10 Tips to Help Make Breastfeeding Easier

August 5th, 2012 | Posted by Andie in Ramble

Did you know it’s World Breastfeeding Week? As a mum of a toddler who is still breastfeed (most days not too bad), I’ve been very fortunate to be able to continue this long so far. And seeing as New Zealand’s breastfeeding rates are at a 20 year high, I thought I’d write up some tips which I have found make breastfeeding easier.

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1. Feed on Demand.
I felt I had to put this at the top as in my opinion it’s one of the most important. Your baby knows when they are hungry, some days it’s more some days it’s less. It will help to keep your milk supply up, creating more if your baby goes through a growth spurt and keep your baby happy and fed. Which brings me to my next point,

2. Don’t look at the Clock.
Don’t worry about routines, especially in those first few months. Babies tummies are very small and as such need topping up often. I found that especially during the middle of the night, if I didn’t pay attention to the time then it didn’t make me feel so bad that I was up at 2am, 4am, 5am etc. Listen to your baby and follow their cues about when they need to be fed.

3. It is hard at the beginning (and get’s easier).
I’m not going to lie. It can be hard at the beginning). Breastfeeding is a learnt art and there are few people that have no issues what-so-ever. Bad latches, sore nipples, consistent and long feeds etc. And when you’re tired because you are getting broken sleep and all the other jazz that goes on in life, breastfeeding can be hard going and feel like it’s never going to end. But the reason people say it gets easier is because it does. Tummies grow bigger and can hold more, babies can go longer in between feeds, they become more efficient at feeding resulting in shorter feeds. If you talk to a lot of mums who exclusively breastfeed, you’ll hear a common theme of how it got easier sometime between the six to twelve week mark. Just hold in there and get past the hard days, you’ll realise how easy it’s suddenly become.

4. Skin to Skin.
There are so many benefits of skin to skin, as often as possible, there’s at least a whole blog post on it. Seeing we are talking about breastfeeding, babies who have a lot of skin to skin time, especially with mum, are more likely to latch on with less issues overall, exclusively breastfeed, breastfeed for longer in life and mums are more likely to be able to anticipate their babies hunger cues easier.

5. Your breasts won’t be rock hard forever.
There is a question I often see pop up around a mummy facebook group I’m on. It goes along the lines of “My breasts don’t feel as hard, am I not producting enough milk?”. In the early days of breastfeeding, the reason your breasts feel rock hard is because your body doesn’t know how much milk you are going to need for your individual baby(ies) so it over produces to make sure there is enough there. Once your baby has dictated how much milk they need, your body adjusts and produces enough for your babies demands without over producing.

6. Eat and Drink enough for yourself.
You’ll hopefully know that your body uses approx 500 calories extra each day while exclusively breastfeeding. Now is not the time to diet, so make sure you are eating healthy, eating enough so your not hungry and drinking lots of fluids (water strongly recommended over anything else). As someone once told me, “You feed your baby on demand, feed yourself on demand too”.

7. Sleep when baby sleeps.
If you’re tired, the dishes can wait. Your baby is asleep, you need your sleep too. At the very least go have a rest.

8. Avoid substitutions.
Breastfeeding can be hard at times. Especially during bad days, growth spurts, teething, sickness etc. But if you want to exclusively / fully breastfeed, try to avoid giving your baby formula. The more your baby feeds off you, the more it help keep your milk supply from decreasing, increase your milk supply if needed. If you want to mix feed that’s a choice you have the freedom to make and I completely support people’s choices. If you do want to have your baby breastfeeding full time, avoid the formula and on those bad days tuck you and baby up into bed for the day and remember it get’s easier.

9. Count wet diapers
I’m mainly putting this in here because as I mentioned above, I often see the question “Is my baby getting enough?”. Chances are, Yes they are. As we can’t truely measure how many ml a breastfed baby is getting, check the output. Are they having at least 5-6 wet diapers per day? Good, sounds like your baby is probably getting engouh. Check out this link for babies up to six weeks, and this link for babies over six weeks for more info.

10. Get help if you need it.
Having trouble? We had latching issues early on. Don’t know if your baby is getting enough? Finding the whole breasting thing really hard? ASK FOR SOME HELP. When it comes to breastfeeding, there are many groups around that are more than willing to help out. The most famous is La Leche League and I can tell you that the leaders there really do know their stuff. Lactation consultants are also another really good option and your doctor should be able to direct you to one if you’re not sure where to go. And of course there is also the web. The site I like to use best when checking out breastfeeding information is KellyMom, I can almost always find the answer I am looking for on there.
And don’t forget to take up and ask for as many offers of help for other things. Housework, food, people to look after other children you might have, all the small things make a difference

Bonus Tip
11. Relax and enjoy the oxytocin
It’s not called the love hormone for nothing. Oxytocin is produced while breastfeeding and produces lots of wonderful happy feelings. Aww.. happy feelings :)

Very quick disclaimer here, these tips are from my personal experience and have been written to help breastfeeding mothers and those wanting to breastfeed. I have absolutely nothing against formula feeding mothers and am glad that you are feeding your baby

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