Every mom who recently gave birth is encouraged to breastfeed right away. It is healthy for both mom and baby. Breastfeeding is a natural thing between mom and her baby, but it does not mean that it will come easy. Successful breastfeeding will take a lot of effort and commitment.
Well, nothing is easy when it comes to motherhood.
If this is your first time to breastfeed, you’ll think that it will come naturally and effortlessly. Your baby will cry when he/she is hungry, you’ll offer your nipple, and then your baby will suck at it calmly until he/she is full.
It may look simple, but it does not always work that way.
Breastfeeding is a natural thing, but it does not automatically mean that it is trouble-free. It requires commitment, hard work, and countless trials and errors. You need to be familiar with the different factors that contribute to successful breastfeeding. Some of them are breastfeeding benefits, breastfeeding diet, and breastfeeding positions.
Luckily, we have moms who already conquered the challenges and are ready to share the top ten secrets of successful breastfeeding.
What are the Factors Contributing to Successful Breastfeeding?
Every mom out there is striving for a successful breastfeeding journey. Understand what are the different factors that will help you achieve that goal:
Successful breastfeeding starts by believing that you can do it. Visualising yourself doing it will help increase your confidence.
Get informed about what breastfeeding is all about. Read some books, watch educational videos, talk to your doctor and listen to other moms. It is easier to conquer challenges if you know what you are facing. As cliche as it may sound, knowledge is power.
Women who breastfeed in public are often criticised and embarrassed. It affects other women who are planning to succeed in breastfeeding. People sexualise the thought of breastfeeding in front of others, and they will do everything to shame moms out there.
As much as possible, don’t let others influence your plans to breastfeed your baby. Keep in mind that feeding a hungry baby whenever and wherever possible is not inappropriate.
These are the challenges that may arise in your breastfeeding journey. It is one of the major components of successful breastfeeding. Lactation problems can also make or break your will to exclusively breastfeed your baby.
Being informed and prepared are still the best solution for any problems you will encounter. Breastfeeding, if done correctly, should not hurt both you and your baby.
Career and Employment
Most working moms are unable to breastfeed their babies exclusively because they need to go to work. Usually, breastfeeding babies do not follow an eating pattern, making it hard for working moms to accommodate their needs.
Remember that you have plenty of ways to breastfeed your baby even if you are working. All you must do is build your ‘milk stash’. Breast pumps can help you express your milk if you are at work. You can put your milk in a sterilised bag and store it in a cool, dry place. Then, your baby will consume your milk through a feeding bottle.
Moms with postpartum depression find it hard to bond with their baby. They feel like they are not good enough and they also blame the baby for the sudden changes in their lives.
Most women are emotionally fragile after childbirth, and most of us don’t know about this. Support from family and friends matters the most here.
If you want to succeed in your breastfeeding journey, you need to have a stable and cooperative support system. Choose a support system that shares the same vision as you. It helps if you let your family and friends know your plans even before the baby is born. You don’t want to receive feeding bottles in your baby shower, do you?
It is essential to talk with your spouse about your plans for breastfeeding your baby. Most husbands feel taken for granted in making an important decision like this. Openly communicate with your baby plans with your partner, ask for their opinion, and set expectations as soon as possible.
Let’s face it. Most husbands will feel like they’re losing their wife to their baby. Undivided attention will be divided, cuddling time will be nappy changing time, and sex will be less frequent because the wife is too tired to make love.
Communicate with your partner, explain to them the beneficial effects, listen to what they have to say, and assure them that you’re still the woman who loves him more than anyone.
Successful breastfeeding is not something easily achieved. There are a lot of things to scrutinize, a lot of things to prepare, and it requires careful planning. Find a person who shares the same vision as you and work hand in hand to achieve your goals. DO NOT forget to communicate with your spouse about this matter.
Benefits of Successful Breastfeeding
We always hear, ‘breastfeeding is best for babies up to two years of age’. But, do we know what that means? When I first heard that, I honestly thought about saving a lot of money because I don’t need to buy formula milk anymore. I also felt relief because breastfeeding will not require me to be awake in the middle of the night to prepare and sterilise feeding bottles.
Aside from these ‘convenient’ effects of breastfeeding, let’s deep dive at some health benefits breastfeeding can offer for both mom and baby:
Breastfeeding Benefits For Your Little One
Breast milk possesses the best possible nutrition for your baby.
