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The New Mom Guide to Successful Breastfeeding and Pumping


As you look around at other moms and babies who are breastfeeding, you experience a sinking feeling. They make it look so effortless.


The celebrated image of a breastfeeding mother continues to burn in your mind's eye as you keep trying to latch your baby to your nipple.


For you, breastfeeding is challenging.


You keep asking yourself, is there a trick for breastfeeding that every new mom knows? Why am I having such a hard time?


If breastfeeding is not as seamless as you thought it would be, you’re not alone.


The truth is, most first-time moms don’t find breastfeeding to be simple. From sore nipples to tongue ties, breastfeeding and pumping are learned skills both babies and mothers tackle together.


It’s also a skill you can only practice in real time, which can add stress.


Luckily, the world is starting to recognize the dedication it takes mothers to breastfeed their children. In fact, there’s a holiday to celebrate just how much effort and perseverance go into lactation.


World Breastpumping Day was created to acknowledge every mom who dedicates their time to breastfeeding their baby.


I’ve seen and understand the demands new mothers face during breastfeeding and breast pumping. As an experienced Lactation Educator, Doula, and Newborn Care Specialist, it’s my passion to help families in this transitional time. To hold space for questions, learning, and ongoing support.


To celebrate this holiday, I’m offering my expert advice to help you along your breastfeeding and pumping journey.


Breastfeeding Tips and Positions for New Moms

One thing to remember when you’re starting your breastfeeding journey is that it will get easier with time.


Understanding your baby and its hunger cues will be something to look for in the first few days.


A term that you might hear your nurse, lactation consultant, or doctor use is rooting. Rooting is a reflex that your infant instinctively does when hungry. 1


When babies start rooting or searching for a nipple, it’s a cue from your baby letting you know they're ready to eat. This reflex will be expressed by your baby sticking out their tongue or making sucking movements – this is the best time to attach them to your breast.


Crying is also a hunger cue. However, it’s usually the last stage of the cues. It’s encouraged not to wait until your baby is crying to feed them since it will be harder to latch your baby to your breast.


Breastfeeding Positions

There are a few positions that your lactation professional will go over with you before and after birth. Learning what breastfeeding positions your baby and you prefer will take some time and practice. What works well for one baby may not work for another.


Please be gentle and patient with yourself during this process.


Your baby will respond to your energy. When you stay calm and focused during the breastfeeding and latching process, your baby will as well. Remember, your baby doesn’t know this is your first time breastfeeding.


In the beginning and throughout your lactation journey, you might decide to use pillows or props to aid support in positions. Please use whatever brings you comfort and confidence while breastfeeding. I encourage you to try a few different positions to see which one feels the most comfortable for you and your baby.


In order for you to have a better understanding of lactation techniques, let’s review each breastfeeding position together.



Cradle Hold

This is the most recognizable breastfeeding position for new moms.


First, you’ll lie your baby across your forearm with their head closer to your elbow and feet near your hands.


The baby will be facing your chest and stomach with their nose lined up to your nipple.


Place your baby’s lower arm under your forearm, making sure their hip and ear are in a straight line.



Laid-Back/Biological Nursing

In this breastfeeding technique, lay back at about a 45-degree angle with your baby’s belly on top of your belly.


You want to make sure that in this position, you’re propped enough up that you’re able to look into your baby’s eyes while they’re nursing.



Football Hold

This breastfeeding position is a great choice for twins since it gives you the ability to feed them simultaneously. It’s also a comfortable position if you had cesarean births as it does not put pressure on your incision. 2


In this technique, position the baby along your side, against your ribs, with their head in your hand, and nose in line with your breast.



Laying on Your Side Nursing

In order to do this breastfeeding position, lay down completely on one side. Your baby will lay down next to you, lined up stomach to stomach.


When placing your baby next to you, make sure that your baby’s in a straight line from ear to hip. Once you’re in position, use your top arm to help guide the baby to your nipple.



It’s important to say, breastfeeding on the breast isn’t for everyone. There is no shame in how you choose to feed your baby. Some moms want to breastfeed, yet for a variety of reasons, find latching too challenging. In this case, consider pumping your breast milk.


