How to Breastfeed Your Baby When You Know Nothing About Breastfeeding

How to Breastfeed Your Baby When You Know Nothing About Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding a newborn baby
Kate Miller

About Author: Hi, I’m Kate 👋 I’m a Lactation Educator Counselor and the founder of Mighty Milk, a Baby Registry Certified Expert, and a mom of 2. I share info that helped me go from struggling with breastfeeding and pumping to thriving with both!

If you’re a first time expectant parent, and you know pretty much nothing about breastfeeding, you are in the right place. If you feel clueless or even anxious about how to get started with nursing, I’m going to share 4 of the most important things you should know.

I was exactly in your shoes just a couple of years ago.

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I thought I was ready. I had the perfect nursery, tons of baby gear, and a cozy recliner. But when he was born, I was blindsided by how hard breastfeeding was. I was in pain and overwhelmed. I ended up having to give up on breastfeeding before I’d hoped, and honestly I was devastated. I didn’t think I’d care so much about breastfeeding, but I felt like I was robbed of something. Like the rug was pulled out from under me. Fast forward to my second baby, and everything went smoothly with breastfeeding. I knew exactly what to do and what not to do. And at one year, he’s still nursing and drinking milk that I’ve pumped. Now I’m going teach you exactly the steps that helped me go from struggling with breastfeeding and pumping to thriving.

Why is breastfeeding so hard for so many parents?

First, let’s take a quick step back to understand why breastfeeding is so hard for so many parents. Have you ever wondered why breastfeeding is so hard for so many parents? When you understand the reason why so many parents struggle with breastfeeding, it can also unlock that aha moment that helps set you up for success. After all, breastfeeding is the most natural thing we do, right? Human milk has literally sustained human life for millennia. But I have a question for you. How many times have you seen breastfeeding happen up close? Under a cover doesn’t count.  If your answer is 0 times, or maybe 1 or 2, you’re in the majority. As formula replaced breastfeeding due to aggressive marketing tactics, we lost generational knowledge for how breastfeeding was designed to work. Most parents in the US and beyond have never seen breastfeeding happen up close before we do it with our own babies. Of course, it makes sense that so many parents struggle! It’s like flying blind. The good news is, learning a few fundamentals about breastfeeding can go a long way in helping you reach your feeding goals. I know because learning these key concepts helped me breastfeed my baby comfortably and successfully after a failed first attempt.

Fundamental #1: Feed your baby very frequently–a minimum of 10-12 times a day and often more.

This is one of the most important things you should know about breastfeeding. Babies  have tiny stomachs, and the nutritional makeup of human milk is such that it is designed to be fed to babies very frequently.  The more you nurse your baby, the more milk you’ll make, and the more milk your baby will get. Nursing your baby very frequently is the best way to avoid a whole slew of problems like low milk supply, engorgement, plugged ducts, and mastitis. How many times a day you’ll need to nurse your baby will differ from person to person, so there’s no one single number anyone can tell you. With my first baby, I fed him 10 times a day and struggled with low milk supply. With my second baby, I fed him about 20 times a day for just a few minutes on each side and made PLENTY of milk with no supply issues. It’s not that intense forever, but in the early days, knowing that your baby needs to nurse frequently throughout the day and night can help you feel less overwhelmed once it’s happening. In the full Mighty Milk class, which I’ll talk about later, you’ll learn how to tell if your baby is hungry so you know when to feed them. Knowing how to read your baby’s hunger cues can help you prevent stressful screaming and crying.

Fundamental #2: Position your baby upright to help avoid nipple pain.

Nipple pain is miserable. I know because with my first baby, I’ve been there. Many new parents experience nipple pain, and the most common reason is because of positioning. Poor positioning isn’t only uncomfortable. It can also lead to your baby not being able to get milk effectively. Many parents position their babies across their laps, but this position can lead to nipple pain. One position to try is an upright position, which is what we see in nature. In the upright position, your baby has access to the reflexes they use to latch on and nurse effectively. The side-lying position works much the same, where your body and your baby’s body are well supported and comfortable. I didn’t want to shove too much in this video, but the full class shows videos of real moms and newborns nursing in these positions, and you get a laminated printout of a diagram of these positions to keep wherever you nurse your baby as a handy reminder.

Fundamental #3: Learn how to tell when your baby is swallowing.

When my first baby was born, I thought he was doing a lot of nursing. Turns out he was just chilling on my boob moving his jaw around and suckling. But he wasn’t actually swallowing any milk. Learning how to tell if your baby is swallowing is a great way to ensure that they’re getting enough milk. Knowing if your baby is swallowing is also a good thing because it can help you keep your nursing sessions efficient so you’re not sitting there the entire day with your nipple in your baby’s mouth. When you’re baby is done swallowing, you can switch sides. When babies get to be a few months old, it’s easy to tell when they’re swallowing. But when your baby is a newborn, it can be pretty tricky to tell because it’s a really subtle sound. Our full class has footage and audio of what this sounds like so you can be more prepared to tell if your own baby is swallowing.