Doctors and healthcare institutions recommend exclusively breastfeeding your baby for six months. ‘Exclusively’ means that the only thing your baby is consuming is breast milk; no vitamins, no water, just breast milk.
Breast milk provides all the nutrients that your baby needs. It has the perfect combination of vitamins and minerals that will aid your baby’s growth. Breast milk is easily digested causing your baby’s digestive system to develop healthily.
During the first few weeks of your baby, your breasts will produce a thick yellowish substance, known as the Colostrum. It is low in sugar, high in protein, and loaded with lots of vitamins. Colostrum will help kick start your newborn’s digestive tract.
The golden liquid contains essential antibodies.
Your breastmilk packs vital antibodies that strengthen your baby’s immune system. These antibodies will aid in fighting off bacteria and viruses. Colostrum has abundant amounts of immunoglobulin which protects your newborn during his/her early days of life.
When you are sick and exposed to viruses and bacteria, your body will start to make antibodies. Your breast milk releases these antibodies, and your baby will absorb them. Doctors will recommend continuing breastfeeding even when mom is sick. But, proper hygiene is still your number one concern when you are breastfeeding while sick. Sanitise and always wash your hands before holding your baby.
Breast milk fights off allergies and eczema.
A generation can carry a particular disease. It’s helpful to know your family medical history and prepare for it. Allergies are hereditary, and the best way for your baby to fight it is to consume breast milk. Proteins in formula milk came from cow’s milk and soya. These proteins can start an allergic reaction. Amazingly, human breast milk proteins are easily digestible.
Breast milk decreases the risk of diseases.
This one is an evident sign that you are successful in breastfeeding your baby. The golden liquid contains the perfect amount of vitamins and nutrients that will help your baby grow and thrive in the outside world.
Breast milk lessens your baby’s chance to catch viruses and diseases, including:
- Ear Infections.
- Respiratory illnesses and infections.
- Urinary tract infections.
- Diarrhea and constipation.
- Inflammatory bowel disease.
- Celiac disease.
- Intestinal tissue damage.
- Childhood Leukemia.
Breastfeeding lessens the risk of SIDS.
Sudden infant death syndrome is a severe issue. Every mom is afraid of it, and every precaution is done to prevent this from happening. Luckily, we can lessen its risk by breastfeeding. Your breast milk will help your baby improve his/her breathing and swallowing coordination.
Breast milk develops healthy weight gain.
Your breast milk helps in the development of healthy gut flora, and this will affect your baby’s fat storage. When you breastfeed, your baby is gaining the right amount of weight making him/her less prone to obesity.
Successful breastfeeding establishes a unique connection between mom and baby. That’s the reason why nursing moms do not overfeed their baby. When your baby is full, your body will automatically know it.
How cool is that?
Breast milk enhances baby’s IQ.
Your milk can make your baby smarter because breastfeeding improves brain development of your baby. Your milk contains fatty acids which are healthy for your baby’s brain.
Intimacy during breastfeeding has a link to healthier baby brains. Skin to skin closeness and eye contact makes your baby feel safe and less stressed.
Breastfeeding Benefits For Moms
Breastfeeding will help you shed the pregnancy weight.
Milk production requires a lot of calories to burn. Breastfeeding helps you to lose weight healthily without dieting. But like we always say, every woman’s body is different.
Others are gaining weight while breastfeeding. Nursing moms have increased appetite, and our body will have its tendency to store more fat for better milk production.
It will help your uterus shrink to its original size.
Pregnancy made your uterus grow ten times bigger than its original size. Fortunately, breastfeeding triggers the production of oxytocin. Oxytocin is responsible for uterine contractions during childbirth. It helps your uterus deflate to its size before you got pregnant.
It reduces the risks of postpartum depression.
Depression is common in women who recently gave birth. Amazingly, women who breastfeed have less chance to develop postpartum depression because of the increased production of oxytocin. This hormone affects the part of the brain that encourages bonding and relaxation.
It lessens your chance of having breast and ovarian cancer.
Like your baby, breastfeeding can have long term health benefits for your body. Studies show that nursing your baby for more than a year reduces your risk of having breast and ovarian cancer.
Breast milk production makes your immune system strong. It regularly produces antibodies. Some of these antibodies are passed on to your baby through your milk. Some are absorbed by your body, making it stronger against diseases.
