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“Tips on breastfeeding you wish you had known?”
“I’m currently 36 weeks pregnant and hoping to exclusively breastfeed my little one and she’ll be our first baby,” the mum posted.
“I’m sure this is normal but I feel like I have absolutely no idea what to expect/how I’m going to cope! I’ve been reading a lot online and watched some videos on YouTube which there seems to be a lot of focus on the ‘latch’ & ensuring it’s right.”
Asking for advice she voiced many of the concerns many new mums have.
“Does anybody have tips or advice of what you found useful when you just started breastfeeding/getting the latch right? Is it clear you can hear the baby sucking and then swallowing?” she asked.
“Does it hurt? I’ve read conflicting info, some say it’s toe-curling others not so much, is this more so down to everyone being different? I’m really excited to meet her but I’m really worried I’m not going to be able to get the breastfeeding right! Any other tips/advice would be great.”
Other mums were super-happy to weigh in, sharing the things they wish they knew about breastfeeding and offering their support to this excited/worried new mum.
Here’s 21 of their best tips, in case you’re preparing to breastfeed too …
21 real mum breastfeeding tips
1. “In terms of getting latch right, one midwife said to make sure you’re bringing their nose to your nipple rather than mouth to get it in the right place – it seemed to help!”
2. “I used nipple shields & they were a godsend.”
3. “If you’re feeding non-stop for three days and nights and not getting ANY sleep it’s not because you ‘can’t breastfeed’. It’s normal. Once your milk comes in it will calm right down.”
4. “Check if there are baby feeding groups in your area for advice and support from other new mums – I only went twice but found it so useful and reassuring.”
5. “Feed on demand. If in doubt, offer feeding. It’s not just milk. It’s the greatest comfort you can offer. She’s been inside you for all of the time she knows. The outside world is bright and scary. Your breast is a tiny piece of home for her.”
6. “I found it really useful to pay for a lactation consultant to come and do a home visit on day 3 when I was really struggling with the constant feeding and was in a bit of pain and wanted to give up. So I’d say seek the best help you can find/afford as early as possible.”
7. “If you are keen to bottle feed as well, introduce the bottle once they’ve established breastfeeding, don’t leave it too late like I did.”
8. “The best way to stimulate milk production is to breastfeed. It’s a supply and demand system.”
9. “[Know that] it does create an unequal split of responsibility between you and your partner and at times, that can be hard.”
10. “If the latch is still hurting after the first few moments then don’t persist with a bad latch as you risk damaging your nipples. Break the latch with your little finger and try again until it’s comfortable.”
11. “Your milk changes composition during the day and it contains sleepy hormones at night etc. So it’s not recommended to feed milk pumped in the morning at night.”
12. “Don’t express too early. I didn’t even attempt any bottle feeds until 6 weeks with expressed milk. Your supply needs time to establish.”
13. “When your baby is feeding constantly, don’t doubt yourself and feel like it’s because you’re not making enough milk, it’s totally normal.”
14. “Make sure you have food, a drink and the remote/your phone/a book before you sit down ready to feed – you will be there a while.”
15. “Google ‘cluster feeding’!”
16. “Starting from 4 weeks, [my baby] became very fussy and would often cry & scream instead of feeding, despite being obviously hungry. The trick was to soothe her to sleep and offer her boob the second she woke up from a nap. Always worked well and still using this method at 13 weeks!”
17. “Cold cabbage leaves helped for when my breasts became engorged when my milk came in.”
18. “Feeding lying down is a lifesaver when you’re knackered. When you first get home, spend a day in bed just feeding the wee one and resting.”
19. “Once your milk has come in, go and see a breastfeeding support worker/midwife/lactation consultant and CHECK YOUR LATCH. Even if you think it is all going well, have somebody else have a look.”
20. “Keep hydrated!”
21. “Apply pure lanolin to your nipples every day for up to a month before the baby is born. I never had a problem with cracked nipples, nor has anyone else I know who’s done this.”
It sounds like a lot, but forewarned is forearmed and it’s good to keep in mind that not every tip will apply to every mum … but many will. If in doubt, know that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
“Breastfeeding is like climbing a mountain,” one Mumsnet mum wrote. “The first few weeks are blinking hard work and it does sometimes feel like some sort of endurance test. But. Once you reach the peak it’s awesome, and then you get to walk down the other side, which is a whole lot easier!”