Breastfeeding 101: A New Mama's Guide

| Women's Health

woman breastfeeding copy

Breast feeding is one of the most natural and beautiful ways to connect with your newborn. However, like many aspects of giving birth and child rearing, it is never as simple as it seems! There are so many overwhelming components of breastfeeding, and when you and your baby are on your own for the first time it may seem way more complicated and intricate than you anticipated! The good news is, we've got you covered. From how to achieve a proper latch to dealing with the anxiety, we've collected a variety of information to answer all your questions. Don't let the stress of the unknown ruin this shared experience between you and your child; you will be a pro in no time!

Choosing the right nursing bra: Bra shopping in general can be a real nightmare, and purchasing a nursing bra that is right for you is no different. We recommend that you start your search when you are in your third trimester, since that will give you a more accurate measure of the size of your breasts post-pregnancy. Keep in mind that your band size will shrink after you give birth, and your cup size will probably increase a little to accommodate the influx of milk. We also suggest that you stick to cotton, and if you are interested in a bra with underwire, make sure it is professionally fitted to avoid clogged ducts.

>> Read more: You're Pregnant, Now What? Your Trimester Checklist

Know what to do before you do it: It is a complete myth that women instinctively know how to breastfeed. It is an acquired skill, ladies, so study up like you would for any other test! There are tons of helpful videos and breastfeeding books out there that are essential resources for soon-to-be mamas, so spend some time educating yourself prior to delivery. Also, if you have any friends or relatives who have gone through breastfeeding and are willing to mentor you on the process, take them up on the offer!

Create some space: You don't want to arrive home with a hungry, cranky baby in your arms, and nowhere to go to begin breastfeeding. Set up some space in your home where you feel the most relaxed and comfortable. Rocking chairs are great at promoting tranquility, and you can even set up a little table for an iPod player or a book.

breastfeeding chair

Don't forget your diet: Right after you give birth is NOT the time to start cutting back on calories. Research shows that you need to consume an additional 300 calories per day than in your last trimester in order to keep up with breast milk depletion. Try not to go overboard, though; it's easy to spread those extra calories out over a balanced meal schedule so that you don't splurge too much. Eating foods that are full of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats will promote good quality and quantity in your breast milk. Be sure to avoid substances like caffeine, seafood that is high in mercury, citrusy foods, spicy peppers and garlic, as they can negatively affect your milk.

Treating sore nipples: Sore nipples is one of the top complaints of new mamas, and for good reason! Your breasts will become your baby's pantry, so it is important to prepare them for the impending feasting! This common problem is typically due to a poor latch or an improper positioning of your baby. While you work on readjusting your newborn, there are a couple of remedies you can try out to help with the pain. Nipple cream will soothe your nipples and moisten your skin, which will definitely kick start the healing process. You can also place glycerin gel pads in your bra cups in between feedings to ease that soreness, too.

Don't stress the schedule: Your baby doesn't have a job to do, chores to finish, or meals to prepare. Feeding on your schedule is just not going to cut it. If you try to force your newborn to stick to your schedule, you run the risk of poor weight gain for the little one, and decreased milk production for you.

Master a proper latching technique early on: A lot of mothers give up on breast feeding within the first week because their baby has difficulty latching, or because of sore nipples. It is essential that you remain relaxed and at ease during the process, so that your child does not become agitated. Positioning your baby is key to a good latching, so check out these 7 Tips for Getting Baby Latched for a precise guide for moms who are new to the process!

Stick with your instincts: Being a new mom is hard enough on its own, but it can be overwhelming when you're surrounded by well-meaning friends and family members who are eager to impart some of their own wisdom. Regardless of whether it is your husband insisting that you should skip a feeding so you can get some rest, or a friend expressing concern that your baby is not getting enough sustenance, and maybe you might want to consider formula, stick to your guns. Sure, you are going to encounter some pitfalls, but you need to trust your own instincts.

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>> Read more: Breastfeeding vs Formula

Above all, remember that you need to give yourself time to adjust to the learning curve! Whenever you get overwhelmed, or feel like you need to give up, just take a couple deep breaths and remind yourself that the beautiful bundle in your arms is totally worth all this stress and worry. Breastfeeding is just one phase that you and your baby will conquer and overcome, so hang in there and don't be afraid to ask for help or assistance along the way! For more information check out our sources: BabyCenter, Parents.com, Fit Pregnancy.