Breastfeeding 101

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When you’re pregnant, it seems like everyone has a childbirth or breastfeeding horror story they want to share. Whether it is your mother, grandmother, neighbor, or the cashier at the grocery store, a swollen belly is an invitation for unsolicited stories and advice. Don’t despair (or Google, which often is the same thing)! I am here to share my top 10 breastfeeding tips as a RN, IBCLC, birth doula, and six+ year breastfeeding mom of three.

  1. Take a prenatal breastfeeding class.
  2. If at all possible, do immediate skin to skin after delivery. Continue to do skin to skin for every feeding, as often as possible.
  3. Stimulate your breasts by nursing, pumping or hand expressing within two hours after delivery, and at least every three hours after that.
  4. Signs of a good latch including the following: your baby’s ear, shoulder, and hip in a straight line with your nipple aiming toward the roof of your baby’s mouth. To start, you should “sandwich” the breast with your fingers in a C or U hold 1-2 inches behind the areola and aim towards the roof of baby’s mouth. We want a deep, asymmetric latch, baby’s chin tucked really deeply in the breast. Make sure there is as much breast tissue/areola in baby’s mouth as possible, not just your nipple.
  5. Gentle breast compressions while latched maximize colostrum transfer and help keep baby awake.
  6. Hand expression should be done after every feeding until your milk is in. Spoon feed whatever you get to your baby.
  7. Avoid pacifiers until your milk is in (except for medical procedures or babies in the NICU). Put your baby to the breast at every early hunger cue, including: fist to mouth, moving head side to side with mouth open, lip smacking, etc. A bonus here would also be avoiding the first bath until your milk is in.
  8. Apply a thin layer of coconut oil or nipple butter after nursing. Throw the Lanolin in the trash.
  9. Keep your baby in your room with you as often as possible. 
  10. Get help early and often! Painful/bleeding nipples are NOT normal. Don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion if you know something isn’t working.

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