Nursing Tips from Moms

  • Posted by Dr. Jay Gordon

1. Always feed your baby at the first sign of hunger and not by the clock or a schedule.

2. Don’t be thrown by growth spurts. They are normal and short lived. The only accurate way to gauge how much the baby is taking in is by counting wet and dirty diapers.

3. Buy yourself a tube of Lansinoh.

4. Get through the first 2 to 3 weeks. After that it is SO much easier!!

5. Have phone numbers of breastfeeding-friendly people to help you.

6. Remember that your breasts are never truly empty of milk. You make milk as your baby nurses.

7. Always let the baby end the feeding himself. That way, he will get all of the hindmilk he needs.

8. If you feel discouraged or like throwing in the towel, read this list or 101 Reasons to Breastfeed. It has always helped me and I could never quit after being reminded of why I was breastfeeding.

9. Check to see if you have inverted or flat nipples while pregnant, because you can start correcting them before the baby is born.

10. The first few days till milk comes in, colostrum is really all a baby needs. Nurse often on each side (every 90 minutes) to make sure baby gets enough colostrum and to ensure milk will come in soon.

11. Watching the clock, timing nursing sessions, and switching breasts after x amount of minutes might just drive you and baby crazy. Don’t worry so much about the time, and feed baby on one breast till she’s satisfied before offering the other, which she may or may not take at the same feeding.

12. It is not supposed to hurt to breastfeed. If it hurts, you have one of two things happening, most likely:
a) A bad latch. Work on that first.
b) Thrush.

13. In the beginning and any time you have sore nipples, use Lansinoh (USP modified lanolin, ultrapure medical grade) in the purple tube from the pharmacy. If you have a sore or cracked nipple, keep nursing on it and it will get better.

14. If it hurts for the first 30 seconds to a minute after latching on and goes away, you are not doing anything wrong. It will get better in a couple of weeks and be gone by 6 weeks. Sometimes let-down can be painful in the beginning. That, too, goes away. Severe or long-lasting pain, however, needs to be looked into; it’s probably very solvable.

15. A newborn who is pulling back and crying at the breast is not rejecting you. It could be a growth spurt, forceful letdown, thrush or just a tired or gassy baby. All can be dealt with.

16. A baby, especially newborn, is SUPPOSED to nurse all the time (even every hour or two). That it is normal and does not mean that your milk supply is low.

17. If a baby, especially newborn, is sleepy; she is growing. Don’t let a sleepy baby scare you into thinking she isn’t getting her nutrition. Jaundice might be a reason that baby is sleepy; keep a close eye on her and contact your pediatrician if you suspect that (see next tip). If she goes a long time without nursing, try using a wet cloth or undress baby to wake her up during feedings.

18. Jaundice is not a reason to substitute formula for breastmilk, no matter what the doctor wants you to think. A baby with a bilirubin level of less than 20 is perfectly fine. Breastfeeding MORE during jaundice, not less, is beneficial. Question anyone who tells you differently and do your own research.

19. Nursing a newborn at least 10 to 12 times a day is a good rule of thumb, and that doesn’t mean the feedings will all be evenly spaced. The number of feedings will decrease as baby gets older. Also look for 6 to 8 wet diapers to ensure baby is getting enough to eat. Some babies have BMs more often than others, but when they do occur, they should be mustard yellow and a bit seedy and loose.

20. Putting a baby, especially newborn, on a schedule may decrease your milk supply, ending breastfeeding altogether. Feed on baby’s cue (sucking hand, quietly fussing, etc.), even if you think she just ate and can’t be hungry. She is growing, needs the comfort and nutrition, and you need the milk stimulation in the early weeks.

21. Some newborns will cluster nurse: feeding often for a few hours then resting for several more. This is normal.

22. A baby being “big” does not mean he needs to be supplemented. Your milk supply will be more than enough for him. Simply nurse him as often as he wants to in the beginning, but don’t think that this “constant nursing” will last forever. He’ll become more efficient and your milk supply will increase to appease him.

23. There are things you can do to increase your supply if need be. Drink plenty of water. Rest. Take fenugreek or another herbal supplement if the problem is serious.

