If you are pregnant with your first baby, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed with the thought of breastfeeding your little one.
With so much pressure to breastfeed these days, it can feel a little overwhelming at first.
Even if you follow every tip in the world, breastfeeding success can be hard work and despite doing everything “right” which can lead to feelings of inadequacy or failure.
I am thankful to have successfully breastfed all three of my babies for almost a year with all three of my babies but it did not come without struggle.
To make your breastfeeding journey a little easier, I have rounded up my top breastfeeding hacks so you can enjoy the newborn phase because trust me, it goes by way too fast!
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Breastfeeding Tips Before Birth
In order to really set yourself up for success, you will want to be prepared with a few things.
Start Educating Yourself Right Away
When it comes to successful breastfeeding, those early days of establishing your supply are very important.
Take a class or read a book about breastfeeding before your little one comes.
Personally, I would recommend taking a course because for not much more money, you will have access to the course creator if you have any questions or need more help.
I REALLY wish I had this course before my first baby was born.
I learned so much from the creator even after three babies (with plans of another).
Don’t wait to Get Help
If you are struggling at the hospital, don’t be afraid to tell your nurse so they can get you with a lactation consultant.
Even after my third baby, I always requested to see the lactation specialist at the hospital, that is what they are there for!
Before leaving the hospital, make sure your baby has a good latch and is not only sucking but actually swallowing the milk.
Those first few days of breastfeeding are very important for establishing your milk supply and good routines.
Create a Nursing Basket
I prefer a portable nursing basket instead of a specific nursing station because you might not always feed in the same exact spot everytime.
Keep a little basket stocked with things like snacks, water bottles in case you forget your cup, nursing pads, burp clothes, a book or magazine…anything to help you stay relaxed because you might be sitting in that same spot for a while.
Save Your Money On a Nursing Wardrobe
This is definitely personal preference but being the minimalist that I am, dedicating an entire wardrobe to breastfeeding is just worth it the money or the clutter.
Not only is it expensive but it also won’t last you very long.
Instead, just get a couple comfy nursing bras.
I found it much easier to either wear button up shirts or a loose fitting shirt.
Tips for Making Breastfeeding Easier
You could spend about 1,800 hours a year breastfeeding. This is about the same as working a full time job!
Here are some tips to make it easier.
Keep a Breastfeeding and Diaper Log
Tired and overwhelmed moms are also forgetful!
At my first baby’s doctor appointment, the pediatrician asked questions like, “how often does your baby nurse” and “how many pee/poop diapers does she have a day?”
I was so tired that I honestly couldn’t remember.
Keeping track of how often your baby eats, their mood, as well as how many diapers they have throughout the day will help make sure your baby is getting what they need.
This only needs to be done the first couple weeks but it will become very helpful if you have any struggles with breastfeeding.
Enjoy The Skin to Skin
Research shows over and over that skin to skin helps not only establish better breastfeeding success but it also helps with their brain development. (source)
Oh how I miss my baby’s naked little body pressed up against mine!
Don’t Neglect Your Slacker Boob
Have you ever heard breastfeeding moms joke about being lopsided?
It really is no joke! My left side would always be twice as big as my right making things look a little interesting if I got too engorged.
You will most likely have a side that your baby prefers and that produces more milk. I was told by a lactation consultant to always start and stop on the side that is slacking..
This will help keep that side stimulated to produce more milk. You can also pump on slacking side after nursing if your baby doesn’t want to latch anymore.
Get Dad Involved
I say this with love.
Just because dada can’t directly feed the baby, doesn’t mean there are not PLENTY of other things he can help with around the house to prevent you from feeling even more overwhelmed.
While you are spending 10-12 hours a day breastfeeding, get your significant other to help with other things like diaper changes, bottle cleaning, or just keeping the house picked up.
This will help you relax and enjoy your time with your baby instead of looking around at a million other things you need to do.
Stay Extra Hydrated
Breastfeeding will probably leave you feeling constantly dehydrated.
You may even feel instantly parched the second your baby latches.
If drinking water is a challenge for you, make sure to have several water bottles around at all times to remind you to stay hydrated.
Or even better, keep one large water jug and make it your mission to drink the entire thing throughout the day.
Stressing about breastfeeding can really wreak havoc on your supply and your success.
And not to mention, your new baby can sense your worries and frustrations.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, try to take some deep breaths, put on some relaxing music and just allow your body and baby to do what they need to do.
Breastmilk Storage Hacks
If you are planning on pumping to build a breastmilk stash, here are some helpful tips to make it easier.
If you are trying to build a freezer stash, lay your bags of breastmilk flat in the freezer then organize them after they are frozen.
Laying them flat will save you a ton of storage in your freezer.
Organize Breastmilk In Ziplock Bags
Some moms mention storing their breastmilk in empty soda can boxes.
