Breastfeeding 101 For Beginners

Learn how to get the best deep latch while breastfeeding for added comfort and less pain. Includes breastfeeding essentials, how to increase milk supply and more. Great tips for beginners.

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With our first daughter I knew I wanted to breastfeed without a doubt. Save money, healthier for the baby, no need to warm up a bottle with a screaming baby wailing in your arms waiting. However, when she arrived I had a tough time. Yes the hospital helps you ,however, when you’re home alone at 3 AM in the morning having difficulty..it gets intimidating, you get stressed, and your baby picks up on this as well…not good. No one told me that breastfeeding will hurt…even if your little one is latched perfectly and not sucking on the nipple. I remember when we had our second daughter at the birthing center. I thought breastfeeding would be a lot easier and less painful than the first for sure…..I was wrong. After talking to our midwife she said her doctor way back when (she’s about 60ish) told her to take a rag and scrub her nipples to prepare them ahead of time before her baby comes. What a relief to know that this pain was normal and I wasn’t doing anything wrong!

Nursing with a raw, aching nipple that usually last about the first couple weeks or longer can be extremely difficult and makes you want to be on the verge of quitting. 79% of mothers breastfeed soon after birth while 49% of nursing mothers still nurse six months later, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention.

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After a couple of weeks home with my first daughter and crying late at night from painful sore nipples, I called lactation specialist in the morning. Everyone wanted money, money, money, and lots of it! I thought this was horrible and we didn’t make enough at the time for a $100 lactation specialist! So instead I searched though all my pregnancy books again, going to the breastfeeding section, even looking up Youtube videos to direct me. This video helped me a lot and I used it for our second daughter as well.

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  • ATTEND A BREASTFEEDING CLASS – These classes help out a lot, they share very helpful tips, advice, sharing helpful videos, and most teachers give out their information for a possible home visit after the baby has arrived. Make sure Dad comes!
  • ASK A NURSING FRIEND – Maybe you have a close friend that will allow you to watch her nurse her child. This helps a lot seeing it up close and in person!
  • TALK TO YOUR MIDWIFE/DOCTOR – Explain to your midwife or doctor that you would like an immediate skin to skin contact with your baby before he or she is whisked away for all those shots and test. Also, ask if your baby can remain in the room with you at all times so that you can bond and learn how to nurse your baby.

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    • TRY TO NURSE RIGHT AFTER BIRTH – With our 2nd daughter I nursed right after I admired her for 5 minutes after giving birth to her in the tub. She didn’t take to it right away and the midwife told me to try a little bit later. After about 20-30 minutes I tried again and it was perfect!
    • GET DAD INVOLVED – I know what your thinking. “He’s not the one nursing or in pain!”. True but Dads are great problem solvers. Make sure he’s paying attention when learning about breastfeeding with your lactation consultant or midwife.  I remember about a couple of days after birth being at home and so stressed and on the verge of tears because our little one did not want to stop suckling at my breast. She was not breastfeeding, she just wanted to suck on something, and I did not give her a paci (no matter how bad i wanted to) because I wanted to establish breastfeeding first. So my husband took her from me, put the Rock n Play(co-sleeper) on his side of the bed, put her in it and let her cry. I felt SOOOO bad. I kept telling him….”Okay, never mind, I’ll just sit here in pain while she sucks”. He said NO. Within about 10-15 minutes of  her crying, she finally passed out. TIP Crying is not a bad thing, they are not dying, they WILL be fine!
    • DON’T BE SHY ASKING FOR HELP – Ask your midwife and nurse to help you. ASK THEM EVERYTHING! Tips, advice….the whole nine yards, ensure that you are doing it correctly before leaving the hospital.
    • HOLD YOUR BABY CLOSE – I see some Moms with the babies head at the breast and their baby’s body is so far out away from the mother. Bring them close to you, tuck them in, they should be wrapped around you with their feet  almost touching your sides. TIP Only wear a nursing bra to bed, so that when you breastfeed your baby has skin to skin, this makes them feel more secure.

