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I am just over a week postpartum now, with my fourth baby, and I’ve been mentally keeping track of all my breastfeeding tips and tricks this week, which have really helped me with my milk supply and adjusting to breastfeeding again.
Your first week with a newborn is a lot of either remembering how to breastfeed, or learning to breastfeed. In order to make breastfeeding as successful as possible, here is what I suggest:
Take advantage of a lactation consultant or help:
The hospital always offers a lactation consultant, and I highly recommend taking any helpful tips they have! I remember with my second baby, we were working on latching a few hours after birth. I was feeling fairly “pro” because I breastfed my first for over a year. Still, she had some awesome latching tricks that really helped, and I didn’t know! I’ve learned that in motherhood, you are never an expert, and allowing help can be life-changing!
If you deliver at home or at a birth center, the midwives usually offer help with nursing, and they often have a lactation consultant available as well.
Don’t underestimate the power of nutrition:
I can not express how important this is. I was able to bring my Milk Dust Lactation Bars and Protein Powder to the hospital this year, and it transformed how I felt, and my milk supply. I felt like my colostrum started coming in faster, and I was able to give myself so many important vitamins and minerals that weren’t available in the hospital food. With Covid and only one visitor, it was hard to get outside food delivered or brought to me, and because I had my delicious bars and protein, I wasn’t worried at all!
Keep baby close as much as possible:
From the moment my babies are born, I literally just start working on latching. Some babies take longer than others, but I just hold them close to the breast and keep attempting the nipple in their mouth. I won’t stop until we get it. This keeps the baby close to your skin too, which is really important for bonding and all the important hormonal changes.
Once I get the baby to latch, and they start nursing, I also keep them sleeping on my check as long as possible. I doze and hold them, or lay back and relax while they sleep on me. The close connection is what will help get your milk to come in too.
Breastfeed on demand all through the first week:
Do not attempt a feeding schedule in your first-week breastfeeding. It is really important to establish a natural supply and demand cycle, and that your breasts are constantly drained and stimulated. This is how you will get the milk to produce quickly and fast. A natural rhythm of breastfeeding is much more important in the first week than setting a feeding schedule.
Co-sleep if you are comfortable:
This one is optional. I’ve found that co-sleeping allows me to get more sleep, and I believe it is helpful in bringing my milk in faster. By co-sleeping (and you can use a safe co-sleeper), your baby can still smell you in the room, and the pheromones can continue doing their thing. This trick is particularly helpful for moms that tend to have a lower milk supply.
Don’t use pacifiers in the first week:
If the baby wants to suck, let them use your breast. It will soothe them, and it is going to help your milk supply overall. I know it can be super tempting to start a pacifier right away because there are times you are just done breastfeeding, or you have other children to tend to and things to do. This is just a general concept that isn’t rigid, and you can of course introduce a pacifier in a few weeks, but the first week is so precious, and without one, you could have more success with breastfeeding in the long run.
Tend to your sore nipples right away:
If your nipples are super sore, hang in there, it gets better. One tip is that your latch may be causing more pain. I know if I latch a baby onto the nipple, without supporting his head into my breast, he tends to pull more and hurt me. Help them get a full latch, and make sure to support their head into your breast, while using a finger to move your breast away from their nose. This can reduce the nipple soreness quite a bit, and combined with some time, it will go away.
Don’t let your nipples get cracked and chapped. Get a good cream the minute you start feeling or seeing any extra redness or sore skin. Make it a priority to fix this issue, rather than try to push through. Chapped and cracked nipples are something that can get way worse really fast. Soreness and tenderness are usually something that fixes themselves after the first week or so.
Keep an eye on engorgement:
This time, with my Milk Dust, I felt like my milk came in faster and strong. I’ve already had one breast become engorged to the point that I couldn’t get the baby to latch and fix it for me. It was bothering me all night long until finally, I was able to get some of the milk out and have him latch that side twice in a row to help me out.
If you notice one side getting engorged, try to get the baby on it right away. If they can’t latch because it is too hard, use a pump or squeeze some of the milk out. That way baby can latch on that side as soon as they are ready.
I’ve found that with these tips, breastfeeding the first week goes much smoother. Now that I am on baby #4, I know what works and what doesn’t, and these tips definitely work!
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