I personally found saving them flat inside ziplock bags to be a lot better. Especially in a deep freezer or if you don’t have a side by side refrigerator/ freezer.
Just be sure to label the bag with the date ranges and keep the bags in order.
For more breastmilk storage and handling, check out Kellymom.com.
Label Storage Bags Correctly
I leaned the hard way to make sure you label breastmilk storage bags correctly.
Make sure you are writing, the date, number of ounces and time of day.
The composition of your milk can change during the day so I like to use my milk from oldest to newest and putting the time helps.
Tips For Feeding Your Baby In Public
Breastfeeding in public might feel intimidating but it doesn’t have to be!
When your baby is screaming to eat, fear or insecurity should not stand in your way!
No, I’m not keen on just whipping it out for the world to see but you can definitely do it discreetly and comfortably in public.
First, you will need to be equipped with good nursing cover. I tried a lot and this was by far the best. and it doubles as a carseat cover and burp cloth .
I always had a couple on hand.
These nursing covers/carseat covers are stretchy, breathable and super easy to use in public.
I literally breastfeed anywhere with this thing!
Practice at Home
If you feel worried about how you will pull down your shirt without exposing the world, practice a couple times at home until you and your baby get the hang of it.
Look For Less Distractions
If your baby is overstimulated AND hungry, it can be challenging to get them to latch with too much commotion in the background.
Plus, if you are feeling anxious about breastfeeding in public, they will sense it which can make it harder to nurse.
Try to find a spot with less commotion at least until they get a comfortable latch.
Bring the Essentials
Make sure to have extra nursing pads, burping cloths, swaddle blankets and a change of clothes because things can get a little messy, quick!
And if you are a pumping mom, consider bringing a Haaka or hand pump on-the-go.
Tips To Relieve Pain With Breastfeeding
There may be times when breastfeeding is uncomfortable, especially at first, but it should not be painful.
Don’t Wait To Get Help
If the pain of breastfeeding is making your cringe, do not wait to get help.
This is most likely a sign of a poor latch which can not only harm your breast but it can also affect your milk supply.
This course is one of the best breastfeeding resources around.
Heal Sore Nipples
If your nipples are feeling sore or cracked, consider using a nursing ointment or coconut oil after your nursing session to keep the moisturized.
You can also try a few drops of expressed breastmilk to help them heal faster.
Consider Soft Shells
Clothing rubbing against sore nipples can be uncomfortable.
These shells help protect your nipples from rubbing against clothing and come in pretty handy if you are feeling uncomfortable.
I experienced constant engorgement with all three babies and while it is a blessing to have so much milk, it is also very painful and can be difficult to manage.
It can also make it challenging for your baby to latch.
The challenge when dealing with engorgement is that milk production is based on supply and demand.
This means the more milk you express to relieve the engorgement, the more milk your body thinks it has to make and it becomes a hard cycle to break.
Here are a couple things that can help:
- Try hand expressing before feeding to help your baby latch better.
- Consider ice packs to relieve the swelling. I loved these boobie ice packs because they are cheap and fit nicely into a nursing bra.
- Massage and a warm shower. The heat and massage will help some of the milk come out on its own to relieve pressure.
- Some people recommend cabbage leaves to reduce swelling but I never tried this.
Breastfeeding Affirmations For Motivation and Support
I can almost promise you there will be times that you question your ability and desire to breastfeed.
Here are some helpful breastfeeding affirmations to keep you motivated to continue for as long as you and your baby want.
My baby and I are learning this together.
I am able to provide all the nourishment my baby needs.
It may not be easy but it is 100% worth it.
If my baby and I can no longer continue breastfeeding, I know we have done our best.
Just because I don’t love every moment of motherhood doesnt mean I dont love being a mom.
My body is strong and was created for this.
I trust my intuition and feelings as a mother.
Asking for help doesn’t mean I am doing something wrong, it means I am motivated to do it better.
I will not compare my breastfeeding journey to any others. This is my unique journey with my baby and we are learning together.
I will not let judgemental words of others affect my ability or desire to breastfeed my baby. (eveyrone will have an opinion!)
I know my baby and my body better than anyone else.
Final Thoughts On Breastfeeding Hacks For New Moms
Breastfeeding is an amazing opportunity but it shouldn’t be completely overwhelming or miserable.
If the challenges you are facing are strongly affecting your ability to embrace those early days of motherhood, there are plenty of other options. Remember, your new baby will not be mad if you don’t breastfeed.
They need a happy and healthy mommy.
Do what you feel is best for YOU and YOUR baby without all the extra pressure out there.
Good luck and I would love to hear your experiences or any other tips you would add to this list. Brooke@strugglesofafitmom.com
Struggles of a Fit Mom uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within it’s articles. Read my editorial process to learn more about how I fact-check and keep my content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.