to see, and you might well be squirting milk all over everyone.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2007 at 2:20AM
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I know that when I would breast feed in public, I would just lift my shirt up and tuck it around the girls. A lot of times I would either cover up or stick my shirt up over the baby. I wore lots of DH's shirts or big comfy shirts. I pretty much fed on demand and fed Peyton til she was 16 months, 3 weeks later found out we were expecting number 3, so not much of a break before breastfeeding again.

LOL I was one of those who has breastfeed while walking around.I would hold the baby in a football hold and walk around the house feeding the baby while finishing supper. With DD2 I would even walk around Walmart shopping while feeding the baby. One thing that you might look into getting or making is 1. a baby sling, you can put the baby in the sling,lift up your shirt, and cover up with the sling and walk around feeding the baby hands free, 2. I have seen breastfeeding ponchos that you can wear over an outfit that would cover up without trying to tuck a blanket in, but I think any kind of poncho would work.

For me and any other new moms out there the thing to remember is that breastfeeding is normal, it is what we are supposed to do. I know that some people are uncomfortable seeing breastfeeding moms but I am more uncomfortable with the girls that wear pants that show their underwear.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2007 at 10:36AM
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La Leche League International continues to be the mother of all breastfeeding support, check out the website below for a wealth of info online as well as your nearest community of nursing moms. If you can possibly get to a meeting before your baby comes, make the time!

Big tips:

Hang out with successful nursing mothers you admire. Meet more of them at local LLL meetings. Surround yourself with support and success.

If you have any questions or stumbling, call a La Leche League Leader or an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). You can find an IBCLC at:
Get help both with the latch (baby at breast) and baby's position against your body. LLLLs & IBCLs are uniquely trained to help you with this. Let someone knowledgeable observe you with your baby & ask all your small questions before they become big ones. Avoid artificial nipples & milk substitutes (assuming non-emergency situation!) as you establish breastfeeding and get to know your baby.

Nurse early, nurse often. You can't over-nurse, baby will just say no, thanks if she's not interested. Baby's tummy is tiny and will not stretch on day one. It's normal for baby to hang out at the breast taking a teaspoon or more of rich colostrum at a time and getting to know her new environment.

Shoo people away and hang out skin-to-skin with your baby. Take your time, rest, trust your baby and your body. Your smell and your touch will rouse the baby and remind her she belongs on your body and at your breast.

Every question deserves an answer! Keep asking til it feels right.

Nursing is normal.

You're the mom and this is your baby.

Here is a link that might be useful: La Leche League International

    Bookmark   March 5, 2007 at 1:47PM
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Thank you so much. I found a pediatrician I REALLY liked and she was very supportive and encouraging... I had spoken to another one and she was saying to get on a schedule right away. I thought that school of thought was obsolete, any thoughts on that?

You all have given me so much to "work with", thank you thank you thank you! He is really low, have begun dialating but not much. Will let you know!!!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 12:27PM
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Scheduling is for the convenience of various adults. Biology is a bear to schedule.

Hold your baby (skin-to-skin as much as you can at first) & listen to him. Soon enough you will develop communication and routines -- that will change as you grow together! Best to listen to your baby and yourself, not books and passersby.

Develop supportive circles that help you grow into your own unique role as mother to this little boy. Trust yourself. Surround yourself with others who trust you to become the mother you want to be.

Pediatricians are not necessarily "parenting experts." A good pediatrician will support your mothering process, while helping you with medical issues (her primary purpose!).

Mothering and nursing are one.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 3:43PM
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OK, so I have to say, it's been going pretty well, painful but not as bad as I expected. I do have a question or two however:

-The little man seems to fall asleep very easily. What are your techniques to keep your children awake?

-So he is asleep pretty much at the end of each feeding. I try to "burp him awake" but no go, he is sound asleep... And then I hear the pediatrician's voice in my head saying that if the babe gets used to falling asleep every time he feeds, he's going to need food every time he goes to bed. I get it, but he's just over a week old! Shouldn't there be a time where I start enforcing rules but until then he gets a break? (He was born on the 30th...)

Thanks as always and if you have any other tips for this breastfeeding novice, I would love to hear it!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 10:00PM
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Babies who nurse don't get as many bubbles as those who don't (HEck I forgot I was even suppose to burp babies with my first for the first week..oops) So if you get a burp, great, if you don't..don't sweat's not like formula where you get those bubbles in it!!! Sleeping babies can burp up a bubble if there is one, so if one won't come up, he doesn't seem gassy, etc, he probably isn't. Sounds like he's sleeping well, he isn't getting bubbles, so just doesn't need to burp as much as other babies who swollow a lot of air.

