(Photos in this post are by Charly Hill Photography. This post also contains some affiliate links. Proceeds from these links help Canary Jane keep being awesome.)
As a mother of five, I’ve had my share of breastfeeding experiences. Some were really hard and took patience. And many experiences for me have been beautiful to which I attribute this to the fact that I have had so much support through having my babies. Family, friends, and neighborhood women have been by my side to help when this exhausted mamma couldn’t go any further. They’ve been there for every phone call. And I couldn’t be more grateful for the tribe of women I have around me.
I know that sometimes it’s hard to have such a tribe. And breastfeeding can hard. So I’ve put together my favorite resources (other than my mom haha) to hopefully help any whether you’re already a seasoned breastfeeding goddess or just preparing for the day. And while I know a bit about breastfeeding, I know I am not a trained lactation expert. So thankfully I’ve partnered with Lactation Link (created by a trained lactation expert and nurse) to bring you some great info about breastfeeding. Bottom line, you do what you need to survive motherhood, breastfeeding or not. If in the ned you do formula, not shame my friends. But I hope in your own journey this post shares some helpeful insights. Keep killin it mommas.
Since this post is jam-packed with info I have the info outlined here:
DID YOU KNOW INFO
Also if you don’t find what you need to succeed here please check out Lactation Link who helped put together this fantastic post:
MORE INFO AND ONLINE BREASTFEEDING CLASSES FROM LACTATION LINK
The Best Breastfeeding & Lactation Tips
When you’re nursing it will be helpful to have clothing that allows you to breast feed without removing layers or stretching clothing. Especially when you are in public having nursing attire can be priceless. (I’ll spare you the stories). And having a nursing a bra is seriously, a must! And on that topic this time around I was fitted by Bra Fittings by Court and I had been wearing a bra three times too small. And having a bra that is giving me the support I need has been amazing!! Here are some I have loved or you can shop her site.
That being said nursing specific clothing can be pricey. While I would argue and say it’s worth every penny, I’ll be honest and say that for most of my pregnancies I had limited amounts of pregnancy clothing and nursing bras, so I get it. So here are my favorite must have nursing items along with some easy outfits you may already own that are nursing friendly.
Some nursing friendly outfits you may already own include wrap dresses, a shirt and shirt, shirts that don’t have layers, and you can also make your own nursing tanks to wear under shirts here. Otherwise if you can get nursing specific items they are so amazing. Here are some of my favorites.
General Breastfeeding Tips & FAQs
How do I increase my milk supply?
We’ve all been there, wondering if we are making enough for baby. And I personally have tried teas and eating certain foods and have seen a difference. I have however had friends who have tried all these things and weren’t able to get their supply up. But I have had friends that these things helped, so here are some awesome tips.
First things first, it’s good to even know how much milk you should be producing. The Bump says,” If you’re exclusively breastfeeding and baby is on target for healthy weight gain, your milk supply is likely a-okay, and there’s no need to increase breast milk production—even if baby seems famished or fussy. To maintain a good milk supply, most moms just need to breastfeed whenever baby is hungry, and your body will naturally take care of the rest.”
So how do you know your milk supply is low?
There are many different methods so I will list some options here:
- If you’re baby is losing weight or not gaining as recommended by our pediatrician. Other symptoms that may be associated with decreased production but may be associated with other things is a lethargic baby or less stools. But even these can be signs of others things like growing, teething, constipation, and more. In fact, a fussy baby may not mean a hungry baby and could also mean a baby with a stomach ache or tooth ache or some other discomfort. So to determine if you are really under producing ask your pediatrician or better yet, a local lactationist. You can also look for help from the La Leche League.
How do I increase my milk supply? – The Bump
- “Remember that the best way to increase milk supply is to relax, eat healthy food (more about that later) and nurse baby often. “
- “Pumping to increase milk supply can be done by using your pump (hospital-grade double pumps work best) for every missed feeding or anytime baby gets a supplemental bottle of breast milk or formula. It’s also a good idea to express any leftover milk after each feed.”
- You can try to eat foods that increase supply like: oatmeal, ice cream (we all want an excuse to more ice cream), flaxseed, leafy greens, and water. You can read more about a healthy breastfeeding diet here.
- Use lactation teas that use herbs to increase supply naturally.
- Use essential oils such as lavender and fennel.
Tips for being pregnant and breastfeeding?
I nursed my second baby while pregnant with my third. And boy did I eat a ton. Also I felt like this added fatigue to my pregnancy, which makes sense, your body is working so hard. But It can totally be done. so here are some tips:
- Make note to mention this to your practitioner as nursing can ripen the cervix for those who are at risk of preterm labor.
- Be sure to eat a balanced diet. You’re going to eat more and well. Track your diet if you have to. And be sure to take your prenatal vitamin.
- Be prepared for sore nipples. Hormones from pregnancy can lead to more soreness.
If you want to read more about being pregnant and breastfeeding click here.
What are nursing pads?
Nursing pads are usually circular pads that you can use if you leak. Leaking is very common while breastfeeding, especially for the first six months. You can use disposable or reusable.
