51 Breastfeeding Tips For New Moms

Top breastfeeding tips and advice shared by professional nursing counselors and mothers. Include advice about preparations before your baby is born, the first six weeks, common nursing challenges and breastfeeding older babies.


Before Baby’s Arrival

  1. Before baby is born, attend a series of breastfeeding support classes.

  2. Establish a relationship with a lactation consultant or La Leche League leader so you feel comfortable asking for her advice if you need it.

  3. Create a supportive “tribe” of breastfeeding advocates: your spouse, friends who enjoyed breastfeeding, and anyone else who will cheer you on.

  4. In a similar vein, avoid listening to breastfeeding “horror stories” from others.

  5. If possible, go for a natural childbirth. Research shows that it makes for an easier breastfeeding experience.

  6. Donate (to a woman’s shelter) any formula samples you receive. Studies show that women who receive free formula from hospitals have less success with breastfeeding.

  7. NursingBlend Breastfeeding Supplement

  8. Don’t “toughen” your nipples before baby’s birth. It doesn’t help ready your body for nursing and can harm delicate tissues.

  9. Have a birth plan that states that baby is to receive no artificial nipples (bottles, pacifiers) in the nursery.

  10. When you check into the hospital, let the staff know right away that you would appreciate a visit from the hospital’s lactation consultant after baby’s birth.

  11. Talk to your pediatrician about breastfeeding to gauge whether s/he is truly supportive. Some pediatricians are more knowledgeable about the benefits of breastfeeding and normal growth patterns and behavior in breastfed infants than others and will be more helpful to you.

  12. Womanly Art Of BreastfeedingHave a couple of good breastfeeding books on your shelves, such as The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and read them during your pregnancy.

  13. Your bra size will change a few times before, during and after nursing. For instance, during your third trimester (bigger), again after your milk supply increases postpartum (bigger), again around 3 months postpartum (smaller) and again when you wean (smaller). Don’t buy too many bras at one time and choose styles that are stretchy to accommodate these changes in breast size and shape.

  14. When Baby Arrives

  15. Early and often is the mantra to remember about the first few weeks of nursing. Put baby to breast as early as you can after birth, as there is an ideal window of active alertness that baby is in before s/he falls into a deep sleep for a few hours.

  16. If baby doesn’t nurse right away, it’s ok if she/he just licks at the nipple. Try to latch baby on but don’t stress about it.

  17. Make sure baby is tummy to tummy with you when you latch him or her on.

  18. Try to nurse before baby cries. Crying can make it hard to settle baby down for a good feeding, and crying causes baby to swallow lots of air which can cause belly aches later.

  19. Baby may be hungry if she tries to suck on hands or opens mouth wide when her cheeks are touched.

  20. Baby should open his mouth very wide for latch on. If he is hesitant to open wide, try showing him how by opening your own mouth very wide. Newborns can mimic your facial expression.

  21. Use support pillows to get baby to breast height. Don’t lean down over him or your neck and back may ache. Bring baby to breast, not the breast to baby.

  22. Newborn babies have different personalities, and this applies to feeding too. Some like long, leisurely feeds, others are “snackers”. Forget what the books and your mother-in-law says and respect your baby’s uniqueness.

  23. The best way to build a hearty milk supply for your baby’s needs is to nurse whenever baby “requests”.

  24. For newborns, at least 8-10 feeds per 24 hour periods is normal.

  25. To gauge milk supply, look at baby’s output. Wet and poopy diapers mean baby is getting milk. If you’re unsure, keep a count of baby’s soiled diapers and let your pediatrician know.

  26. Keep in mind that disposable diapers often don’t feel wet when they have indeed been urinated in. Try putting a couple of ounces of water into a disposable and feeling it in your hand to get an idea of its weight.

  27. Schedules are for formula fed infants, not breastfed. Few women can sustain an adequate milk supply if they only nurse every 4 hours or on some other predetermined schedule.

  28. Remember that breastmilk digests more quickly and more completely than formula. Therefore, breastfed infants need to nurse more frequently than their formula fed counterparts.

  29. Babies nurse for reasons other than hunger. Sometimes they nurse from thirst, boredom, loneliness, or because they enjoy sucking as a comfort. It’s perfectly normal and acceptable for baby to ‘use you as a pacifier’.

  30. Some soreness is common in the early weeks of nursing, especially if it’s your first baby. However, pain is not normal and is usually a sign of some problem that can be solved.

  31. The most common source of nursing pain is an improper latch. You can find many helpful videos online on good breastfeeding technique.

  32. Get help from a lactation consultant or La Leche League leader if nursing is painful. Often, the pain can be resolved nearly instantly by adjusting baby’s latch or positioning.

  33. Another possible source of nursing pain is thrush (or a yeast infection of the breast) which can be treated with both medications and natural methods. If your nipples hurt even when you’re not nursing, suspect thrush. This is doubly true if you received antibiotics around the time of delivery.

  34. If baby seems fussy at the breast, try burping her in between switching sides, or after your milk lets down. Some babies have difficulty handling the fast flow of milk and swallow air, making them uncomfortable. Thorough burping often solves this problem.

  35. Another way to help baby that gulps, sputters and coughs while your milk rushes down is to remove baby for just a moment and let the milk flow into a cloth diaper or nursing pad for a second, then re-attach the baby. You can also try nursing baby lying down on your side, or lie on your back with baby on top of you. The “football” hold also helps, as baby is sitting up somewhat.