It helps delay your ovulation and menstruation.
Exclusively nursing your baby will help delay ovulation and menstruation. It is your body’s way of making sure that there will enough time between pregnancies. It serves as a natural birth-control plan, BUT keep in mind that it is not 100% reliable.
It saves you both time and money.
This one is among the reasons why breastfeeding is terrific. It has a lot of beneficial effects for mom and baby, yet it is FREE and readily available at any time.
Nursing your baby does not require you to prepare and clean feeding bottles. You don’t need to count how many bottles of milk your baby is consuming. All you must do is to make sure you have the right breastfeeding diet, to ensure healthy milk production.
Other than that, all your money will go to buying diapers.
It cultivates a stronger bond between mommy and baby.
For most women, this is the most inspiring benefit of breastfeeding. It is something that both baby and mom share, and no one can take this away from you. For your baby, It is one of the earliest ways to communicate with you. Seeing your baby grow stronger and healthier because of breast milk, will give you an empowering feeling. It will feel like you’ve done a great job and no one can take that away from you.
Giving your baby formula milk is not something to be ashamed of. If for some reasons you are not fit to breastfeed, it’s perfectly understandable to have an alternative. As long as it provides all the nutrients that your baby needs, you can give it to him/her. Talk to your doctor and ask suggestions about choosing the right formula milk for your baby.
Fear of Not Producing Enough Milk
Most moms give up the thought of breastfeeding because of the fear of not producing enough milk. They use formula milk because they think that their baby is not getting the amount of milk he/she needs.
That is not true. Your body knows how much milk it needs to produce for your little one. Your breasts produce milk by demand. So if you introduce formula milk to your baby, it sends mixed signals to your body, causing your supply to go down.
Let me tell you this: You are producing enough milk for your baby.
It’s not true that your milk production is not enough just because your baby does not have a feeding pattern. You don’t need to compare your baby to other babies. You don’t need to have the exact scenario your pregnancy book is portraying.
You need to trust your body and your baby. Our body is designed to breastfeed. If you want to be successful in your breastfeeding journey, you need to stop listening to what others tell you to do. Stop living according to their standards. Let your maternal instinct take over. Trust your body and trust the process.
Remember, you are enough. In fact, for your baby, you are more than enough.
Top 10 Tips For Successful Breastfeeding
We all want to have a successful breastfeeding journey. Most moms work hard to get ready and inform themselves as much as possible. Breastfeeding a newborn takes a lot of trial and error. Try not to fret about that; breastfeeding gets easier as days go by.
Here are the top ten tips for successful breastfeeding:
Get well informed about breastfeeding.
We all know how good breast milk is for your baby. Moreover, you need to be well informed about breastfeeding to maximise the benefits of it for you and your baby. Read up some books, talk to other moms who have done it successfully, and talk to your doctor about your plans of breastfeeding your baby.
Inform your caregivers ahead of time.
Talk to your doctor and nurses about your plans of breastfeeding your baby ahead of time. You also need to check if the birthing center is a breastfeeding advocate. Get in touch with the nursery staffs too. Let them know that you only want to breastfeed your baby exclusively. So when the time comes, they will know to send your baby straight to your room should he/she need to breastfeed.
Keep your partner in the loop.
Raising a child is shared responsibility. Openly talk to your partner about your plans of breastfeeding your baby. Set his expectations and let him know what he can do to help and support you.
Know your breasts.
Your breasts are your primary weapon, and it can make or break your breastfeeding journey. Check your breasts physically, inside and out, and prepare it for breastfeeding. If your nipple is inverted or if you have done some breasts surgery before, talk to your doctor as early as possible. Your doctor will discuss ways on how you can still breastfeed your baby.
Breastfeed as early as possible.
Inform your doctor that you want to initiate breastfeeding immediately. Regardless of how you deliver your baby, you can start doing it right after birth. Breastfeeding a newborn right after birth is giving signals to your body to make milk as soon as possible.
Skin to skin contact is also beneficial for your little one. It gives your baby a sense of security and helps in regulating his/her body temperature.
Offer your breast as early as possible and as often as your baby wants. It will help you and your baby get familiarised with breastfeeding. It will also help your body establish its milk supply.
Relieve your breasts now and then.
