Breastfeeding is such a special opportunity to provide your baby with the absolute best nutrition, immense comfort, kick-start their health and immune system, all while building a bond that will last a lifetime.
The benefits of breastfeeding are endless, but that is not what this post is about. Knowing how important breastfeeding is, adds a lot of pressure to deliver this “liquid gold.”
Everyone’s experience with breastfeeding is different.
For some it comes really easy, some have a really difficult time, and most fall somewhere in between.
I breastfed both of my babies and both times it started out a little difficult. With some troubleshooting, research, education, and a mental breakdown or two along the way I figured it out.
Once I figured it out, it was smooth sailing. I am hoping that sharing what I have learned along the way will help other moms out there avoid as many obstacles as possible!
Here is everything I wish I knew breastfeeding as a new mom:
After your baby is born, you will be producing what is called Colostrum. Colostrum is a thick yellowish secretion that is produced by your mammary glands.
It is extremely rich in antibodies, which are the first to colonize your little one’s sterile GI tract. (super important for keeping them healthy and free of disease!)
This is all they will be drinking for the first few days, and luckily it is all they need at that time. Their stomachs are extremely small, and fill up very quickly so they don’t need much at first.
Your milk supply will come in around 2-5 days after birth. Feeding as often as possible before your milk comes in will help you establish a good milk supply down the road.
I even pump in between feedings to get my body producing as much as possible. This tricks your body into thinking it needs to make more milk.
Once your milk comes in, it comes in with a vengeance!
You will most likely be extremely engorged for the first week or so.
This is pretty uncomfortable and basically feels like your boobs are about to explode. Don’t worry, once your milk production regulates this goes away.
When you are engorged, you may start to notice some small lumps. These are clogged ducts, which are very common. If left untreated, they can get infected, which is called mastitis.
I have never had mastitis, but I hear that it is extremely painful and usually requires antibiotics.
I managed to avoid this by clearing out any clogged ducts as soon as I noticed them. To clear out a clogged duct you need to massage it out. It takes a decent amount of force, kind of like you’re kneading dough.
It doesn’t feel great, but I imagine it is a whole lot better than mastitis! I used a heating pad (I loved this Lansinoh 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack) to soften everything up before I would massage it out.
Also, frequent feeding or pumping helps to clear it out as well.
It is absolutely CRITICAL that you learn how to establish a deep latch.
There is a ton of information out there on how to achieve this, and I suggest you watch a few YouTube videos, get some 1 on 1 help from a lactation consultant or take a breastfeeding course online (see below for my recommendation.)
A bad latch is the NUMBER ONE cause of pain during breastfeeding. There are a few other (less common) causes such as tongue tie or thrush.
It’s common for your nipples to be sore during the first week or two while they adjust, but extreme pain is avoidable and should be addressed if you’re experiencing this.
With my second baby, I had EXCRUCIATING pain (I’m talking worse than labor contractions) because he took about 2 weeks to establish a deep latch.
I learned all about deep latches with my first and did not expect to have any problems with my second, but for some reason, he had a hard time getting a deep latch.
I talk all about this experience, how I got through it and everything else you need to know about surviving the first week home with a newborn, so check that post out if you’re interested.
It really saved me from quitting, because it was a tough week, to say the least.
You will be feeding your baby every 2-3 hours (or sooner if needed.)
This means you most likely will not be getting much sleep at first, but once they hit 5 weeks old they are able to go about 4-5 hours in between feedings which will give you longer stretches at night.
Around 2 months old they are capable of sleeping through the night, but will most likely still have one middle of the night feeding.
Check out my post about how to get your baby to sleep through the night.
These are just the basics for new moms, but there is SO MUCH MORE to learn about breastfeeding to ensure you have the most amazing experience.
For more in-depth knowledge on everything breastfeeding, I highly recommend the Milkology Breastfeeding Course. It was created by a fellow mama who happens to be a certified lactation consultant!
It’s simple, extremely affordable (only $19) and it provides SO much valuable information (and how cute is the name?!) It is a web-based course that you can take from the comfort of your own home which truly helped me so much. (Who has time for anything else, really?!)
You get access to so much knowledge on the basics of breastfeeding. Covering obstacles to look out for, how to overcome them, guidance in making the right decisions despite outside pressure, and my personal favorites were the PDF printouts at the end of the course.
They have bullet points highlighting the key points, recaps of everything the course covered, pages of helpful tips and tricks, answers to common problems and more.
Not only did it educate me on so many aspects of breastfeeding, but it gave me the reassurance and encouragement I needed when I was struggling. This course truly is so helpful, I highly recommend it.
As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn on qualifying purchases.