There’s a lot about motherhood that no one ever tells you. People are quick to share the good (how beautiful childbirth can be, how babies are such a miracle, how much love you will feel…) They’re not lying, it’s mostly all true, but what about the less good (and downright icky) aspects of motherhood? No one tells you that most women poop when they give birth or that there will be a room full of people staring at your lady parts. And what about breastfeeding tips? No one mentions that the first time you breastfeed it might feel like someone is ripping your nipple off, and mostly, people fail to mention that it might take a lot of work to get breastfeeding right.
The good news is that, like most areas of motherhood, when it comes to breastfeeding your baby, help is out there. There are other women who have been there, fed that, and there are tips to help you through it. But where can you find this advice? According to Sally Woo, a lactation specialist, “A large number of grandmothers these days did not breastfeed, so they don’t know how to help their daughters, or they’re giving them advice that isn’t right,” reports Fox News. So we turned to some experts and some expert moms for real breastfeeding tips that can really help make it suck just a little bit less.
1. Use lanolin ointment on nipples
Lanolin ointment—similar in consistency to Vaseline—is a non-toxic topical treatment for dry, cracked or irritated nipples. We know, the words “cracked” and “nipple” should never go together. Welcome to motherhood. Luckily lanolin soothes nipples and helps speed up healing without any toxic chemicals that could be harmful to your baby, so you don’t have to wash anything off your skin before feeding.
Easier said than done, but a stressed out mama will always have a harder time breastfeeding her baby than a relaxed one. Babies don’t just feed off your breast, they feed off your energy. We’re not saying it will be a simple process because you and your baby are both learning, but one of the best breastfeeding tips we can give you is to remember to take deep breaths, enjoy the bonding process and give both you and your little one time.
3. Drink cold water
It’s a strange phenomenon, but breastfeeding can make you really thirsty. Have a glass of cold water nearby to sip as you feed. Plus sometimes the process of your baby latching on to your nipple can be slightly, how do we say this, uncomfortable. Drinking cold water can help distract you from the temporary pain.
4. Seek help
You are not the first mom to breastfeed, you are definitely not the first to need a little help and you won’t be the last. There are tons of resources for help and support. You can seek out a lactation specialist who will come to your house for private consultation sessions, or you can attend La Leche League meetings for group support.
5. Accept as much help as possible
While it’s not always easy to seek out advice, or to accept advice (sometimes unsolicited), take as much help as you can get. You never know what tips for breastfeeding will help you or who has experienced the same trials as you have.
6. Make a nursing tool kit
It can take some time to get your baby to latch on and once they do, you might be stuck in that seat for a little while. Have a kit on hand with anything you might want or need while feeding your little one: a notepad and pen, a bottle of water, a book, headphones, your cell phone, a burp cloth and nipple ointment are just a few items you could include in your kit.
7. Use sanitary napkins to help leaky breasts
Sure, nursing pads work too but they can get expensive, especially if you produce a lot of milk (and therefore need frequent pad changes) or if you plan to breastfeed for a long time. Remember all those menstrual pads you never used while pregnant or immediately after birth? Cut them in half to fit your cup size and stick them inside your bra as needed.
8. Push pause on the pacifier
We’re not condemning pacifiers altogether—all babies are different and all babies need something unique to soothe them as they develop. But some experts believe that pacifier use may interrupt breastfeeding habits, as babies become comfortable sucking on the pacifier nipple, not your natural nipple.
9. Make healthy choices for you and your baby
When you are pregnant you are completely conscious of everything you put in your body because you know it goes right to your baby. Guess what, same goes for breastfeeding. Just because the baby is out in all her chubby cheeked glory doesn’t mean she is on her own. She still gets all of her nutrition from you, so make smart choices about what you eat and how you take care of yourself. So one of the best tips for breastfeeding is to drink plenty of fluids, get a lot of rest (when you can), and stick to a healthy diet.