24. Get a sling. It’s a lifesaver. Maya Wrap slings and Over The Shoulder Baby Holder slings are great ones!

25. Leaking: If you leak a lot, don’t worry; this will subside over time. If you don’t leak much, don’t worry; this is NOT an indication of low milk supply.

26. Know when and what to expect during a growth spurt. (10 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, etc.) Baby may pull off breast, be a little fussier, and/or nurse more often, building up your milk supply. Nursing more often does not mean you aren’t making enough milk and baby needs formula; just the opposite — baby is increasing your milk supply for you by nursing more often.)

27. After 6 weeks, your breasts may not feel as full. This is not an indication that you aren’t making enough milk, just that your body has adjusted to your milk supply. Around this time, baby may nurse more because of a growth spurt. Don’t let the feel of your breasts and the increase in nursing make you worry.

28. Pumping is not a good indicator of how much milk you normally make. Baby sucks more efficiently and differently than a pump. Also, all pumps are NOT created equal.

29. Every bottle of formula given to a baby can:

a) decrease your milk supply, making one think that further supplementing is needed since mom isn’t “making enough milk”.
b) increase the risk of nipple confusion.
c) even kill forever many of the immunities breastmilk offers, once foreign substances enter the body.

30. Using a pacifier instead of nursing a baby may hinder your milk supply.

31. Unless they have “IBCLC” after the “MD”, NEVER take accept as accurate ANYTHING a physician or nurse tells you about breastfeeding; that is not required training for a pediatrician or OB. Hear them out, but find a qualified lactation consultant, excellent reference materials and a support group (online or in real life) of breastfeeding women to get second, third and fourth opinions.

32. If your baby is choking or throwing up during and after eating, it could be you have a forceful letdown. The best way to fix this is to nurse leaning back. This letdown will ease up over time, and your baby will also get used to it.

33. Nurse laying down whenever possible, even if you don’t want to cosleep. Baby gets fed, you get rest.

34. Mom eating dairy might cause a baby discomfort in the early weeks and months.

35. Dads can bond in every other way with the baby other than feeding. Offering a bottle early on for dad to bond may interfere with the nursing routine and risk ending it altogether.

36. Regardless of any problem you might encounter, there is a solution that does NOT involve formula. If you hit a road block it’s merely a matter of getting accurate help. Talk to an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) if you need serious help. Only 3% of women medically CANNOT breastfeed; that means 97% of women can do it quite successfully, even if there are initial problems.

37. Regardless of what one might think, formula, too, has its downfalls and inconveniences that may not show up till later, including inferior nutrition, increased health problems and cost. Best to get the rough stuff out of the way now and have an easy breastfeeding relationship later on.

38. Surround yourself with supportive people (and good books and online help) and ignore the well-meaning non-supportive ones.

39. When pumping at work, always pump at least as often as your baby would nurse. Add an extra pumping session early in the morning, not at the end of the day, to increase supply.

40. Just because you are young does not mean you can’t make the best choices for your child — and breastmilk is the best choice. Don’t let anyone try to tell you that you’re too young to make enough milk, or make nutritious milk. You WILL make enough, and it will always be more nutritious than formula.

41. Trust yourself. Other people may try to tell you that you are feeding your baby too often or that you should be feeding solids or formula, but you will know what is best for your baby.

42. Educate yourself. This is the best way to know when you are given bad advice from doctors or well-meaning family members. Read as much as possible before baby is born.

43. Drink at least 64 oz. of water a day.

44. Eating peanut products while nursing can lead to potentially fatal peanut allergies later in baby’s life.

45. When pumping and working you will need to drink at least 80 oz. of water per day. This does not include sodas or caffeinated drinks. If you drink these you need to drink even more water.

46. When pumping and working, your baby can make your work day his longest stretch without nursing, up to 6 hours, as long as you feed every 2 hours during the night.

47. When working, if at all possible, go to your baby for your lunch hour to nurse.

48. If you sleep with your baby you can nurse and sleep at the same time if you do it lying on your side. You may not want to do this in the beginning just to make sure you are awake enough to see that he is eating enough. After 6 or 8 weeks you should have a good breastfeeding relationship and can feed while sleeping.

49. Never hesitate to get help, even if you are not sure that your problems are feeding related.

50. Feeding on demand is the best way to relieve or avoid engorgement. It “teaches” your body to make the right amount for your baby.