When you pump, you’re able to give your baby breastmilk while not having your baby on your breast. Some women do a combination of both.


Discovering what works for you and your baby will be part of your lactation journey.



Do’s and Don’ts of Pumping

Pumping your breastmilk can be a choice to ease feeding needs. It allows you to have other caregivers feed your child so that you can get more rest.


Breast pumping also provides a solution for women who want to breastfeed, yet are away from home for long hours.


When you decide to start breast pumping, set yourself up for success.


  • Do get the right tools. Having a pump that’s comfortable and works for you is key. Before delivering your child, check with your insurance to see if they cover the cost or provide you with a breast pump. If you’re going to purchase your own breast pump and need some advice, talk to a lactation Educator.

  • Do plan for extra time to practice. It’s encouraged to start pumping a few weeks before you return to work or want your baby to take a regular bottle. This time will give both you and your baby time to get used to and practice the new feeding routine.3

  • Do take sanitary precautions when pumping breastmilk and storage. Before you pump, make sure that your hands and all of the equipment you’re using are clean. After pumping, store the breastmilk in a clean food-grade container designed for milk collection.4


At times, it may feel overwhelming. When this feeling arises, utilize the resources around you. In the hospital, ask for support from your nurse or a lactation consultant.


While discussing the important things to do when it comes to breastfeeding, it’s also important to note a few breastfeeding dont’s.


  • Don’t overpump. When starting, it’s important to pump as often as your baby feeds. This will keep your supply even to your baby’s needs, and not lead to oversupply issues.


  • Don’t compare. Every woman has different levels of supply. If you’re discovering that you’re not pumping enough breastmilk or you’re consistently leaking, talk to a lactation Educator. . Lactation experts will help provide a solution to your breastfeeding challenges, so you’re lactation journey is smooth.



Creating a Breastfeeding and Pumping Schedule

Creating a breastfeeding and pumping schedule to help improve flow and supply is a great idea.


A good rule of thumb is to schedule your infant's feeding for every two to three hours. This is true for both breastfeeding and breast-pumping moms.


With breastfeeding, it can be hard to decipher the actual amount of milk your baby’s receiving. If you’re concerned that your baby is not taking in enough breast milk, you can always use a scale to weigh your baby before and after their feeding to calculate the ounces they took in.


Yet, please feel assured knowing that your baby will eat when they’re hungry. This includes looking to your baby for feeding cues.


It’s also common for infants to cluster feed when they’re growing. Be flexible with your schedule – approach it more as a routine than an exact time.


If you’re using the two to three hours schedule when pumping, you’ll stay on target with supply.


Remember, these times are in a 24-hour period. If your baby is taking a bottle from someone else at night, it’s important that you still pump to keep producing the amount of breast milk your baby needs.


Feeding your baby may feel disruptive at times since you don’t have control over your baby’s on-demand feedings. In this case, preparation is key. Having a feeding bag with your pump, milk storage containers, and ice packs will help save any breastmilk expressed while away from home.



Expert Lactation and Breastfeeding Tips


Lactation consultants and educators are skilled in the area of breastfeeding and know how to guide you through your journey.


It’s a great idea to seek a lactation class and consultant before having your baby. Many different insurance plans will help cover (or cover all) the costs of this service. During the classes, you will discuss and learn all areas of breastfeeding – positions, pumping, and feeding schedules.


Need another reason to sign up for a lactation class?


A class will help you feel more confident in the process when your baby arrives. Plus, if any breastfeeding issues do arise, you’re already connected to a lactation expert you trust.


If you’re looking for information on lactation classes, stay tuned.


In this co-collaborative space, I discuss all things lactation, as well as desired caregiving tips.


Don’t wait in breastfeeding limbo any longer, meet your breastfeeding guide now. For private sessions, check out my rates as a lactation expert.




References

1. Cleveland Clinic, Rooting Reflex in Babies, 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/23257-rooting-reflex

3. CDC, Infant and Toddler Nutrition- Breastfeeding. 2021

4. Mayo Clinic, Breast Milk Storage. Mayo Clinic. 2021


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