So the other day, I was texting back-and-fourth with my mama friend, sharing some nursing advice as she struggled to get in a flow with her new baby. I'm no expert, but I have picked up a few hacks over the many months nursing my two sweet babies. These tips were helpful to her, so I thought, why not share them with other mamas who might find them useful too! So here we go!
Undress newborn for feedings: Keeping baby AWAKE and swallowing is the name of the game in the beginning. The best way to do this is to undress baby during all daytime feedings. If it's wintertime, or your home is cool, you can drape a swaddle blanket over both of you so your baby doesn't get chilled. But this little tip has helped keep my oh-so-sleepy newborns awake, eating and therefore gaining weight in those uber important first weeks at home.
Make a breastfeeding basket: I place a small basket filled with breast-pads, nipple cream, chapstick, hair ties, a water bottle and small snacks at each area where I typically feed my baby. These little baskets are life savers, and help to make life nursing a little one, that much easier.
Download books or podcasts on audio: These are fun to listen to while feeding, and will save you from staring at your cell phone for hours on end!
Olive oil is your new best friend: Oil up your flanges before pumping for a quicker let-down!
Haakaa or bust: I seriously wish I had known about the Haakaa silicon pump when I was nursing my first. Just suction it on one side while nursing on the other, and collect boat-loads of extra milk; 95% of my freezer stash has come from my Haakaa!
Freeze flat and don't trust storage bag measurements: When storing your milk, first measure the ounces in a bottle (the ounce measurements on the storage bags are not very accurate). Then transfer to a small breast milk storage bag, and freeze *FLAT* in your freezer. Once you have a good amount of frozen bags, place them upright in a gallon zip lock bag, and number the large bags starting with #1. When it's time to dip into your freezer stash, start with bag #1 and work your way up, oldest to newest.
Switch off your supplements: If taking herbal supplements to help boost your milk supply, switch off every few months to prevent building up a tolerance to a particular herb.
Introduce the Bottle at 4 weeks: Even if you have no need to give the bottle yet, there is a short window of time where your baby is most likely to take to the bottle (this is one of the best pieces of advice I got from my Lactation Consultant and I pass it along to every nursing mom I know!). So introduce it, and then have your partner, parent or helper give the bottle during one feeding, every 4-5 days. This will help your baby get used to occasional bottle-feeds, give others time to bond with the baby, give you a break, and hedge against the dreaded bottle rejection!
Cover up with a light swaddle while pumping: You know what they say -- a watched pot never boils! So take the stress off of that let-down, or the amount of ounces pumped in a session, by draping a swaddle blanket over your pump bottles. Drink some water, eat your favorite snack, watch a cute video of your baby, and let that oxytocin FLOW!
Buy a car adapter for your pump: Especially if you're returning to work, pumping in the car can be a MAJOR time saver! My first and last pumps of my work day take place in my car. I get set up before I start the car, put my husbands button down sweater on top so neighboring drivers have no clue, and drive! (Safety first!)
Make a Boobie Box: If this is your second baby, make a special "Boobie Box" for your toddler. This is a box or basket with a few special toys and books that your toddler can take out and play with while you nurse your baby. Not only will it help keep your toddler occupied during the many hours of nursing, but they may actually look forward to this time with their special toys.
I hope these tips help you on your nursing journey, as much as they helped me!