During the first weeks of your breastfeeding journey, you’ll find that your breasts can easily get engorged. Relieve your breasts by manually expressing your milk or use a breast pump to keep up your milk supply. You can store the expressed milk for 24 hours in room temperature and one week into your refrigerator.
No to pacifiers and feeding bottle.
No matter how fussy your newborn is, breastfeeding is the only thing that will calm him/her down. Don’t introduce pacifiers; it has multiple harmful effects on your baby. It can also cause nipple confusion.
Using feeding bottles, on the other hand, will also interrupt your breasts routine in producing your milk supply. Breastfeeding during the first six weeks is painful. It can cause breasts soreness and nipple tearing. But, breastfeeding is the only thing that can make it better.
No matter how hard it is, DON’T STOP BREASTFEEDING. If you feel like giving up, talk to your partner about it. Remind yourself of the benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your baby.
Consume nutrient-rich food and keep yourself hydrated.
Milk production will demand a lot of work from your body. To produce and establish milk supply, you need to have plenty of water in your system. You also need to consume high-energy and nutrient-rich foods. Healthy eating will also help your body recover fast.
Cherish every moment.
I can say that the number one secret of successful breastfeeding is enjoying every precious moment with your baby. Trust your body, trust how it was designed to this naturally. We all want what's best for our baby, but please try not to overthink. Worrying causes unnecessary stress and stress causes a lot of unnecessary problems.
Remember that there’s no such thing as ‘perfect breastfeeding’. What matters is, you’re providing everything that your baby needs to grow by giving him/her breast milk, and that is ENOUGH.
Breastfeeding in the First Six Weeks
Nursing your baby in the first six weeks are the most challenging part of your pregnancy journey. For first time moms, breastfeeding a newborn looks effortless and magical. I don’t want to spoil your excitement, but when you are there, you’ll be surprised how persistent and time-consuming breastfeeding is.
No matter how many pregnancy books you’ve read, you will still be clueless when that time comes. Every day will be a learning process for you, and that’s okay. You’re doing fantastic, mommy.
Here’s what to anticipate in the first six weeks of breastfeeding your newborn:
It is HARD.
The first few weeks of breastfeeding is all about establishing your supply. It means constant breastfeeding all the time. Get used to exposing your boob all the time. You could not even wear your shirt comfortably. Expect sleepless nights that means feeding your baby on demand. Endure the round the clock breastfeeding until your breasts understand how much milk they need to produce.
You will need some support from your husband, family, and friends during the first few weeks of breastfeeding a newborn. When you feel like it is too hard and you’re close to giving up, remember the benefits that you and your baby will get from breastfeeding. Focus your mind, one feed at a time.
Sore and hard breasts.
During the first few weeks, your boobs will be sore and hard when touched. You’ll feel ‘full’ every time your baby is about to breastfeed. It will be uncomfortable to use a bra at this point, and your shoulders will feel the weight of your boobs.
If you haven’t already, your nipples will tear. It will be painful—absolutely painful. You don’t need to do anything about it—no need to put any ointments or medications.
Amazingly, all you have to do is continue breastfeeding to help your nipples heal faster. Once your body is familiar with how much milk it must produce, you’ll notice that the hardness of your boobs will go away.
Unstoppable feeding frenzy.
Known as cluster feeding, it is when your baby can’t stop breastfeeding. It usually happens in the evenings. Babies at their first six weeks are clingy and wanted to be as close to you as possible; they will feel uncomfortable if you are not near them. And whenever they feel uncomfortable, breastfeeding is what they like to do. It provides comfort, and babies feel secure when they are feeding.
Try not to worry. It is normal, and all babies do it during their early days. Your little one is cluster feeding because of the following reasons: he/she is having a growth spurt, feels insecure about his/her environment and wants to be held or cuddled.
Frequent feeding sessions.
To accommodate their growing needs, your newborn will feed now and then. It’s like their body is wired to eat, sleep, poop, eat again, then repeat. It is an exhausting time for you mommy. There’s no time for you to take a bath, fix your hair, and have some decent clothes. You will smell like spoiled milk, and THAT IS OKAY.
When you feel like you can’t endure any more, try and remind yourself of the reason why you did this in the first place. Remember the beneficial effects of breastfeeding a newborn. No matter how hard and challenging this phase is, cherish and enjoy every pain, every tear, every diaper you’ll change. Because one day, you’ll wake up and you will realise that time flies so fast.
