Breastfeeding can be hard work but once you have a breast milk supply established, all you have to do is keep it maintained.
Many moms worry about how hard breastfeeding will be since there is so much talk about low breast milk supply, but the truth is that many new moms are able to breastfeed their babies without going to exceptional lengths to increase their breast milk supply.
I was able to breastfeed my second child without much effort and it was one of the best parts of motherhood for me.
And I truly believe that these tips really can help many moms achieve a substantial breast milk supply without too much stress and worry. Here are 10 tips for establishing a breast milk supply from the beginning.
Breast Milk Cycles
So breast milk does go through many different changes depending on what your baby needs at that time but for the first few days after birth, your breasts will be making colostrum.
- Colostrum is the “pre-milk” that your breasts express directly after giving birth and is the first breast milk your baby will drink. Colostrum is perfectly made with antibacterial and immunities that are from the mother’s body to help protect a newborn baby. It is often called liquid gold because it can appear gold or yellow in color.
Once you have been breastfeeding for a few days, your breasts will begin to feel firmer due to the colostrum changing into the thicker breast milk for your baby.
- Breast milk usually comes in around days 3 to 4 of your breastfeeding journey. And once you have your breast milk supply established, breastfeeding can be a very relaxing experience between mom and baby.
*This page may contain affiliate links, however, I will never recommend anything that I do not believe in and use myself. You can read more about my disclosure policy here. Here are a few facts about breastfeeding that you may not know. I am not a doctor or a medical professional but these are my experiences as a breastfeeding mom.
1. Skin-to-Skin After Birth
I have always talked about how important skin to skin contact is for establishing a breastfeeding bond with your newborn baby. When your baby is first born, the world that he/she is coming into can be very bright and cold which is not at all like their past uterine home.
By placing a newborn baby directly on a mother’s chest, you start to help warm the baby up with your body temperature and also have them right near your breasts to start looking for milk.
Many do not know this but skin to skin can also be practiced if you have a c-section delivery. As long as everything is going smoothly that is. I loved having this time to bond with my baby and look at him.
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2. Breastfeed in the First Hour
So once your baby has been born, and everything is good to go, you should try to get your baby to latch. In the hospital that I gave birth in, the nurses helped me to get my baby latched onto my breasts right when we got back to my hospital room.
Breastfeeding is a supply and demand type of cycle. So basically by latching your newborn baby right after birth, you are signaling your body to make milk to feed your baby. The faster you start the better.
3. Good Latch
Alright! Once you get your baby latched you are doing well. But honestly, this can be a bit tricky if you have never breastfed before.
The reason that latch is so important with breastfeeding is that your baby’s mouth needs to be lined up in the right way to get the milk flowing, keep you and baby comfortable, and to stimulate your breasts to continue producing milk.
So if your baby is just sucking on your nipple, for example, you will have some pain – a lot of pain! And your baby will not be getting the breast milk to flow but rather just getting a little bit at a time while causing injury to your breasts.
The best way to get a good latch from the start is to line up your breast with your baby’s open mouth and make sure your baby has a good open sucking latch. Another good indication is if you are not in pain the latch is probably good.
For more help with getting the perfect latch talk with a lactation consultant like this one who teaches you to breastfeed from home like a pro. She has helped so many moms learn and can help you as well.
4. Baby Hunger Cues
Its always good to learn your baby’s hunger signs and cues from the beginning so that they don’t end up screaming their heads off from hunger.
This may sound silly but when a baby cries for milk, it’s the last sign for milk. Newborn babies will start the “rooting reflex” which is where your baby will turn their head and open their mouth towards anything that touches his/her cheek or face.
This is one of the best signs at first to test if your baby is ready to breastfeed.
Another good indication that your baby wants to nurse is when they are smacking their lips and tongue or sucking on their fists. By learning these cues you can get your baby fed sooner and keep your breast milk supply up.
5. Nurse on Demand
I for one am not a mom who followed feeding schedules – especially when I was breastfeeding. In the beginning, I just nursed anytime my baby wanted to and that worked out great for us.
You have to remember that your baby’s stomach is very small and although it may seem like they are drinking a ton they are only getting a few ounces in the beginning. Also, breast milk is super easy for babies to digest so their little tummies get emptied quickly.
6. Eat Well
I have to admit that I have never been the best eater since I am so stinking picky, but I really didn’t have much of a problem with this. Of course, I was eating pretty healthy and breastfeeding made me crave tons of fresh fruits and vegetables so that may have helped.
I think the biggest thing is to not go on a crazy baby weight loss diet if you want to keep your breast milk supply. Producing breast milk every day requires around 300+ calories.
And that is on top of the calories that you need to keep your self healthy. So don’t feel bad about grabbing a small snack if you are hungry.
Listen to your body and you will know what it needs.
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7. Drink Plenty of Water
Water is so incredibly important when you are breastfeeding. Just like the extra calories needed to make breast milk, your body needs extra water. So you always hear the saying to drink eight 8oz cups of water a day right? Well, you need to add a few cups more to help replace your breast milk supply.
And like earlier, your body will tell you when you are thirsty. I was not able to sit down and breastfeed my baby without having a drink nearby. I’m not sure what it was but as soon as he would latch on and get the breast milk flowing, I suddenly felt as if I was dying of thirst and needed to drink water.
8. Get Some Rest
Rest is so crucial for maintaining your recovery after giving birth and also making breast milk.
Your body is working so hard to keep you and your tiny newborn baby nourished so an extra nap here and there when your baby is napping will go a long way.
9. Encourage Baby to Empty Breasts
Supply and demand process – remember this. Once your breast milk does come in you may notice sometimes that your baby will not completely empty your breasts.
It’s okay. They may just be full. But if you after trying to relatch them they continue to refuse the breast you can simply hand express your breast milk or use a breast pump.
In the beginning, your body is just trying to figure out how much milk to make for your baby so using a breast pump every now and then when your baby gets full very fast will help in not only keeping your breasts milk supply going but also relieve you from carrying around heavy engorged breasts around.
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10. Don’t Supplement if Possible
So going back to supply and demand. You are going to get tired of hearing that but it is what is really going to help you here.
If you give your baby a bottle of formula, you are feeding your baby but not expressing your breasts – therefore your breasts don’t know that your baby has eaten.
Stay with me it will make sense. But if your body and breasts don’t feed your baby and get expressed, then your body will eventually not make enough milk for a feeding session at that time when your baby drank from a bottle.
Your body has to be reminded to make breast milk every time your baby needs to eat and that’s what keeps your breast milk supply going. So if at all possible don’t supplement. Just nurse your baby and you will establish a great breast milk supply.
Breastfeeding is such a beautiful part of being a mom and having enough milk to feed your baby solely through breastfeeding is a huge win.
If you have any more tips that helped establish a breast milk supply please share them.