Top tips for breastfeeding success

Breastfeeding is biologically natural, but it’s definitely not always easy. In fact, most new mothers struggle with it at some stage. It’s a skill that requires patience, preparation, and practice, but most importantly, for a successful breastfeeding journey, mums need good education and support.

Top tips for breastfeeding success

To help with breastfeeding success, we’ve rounded up the top breastfeeding tips that will make the journey smoother and more comfortable. Here we learn what can be done to prepare before baby arrives, the tools that will make feeding easier, some steps to take whilst in the hospital, and how to get off to a good start when you bring your little bundle home. Armed with all of this knowledge, you’ll feel more confident, determined, and your chance of breastfeeding will be even greater.

Before your baby arrives

Line up expert help: A qualified lactation consultant (or IBCLC) is an invaluable support. Not only will they teach you to breastfeed, they can also help to improve the experience for both you and your baby. You can ask the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) to recommend one in your area.

Prepare a breastfeeding space: Whilst you can breastfeed anywhere in the home, some mums like to use a nursing chair. It’s a good idea to set up a feeding station (or several around the house) with everything you need, including burp cloths, nursing pads, snacks, a water bottle, and a phone charger.

See breastfeeding in action: Ask a nursing friend if you can watch them, or join a local support group through ABA where you can see mums feeding their babies. Find some YouTube videos on how to position bubs, and perhaps you could practice with a doll or teddy to see what feels most comfortable.

Create a plan: Similar to a birth plan, a breastfeeding plan is a written document. You can discuss it first with your midwife or doctor, and ask them what the usual plan is after birth. It will give you ideas about what to ask at future appointments and areas to research.

Breastfeeding tools

Nursing pillow: A good quality nursing pillow can help with positioning, and also take the pressure off your shoulders, back, and neck.

Nipple care: Breastfeeding discomfort is common in the early weeks as you get the hang of it, so it’s a good idea to stock up on some soothing creams and compresses. Ensure you also have plenty of disposable or reusable nursing pads.

Nursing clothing: Get yourself some comfortable nursing bras/tanks, button-down pyjamas, and feeding tops to make it more convenient.

Electric pump: Even if you don’t plan to express, a double electric breast pump can be useful for increasing supply, or if you decide you’d like someone else to take over some feeds.

In the hospital

Nurse within the first hour: Breastfeeding should ideally start soon after your baby is born, and that includes after a C-section. A baby is usually alert after birth and will often spontaneously seek the breast if left in skin-to-skin contact with their mother’s body.

Don’t wait to get help: If something doesn’t feel right, if your baby isn’t gaining enough weight, or if your nipples become injured, you could save yourself weeks of pain or issues if you seek help from an IBCLC as soon as possible.

Get partner support: Tell your partner how they can help you, whether that’s to assist you in getting comfortable, to bring you water, or to call a nurse if something doesn’t feel right. Because you’ll probably be tired and overwhelmed, they can be there to process and recall any professional advice.

Avoid offering anything else: It’s recommended to avoid offering teats, dummies, or complementary feeds for now. If a newborn is given anything else, they could potentially breastfeed less, and your breast milk supply will decrease.

Latch and position

Position yourself: Find the position that you’re most comfortable with. Discover what the baby-led attachment position and mother-led attachment positions look like in best breastfeeding positions for newborns.

Correctly latch your baby: Understanding how a good latch (also known as attachment) should look and feel like is incredibly important in getting feeding established. Find out what the signs are that your baby is attached well here.

Allow free head movement: Your baby should be able to move their head, so it’s important not to hold it or restrict its movement. Instead, their head should be slightly tilted back and their nose level with your nipple.

Encourage them to open their mouth: Gently brush your baby’s mouth with the underside of your areola. They should then instinctively open their mouth wide, the wider the better. Their chin or lower jaw should be the first point of contact with the areola, rather than the nipple.

In the first few weeks

Work on your supply: Feed on demand with frequent and effective feeding, which could be between 7-12 times in 24 hours while your supply is being established during the first month. Some other tips to boost your supply is to rest often, drink plenty of water, and eat well. Keep your baby close to you with plenty of skin-to-skin time, and have them sleep in the room with you.

Correct any issues: Some of the more common breastfeeding issues include sore and cracked nipples, breast and nipple thrush, nipple vasospasm, mastitis, flat or inverted nipples, low milk supply, tongue tie, and engorgement. Read our helpful tips for managing any problems as they emerge, and how you can avoid them in the first place.

Expressing: Because your milk supply builds and grows in volume over the first 2-4 weeks, it might be recommended that you use a breast pump. We’ve got you covered with our most common questions asked about expressing and breastfeeding.

Getting support: Find your support network, and if you have a partner, ensure that they’re educated on how they can best help you. You might like to join the ABA, or keep their Breastfeeding Helpline (1800 686 268) in your phone. Chat to other breastfeeding mums you know or join a Facebook support group, such as our Newborn Baby Breastfeeding Mumma’s Group.

 

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