(Info sponsored from Lactation Link)
Did someone tell you that you have flat nipples?
- How your nipples appear at rest isn’t necessarily how they’ll function when baby latches or they receive any pressure behind them. In addition, any engorgement or swelling (common after birth) can make nipples appear flat or retracted even if they aren’t.
- Over time, nipples can become more everted due to sucking by baby, pump, etc. For truly inverted or flat nipples there are options to help evert them prior to birth so talk to your care provider or IBCLC about that.
- It’s called BREASTfeeding, not nipple feeding! Remember that just as someone could “latch” to a neck for a hickey, so can baby latch to a breast without prominent nipples. Don’t think all is lost when it’s not!
Do you have painful blisters on your nipples?
- First, improving your latch is key!
- Check the pressure of your pump, if you’ve been using one.
- Keep your nipples clean, dry and lightly lubricated.
Are you wanting to start exercising after birth, while breastfeeding?
- Once you get the “all clear” from your healthcare practitioner, around 6 weeks, you can start more activity than just walking.
- Most moms do not find a decrease in milk supply. Eat a well balanced diet and stay hydrated.
- Wear a good, supportive bra while exercising.
Do you have small breasts and are worried about how breastfeeding will go?
- Adjust your mindset! Breast size is not correlated with breastfeeding success! You can make as much milk as your baby needs no matter the size of your breasts.
- Bring baby to your breast– don’t lean over to bring your breast to where your baby is laying. That will be uncomfortable on your back & shoulders long-term. Breastfeeding or regular pillows or using a laid back position can help bring baby up to your breast height to keep you both comfortable.
- Keep excess clothing to a minimum. Pulling your breast out of 3 different shirts plus a bra may prove difficult, especially in public. It may be easier, especially at first, to wear one shirt at a time.
Are you feeling engorged? Did you know you can use cabbage leaves for relief?
- It’s important for the leaves to be clean, so give them a good rinse to start off.
- Remove the stem (it can cause pressure), put it in a ziplock bag and store it in the fridge.
- Cabbage leaves are cost effective and just the right size. You can also use them in combination with cold gel packs.
Are you unsure if your breastfed baby needs to take a vitamin supplement?
- Full-term babies are born with 4-6 months of iron stores AND breastmilk has very-easy-to-absorb iron, so extra iron vitamins aren’t usually necessary– it’s no coincidence that the iron stores begin to deplete when you start to offer solid foods!
- The AAP recommends giving exclusively breastfed babies vitamin D because most everyone is a little vitamin D deficient. The AAP has said that either giving baby 400 IU of vitamin D OR mom taking 6400 IU of vitamin D will meet baby’s needs.
- Babies who were born prematurely or have other health issues may have different needs, so always consult your doctor!
Breastfeeding moms want or need their babies to learn to take a bottle for a variety of reasons– the most common being returning to work.
- If you can, wait until baby is 3-4 weeks old. This gives you a chance to get a good start with breastfeeding, and babies tend to get less flexible about feeding methods as they get older.
- Pace feedings with the bottle. This means that you hold baby semi-upright with the bottle almost horizontal and give baby a break every 25-30 sucks or so. This helps reduce over-feeding and a preference for faster flow from the bottle.
- Some babies will take to feeding from a bottle on the first try, and others may take several days or weeks to get it down. Just keep calm and keep practicing.
Are you using a nipple shield, but feeling like it’s time to work on dropping it?
- Shaping your breast can make it easier for baby to latch. Think of how you squish a big sandwich down so you can take a bite– it’s kind of the same for the breast. Hold your hand in a “C” shape and use it to hold your breast firmly about 1 1/2 inches back from the base of the nipple and push towards your chest wall. Keep holding until it feels like baby is latching well, then slowly release your hold.
- Try to latch baby with the shield, and once baby is nursing well and has relaxed a bit, try unlatching baby, removing the shield, and latching again without it. Over time, you can try to remove it earlier and earlier into the feeding until you no longer need it at all.
- Try offering the breast without the shield when baby is sleepy or drowsy, or while you’re in the bath together.
If your baby has been diagnosed with reflux, it can be hard to know how to help them.
- Use upright positioning (like the koala hold or laid-back breastfeeding) during and after feeds to help keep baby’s stomach contents down.
- Eliminate cow’s milk and dairy from your diet. Infant allergy to cow’s milk protein can be a cause of reflux.
- Breastfeed often. Smaller, more frequent feeds are beneficial for babies with reflux.
Is your partner worried they won’t be able to help with baby if you’re breastfeeding?
- There are lots of baby care responsibilities to go around! Your partner can bathe baby, become a swaddle master, enjoy lots of baby wearing, and of course change all those dirty diapers!
- YOU will need to be taken care of as well– remind your partner that they can be a BIG help with breastfeeding by simply keeping you fed and taking over some of the household responsibilities that you normally take care of.
- Some families choose to introduce pumping & a bottle so the non-breastfeeding parent can experience feeding baby. This could be an option for your family, or you could ensure closeness by encouraging skin to skin time between your partner and baby!