My kids always fell asleep while's hard work getting that milk out of that nipple, not like the bottle that's easy. Let him sleep. No he will not always need food every time he goes to bed, just now that he's all babies do. Maybe at a year or so he'll start to go to bed without his night time feeding, you'll know...right now ENJOY YOUR BONDING TIME. Don't sweat anything.

If he's falling asleep easily...personally, let him. If you feel you MUST keep him awake (why you feel you must I don't know unless you read that somewhere) less clothing so he's uncomfortable, play with his feet so he's uncomfortable will help (why would you want to make him uncomfortable?) A sleeping baby is a content baby. A content baby is a happy baby. A nursing content baby is wonderful!!


    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 3:56AM
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You do need to feed him enough, and some babies will sleep rather than eat enough at first. Also, mom can get uncomfortable and engorged if baby does not nurse enough. To get my babies to stay awake enough to eat, I would cool them down so they would not feel so warm and sleepy... I would take them out of the blanket, take their booties off, twiddle their ear lobes. My DD read to stroke along the length of the spine with her finger, which will get them nursing again.

Nursing ought not to hurt. That probably means he is not getting the nipple far enough into the back of his mouth. Their mouths are so small at first, that when they open up to nurse, it helps to just shove the nipple back into the rear of the mouth as much as you can so they can position it and their tongues properly.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 12:07AM
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Thank you thank you. Vickie, you remind me I just have to breathe and relax a bit. The little fella seems to be doing pretty well, I'll get confirmation at his next well check but I think all is well because his body is looking less and less "gangly" as he did after he was first born.

Sheila, thank you for your advice. The earlobe thing failed miserably, I think it actually soothed him!!! However, keeping him cool and shifting positions and prodding him does help. When feeding in public, I try to cover up a bit, but as soon as the blanket goes over (even a light one), he starts nodding off... any other strategies anyone knows about?
As for the pain, it's more when he latches on than during the entire process. It hurts less and less and it is probably due to the fact that both he and I are getting increasingly used to each other and are learning how to literally connect more effectively.

Now? The only REAL question is this: when do WE get to sleep again? :o)

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 11:42AM
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I think you get to get real sleep when they're about.....oh about age 10, ya then you get a few years, then it's worried about dating, etc. Then they have kids and you worry about them and oh, sorry now you may NEVER sleep!!

It'll start to hurt less and less as he latches on. One hint for nursing in public (and at home). Rather than throwing a blanket over him so he's warm, get him use to having your shirt come to his nose. THat way you can keep him cool and "uncomfortable" to keep nursing, and keep some dignity.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 12:32PM
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Thanks Vickey!!! I was afraid that would be your answer! ;o)

While I'm here, is there a 3-week growth spurt? He seems insatiable lately...

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 2:34PM
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Hi Proserpina! Sounds like you've gotten some very good advice.

If your nipples still hurt, you can slather on some Lansinoh to keep them from getting dried out. This also helps with cracked nipples. As far as a 3-week-growth spurt, yes, this could be it. I heard from a nurse midwife that it's "3 weeks, 3 months, 3 years."

My husband teaches economics, and I told him the only thing I know about supply and demand is related to breastfeeding: the more demand there is, the more supply there is! But I told him not to use that example in class. LOL

I don't know if anyone mentioned it already, but tickling their chins or cheeks can also get them to nurse while asleep. Undressing them might help too if you especially need them to wake up. :) Makes 'em mad to be cold! :P

Congratulations on your new little one!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 7:11PM
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Sheesh, I hope this goes right for me when the time comes! I'm due July 10th and have every intention of breastfeeding...

Question: When you use creams etc. to soothe sore or cracked nipples, don't you have to wash it off before every feeding? Doesn't that counteract the cream's effectiveness?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 2:16PM
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Some ointments don't need to be washed off. They are considered safe. You still might want to use a dry cloth to wipe (not wash) the ointment off before feedings so the baby can latch on without sliding of. (You'll figure this one out;))

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 5:43PM
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I use the Lansinoh cream (I tried another one but this one is softer) and in theory you don't have to wipe them off because the contents don't hurt the baby... but the slipping issue is indeed a reality. I generally wipe with my breast pads before we "get to work".

Uhm, the book that I found to be most helpful is "The Breastfeeding Book" by Dr. Sears. It is pretty much the abridged version of the La Leche League one with a bit less praise for why breastfeeding is good (I would think that if you have made the decision to nurse, you probably have considered all the pros).

Amy, I wish you all the best. From a new brestfeeder, all I can say is hang in there. It's difficult at the beginning, but if you can plow through the first 4-6 weeks (that's how long it took me), you will do just fine. I am loving it now, every day closer to sleeping through the night already (never thought it could happen so soon).

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 8:15PM
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Thanks for the tips! I will look for that book AND the cream.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 11:25AM
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