Breastfeeding Advice

*Check out who won the Froggy Hunt.

I am on my eighth year of breastfeeding and I have a few bits of advice to share.

No, I haven’t nursed a single child for eight years! I have successfully nursed seven children for approximately one year each, and am currently nursing my eighth baby.

By “successfully”, I DON’T mean that it has been smooth sailing all the way. I mean that I have stuck with it and ridden out the bumps along the way, and my babies were well nourished by my breast milk.

Before I share my advice, I would like to remind you that these are things that I have found useful. I’m no doctor. I don’t even play one on TV, but these are a few tips I have discovered over the years that I hope you will find helpful.

  • Put your baby to the breast as soon after birth as possible. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from a lactation consultant if you feel like you need it.
  • Make sure your baby’s mouth is open WIDE when nursing.
  • Don’t give your baby a pacifier or bottle for at least the first week or so after birth. This will allow her to get comfortable with breastfeeding and not become accustomed to an artificial nipple. (We’ve broken the pacifier rule a time or two, but it’s best not to.)
  • Expect mild to moderate soreness at first, but don’t let that stop you! It will soon pass.
  • Use lanolin for soothing cracked or sore nipples.
  • Wake the baby during the day if she goes more than 3-4 hours between feedings. Making sure she gets plenty of calories during the day will encourage her to sleep better at night.
  • If the baby is too sleepy to nurse, try undressing her for a diaper change. A cool wipe on the bottom usually does the trick.
  • Expect times when it seems the baby wants to nurse constantly. This is a sign of a growth spurt and she is signaling your body to make more milk. Soon your production will catch up with her demand and she won’t need to nurse as often.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Make it natural for your children to see you nursing. When they are curious, simply tell them, “This is how babies eat.”
  • DON’T try to crash diet to lose all your pregnancy weight.  Trust me on this one. Your milk supply will drop and you will have one unhappy baby on your hands.
  • If you feel like your milk supply is diminishing, nurse as often as you can (every hour or so if baby will cooperate)  to step up production.
  • DON’T be in a hurry to start solids. This often diminishes milk supply because baby is getting nourishment elsewhere. Read about why we don’t use baby food.
  • Take a nursing cover whenever you go out so you can nurse the baby anywhere. Here is a discussion about breastfeeding in public.
  • Relax! Try not to stress too much over how long and which side. I used to nervously watch the clock and I would worry if the baby didn’t nurse “long enough”. I would also mark my bra with a safety pin so I could remember which side the baby should nurse from. Now, I realize that a healthy baby will let me know what is “long enough” and I can tell which side is fuller without a safety pin.
  • Use La Leche League International as a resource. There is a wealth of experience and advice at that website and you can even contact someone who is willing to help you with a specific question. I found help there when I was struggling with an extra sleepy newborn who did not want to wake up to nurse.
  • Be sure to check out tips my Facebook fans are leaving on the Smockity Frocks fan page. It turns out beer does work! Who knew! (Thanks, Tracy!)

This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are some things I don’t know, like “Does beer help with milk production?” and some things I’m sure I have forgotten to say here.

If you have something you’d like to know, leave it in the comments and I’ll try to address it.

*This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday.

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Comments

  1. I just want to second the “Drink plenty of water” point. Don’t let yourself get dehydrated! Not only when baby is a newborn, but for as many months as you nurse – your body can’t make milk if you are low on fluids, so be sure to drink plenty of water during every day.
    And keep taking your vitamins.

  2. Connie, when you posted about BF in public Pearl was not yet born. So… here is my response after 14 months of nursing experience:

    Pearl will not stand for a cover (she won’t even let me put a blanket over her at night – she has a fit!), so that changes my reply a bit. Back when she was a calm nurser, I would nurse in public all the time. I was very careful to choose clothing that was modest, and several ladies commented that I did a good job of being discreet without a cover. However, when I went to someone’s house or if we had guests over to our house (IOW in a more private setting), I would ask the wife if she was comfortable with me nursing in front of her husband. If she said no, I would excuse myself to nurse.

    Now, though, Pearl is such an on-again-off-again, acrobatic nurser that I don’t really nurse in public anymore unless I have no other choice!

  3. I love this post :) I am just beginning to wean my daughter who is turning 1 in two days! I am so glad that I nursed her and that we were able to continue it for so long. I think I’m really going to miss nursing her, but I’m ready to stop and begin to prepare my body for conceiving baby #2. It isn’t always easy, but it is sooo worth it! Unfortunately breastfeeding didn’t work out for my sister. She nursed for about a month…which is better than nothing imo. I don’t think she would’ve attempted it if it hadn’t been for her seeing me and her sister-in-law nurse our babies. It might not work out for everyone, but I think there’s really something to be said for wanting to try something when you know people who’ve done it themselves. I love to hear how you tell your kids “this is how babies eat”. I’ll definitely remember that one as we continue to grow our family. Thanks for this post!