Have you had breast surgery in the past, but would like to breastfeed your baby? Breast surgery like augmentations, reductions, and incision biopsies can impact breastfeeding, but there’s no way to know exactly how much until baby is born and you give it a try.
- Give yourself the best start possible by taking a breastfeeding class before baby is born.
- Start practicing hand expression daily after 37 weeks of pregnancy– adding those practice sessions to your shower or bath time is an easy way to fit it in. If you’d like to and are able to, you can collect and store any expressed colostrum in small 1 mL syringes so that you’ll have extra colostrum on hand if your baby needs some supplementation after birth.
- Schedule a visit with an IBCLC for 3-5 days after baby’s birth to assess how breastfeeding is going and screen for problems. If supplementing is necessary, your IBCLC can help you work out a plan that can help protect baby’s growth AND your milk production.
Not sure where to set up your pumping station at work?
- Having a private area with a door that can be locked, is key so you can relax while pumping.
- Some employers have dedicated lactation rooms. Others find that a mom can just utilize her own personal office
- A personal mini fridge to store your breastmilk can be a great option to keep your items separate from everyone else’s food in the office.
Are you preparing for birth?
- Request that, assuming you & baby are healthy, baby is immediately placed on your chest and any assessments that need to be done are done with you holding baby skin to skin. (This can be done right after a c-section too– talk to your doctor!)
- Keep baby skin to skin for at LEAST the first two hours– when given the opportunity, baby will likely latch well on their own!
- Request that baby’s bath be delayed until they’re at least 24 hours old. This helps baby adjust to the outside world more smoothly.
Breastfeeding Information – Did you know?
(Info sponsored from Lactation Link)
- DID YOU KNOW that it is okay to add dairy or cow’s milk-based foods, like yogurt or cheese, to your baby’s diet once they’ve started solids after about 6 months? The American Academy of Pediatrics says to wait on giving plain cow’s milk to baby until after 12 months because breastmilk and formula offer more complete nutrition for a baby still working on taking a wide variety of solid foods.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. (1992). The use of cow’s milk in infancy. Pediatrics 89(6).
- DID YOU KNOW that while we teach some common breastfeeding positions, that there is NO wrong position if you are comfortable (usually means baby’s body needs to be tummy-to-tummy with you or facing you somehow) and baby is getting milk?! It’s true! So don’t worry if you’re doing a laid back cradle hybrid or a football side-lying hybrid with a gymnastic toddler!
- DID YOU KNOW that human milk takes longer to spoil than pasteurized cow’s milk because human milk has live immune cells that actively kill bacteria? It’s true! The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine recommends that breastmilk can be stored at room temp for four hours, and that up to 6-8 hours is safe under very clean conditions.
- DID YOU KNOW that breastfeeding is good for the environment? In the first year, on average, breastfeeding will decrease your use of 120 cans and 11,000 oz of water than if you were to use alternative feeding options.
- DID YOU KNOW that you make colostrum from around 14 weeks of pregnancy? Don’t worry about having milk that first couple days after birth– you’ve had it ready for months!
- DID YOU KNOW that breastfeeding during minor procedures like immunizations and heel sticks has been shown to actually reduce babies’ pain? The almost magical ability of your breasts to comfort your baby is one of the best things about breastfeeding!
- DID YOU KNOW that breastfeeding reduces the likelihood of babies developing food allergies as they grow? For example, research has shown that when breastfeeding moms eat peanuts, the chances of their babies developing peanut allergies later on are significantly decreased.
- DID YOU KNOW that breastfeeding is good for your heart? It’s true, and it’s dose dependent, meaning the longer you breastfeed the more you decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- DID YOU KNOW that your milk can come in a variety of colors? If you’re consistently having what looks like blood-tinged milk you should always seek help from a lactation consultant and your doctor, but it can be normal to have what looks like blue, off white, green, or slightly orange or yellow milk! This variance can be due to how far postpartum you are, when you last emptied your breasts, food you’ve eaten, or vitamins you’ve taken.
- DID YOU KNOW that breastfed babies only drink an average of 67% of the milk available in the breast? Your breasts are never actually fully emptied, even right after a feeding!
- DID YOU KNOW that lack of support is one of the biggest reasons why women stop breastfeeding? Us at Lactation Link would love to be your support system.
- DID YOU KNOW that it’s generally okay to drink caffeine while breastfeeding? In large doses it may affect baby so always observe your little one, but most tired mamas can enjoy a soda or coffee (or two!) without issue!
If you need more help please reach out. Reach out to a woman who has experience like your mom or sisters. Reach out to your doctor or local Lactation consultant. Or here are some other amazing online resources.
And here are some of my favorite items for nursing other than the clothing items mentioned above:
Remember mamas that breastfeeding can be hard. And what worked for me might not work for you. But I hope you found some great info along your breastfeeding journey. Comment with any questions you might still have and I’ll try to answer them the best I can or with help from Lactation Link. You’re doing a great job.