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  • NURSING PILLOW – The Breast Friends Pillow is the ONLY pillow you will need to breastfeed your baby. Yes, I’ve had the boring Boppy…it is great for baby to lay or sit, but that’s about it. The Boppy slides from underneath of you and your usually slouching down for your breast to reach your baby’s mouth with the Boppy. This Brest Friend not only stays securely in place with the strap but also helps you maintain great posture, which is great if you’re having back problems (I did during and after pregnancy). Prevents sore nipples which is a plus because it has a firm, flat cushion which keeps baby from rolling away and close…no one wants their nipple tugged far away, the baby should have a deep latch and not just sucking on the nipple. This pillow does a great job for mother’s who have had a c-section, great for extreme closeness to mama for that great deep latch, and can also be worn walking around the house when having other little ones running around (as seen on 19 Kids and Counting). I had a Boppy with my first and then for the first week or so with my second and could not stand it! I got on Amazon right away to purchase it! Best decision ever!
  • SORE-NIPLE SOOTHER – I have always stuck with this oneSqueeze a little breast milk out and rub over your nipples and let it dry then apply this cream, try to let it air out before covering it up with your nursing bra..it works wonders for sore nipples!
  • TRACKING SYSTEM – Use a nursing app to record feedings (left side, right side, how long), wet or soiled diapers. My favorite free iTunes app is iBaby Feed Timer. I used it on my first and loved it enough to go back to it. I love that it tells me which breast I need to start on (if my last feeding was on the right, it will tell me to start on the left), it’s also SUPER GREAT for those doctor visits. Your doctor will ask you the average feeding time, and how many wet diapers, etc. This app has it all figured out for you! See photos at the bottom.
  • DOUBLE ELECTIRC PUMP – If your breast becomes too full (engorged) pump a little bit out or stand in the shower with hot water. Make sure not to pump too much or else your body will think you have twins and produce LOOOOOADS of milk…unless thats what you want! A pump is also a MUST HAVE for going back to work. I recommend Medela. Pair this with the Simple Wishes Hands-Free Breastpump Bra or use a snug sports bra and poke holes in the middle.

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Learning how to get a deep latch is more than words can describe. To better understand and know what it looks like to have an amazing deep latch look at this video. I have looked at it numerous time throughout the early stages of breastfeeding with both of our daughters.  Check it out!

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  • PRAY – The Father knows what we need and what our baby needs.
  • AVOID PACIFIERS & BOTTLES – AAP recommends not to introduce a pacifier or any other artificial nipple for a month because it can suppress hunger cues and steal time from the breast during a critical period. It’s fine to offer one after the first month…I personally would wait 3 months. But try it out, if your baby seems to still want the breast even with the pacifier then sucking a pacifier won’t hurt! I little one did not take one until about 3 months, her first few reaction of it she did not know how to suck it, which made me excited knowing she only wanted me for sucking!
  • REMEMBER TO REST – Have Mom stay with you for the first week. We did this and she made huge batches of food and put them in the freezer. We still had enough to feed us for the first 2 months. Do not worry about any chores, Sleep when your baby sleeps!
  • DON’T COUNT MINUTES – Don’t worry if your baby is sucking for 15 minutes on one breast. It’s typical for them to nurse long on one side. Let them continue to nurse until they come off or until they’re barely sucking from falling asleep. Unlatch them when this happens by sliding your finger in the side of their mouth, burp them, change their diaper and offer the next breast.
  • DON’T BUY A WHOLE NURSING WARDROBE – Save your money and just use your pregnancy shirts, lose tops, and cami tanks. As long as there stretchy enough to lift up, your good to go! I also use my sports bras as a nursing bra…just lift it up, start nursing, and there’s you nursing bra!
  • FIRST BOTTLE – I would only introduce a bottle if you have to be somewhere without your child for the first few weeks, other than that wait till around 3 months or whenever you introduce a pacifier. If you really want your child to start a bottle then wait until 8 weeks so there is no nipple confusion or bottle refusal. At 4+ months our daughter did not take any bottles I gave her, I went through 8+ different bottles. UNTIL, we found the prefect bottle for breastfed babies and the ONLY one she would take. Check out the video review I did here on the Kiinde Bottles and read the review I did for Amazon.
  • ROCK SOLID BOOBS (ENGORGED) – I pumped a lot with my first because my breast were very engorged and rock solid (No one told me not to pump out all of it). My breast thought I had twins! The freezer was stocked with milk, my daughter’s nanny told me I was a cow and was in shock at how much i was producing. XD So I learned not to that with our second daughter, I let them remain engorged and fed her only when she was ready so that my breast can learn to regulate (it really is a smart system, God’s creations amazes me daily).My breast learned to produce around the times that she usually feeds. And if she needs more…they will accommodate and change for her needs.

