Breastfeeding can come with an extreme learning curve and intense pressure – literally and figuratively. Here are some of the best tips for finding success in nursing.
If you choose to breastfeed your baby, you should consider some important things to give yourself the best chance to succeed. Remember that you are an incredible mom, no matter how your breastfeeding journey goes.
How do I get breastfeeding off to a successful start?
For the highest chances of success at breastfeeding, the evidence-based best practice supports immediate, uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact until the completion of the first feeding.
That’s what hospital organizations’ policies and procedures should support, too, but they don’t always.
Before delivery, discuss your expectations with your care team. Your nurse should be your advocate and respect your wishes, but sometimes you may need to be assertive and advocate for yourself. Learn more about self-advocacy during pregnancy here.
When will my milk “come in”?
It takes about three to five days for breast milk to start transitioning.
Colostrum is the term used to describe breast milk right after birth, and some women will experience colostrum leaking during pregnancy.
Then, there’s a transitional phase from colostrum to mature milk during the first two weeks after birth. There’s a higher level of fat and lactose in transitional milk than in colostrum.
I want to clarify that there aren’t three different types of breastmilk. But there are three distinct stages to breast milk:
- Transitional milk
- Mature milk
The primary ingredient is the same. But your milk will change and is fine-tuned to your baby’s demands. During the transitional stage, your milk production will increase.
How much milk will I produce?
On the first day of life, you may only produce five to ten mL with each feeding, and your baby’s stomach can only hold about five to six mL at each feeding. As your baby’s belly grows, so does your milk production.
By the end of the first week, your baby’s stomach is about the size of an egg. Around two weeks after delivery, you’ll be producing about 600 to 700 mL over a period of 24 hours.
How relieve engorged breasts?
Engorgement is not a good thing. When you have engorgement, you have breast tissue compression, which leads to breast milk suppression.
There are a few tips to help combat engorgement:
- Use an NSAID like Motrin (per your provider)
- Feed on cue or baby’s demand
- Heat your breasts before feeding for 5-10 minutes
- Use cold therapy after feeding for 10 minutes
- Use a suction-based pump (like this one) to relieve pressure
*If engorgement lasts more than 48 hours, see a Lactation consultant.
What’s the best tip for having a good milk supply?
Feed your baby on cue instead of a pre-set schedule to achieve an optimal milk supply. This does not mean you can’t have a routine. A routine is different from a schedule.
During the initiation phase of breastfeeding, which is the first two weeks, feeding on cue is essential. I wouldn’t say I like to give a range of how often to nurse, as people can take the suggestion as a scheduled feeding plan.
Your baby, and your breasts, need feedings at least eight times in 24 hours. The feeds might be every 2 hours, 1.5 hours, or 3.5 hours. Your baby will feed the most efficiently and effectively when you’re feeding on cue. That means your baby will feed the fastest, get the fullest, and sleep the longest when you’re feeding on demand.
How do I breastfeed when I go back to work?
If you’re returning to work and trying to figure out how to incorporate a pumping schedule into your regular breastfeeding routine, I will encourage you to reach out to a lactation consultant.
You’ll want to ensure you’re pumping each time your baby gets a bottle. You should pump three times if your baby gets three bottles while you’re away.
It’s ideal to pump around when your baby gets a bottle, but it isn’t detrimental to your supply if you cannot align your pumpings with bottle feedings.
What’s most important is that you ensure you’re pumping the same amount of times he takes a bottle.
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As a Labor & Delivery, Newborn, and Lactation nurse, I’ve seen parents struggle through the newborn and postpartum period. I founded Baby Settler to support parents in their unique parenting journey on all things baby, sleep, and feeding-related.