The Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural way to nourish and bond with your baby, but it can also present its fair share of challenges. Whether you’re a first-time mom or have previous breastfeeding experience, this ultimate guide aims to provide you with the knowledge, tips and techniques you need to navigate the joys and complexities of breastfeeding with confidence. 

In this post, we’ll address common concerns and dispel myths surrounding breastfeeding, helping you make informed decisions that align with your individual needs and circumstances. So, let’s embark on this incredible journey together, arming ourselves with knowledge and unwavering support as we navigate the incredible world of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding Myths

First, let’s address a few myths. It’s no secret that everyone has their own experiences and opinions when it comes to breastfeeding, but it can be hard to know what’s true and what’s actually false. So, here are a few myths that commonly get passed around.

“Colostrum isn’t enough to meet babies’ needs”

For the first few days of your baby’s life, newborns access a form of breastmilk called colostrum. It’s nutrient-dense and contains many disease-fighting properties that can’t be found anywhere else! No wonder it’s referred to as “liquid gold.” Even though it’s not large in volume, colostrum can still meet the needs of a newborn.

“It’s normal for your nipples to hurt”

There’s a difference between postpartum nipple tenderness and “Ouch! Ouch!” pinching pain. Nipple pain is not normal and is a sign that something’s wrong! The most common cause of nipple pain is an improper latch, but it’s a good idea to be evaluated by an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) to rule out all causes and fix the issue.

“Don’t let your baby use you as a pacifier”

Breastfeeding not only provides calories but also meets emotional needs. Newborns are hardwired to want comfort and snuggles, and breastfeeding ensures they get it!

Breastfeeding Tips

Now that we’ve cleared up a few misconceptions, let’s talk about some tips and tricks for breastfeeding your baby. We’ve broken this down into two sections: one section is about breastfeeding in general and a second is about breastfeeding in public.

General Breastfeeding Tips

  1. Make sure you have a support system

Research shows that Moms without support often wean in the first week postpartum. Create a small support circle you can call on in those early days, weeks and months with a new baby. A supportive partner, family member, neighbor or an online forum can really be a game changer!

  1. Make sure you are comfortable

Since you likely will be spending a major amount of time breastfeeding your little one, you may as well be comfortable. Get a great nursing pillow and a basket where you can keep water, crunchy snacks, magazines and all of the remote controls. Once the baby stirs and shows signs of hunger, it is so much easier for you to grab your basket and get your space ready so you can respond to her. Use a good nursing pillow, like the Ergobaby Natural Curve Nursing Pillow, and blankets to create a ‘nest’ for you and your baby. You’re looking to bring her nose up to the level of your nipple. Proper positioning helps to achieve a good latch, which helps avoid pain and nipple damage.

  1. Trust your instincts 

Even though you’re new at this mom thing, you still know your baby best. When you’re hunched over your baby in the middle of the night making sure that she is breathing – know that you’ve got this. Follow your baby’s hunger cues, feed on demand and trust that you’re making the right decisions for you and your new family. You are hardwired for this and you gave birth to the little babe! You know what you are doing.

SHOP Nursing Pillow

Tips for Breastfeeding in Public

The time will come when you are out with your baby doing what normal people do–like shopping or dining. So, it’s good to be prepared in case you need to breastfeed your baby. It’s also important to know that most states have breastfeeding-in-public laws that protect your right to do so. But if you’ve never done it, it may seem like the scariest, most challenging thing after giving birth. Guess what? Breastfeeding is probably going to be challenging no matter where you are, and you can’t be a homebody the whole time you breastfeed. So here are a few breastfeeding-in-public and breastfeeding-on-the-go tips to help you out.

  1. Practice at home

If you’re a first-time nursing mom, there’s no better way to prepare for public breastfeeding than practicing at home. Practice different nursing positions in front of a mirror so you can see how you look and what others will see (if that matters to you). Try different sitting and standing positions, with a cover or without it, and in your pink baby carrier or without it.

You and your baby may have breastfeeding down in no time, or it may take several weeks of practice. Either way, take your time and have patience with yourself and your baby. Once you have the hang of it at home, you’ll feel more confident breastfeeding in public.

  1. Find a safe, comfortable and sanitary spot

There are three things you never compromise when you have to feed your baby in public: safety, cleanliness and comfort.

Some of this stuff is a no-brainer, like if you’re out running errands don’t nurse your baby inside your car that’s parked in the sun with the windows up. Park in the shade, set the parking brake and either crack some windows or keep your car and AC on. When it comes to comfort, you know what position is most comfortable for your baby and what spots will allow you to nurse her comfortably. 

Maybe look for a soft chair, sofa or bench that’s roomy enough for all the lifting and shifting you’ll be doing. And as far as keeping things sanitary, please don’t think you have to nurse inside a dirty bathroom stall—you wouldn’t eat your lunch in there, and neither should your baby. Thinking about how dirty the area is, or trying to decide if that smell is coming from your baby or the stall next to you, shouldn’t be on your mind right now. If you’re somewhere with a designated mother’s lounge but it’s dirty, don’t feel bad asking for a different place to nurse.

  1. Know your baby

Hopefully by now you either know your baby’s hunger cues or have her on a schedule for when she’s ready to eat. We’re all human, and trust me we know it can be hard if your appointment runs longer than expected to feed her on time. Sometimes, you get distracted while out at dinner and miss her hunger cues. But if you’re seeking to discreetly breastfeed in public, a screaming baby is the last thing you want. Plus, a hangry baby won’t easily latch, which will make it harder for you to feed her.

  1. Opt for comfort and accessibility over cuteness with clothes

Use this time of your life to buy a new wardrobe. You can find shirts and dresses that are cute, comfortable and nursing-friendly. Nursing bras with their easy-access clips are must-haves. Shirts that are loose fitting and/or low cut and button-down blouses or wrap dresses are some of the best clothes to wear for breastfeeding. Also, if you want to show less skin, consider wearing a tank top under a looser shirt so when you pull it up to nurse your postpartum belly remains covered. Or you can use a nursing cover or scarf.

  1. Nurse in a baby carrier or sling

Lightweight baby carriers and slings are perfect for nursing infants on the go. Think about it. Your baby is already up against you so you just have to do a little adjusting to get yourself and her mouth where they need to be. If you care at all about coverage, most carriers keep you fully covered. And as a bonus, with a little practice, you’ll be able to nurse on the go while standing or sitting.

  1. Don’t feel stressed, weird or ashamed about breastfeeding your baby in public

Whether it’s your very first time nursing in public, your first time in a new place or you’re just shy, remember that breastfeeding your baby is normal. It’s something no woman should ever try and hide or feel guilt over. Stress isn’t good for you, your milk supply or your baby. So while at first you may feel weird, and yes, some people may look at you funny, focus on your baby and doing what’s natural to feed her. In most states and instances, it’s your right to breastfeed your baby in public. And in reality, most people will mind their own business.

Hopefully, in time, and with the help of these tips, you’ll feel confident and comfortable breastfeeding no matter where you are.

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Kirsten Metcalf is a writer, editor and mother to a hilarious but very strong-willed toddler and a beautiful baby girl. She started writing short stories in elementary school and years later became a sports reporter and editor. Now, she mainly writes marketing, religious and parenting-related blog posts. Even before she knew she wanted to be a writer, Kirsten knew she wanted to be a mom. She knows being a mom is one of the most rewarding but hardest jobs out there, which is why she loves being able to share parenting knowledge and support to other moms through her writing. When she actually wins negotiations with her toddler, Kirsten likes to reward herself by watching KU basketball, eating cheesecake, or going on a Target run by herself.

August 2, 2018