You have made the wonderful decision to breastfeed your sweet bundle of joy. Congratulations! Breastfeeding is very rewarding for both mother and baby. You are providing nature’s perfect food for your newborn and creating a most precious bond. Breastfeeding is not always easy though. Many new moms have to jump some hurdles first like correcting a poor latch, nursing on an elimination diet, supply issues and sore nipples. Don’t be alarmed though. Most of the problems that arise in the early days can be easily overcome when you are armed with the right resources and support. I am going to give you my top five tips for breastfeeding your newborn.

I am currently nursing a nine month old and it certainly was not a cake walk in the beginning! I almost gave up too many times to count in the first two weeks, but because I was informed, I kept on. It’s true what they say, it gets so much easier.

1.) Proper Latch– Try to get this down while you are still in the hospital or with your doula. It is so important to have a proper latch for baby to transfer the most milk. Baby can be sucking but not suckling for an hour or more and not receive any nutrition if he is not actually drinking. Get a lactation specialist to watch you latch baby on to your breast. She can help you correct any problems. I think I had at least three nurses plus my mother in law help me learn a proper latch. Do not be afraid to ask for help! It is also very important to nurse baby as soon after birth as possible (within 30 minutes).
Nursing my son for the first time minutes after birth.

2.) Nurse on DemandNursing on demand means watching your baby’s hunger cues. Do not follow a schedule. Nurse at least every 2-3 hours. Some nursing cues are baby rooting, making sucking motions, sucking on fingers, restlessness, and turning head side to side. Crying is a sign you have waited too long to nurse. Never limit the amount of time baby is at your breast. Newborns need to nurse a lot! At least 10-12 times a day.

3.) Support– It is incredibly important for breastfeeding success that you have a strong support system. Take a breastfeeding class. Get the phone number and email of a lactation consultant. Call a family member who has breastfed. Join a breastfeeding forum. Attend Le Leche League meetings. Never be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions or get help. I even had our pediatrician watch me nurse at an appointment so she could spot any problems.

4.) Resources– Have all your breastfeeding resources compiled before you give birth because I guarantee you, you will have questions and doubts. Some of my favorite sites were Kelly Mom (absolutely wonderful and the most helpful resource of my breastfeeding experience), Le Leche League website, Breastfeeding Tips & Guide,  The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (La Leche League International Book), a breastfeeding forum with quick responses like The Bump Breastfeeding board,  and videos of proper latch on Dr. Jack Newman’s website (very helpful if you’ve never seen a baby nurse).

5.) Get Comfortable– This is so important for you. You are going to be nursing A LOT so you need to have a designated area that you are comfortable in and have everything you need within reach. I had a glider set up in my son’s room with an end table right next to it. I kept my end table stocked with bottled water, snacks, a book, phone, a notebook to write down when baby last nursed and what side last, a blanket, and burp cloth. I love my Boppy pillow too. We still use it! It gets baby’s head at the right height for your breast and is very comfortable for you and baby. Try different nursing positions and see what works best for you.
Nursing on the go in the Moby wrap.
Take each day at a time. On hard days I would say, “I am going to breastfeed until at least the end of this week,” and every week that helped me get to the next. It does get easier. SO much easier. I am still nursing at 9 months and it is honestly as easy as “whipping it out” now! My son nurses sitting up in my lap, cross cradle, in the carrier, in the carseat, just about anywhere and anytime now without a problem at all. Remember breastfeeding is a learned art and will take time for both of you. When you do get the hang of breastfeeding, it is truly the most wonderful, amazing feeling in the world!
Kristin is a first time, stay at home mom and writes at Our Growing Garden.

A big thank you to Kristin for being the “first” Auntie and the wonderful advice for Breastfeeding moms!

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