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25 Breastfeeding Secrets

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Nursing your baby is no easy feat. Luckily, we've rounded up these 25 breastfeeding tips from the experts who've figured out the smartest tricks, shortcuts, and solutions.

         Before baby:

  1.  Line up help. Consider meeting with a lactation consultant or another nursing expert before you have the baby. She or he can share tips that will help in the beginning, and you'll know whom to call if you have a problem.
  2.  See the real thing  If you have a friend who's nursing, ask if you can watch.

        When the baby arrives:

       3. Request to keep the baby. Rooming in will help you bond with your baby, learn feeding cues, and better establish breastfeeding.

       4. Try to nurse within the first hour after delivery. Two hours later, many babies will be hard to rouse. It may seem like you're producing very little at first -- maybe just a few drops of colostrum -- but a 1- or 2-day-old baby's stomach is only the size of a marble.

   What to Do in the Hospital

         5. Ask for help. If the nurse in the hospital says your latch 'looks great' but you feel it it still hurts or you haven't got the hang of it yet, ask as many questions as possible. Speak up. You can save yourself weeks and weeks of pain and trouble by simply asking.

         In addition:

       6.  Focus on those little feet. Babies always seem to nurse better when their feet are touching something, like your leg, the arm of the chair, or a pillow tucked next to you. It makes them feel more secure

       7.  Avoid formula at first. Even if you're not sure how long you'll breastfeed, go all in. Any formula that's not medically necessary can affect your milk supply.

       How to Get a Deep Latch

     8.  Position yourselves nose to nipple, belly to belly. Make sure that your baby's stomach is touching yours, so she doesn't have to turn her head to latch. And point your nipple at her nose, not at her mouth, so she'll lift her head up, open her mouth wide, and latch on deeply.

     9.  Encourage a mouthful. If you're breastfeeding sitting upright, bring your baby to your breast once his mouth is completely open. Press between his shoulders firmly to bring him to you, while you support your breast. Your nipple will fill the roof of his mouth. If it still hurts after the first few sucks, de-latch and reposition.

  10.   Don't push the back of your baby's head. This triggers his instinct to resist and chomp down. Instead, put your hands at the nape of your baby's neck, and bring him swiftly to your breast.

Make It through the First Few Weeks

   11. Don't count minutes. You can leave your baby on the first breast until he or she comes off on his or her own and then offer the second breast. It's typical for some babies to take one breast at some feedings and both breasts at some.

   12. Avoid pacifiers at first. Because it can suppress hunger cues and steal time from the breast during a critical period. After that, offering a pacifier shouldn't hurt.

   13. Lie on your side. It lets you rest your shoulders and lower back if you tend to hunch over, and it's good for moms who've had a C-section, who have carpal tunnel syndrome, or who are just exhausted. Put a pillow between your knees and your arm under your head, and bring the baby in facing you.

   14.  Offer the first bottle at 4 to 6 weeks. If you wait until 8 weeks, you risk bottle refusal. Have someone other than you give the first one -- and get out of the house so you're not tempted to help out.

   15.  Don't buy a whole nursing wardrobe. It can be easier to just lift up your shirt. If you wear a blouse over a camisole, you'll have a lot of coverage.

   16.  Lose the snooze. If your infant keeps falling asleep on your breast, try tickling the bottom of his feet, stroking him under the chin, or touching him with a wet washcloth.

Step Up Your Milk Supply

   17. Don't get a used pump. A good electric pump has a limited number of hours of motor life before the suction starts to die.

 Returning to Work

    18. Ease in. Consider starting back on a Thursday rather than a Monday, so you have only two days away from your baby at first.

    19. Understand how much milk babies actually drink. Unlike those on formula, breast milk-fed babies need the same amount of milk per day when they're 6 months old as they did when they were 1 month old. Really! By about 1 month, a baby has established how much breast milk she'll need and you don't have to keep increasing how much she eats as she grows. So remember: If you'll be pumping for the next day's feedings when you go back to work, all you really have to do is maintain your current supply.

    20. Feed the baby, not the freezer. You don't need to pump like a maniac on your maternity leave. You may end up with clogged ducts, mastitis, letdown that's too fast, and exhaustion. You need only a small reserve.

  Pump Up Your Pumping

     21. Get the right fit. A lot of mothers don't realize that pump flanges come in different sizes. If the standard shields that come with your pump are too tight or too big, you won't pump as much milk and you could even cause damage. A lactation consultant can help you choose the right ones.

    22.  Make your own DIY hands-free bra. You don't have to spend a fortune on a fancy bra designed for pumping. Instead, buy a sports bra that's snug, cut little slits in it, and stick the breast shields in there.

Fixing Common Problems

   23.  Heal damaged nipples. Use water-based hydrogel pads or apply enough purified lanolin to keep nipples moist between feedings.

   24. Resolve tongue-tie. If you're having pain even though your latch looks great, ask a lactation consultant whether your baby may have tongue-tie. A specialist can treat the problem.

   25. Get a nursing pillow unlike other pillows, it wraps around your body and helps with positioning. It can also relieve stress on your back, neck, and shoulders.




Modified from article originally published in the March 2015 issue of Parents magazine (U.S).

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