  4. I can relate to having a baby who likes pulling the nursing cover away. I have been training her for the past week that she is to keep her hand on me while nursing (not yanking on the cover). I just say No and pull her off until she’s got her hand against me again, then I resume nursing. It was hard the first couple of days, but now she knows: I go to yanking on the cover, I don’t get milk.
    Babies are quick learners. ;)

  5. Um, great minds think alike. This is just like the post that I have scheduled for tomorrow. :)

  6. Oh too funny! I used this T-shirt saying as my blog title today! Hahaha.
    One of my very favorite breastfeeding sites is from the Breastfeeding Guru
    http://www.drjacknewman.com/
    I got so much great advice from there!

  7. Have you found a trend in decreased milk supply with successive babies? I had so much milk for my first couple, but it’s gone downhill since then. It’s still been enough to nurse them, but let’s just say I haven’t needed nursing pads and I’ve had to work hard at maintaining my supply of milk. I don’t know what it is, but it does seem like after I wean each child there’s less left of my breasts!! And I don’t have much to lose! I’m about to start up again in a couple of months and was just wondering if anyone else has experienced this.

    Celee

    • @Celee, I must have the opposite problem. I had baby #4 six months ago and my breasts apparently tho’t I’d birthed quads. I was in serious PAIN!
      Have you tried fenugreek?

      If you are near birth, start fenugreek now.

      • @Ginger, Who wants to smell like maple syrup? Yuck! Yes, I’ve tried it and have managed to keep my supply up enough to nurse- that was one of the things I’ve had to do. I probably just lose weight too fast and I’m not about to complain about that!!

  8. I’m so glad you joined in Mingle Monday this week. I hope it’s a great start to your week, Connie.

    Robyn

  9. Good post. I’d like to add a tip if I may. Our local hospital puts cabbage leaves on the breasts of new Moms who don’t wish to breastfeed, to dry up their breasts. They put on new leaves whenever the old ones wilt. I was having a particularly bad case of engorgement and mastitis once and my Dr. told me to put on a couple of cabbage leaves (washed, of course). I was hesitant because I didn’t want to dry up my milk, but I also kind of doubted the efficacy. She told me to relax and just do one set of leaves. I tell you, the result was near miraculous; I was shocked! I had one of the speediest recoveries from one of my worst cases. And I have to second the water advice. Always lots of water.

  10. Oh yeah, there is a lovely photo of me reclining on the bed with cabbage leaves. My husband, Mother, and Sister all thought I looked so funny. I’m glad I let them take the picture, it really was funny.

  11. After nursing multiple babes, I haven’t noticed an issue with my supply but I have noticed a decrease in the fat content of my milk. I joke that my first child got whole milk, my second got 2%, and so on, lol! Fortunately it hasn’t seemed to affect my babies growth but it’s pretty obvious when my milk separates in the fridge that there is MUCH less fat than there was the first time around.

  12. Great tips! I wish I had known about having my baby nurse ASAP.

  13. Hey there, I’m a relatively new follower of your blog and loving it.

    Just wanted to say how great your breastfeeding tips are. Here in Scotland our breastfeeding rates are still appallingly low despite public health campaigns. I’m doing my bit though, still nursing my fourth who is 14 months and nursed my older three for between 18-24 months each. I think I worked out that out of 12 years of marriage I have so far spent over 6 of them nursing!

    Oh, and I haven’t noticed any change in milk supply with any of them.

    Kirsteen

  14. Yes, drink plenty of water!

    #1 to avoid headaches
    #2 increasing your water in take, increases your milk supply!

    Also, lots of protien! When I was nursing, I would sit down with baby and while he ate, I drank a glass of water and snacked on something high in protien.

    Great tips Connie!

  15. Lisa Beth W. says:

    Great tips, Connie! And let me tell you something that may sound funny–for my last three children (or was it four?–I don’t remember)(I have six), I only ever gave one breast at a time after my milk production was established. My body adjusted, and I never had to try to wake baby up to switch to the other breast. I also never worried about the whole foremilk/hindmilk thing when I was doing that. And no, I was not any more lopsided than I naturally am. ;)

    • Smockity Frocks says:

      @Lisa Beth W., During our childbirth classes with our first, 16 years ago, we became friends with a couple from Australia. They told us that the common advice from lactation specialists and the medical profession in general was to only feed from one side during a feeding session. I have thought back on that many times since then because of the American breastfeeding advice to ALWAYS nurse from both sides.

      I often only do one side during a feeding. It’s funny how I used to panic over it, and now I don’t.

  16. Lisa Beth W. says:

    By “one breast at a time”, I mean “one breast each nursing session”. Of course it was only one breast at a time! Hee hee.

  17. Thanks for these tips! I have linked to you on my blog.

  18. Great tips! :) I’m fast approaching year 4, and while it hasn’t been easy I’ve loved every minute of it. Happy world breastfeeding week!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Breastfeeding Advice from a mom who is in her eighth year of breastfeeding! …Expect times when it seems the baby wants to nurse constantly. This is a sign of a growth spurt and she is signaling your body to make more milk. Soon your production will catch up with her demand and she won’t need to nurse as often… …Drink plenty of water… [...]

  2. [...] week, The 4 Moms of 35+ Kids are giving breastfeeding advice. Here are some of the questions I have had: “How do you manage the home while breastfeeding [...]

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