Breastfeeding is hands down the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. The amount of time and dedication needed is insane. Your entire day is planned around your baby’s eating schedule. Breastfeeding my second baby was much easier than my first. Not because breastfeeding was ‘easy” I just had more knowledge and trusted my body more. I was less stressed, which in turn made it easier. Here is a list of my best advice for breastfeeding moms.
Don’t worry about losing the baby weight as soon as baby arrives. Focus on eating enough calories for you and baby. Lots of healthy fats, lots of healthy protein, lots of veggies, and of course some fruit. I’ve heard so many different suggestions on how many more calories to eat. Some say 300-500 extra calories a day. I refuse to count calories. I eat like I would before breastfeeding, I just add an extra serving of protein or veggies when I can. If you are satisfied and your milk has good fat content, keep doing what you are doing. If you aren’t producing enough, bump up your health food. If you need help in the fat content department, add more healthy fats; avocado, eggs, olive oil. Avoid gassy or spicy foods.
Drink as much water as you can. I drink a bottle of water as soon as I wake up. One with every meal. 1-2 between meals, and 1 at every feeding. Wherever you are, have water with you. Also, skip the cow’s milk. Both of my babies had tummy issues whenever I drank milk. As soon as I cut it out, happy babies. You can try it, and do what works for you, but if you suspect tummy issues try cutting milk first and see if that helps.
Breastfeed on Demand.
This has made the biggest difference from baby 1 to baby 2. Baby 1 I would feed and then feel like I had to have time between feedings to ‘refill’. Not true. Yes you can be ’empty’ but our bodies are constantly producing milk. Let your baby feed as much as they want. When your breasts get low on milk, yes they might not release any for a little bit, but let baby continue to nurse. They will trigger another let down, or at the very least they will tell your body that you need to produce more milk. This will help your supply in the long run. I was lucky enough to have 10 weeks off work with baby. I let baby feed as much as she wanted. Yes this meant we were home almost the entire time, I was on my but feeling like a trapped cow, but it was SO WORTH IT. When I went back to work my supply was so good that I’ve found it easy to maintain, even away from baby. Side note: On days baby isn’t eating as much, PUMP. Don’t let your body think baby is skipping a feeding.
Eat foods that increase supply.
We’ve all googled what foods help to increase supply. Every person is different and some work better for others. I can say the ones that really help me are; Coconut, chick peas, avocados, oatmeal, brewers yeast, and flaxseed. There are others that help to maintain, but these are the foods I eat when I need to increase my supply or give it a quick boost. Avocado toast, oatmeal, brownies with brewers yeast and flaxseed, coconut water, and hummus are my favorite ways to eat these foods.
Pump after feedings.
If you are having trouble building your supply up, pumping after feeding can help. Once your baby is fed and satisfied, get out the pump and pump another 10 min after (both sides). The first few times you do this you may get nothing, but this will signal your body to make more milk. This will not only build your supply for feedings it will also help you build a freezer stash. If you find you have more time between feedings, work in a Power Pumping session. Basically this means pumping , both sides, until empty. Then take a short 5-10 min break, pump an additional 10-15 min, both sides. Take another 5-10 min break, and then pump another 5-10 min, both sides. Just like pumping after feeding, you may not get much, but eventually you will.
Trigger more let downs.
Your body may be constantly making milk but why isn’t any coming out? Your body releases the milk in let downs. When baby latches on your body knows to let the milk down once he or she starts nursing. Babies are pros at getting milk to flow, but pumping can be different. There are lots of ways to get more let downs. Check out my post, 5 Ways To Boost Your Pumping Sessions for tips on how to trigger more let downs, and get the most out of pumping. The best way to get more let downs goes back to breastfeeding on demand and pumping often. If you do both often your body will get the signal, don’t give up!
This one is HUGE. Trust your body, and be confident. Your body knows what to do, and as long as you give it the tools, it will do its job. Eat right, stay hydrated, and know when you need to make adjustments. If your baby is having the right amount of wet/dirty diapers, and is gaining weight, then your supply is enough. Remember babies get more off that boob than the pump does! Don’t let your pumping output discourage you. Also don’t be afraid to ask a lactation consultant or veteran mom for help. Breastfeeding is no small task, ask for help if needed.
The Two Shirt Trick
Maternity shirts are great and all, but two shirts is better than one. Every day I wear a tank top under my t-shirt. This makes it totally easy to feed. Leave the tank top down, lift the t-shirt up and you are completely covered. If you wear a loose fitting shirt you can even skip the blanket. The top shirt will cover everything up to your baby’s mouth. It’s amazing how quick and efficient you become at getting your boob out without anyone seeing all while holding a wiggling baby. Another great alternative to those awkward wraps or a big bulky blanket is a muslin swaddle blanket. I love these as covers because they aren’t bulky, easy to pack, and my child doesn’t sweat her butt off under it. I fold mine into a triangle or like a handkerchief, loop one end under each bra strap and you have a cover for you and you can still see baby.
Proper Pump Flange Fit
Make sure your flange size on your pump is correct. Too big or too small can effect the amount of milk you pump. There are many lactation consultants that can help you with this or you can find help online. Legendairy Milk and Milky Mama are two sites that offer flange size help. I found them both through Instagram. Bonus, their supplements and treats are great!
Hopefully some of these tips and tricks will help! Check back for more Breastfeeding Hacks coming soon!