51. Enjoy breastfeeding. He will only be a baby for such a short amount of time. Let yourself love it!

52. If the situation arises where you lose your milk, know that you have the possibility to relactate. If women who have never lactated can induce lactation for adopted children, a formerly nursing mom can relactate!

53. You may come across some well-meaning, but unsupportive people who try to give advice and possible misinformation. There are many myths about breastfeeding which most people still believe. Just be prepared to smile, nod and get your own information.

54. Take a class or go to a support group to get yourself ready before the baby is here.

55. Keep in mind that although you have heard stories of women who were “unable” to breastfeed, almost all women can. We know more about breastfeeding now than ever before, and have learned that there is a solution to almost all breastfeeding problems.

56. Pump first thing in the morning because this is when you have the most milk.

57. Remember that the evening is when you have the least amount of milk. This doesn’t mean that you are losing your supply.

58. Before a growth spurt your baby will want to nurse more often because he will be signaling your body to make more in order to accommodate his growth spurt. Feeding on demand is the only way to weather a growth spurt. This is the time when it is most important to not supplement because that will signal your body to make less.

59. During growth spurts baby may sleep a lot, become fussy and pull away from the breast crying (especially in the evening.) Don’t be alarmed, this is normal. The best thing to do is provide a lot of skin-to-skin contact and nurse, nurse, nurse.

60. Once you get past the first few months it will become second nature to you, and you will find that it is so easy to breastfeed. You never have to give feedings a thought because the food is always right there, ready when baby is.

61. When you nurse in public it is helpful to have a sling because the baby feels safe and it is totally discrete. Or you can nurse and do housework at the same time!

62. It is very rare for a breastfed baby to “need” supplements. If someone tells you he does, do your own research before believing them.

8 Comments

  1. Angelica

    If you have a nursing baby when you become pregnant again, you do not have to quit breastfeeding. It will not hurt the baby. When the new baby arrives, you can feed in tandem. Latch the new baby on then invite the toddler up to join you. Benefits can include: same nap times, sibling bonding, reduction of sibling rivalry, healthier children, mentally/emotionally stable children.

  2. Lora

    I did not know that you could re-induce lactation!!! I am so upset about that. I lost my milk when my first baby was three months old because I had gone back to work with nothing but a hand pump. I could only get an ounce per sitting at most with that horrible pump and soon enough, my milk was just gone. I breastfed my second until he was 20 months old and my family and in-laws think it is weird. Now, my third baby is 4 months old and we are pro's at this breastfeeding thing. I was never sore, and he latched on like a natural after 30 minutes out of the womb. I plan to breastfeed him until at least 18 months, then we will just go with it until we're ready to stop.

  3. Lisa

    The comment about eating peanuts while nursing might lead to fatal peanut allergies is completely false! Look at Thailand – high intake of peanuts in the diet – lots of breastfeeding – essentially ZERO peanut allergies. There is no evidence to suuport the idea that avoidance decreases risk of allergy.

    1. Cheryl Taylor

      If a nursing child is allergic to nuts it is quite common that each exposure brings a stronger reaction. In this way, if the child is exposed to peanuts via breastmilk it can begin the reaction process and as reactions increase they can potentially escalate unidentified until they have an incident causing anaphylaxis. Avoidance can decrease the reactions of an allergy. In the same manner, there is some evidence that prenatal exposure to a protein begins the same reaction process. An area in which there is still more study needed is whether prenatal exposure can predispose or cause an allergy that might not have developed with exposure limited until later in life after gut closure. It is a heightened reaction potential with a prenate or newborn that has an open gut.

      Hope that helps.

  4. Paulina

    My baby is 3 weeks old and already on formula 'top ups' because he wasn't putting weight on quick enough.. I fear my milk supply will reduce as he gets less sucking time! – help…

    1. Cheryl Taylor

      Yes, less suckling does affect supply. How often are you nursing? Instead of supplementing at the end of nursings I would suggest spacing nursings closer together. With a 3 week old your supply is still being established. Nurse every 60-90 minutes from beginning of nursing to beginning of nursing. Keep an eye on wettings which should be 6-8 every 24 hrs. What was lowest weight after birth and current weight? Too often pediatricians give parents pressure over a weight gain that isn’t in the top of what we see as “average” when the lower end of average is still just fine.

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