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  • DON’T GET A USED PUMP – The suction will be horrible if it is already been used a lot.
  • TRY A STRONGER PUMP – Medela has never failed, it’s expensive yes, but EXTREMELY effective. 
  • NURSE, PUMP, NURSE, PUMP – After nursing, try pumping out milk…even if a little to nothing comes out, this will register to your body that your baby is wanting more..and therefore it will produce more.
  • HERBS – Fenugreek, Mother’s Milk and Blessed Thistle are all great for increasing your milk supply! HEADS UP – Fenugreek for some reason makes this maple smell come out of your pores. I went to work one day after taking it in the morning and someone said “What is that  Maple Syrup Smell?”….and I raised my hand telling her that it’s a vitamin I took that increases my milk supply and makes me smell like a big bottle of maple syrup. XD

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  • PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT – Before going back to work start going out here and there, date nights, let mom watch the baby. Start getting use to the idea of being away from your baby. Maybe even go back to work towards the end of the week so your only gone for a couple of days.
  • UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH YOUR BABY DRINKS – When I was a nanny, one of the mothers (it was a nanny share) was worried that she would not produce enough. I told her not to worry, remain calm, continue to let her son nurse and her breast will understand that he wants more and it will start producing more. Try to pump about every 3 hours. You can sometimes get about 6 oz on each breast! You will produce as much as your baby needs, trust me. Relax and do not stress.

I hope this has helped you want to breastfeed and keep at it.

My prayer for you is that Yahweh will fill your breast with milk that will suffice to sustain and nourish the baby, and strength to arise formed to thank and praise an honor Yahweh’s great Name. – A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book

 


About Keami Terrill

Hi! Being a Mom of three girls (2 in Heaven), past nanny and teacher for infants, I've decided to share my tips on how to get by day by day with your little ones.

21 thoughts on “Breastfeeding 101 For Beginners

  1. That is so much great information. I didn’t attend a breastfeeding class, I think I thought everything would come naturally. Spoiler Alert it did not come naturally, at all and I almost gave up. This is a great post for soon to be moms.

    1. Yes! I believed the same as well that I was a natural and it was going to be a piece of cake after taking classes…even after delivery, the nurses helped and it “seemed” like I was a pro……NOT. Going home to no help and nights of endless crying I wanted to give up, I’m glad I didn’t. Thank you so much for posting your experience and helping other breastfeeding moms know that they are not alone. Great encouragement, so thankful!

  2. This was very helpful. I failed horribly with my first son with breastfeeding. I do have one question. You last statement says to try to pump every 3 hours but for how long? I know that at first with pumping not a lot will come out but should I pump for 5 minutes or 15 minutes? I’m definitely worried about all this because it failed the first time but that also was 6 years ago. Any advice?

    1. When I pumped every 3 hours at work a lot would come out and when it started to slow down or stop, I stopped, so it depends on how much milk comes out. Usually large drops will come out in the beginning then it starts to die down and thats when I’ll stop. If your goal is to produce more milk then once you finished pumping a huge flow of milk, keep the pump on even if nothing is hardly coming out. This routine will let your breast know that they need to produce more. So your basically telling your breast….”Heeey need more milk babies hungry and growing”. Pumping very frequently will be your best friend. I actually nannied for a mother who only pumped, never breastfed, but she pumped 3 hours every day and BOY was her fridge and freezer stocked with breastmilk. She could make 2 full bottles about 5 oz in 1 sitting, and he drank at least 1 5 oz bottle every 4 plus hours. Her child was set on breastmilk and super healthy! So pump pump pump!

  3. This is an amazing resource! I’m glad I found it on Pinterest. I’m 36 weeks pregnant with #2 and never had success with my first baby, so I’m hoping I have a better breastfeeding relationship with this baby and all these amazing tips will help.

