The first month of breastfeeding can be very intense. If you are a first-time mom, you will be doing something brand new. Even experienced moms will might sit down and contemplate how to survive the first month breastfeeding – and appreciate these tips that will make your breastfeeding experience just a little bit easier.
Over the 27 years that I have been a lactation consultant, moms have shared with me what worked to make breastfeeding and life with a new baby easier. They said these tips were most helpful in keeping both them and their baby healthy and happy.
Most mothers will have drastically different experiences during their first month breastfeeding, mainly because every birth and every woman is different. We all have different difficulties and different rates of healing which can change how we cope mentally and physically postpartum. Part of surviving your first month breastfeeding is the mental load and how to deal with the additional stress of nursing your newborn.
While I cannot guarantee a perfect breastfeeding experience during the first month, I can share some helpful tips to hopefully make it much easier. Here are 10 tips to help you survive your first month breastfeeding:
One of the things that makes the early weeks of breastfeeding so overwhelming is that moms don’t know what will happen. That can make some things that are entirely normal feel very scary.
When their baby experiences the constant feeding that is so common on the second night, a phenomenon called Second Night Syndrome, they worry that their baby is not getting enough to eat.
When a mom’s milk comes in, and her breasts get huge and hard, she can end up not only uncomfortable, but it can put her milk supply at risk if she does not manage her engorgement properly.
The best way to prepare is by taking a comprehensive breastfeeding preparation course about a month before your due date. Clueless To Confident Breastfeeding Preparation Course will answer all your questions, even the ones you didn’t know you had.
Getting dehydrated can hurt your milk supply. Nursing moms often get very thirsty when they sit down to nurse their baby. One of my favorite breastfeeding tips is to fill several water bottles at the beginning of the day and put one in all the different places you typically breastfeed.
If you like your water cold get a water bottle that is well insulated and fill it with ice and water. Water bottles with straws make it easy to drink with one hand.
If you are not a fan of plain water, you can add some electrolyte powder to it for flavor with benefits.
Breastfeeding burns calories. Nursing moms often feel very hungry throughout the day. It can be tempting to snack on sugar-laden snack bars.
Having a pantry and fridge with healthier options will make it easy to make good snacking choices.
Babies have their days and nights mixed up in the first few weeks. Making sure you get an afternoon nap is going to be one of the most important things you do so you don’t end up feeling completely sleep-deprived.
Make your nap a non-negotiable priority.
For you mamas who say you can’t nap, lay down in a dark room and close your eyes. Even if you don’t fall asleep, taking the time to rest and do nothing will still be beneficial. You may find you can be a person who naps after all.
Sometimes this is easier said than done. It is easy to say yes if someone offers to bring you a meal. But when someone asks, “What do you need,” or, “How can I help” new moms often find themselves at a loss for what to say.
It can be helpful to write down a list of small things that can make a big difference in your day.
Accepting offers of help does not mean that people need to crowd your home or even help face-to-face. If you need alternative ways for others to help you, try some of these tips on how to help new parents from a distance.
Have the names and contact information of a couple of lactation consultants you can call with questions or if you need a consult. You are bound to have questions. You don’t want to have to take the time to look for someone when a problem arises.
I recommend having more than one person you can call if the first consultant you try to contact is on vacation or has no appointments available.
You may get lucky and have a pediatrician that also offers breastfeeding support, typically they offer a lactation consultant or third-party program they can refer you to. There are many online support systems as well if you cannot find a place local to you.
Support is essential for new moms. If you are breastfeeding, you want to be able to connect and share with other nursing moms.
Lactation consultants often have support groups. Hospitals and birth centers are other places that often host breastfeeding or new mom support groups.
Everyone writes about breastfeeding. There is some excellent information that is helpful. However, a lot out there that is not only inaccurate but can be dangerous.
Many articles and blog posts are based on one person’s experience. It may work for you, or it could send you down a road of frustration or result in early weaning. The worst things can be downright dangerous.
You want to check out the experience and credentials of the person giving the advice.
Better yet, bookmark some reliable sites. I am an RN and lactation consultant with decades of experience. I keep up to date on the latest research and make sure that everything I publish on my blog, Breastfeeding Confidential, is accurate and evidence-based.
A common worry breastfeeding mamas have is whether their baby is getting enough from breastfeeding. If a baby is getting enough, they will gain a good amount of weight. Typically, you have a two-week visit with your baby’s doctor and then not again until two months. That can be a long time for a mama to wonder how things are going.
A scale to check your baby’s weight gain is often available at breastfeeding support groups. You could also ask your doctor if you can come in for just a weight check. If you are concerned or have any questions about the weight and weight gain of your infant, please consult your pediatrician.
Be flexible, know what to expect, and call for help sooner rather than later. Many moms feel like they have settled into a routine by the time their baby is one month old. Remember that your baby is learning all these new skills in the same way that you are learning how to be a mom.
While the first few weeks may be difficult, your baby will begin to get the hang of it and breastfeeding will become more natural – although it’s hard to say if breastfeeding will ever truly be “easy.”
Hopefully, these tips for the first month of breastfeeding will reassure and encourage you and make things just a little easier. Still, if you continue to struggle I highly recommend working directly with a lactation consultant.
Not all consultants are created equally, and some may pressure you in ways that may not feel comfortable. If you feel that you are being ignored by your lactation consultant, speak out or find another consultant to work with. The last thing you need as a new mother is be made uncomfortable by someone who is supposed to provide help and support.