Tips and Tricks to Get Started Breastfeeding
What To Know About Breastfeeding
One of the most common (and unsolicited!) questions pregnant people get is how they intend to feed their baby. Of course, the choice is personal, but that doesn’t mean it’s free of stigma and critique. The internet can be a great resource for parenting questions for new parents wondering what to know about breastfeeding. However, some parents find common phrases like “breast is best” upsettings as it discounts the challenges of breastfeeding and the toll it can take a parent’s well-being and mental health.
Studies highlight the benefits of breastfeeding (more on that later) but know that every feeding journey is different. And as long as you are happy and your baby is growing and healthy, we encourage you to work with your pediatrician to find a setup that works best for you—especially when going back to work.
Before we jump into it, some parents may find terms like chestfeeding or bodyfeeding to be more inclusive of their experience. Especially feeding parents who don’t associate their anatomy with the term “breast.”
Here we’ll scratch the surface of breastfeeding tips, various breastfeeding positions, and more information as you consider the feeding options that work best for you and your baby.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund, exclusively breastfeeding for six months and partial breastfeeding for two years or beyond is recommended due to its benefits for your little one. That being said, it is important for you to do what works best for you and your child.
The WHO states that breastmilk is the ideal food for infants as it is safe, clean, and contains antibodies that help protect against many common childhood illnesses. Breastmilk can provide all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it may provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one-third during the second year of life.
There is even an economic benefit of breastfeeding to consider as it may save some money on regularly purchasing formula.
The Convenience of Breastfeeding
Whether breast or bottle is used, infants require feeding on demand day or night. Another time-saving favor of breastfeeding is that it eliminates the need for bottle sterilization and prep time to each feeding. Cleaning out all the tiny bottle parts at 2am, 3am, and 4am can add to the parental exhaustion.
In those early months of parenthood, many find running simple errands to feel like a circus as you juggle gear, diapers, and stuff. Breastfeeding can be done anytime and nearly anywhere, and some parents find this makes chores, errands, and activities easier.
Learning About Breastfeeding
The journey of learning about breastfeeding should ideally start before your baby arrives. Taking a breastfeeding class can help you prepare for dealing with some potential challenges that are outside of your control, like low supply, establishing a good latch, exhaustion, and nipple pain. Your partner or primary support person may also benefit from attending these classes with you.
Tap into the resources available outside of class, too. YouTube is full of helpful videos on breastfeeding, latching, and pumping. These visual resources will boost your confidence. Be sure to ask your doctor about what breastfeeding support will be available when you give birth.
Prior to giving birth, order a breast pump through your insurance company. You may be able to get one at no cost. Also, be sure to check if lactation consultants are covered.
If you have questions back at home or are looking for additional support, consider joining a local breastfeeding group. It’s a great resource for connecting with other parents in the same boat and sharing resources, supplies, and connecting with lactation consultants in the area.
When to Start Breastfeeding
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that healthy infants be placed and remain in direct skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately after delivery until the first feeding is accomplished. This promotes bonding and helps with the breastfeeding journey.
What Is The Most Comfortable Position For Breastfeeding?
Ultimately, this is a personal choice but there are a few options to consider—and what is best one month might change as your baby grows. We have a full guide on bottle and breast positions for feeding here, but these are a few of the most popular positions.
Side-laying breastfeeding position: To get ultra comfortable, lie on your side with a few pillows under your head and behind your back. Then, place your baby on their side facing you and hold them close. You can lift your breast to their mouth to help them latch on. The best part of this position is that you don’t have to move to switch breasts if you don’t want to. Just place a pillow under your little one to raise them to the necessary height.
Cradle hold breastfeeding position: This one you may be familiar with, as it’s the traditional position. Pick up your infant, then place their head in the crook of your arm to support it. Use your forearm to support the rest of their body, and cup their bottom or upper thigh for support. Rotate your arm so they’re facing you, with their chest against your chest, and bring their mouth to your nipple. Be sure the rest of their body is aligned with their head to make swallowing easier.
Cross-cradle breastfeeding position: For the cross-cradle, place your baby in the arm that’s opposite the breast you’re using. Support their neck and upper back with your hand, and rest their little tooshie on the inside of your other arm or on a pillow. Since you're holding their neck and upper back in your hand, it can be easier to get their mouth in the right position. Just make sure that their head and body are aligned.
Football hold breastfeeding position: Many women consider this position to be the easiest to maintain. To get in the football hold, place them on your side, front to back, under your arm, with their head, neck, and upper back in your hand. Use your forearm to support the rest of their body, and lift them to your breast. You can then place a pillow under your arm so it won’t get tired. Game on!
Laid back breastfeeding position: As the name suggests, this comfy position is laid back. It’s especially helpful if your breasts release milk frequently, otherwise known as an overactive let-down reflex, or have an abundance of milk. Simply sit or lie semi-reclined with your little one laying tummy-to-tummy on top of you. Support them with your arms and position their mouth over your breast.
When To Stop Breastfeeding
Your feeding journey is personal and unique to you. And the same goes for when you choose to stop breastfeeding. The process of stopping is called weaning. Gradually tapering off how often you nurse—by eliminating a feeding every two or three days, or even once a week—can help the weaning process proceed smoothly.
The most natural time to wean is when your child starts the process. For some kiddos, this is at six months when you introduce solids, while others feed at breast into the toddler years. Of course, you may choose to wean at any point. If possible, gradually drop feedings to make the transition easier on your body.
Can I Use Mylicon While Breastfeeding?
Yes! Both Infants' Mylicon Gas Relief and Infants' Mylicon Daily Probiotic Drops are safe even for newborns. If you breastfeed, you can apply Infants’ Mylicon Probiotic Drops directly onto your nipple for your baby to suckle up while breastfeeding. (Keep in mind, you should always stick to the recommended dose of six drops per day—no more, no less.)
Infants’ Mylicon Gas Relief Drops can be dosed directly into baby's mouth or added to a bottle with 1oz of breastmilk or formula.
Ready to know more about feeding? Find out if your baby really needs a feeding schedule here.