Breastfeeding 7 Weeks Onwards—It Gets Easier!
Congratulations! You survived the first crazy weeks of your breastfeeding journey. Frustrations, exhaustion, crying, and soreness will now start to go away. You feel like everything is smooth and in sync. Your little one will begin to develop his/her daily routine. Your body will automatically know when it's time to feed. Amazing, right?
At around this time, your breasts are not that hard, and the soreness of your nipple will subside. You won’t have any leaky moments too. Try not to worry about these changes; these do not mean that your milk supply is low. These changes indicate that your milk supply is getting established!
Here are some things to look forward to:
Cluster feedings are starting to slow down.
At around this time, your baby is also adjusting well in his/her environment. Your little one is starting to get comfortable with life outside the womb. He/she will begin to develop sleeping and eating routines making it easier for you to predict when will be the next feeding time.
There are still days when your baby will become clingy again. He/she will demand breastfeeding to make himself comfortable. Go with it and cherish every moment. Let your baby feel how secured and loved he/she is in your arms.
Your baby has enhanced awareness and stimulation.
Don’t be surprised if your baby is more alert than the usual. It does not mean that he/she is not getting enough milk; it only means that your baby is getting more aware and stimulated by its surroundings.
At around this time, you can start communicating with your baby. He/she will be more responsive and awake now. His/her sleeping patterns will become more predictable as days go by. It will be easier for you to organise your day, now that you are starting to get used to your baby’s routine.
Your breasts are soft, and nipple soreness is gone.
You may not notice, but your breasts are not as hard as they were the previous weeks. Again, try not to worry because this does not mean that your milk supply is getting low.
Also, nipple soreness is gone. Hooray! Your nipple at this point is getting used to the intense sucking during breastfeeding. Your nipple is not that vulnerable to tearing, but keep in mind that improper latching can still cause nipple soreness and tearing. That’s why it is essential to latch your baby properly always every feeding.
Breastfeeding looks effortless and magical. Surprisingly, it can turn your world upside down during the first six weeks. You’ll get frustrated, exhausted, and angry at first. But, it GETS EASIER. At seven weeks, things are starting to get in sync. Your baby’s routines are now predictable. Aches and pains are going away, and you’re starting to get enough rest.
How Do I Make Sure My Baby is Feeding Enough?
Here are the top 4 signs that your little one is getting enough milk from your breasts:
- Your baby is swallowing. If your baby has latched properly, you should see him/her swallowing. At first, your baby will suck and ingest rapidly, which will help your breast to release milk. When your little one has fed, he/she will slowly progress from rapid swallowing to a more slow and relaxed one.
- Your little one is satisfied. Most of the time, babies who are satisfied after feeding end up sleeping, but this does not the case all the time. Some babies may not fall asleep even when they’re satisfied. The key is if your baby is calm and content after each feeding, then he/she is getting enough milk.
- Your baby’s diapers are piling up. During pediatrician’s visit, your baby’s doctor will ask how many diapers your baby is wetting every day. Curious to know why? Diaper outputs are one of the indicators if your baby is getting enough milk from you. On their first month, breastfed babies produce 6-10 wet diapers per day.
- Your little one is gaining weight. Expect your baby’s weight to fluctuate in the first few days of their life outside the womb. Your baby will lose some weight during the days of his life - that’s normal. After a week and a half, it should go back to your baby’s original birth weight. If you feel your baby is not putting on enough weight, talk to your doctor about it. Keep in mind that a fat baby does not always mean a healthy baby.
Can All Women Breastfeed Successfully?
YES. All women are designed to breastfeed their baby naturally. We all can nurse our child. Moms need to be well informed and prepared to have a successful breastfeeding journey. However, around 2% of women will encounter difficulties and complications in breastfeeding or may not be able to breastfeed their baby at all.
Don’t feel down if it turns out that you can’t breastfeed your little one. You can still bond and connect with your baby as he/she grows. Skin to skin contact can still be possible even if you are feeding your baby some formula milk.
You made it through your pregnancy, childbirth, and now breastfeeding. Look how far you’ve come! Don’t forget to take it easy and appreciate your little wins. You are a fantastic momma, and we are here to support you as you venture into the most fulfilling journey of motherhood.