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Breastfeeding 101: The Top 3 Things New Moms Need to Know

Breastfeeding 101: The Top 3 Things New Moms Need to Know

Breastfeeding 101: The Top 3 Things New Moms Need to Know

There is so much to think about when expecting a baby. When I was pregnant with my first (and second and third), I felt like my mind was being pulled in a million different directions every day.

I was thinking about actually being pregnant – was I eating right, exercising, would the sunscreen I was wearing seep into my skin and harm the baby?

Then I thought about the birth – did I want the epidural (HELL YES), how could I avoid a C-section (I couldn’t), who did I want in the delivery room (just my husband).

I also was thinking about the nursery, what baby things I needed, should I have a baby shower, and where I should register.

In addition to all of these thoughts constantly running through my head was the underlying concern that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed.

I was always looking for lists that would help me prepare, so without further ado here are my top three things I wish I’d known about breastfeeding.

  1. Take a breastfeeding class and/or watch YouTube videos
Baby's lips fan out for a perfect latch

Baby’s lips fan out for a perfect latch

The most important thing to get right with breastfeeding is the latch. If your baby latches correctly, you’re golden. If he doesn’t, it causes problems. Some latching issues are out of your control. If a baby has a tongue tie or you have inverted nipples, for example.

However, I found that knowing what to look for when it comes to latching was super helpful. I recommend taking a class or watching some videos so you know what a correct latch looks like. My biggest take-aways were:

  • The baby needs to open their mouth extremely wide before putting the nipple in
  • If the baby is correctly latched, you won’t see any (or very little) areola
  • The lips should fan out like a fish around the areola
  1. Put your baby on the breast as soon as possible after the birth

Everyone has a different birth story, and for some this isn’t possible, but if your baby is with you after the birth, get them on your breast within 30-60 minutes. I had three C-sections which you can read about here, here, and here, so I’m not sure exactly how much time passed between when my babies were born and when I nursed. However, with all three, as soon as I was out of the OR and in recovery, I immediately put them on my breast.

This helped me for a few reasons. The first is there was a nurse with me at all times during that part to monitor my pain levels, but it turns out she was pretty good at helping me with nursing too. She’d obviously been part of that rodeo before.

The other reason was I was still so out of it from the birth, I didn’t really overthink it. I just tried to remember what I had learned in my breastfeeding class and from watching videos and went for it.

If latching isn’t happening, don’t worry at all. Some babies are just too tired. Instead, try to do as much skin-to-skin as possible and keep trying.

  1. Understand that breastfeeding is a learned skill for you and your baby
New moms need to learn the skill of breastfeeding

New moms need to learn the skill of breastfeeding

Women have been breastfeeding babies since the start of humanity, so you’d think that it would be the most natural thing in the world. Right? Wrong. Breastfeeding is actually something that you need to learn how to do correctly and so does your baby.

Breastfeeding is probably easiest for women who have been around it the most. If you’ve seen a breastfeeding mom, then you know what it looks like, how to hold the baby, what the baby looks like, etc. If this is all new to you (as it was for me) then you have so much to learn.

Be patient with yourself and your baby. While the first month or so might be hard, by the time your baby is a few months old, you will whip your nipple out and somehow your little one will be attached without you having to do a single thing.

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