Fundamental #4: Learn the signs breastfeeding is going well…and when to reach out for help.

After your baby is born, your pediatrician should closely monitor your baby’s weight. If your baby is gaining weight according to their growth curve, that is a good sign that your baby is getting enough milk. You can also count your baby’s dirty diapers as another piece of the puzzle. Our full class gives you a day by day chart with what to look for. If your baby isn’t gaining enough weight, you’re in lots of pain, or you have other concerns, that’s a sign that it’s time to get personalized support. Which brings me to the next step. Step #5 Reach out to an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, or IBCLC, for help if you’re struggling with breastfeeding. IBCLCSs are the lactation experts with the highest credential. Before I gave birth, I didn’t really know what a Lactation Consultant was. And then after my baby was born, I saw my local lactation consultant so frequently I felt like I was living in her office. Many new parents aren’t aware that pediatricians are NOT lactation experts. They get very minimal lactation training. I’m talking like 3 hours of training. IBCLCs can help you with lots of things. Milk supply, nipple pain, pumping, bottle feeding, the list goes on.  Challenges with feeding can snowball quickly. I learned this firsthand with my first baby. Reach out for help early and often if you need to. Many US insurance plans cover IBCLC visits so check with your provider.

Can you imagine what a difference it would make for your postpartum life if breastfeeding was going well, and you felt confident and calm?

One thing that is not talked about enough is how much of an outsized role breastfeeding plays in postpartum life. Feeding your baby IS postpartum life. If you’re a first time mom, maybe you were like me and imagined peacefully rocking your baby in their adorable nursery, everything quiet and calm. But the reality for so many of us is so different. Because when breastfeeding isn’t going well, it can color EVERYTHING. It can impact how you feel about your transition to motherhood. How you feel about your partner. How you feel about your life. But the opposite can also be true. When breastfeeding is going smoothly, the anxiety quiets. The stress and overwhelms drops. Sure, you’ll still be tired and underslept, and you still probably have dishes piling up in the sink, but when you have this confidence, it is a huge shift. And it can make all the difference how you are able to adjust to your new life with your baby.

Maybe you’ll cross your fingers and hope that breastfeeding will go well. Or maybe you’ll comb through Youtube videos or social media groups, trying to piece together advice. But who knows how trustworthy that information will be, and whether it will actually help you. OR you can make the choice to invest in your breastfeeding relationship by following the guidance of an IBCLC who has helped hundreds of families overcome breastfeeding challenges and reach their goals. All of this in just one class, with a few hours of video that can make the difference between whether or not you’re able to reach your breastfeeding goals.

My breastfeeding journey with my babies inspired me to help other families avoid the frustration and difficulty that I felt. I teamed up with the amazing lactation consultant who was literally life changing for me and my family. She is why I was able to breastfeed my second baby successfully. She has worked with hundreds of families reach their feeding goals and now she can help you, too. 

I want to invite you to Mighty Milk’s Breastfeeding for Expectant class (we also offer a class called Breastfeeding Your Baby for parents of babies 0-12 weeks who are struggling with breastfeeding.) This class is exactly all of the information that helped me have a successful breastfeeding relationship. And it made a huge difference in helping me have a happier, less stressful transition to postpartum life than I did with my first baby. The class is broken  down into short videos that you can watch all at once or over time. So you can change the course of your postpartum life, just by sitting on your couch for an hour or two. And you can grab your partner and watch together, since their support plays an important role in your breastfeeding success.

In this course you’ll learn:

  • What’s normal with a breastfed baby
  • All about building your milk supply
  • How to position your baby to avoid nipple pain
  • How to tell if your baby is hungry
  • How to tell if your baby is swallowing
  • How you can tell when breastfeeding is going well—and when to get help
  • Tips for maximizing nighttime sleep
  • How to get started with pumping and bottle feeding
  • Adjusting to life with a breastfed baby
  • How to get out of the house
  • Nutrition, coffee, alcohol, and medication
  • And so much more

Our classes are rated 5/5 stars on Facebook from parents that have been in your shoes.

Mighty Milk Expectant Parents Class

I want to make this extra easy for you. I want you to succeed. I want you to be able to have a rewarding breastfeeding relationship, by the way that includes pumping, for as long as you would like. So I’m offering a guarantee. If you finish the class and you’re not satisfied, let me know, and I’ll make it right. Even if you’ve taken a breastfeeding class at your hospital, take this class. I took one with my first baby and it didn’t teach me in the way I needed to learn. Mighty Milk’s class is different. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

Click here to sign up and boost your confidence starting immediately. Hope to see you inside!

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