Breastfeeding 101: Tips for...

If you’re pregnant and you’ve decided to breastfeed but you’ve never done it before, it can be a little scary and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be this way. The truth is, breastfeeding is much easier than most people realize, even though it does require a little knowledge beforehand. Once you learn a few simple dos and don’ts, you’ll feel like a breastfeeding pro in no time.

Why Should You Breastfeed?

The truth when it comes to feeding your baby is this: no type of formula will ever duplicate the benefits that your baby gets with breast milk. Breast milk has all of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants the baby needs to grow and thrive, including antibodies that will strengthen their immune system so they are healthier both now and in the future.

Breastfed babies tend to have fewer ear infections, upper respiratory problems, colds, and gut problems than bottle-fed babies do. They also have fewer incidents of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), as well as tummy problems and childhood leukemia. Regardless of the type of baby formula you use, it is never going to offer the benefits that breast milk does.

And if all this wasn’t enough, breast milk is easier for the baby to digest and produces bowel movements that aren’t nearly as malodorous. To be sure, breastfeeding comes out the clear winner in every way when it comes to food for your newborn. Nevertheless, you do need to learn a few breastfeeding tips before getting started, even though they are easier than you think.

What to Do First

The first thing you should do when breastfeeding is make sure that you’re comfortable. Remember that it can take up to an hour to breastfeed your child, so comfort is a must. If you have a breastfeeding pillow, that makes it much easier. You’ll also want to decide on a position that suits you best. There are several breastfeeding positions available, but the most common one is laying the baby across your chest.

When the baby latches on, it’s important that the entire nipple and areola area be in their mouth. One of the most common breastfeeding challenges is sore nipples, but if the baby has the entire area in their mouth and not just the nipple itself, it is much less likely that you’ll have this problem. If you have to break the baby’s suction to adjust their position, place your little finger in between the baby’s gums and the nipple, and try again.

It’s also important that you feed the baby off both breasts every time you breastfeed. Naturally, the baby will eat more from the first breast than the second one, but that’s all right. The next time you feed the baby, you’ll want to start with the opposite breast than you did the last time. This way, you won’t suffer with engorged breasts, uneven breasts, or discomfort in just one of the breasts. These things can cause clogged ducts and even an infection, which are miserable.

Should I Pump?

When it comes to pumping the breasts, some moms do this on a regular basis and store the extra milk, and some moms only pump when their breasts are engorged and uncomfortable. If you’re going to pump, you owe it to yourself to buy an electric pump so that it’s much easier on you. You can store fresh breast milk at room temperature for up to four hours, in the refrigerator for up to four days, and in the freezer for up to six months, although twelve months is acceptable.

If you’d like to eventually allow your partner to feed the baby and want the baby to get used to a bottle, don’t introduce the bottle too soon. Babies find it easier to take the bottle than the breast, so if you breastfeed exclusively for at least six weeks before introducing a bottle, it is easier for them to do both. Start with giving them a bottle once a day, then expand it from there. Once the baby is used to both the breast and the bottle, life can become easier for you afterwards.

What If You’re Having Problems?

Regardless of how prepared you are for breastfeeding, you may eventually run into issues such as sore nipples, breast infections, babies sleeping through a feeding, and more. Fortunately, most of these issues are easy to conquer, especially if you have an excellent breastfeeding support system. If you’re having issues, talk to your doctor, a lactation specialist, or even organizations such as the La Leche League, which has chapters all over the world.

The longer you breastfeed, the more comfortable you’ll become with the process. Having challenges along the way isn’t uncommon but in most cases, it doesn’t mean that you’ll have to stop feeding your baby this way. Just seek out some help and you should be good to know. To make it even easier, make sure that you have all the supplies you need, including several nursing bras, bottles to hold pumped breast milk, breast pads to prevent leaking, and of course, a good electric breast pump.


Breastfeeding is more natural than feeding the baby a bottle, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to learn a few tips first. Knowing when, how, and for how long to breastfeed can make the process a lot simpler, and if you do need help along the way, your doctor and organizations such as La Leche League are always there to help.

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