Learn, Latch, Love: 6 Tips for First-Time Breastfeeding Moms
I was heading to dinner last night when I got an IG message from a childhood friend. She shared that her little sister had given birth and was struggling to produce milk. She wanted so much to be able to breastfeed but needed help, so she asked me.
Immediately it brought me back... to those first newborn nocturnal hours of trying
e v e r y t h i n g... desperately trying to pump, manually extract, syringe and spoon feed what little I was able to produce... it was-> f'n horrible.
I will NEVER, ever forget the severe emotional toll it took on me those first few days after birth. I mean you're already exhausted, in pain, trying to heal and worried about all the testing they do on baby, hoping for normal results. You simply have no idea if you will be able to produce milk. You hear about "catching your colostrum" at the end of pregnancy and those first few days, but what if you have no freakin' colostrum?!
I texted back and told her I would love to help in anyway I possibly could. I offered to book a free call with her the very next day if she wished and I'd write this blog to hopefully help any other mamas in my social circle who might be dealing with the same thing.
Breastfeeding is SUCH a touchy subject and I GET IT. Now, as a mama and a breastfeeding mama for the past 18 months - I GET IT girlfriend, I do. And before I continue, I want to preface this by saying that if you're here, you CARE and that matters more than anything else in this world. I know you do, because you're willing to learn as much as you can to support yourself and feed your sweet, precious, beautiful baby and that makes you a wonderful mama. Your baby is so lucky to have you!
First and foremost - FED IS BEST. That's it. Your baby needs to eat and it's our job to feed them so they not just survive, but thrive.
Now, for the mamas on a mission to breastfeed their baby, I know your pain because I dealt with zero to little colostrum, then just a few droplets and then nada for a few more days. Eventually on the 5th day, I woke up to the most painful breasts full of... milk! Ouch! Is this what breast implants feel like?! Holy crap!! lol It was so painful!
So, what happened in between those days you ask? How did my baby boy eat? Well I'll tell you - FORMULA. When I visited a lactation consultant a day after birth, barely able to walk, they shared that he needed formula and needed it fast... my heart sank and I too fell with it in a deep depression. "What a damn failure I am!" All the horrible, negative thoughts of "I'm not good enough" and "What's wrong with me" surfaced and circled my brain. Looking back now, I now know absolutely nothing was wrong with me! Nothing. And nothing is wrong with you. Everything was new and stressful and heavy and this was at the center of it all. I simply needed a little TLC and support to learn more, to learn how to properly latch and remain consistent.
After 2 or so days of formula, baby G plumped up and guess what finally came in? That's right, my milk!
While there's no guarantee that any of these will help, I will say if breastfeeding is a top priority for you, please understand that it's a full time job, it truly is and anything is worth trying to see if it will work for you. Breastfeeding requires so much of you not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. I don't say this to scare you off, but just keep it real with you.
Also, please know that it's important to speak with your healthcare provider before trying new remedies, especially if there are concerns about your milk supply. Here are some remedies that may help you. I speak from experience that I'm only sharing what worked for me, and I hope so sincerely that it helps you too!
Lactation Consultant: Please book as many appointments as you can with your hospital or nearest lactation consultant. Most if not all are usually covered by your health insurance. It made all the difference for me in learning specific ways I could assist my baby to latch on to feed those first few weeks. The weigh-ins after feedings also made me feel so much better to know he was actually getting milk and I was able to do it! I highly recommend this as your #1 priority/task.
Frequent Nursing: The more a baby nurses, the more milk the body is signaled to produce. Encourage the baby to nurse on demand and ensure proper latch and positioning + Pumping Between Feedings: Using a breast pump between feedings can help stimulate milk production. Pumping for 10-15 minutes after nursing may signal the body to produce more milk. Trust me - don't do longer than that. You also need breaks to rest in between otherwise - ouch! Trust me, I learned the hard way. PS - most hospitals will give you a free breast pump so don't purchase one before asking!
Hydration: Staying well-hydrated is SO essential for milk production. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Carry a pretty bottle with a straw if it helps to remind you to sip, sip, sip! If you give birth in a hospital, they usually give you a nice one to take home or you can find plenty options to purchase on Amazon.
Balanced Nutrition: A well-balanced diet is C R U C I A L for overall health and milk production. Ensure that the diet includes a variety of nutrients from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and proteins. If you're looking for help on your health, nutrition and overall wellness, I'm happy to support you with my 6 Week Journey to Health program. Message me to ask questions. Note: Some mamas find that adding oatmeal into their diet can support milk production because it's rich in iron and fiber. I loved this brand of at home baked cookies. Check out my breastfeeding recommendations here.
Sleep & Self Care: This one can feel impossible at the start but remember that your baby needs you feeling good and being rested, otherwise it's hard to function! You are not meant to do it all alone. Please ask for help from family and friends. If you can afford it, please look into a Postpartum Doula to help you! They are wonderful resources and support, especially in those early days and weeks.
Skin-to-Skin Contact: Spending time in skin-to-skin contact with the baby can help stimulate milk production and strengthen the bond between the mother and baby. The more time you spend connected, the better!
It's really important to remember that there's no one-size-fits-all solution, and what works for one mama or for me, may not work for another. If you're concerned about low milk supply or are experiencing difficulties, please seek guidance from your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant. They can provide personalized advice and address any specific issues that may be affecting milk production. PS - before I forget - also try this brand too, Milky Mama - brownies helped me when I was struggling.
I'm sending you all my love and strength because that's what mamas are made of.
If you'd like to book a personalized 1:1 Motherhood Mentorship session, dm me on IG at @violet_ventures or send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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