  4. Awesome post! I am a first time mom and am about 14 weeks along but I definitely want to breast feed. No one tells you the hard part of it, everyone has been telling me how easy and great it will be. I appreciated this post so much!! Thank you! I will start to look into breast feeding classes now and make sure I check out some of those products. Thanks again!

  5. This is SOOOOO HELPFUL! I tried so hard with my first daughter and had no idea that this is what I needed. Our second daughter is due in October and I can’t wait to try everything that video showed me about deep latching. I remembering sobbing and sobbing every night because I couldn’t breastfeed my baby girl and I felt like my body was failing me. Thank you so much for posting this fountain of info! You’re a blessing!

    1. I am so glad I could help! My goal is to put the most useful information in one post so that your not getting frustrated by searching everywhere continuously to find answers. Now here, everything is in one place, videos, tips, and what you really need for successful breastfeeding. I wanted to do it this way because I remember sobbing when breastfeeding my daughter wishing there was a one click and done breastfeeding info session. Again I am extremely glad I could help you!!!

  6. These are some great tips for breastfeeding. I’d also like to add that if after a few weeks you are still having pain, your baby won’t latch, and still falls asleep while nursing, it could be that they are tongue tied. As a mama of a baby that is, after we had her clipped, breastfeeding because so much less stressful!

    Also, if your having trouble finding a lactation consultant, check your locale ob/gyn office. Lots of doctors offices are employing them and visiting them is the same as visiting the doctor for many insurance plans.

  7. It has been 13 years since I nursed our fourth child, now 16, but I am amazed at how many details I remember. It is SO worth it to breastfeed your children, ladies.
    One way to tell if your baby is getting enough milk is wet diapers. If your baby is wetting, he’s drinking! I must echo what others are saying…. Don’t give up! Our second child wouldn’t nurse for a week! When he scarfed down a bottle I knew it was just baby laziness ( that is a thing), because nursing is work for them. I kept trying and one week after birth he finally gave in and nursed to the age of 23 months

  8. Thanks for the post! You suggested to not introduce a bottle or pacifier for the first month, but I have to return to school after only 2 weeks. I’m considering having my husband bring our daughter to my class in time for me to continue breastfeeding, but I don’t know how my teachers will appreciate this. I want to breastfeed (without the bottle) for as long as I can, but I’m afraid if I introduce a bottle (even for one feeding a day) after only 2 weeks she will refuse my nipple. Any suggestions?

    1. I would recommend Kiinde bottles. I did a video review on it on one of my blog post. Also I heard Comotomo bottles were good and highly rated. We tried the Comotomo bottles and she did not take well to it, I actually hope to try these again with the one we have due in December. It was one of the 5 top bottles we’ve tried and she only took the Kiinde bottles. Even after using the Kiinde bottles I noticed her latch on my breast was A LOT better, I couldn’t believe it. Every baby is different so give the two bottles a try and see which one she takes well AND which one promotes breastfeeding with you still. If you look at the reviews for either one on Amazon you’ll see they both have 5 stars all throughout, so again its a personal preference and what your little girl will take. I think these bottles are correctly designed to mimic the breast and should be no breast confusion when going back to you to breastfeed. There is no wrong in introducing a bottle, if it’s a need….then it’s a need. Please let me know if you have any more questions!

  9. This is an excellent article, thank you so much! I am going to be having my second child in late September and with my first I was only “able” to breastfeed for 6 weeks. I was not producing and I was so stressed and sore I convinced myself I needed to stop. I didn’t realize how much help there was for me right from my computer! So this time around I am extremely determined to overcome this and I am doing my homework for success!

  10. Thank you so much for this information, and also for the prayer. I was unable to breastfeed my first two…actually I probably WAS able, but I gave up too fast. I didn’t think my babies were getting enough milk, and from lack of knowledge and frustration, I quickly opted for formula. My third baby is due in November, and I am worried about trying again, but I am also determined. I feel so much better after reading this. Thank you again.

  11. Just wondering where you got the picture in your main photo of the baby sleeping it looks identical to my daughter and a picture we have.

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