Breastfeeding: Benefits, Tips, and Tricks
Updated: Aug 12, 2018
Breast is Best for many beneficial reasons, but this natural process has its challenges.
"It's not always rainbows and butterflies"
Nursing is natural, and for some it comes easy, while for others it can be daunting and challenging. Whatever you choose to do (whether formula or breast) making sure your baby is healthy and fed is most important.
I nursed my firstborn until she was 10 months, it was a mutual weaning process. She became uninterested and I was ready to get my boobs back. It was rewarding in many ways, although the beginning was tough! And when I say tough I mean there was blood, tears, engorgement, and torn flesh. The first few days of nursing were torture, it hurt so much. I saw a lactation consultant, which helped me get a better understanding of proper latching and various holding positions. Although I needed more than just a consult. I will go over some tips and tricks that helped me continue nursing my baby well over 6 months. Now that I have a newborn, I am back at square one, although painful and sore, my nipples did not bleed ( YAY !!). I will let you in on a little secret - if you can make it past that first month, it will get easier.
Continue reading to learn about the benefits of breastmilk. This is what always kept me motivated to overcome the hurdles and offer the breast as much as possible.
Benefits of Breastmilk and Breastfeeding
Helps support a healthy infant gut microbiome (good bacteria to promote gut health)
Antibodies and immune factors to help fight infection
Provides hormones that regulate appetite - may help reduce incidence of overweight and obesity later in life
Access to milk anytime, anywhere
Easily digestible and absorbed (easy on infant tummy)
Helps mothers uterus shrink back to its normal size
May help promote bonding between mother and baby - skin to skin contact is beneficial
May help you lose some of that baby weight
Meets infant nutritional needs (supplementing with 400 IU of vitamin D per day may be required)
Colostrum (Liquid Gold) : yellow substance that is rich in protein, antibodies, vitamins and minerals
Transitional Milk: comes withinin 2-5 days, lasts about 2 weeks. Mainly colostrum, fat, lactose, and high in calories
Mature Milk: consists of 90% water, 10% is lactose, protein, fat, and micronutrients. Foremilk (mostly water) and Hindmilk (milk at end of feeding, mostly fat)
Carbohydrate: Mostly lactose and oligosaccharide - acts as a prebiotic to provide good gut bacteria and immunity
Fat: palmitic and oleic acids, DHA, and ARA.
Protein: low protein 2.5g, contains antimicrobial factors.
Vitamins and Minerals: Calcium, Sodium, Vitamin C, Iron, Zinc
Tips and Tricks to help support breastfeeding:
Nipple cream: It helps soothe sore nipples. Recommend using this right away - even days before baby is born. Put on immediately after each feeding.
Nipple shield: I used this mostly with my first. It helped to protect my cracked, and bleeding nipples until baby was able to get a good latch. Once latched on for a while I would remove the shield
Tea bags: A nurse told me about this one, and it actually helped. Place decaf tea bags in hot water. Let it cool down a bit and place the bags on sore nipples.
Hot/Cold Therapy Beads: Use the heated beads prior to feeding to help ease milk transition. Use cold beads after feeding or during engorgement.
Consult a lactation specialist: Sometimes you need that outside help from someone who can support you and offer you knowledge about proper techniques.
Use lots of pillows and nursing pillows: Use these to get in a comfortable position and to support baby during feeding sessions.
Get a hand pump: I found that a hand pump made it easier for me to pump anywhere and not be attached to a contraption that needed to be plugged in. It's easy to maneuver and you can take it anywhere.
Nursing bras: Make your life as easy as possible, these offer support and easy access to the boob. Sport bras may work. Also just wearing a spaghetti strap tank top works wonders!
Be persistent: I'm not going to sugar coat it, nursing is going to HURT, and it will hurt for a while! But if you keep reminding yourself about how it will help baby in the long run it makes it a little easier.
Stay Hydrated, Nourished, and Rest as much as possible: It will help give you energy to get up in the middle of the night to nurse, and to nurse at each cry, and to pump whenever needed. You will feel like your life is being sucked out of you, and in some ways it is. You are literally giving life and energy to your baby through breastmilk.
However things may end up, it's about giving breastfeeding a chance (if medically feasible). Although, you also have to think about your sanity, and if it's worth it for you.
I believe in you and applaud you for being the mother you are and taking care of your baby in the best way that works for the both of you.
I hope this was helpful. If you have more questions about breastmilk and nursing send me a message anytime!
1. “Infant and Young Child Feeding.” World Health Organization: Session 2, 2009.
2. Mueller, Meghan MS, RD, LCCE “Nutrition During Lactation: The First Year and Beyond.” Webinar.