  36. In the first 2 weeks postpartum, rest as much as possible. Relax and focus on getting to know your baby and nursing well, and let the rest slide.

  37. In the early weeks of nursing while your milk supply is being established, avoid pacifiers and bottles of water, formula or other liquids. All of baby’s sucking should take place at the breast until your supply is well established and baby has learned how to nurse well. For many women this is for the first 3 weeks or so.

  38. If your baby is fussy or gassy, don’t jump to the conclusion that baby is allergic to something you’ve eaten. This is usually not the case. There are many reasons young babies fuss. Some of them are: immature digestive systems causing discomfort, swallowing air during feedings or when crying, fatigue, over stimulation, overheating/overdressing, boredom, illness, and many others.

  39. It is not necessary to avoid certain foods while breastfeeding. Unless baby is showing signs of food allergy (prolonged crying, diaper rash that won’t heal, projectile vomiting, failure to thrive and other symptoms), don’t needlessly restrict your diet.

  40. Nursing moms should eat to appetite and drink to thirst. It is not necessary to force liquids in order to breastfeed successfully.

  41. Not restricting baby’s time at the breast makes it more likely that he will get the fattier “hindmilk” that stimulates bowel movements and keeps baby sated longer, as well as puts more weight on him. It is a myth that babies should “only” nurse for a certain number of minutes or that exceeding this would cause nipple soreness. Nipple soreness is usually caused by problems with latch or positioning in most cases and has little to do with baby’s time at the breast.

  42. Invest in well fitting, stretchy nursing bras. Bras that are too snug may press against sensitive breast tissues, causing plugged ducts and possibly mastitis. Bras that are too big don’t provide adequate support or room for nursing pads and may be uncomfortable.

  43. Use cotton nursing pads or disposable pads that do not have plastic backing. Nursing pads need to be breathable and not trap too much heat or they can cause problems.

  44. Some young babies are sensitive to perfume that mom wears or that is in her laundry products. If your baby seems fussy, try eliminating the source of these fragrances for awhile to see if the problem improves.

  45. A baby sling is a great product for a nursing mom. It can be used to nurse discreetly in public, and is great for dad or other caregivers to provide comfort when baby can’t be with mom. Also, a sling enables mom to get more things done while still providing the skin to skin contact babies crave. Slings tend to reduce crying which often makes breastfeeding easier.

  46. It’s a good idea to learn how to manually (hand) express milk. It’s comfortable and requires no equipment and can come in handy in a few situations. To learn more about this method, search online for “the Marmet technique of breastmilk expression”.

  47. If you become ill while nursing your baby, it’s almost never necessary to wean. Baby has already been exposed to the germs that made you sick, and your milk will provide necessary antibodies to prevent or minimize illness in your little one.

  48. In addition, the majority of pharmaceutical drugs are compatible with breastfeeding and don’t require weaning. Some other drugs can be offered at certain times so as to not interrupt breastfeeding. If your doctor tells you that you need a prescription, you can call a La Leche League Leader or lactation consultant for guidelines.

  49. Breastfeeding Older Babies And Weaning

  50. Once baby starts eating solid foods, breastmilk still provides him with high quality nutrition as well as immune factors that help protect him from illness. It’s a good habit to nurse before offering solids in order to protect your milk supply.

  51. Breastmilk is considered a ‘clear fluid’ in the medical community. If your baby’s doctor says you must offer him Pedialyte or some other liquid when he’s ill, question that and get a second opinion. Breastmilk is NOT a dairy product and does not cause mucus or worsen baby’s illness. The opposite is true.

  52. There are many benefits to nursing older babies and even toddlers. For more information, advice and tips, check out the book Mothering Your Nursing Toddler.

  53. If you decide to wean your baby, it’s a good idea to do so slowly. Abrupt weaning can be emotionally difficult for babies, as well as for mom (due to dropping hormone levels). In addition, weaning too quickly can cause physical discomfort to mom because her breasts will keep making milk and she will become engorged.

  54. It’s best to drop one feeding every few days to give your body time to adjust. Be sure to give your baby extra love, cuddles and skin to skin contact to meet his emotional needs.
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  1. Susan says

    I am so glad that I had a supportive hospital and doctor with breastfeeding. The one thing that I wish is that I had realized it does “hurt” when you first start breast feeding. I kept thinking something was wrong. Finally I said something to my cousin and she was like, yeah, it hurts at first! I finally relaxed and it did get better gradually until it didn’t hurt at all. I also am so glad that my doctor was relaxed about bottles and pacifiers. My baby got a pacifier in the nursery and it helped for a few days and then she didn’t want it any more. And she never had an issue nursing because of it. The best advice I got was to relax. And that applied to breastfeeding too. The more relaxed I was, the better the breastfeeding went.

  2. Heather says

    I agree with Susan. Breastfeeding does kind of hurt when the baby first latches on during engorgement. Once my supply regulated after about a week or two, it was no big deal.

    I also read somewhere that you can help prevent thrush in baby and on you by wiping out your baby’s mouth with a soft cloth and water once a day. Thrush is a type of yeast infection that feeds on sugar. Breast milk is very sweet and the naturally occurring yeasts in the baby’s body can get out of control feeding on it. I wiped my baby’s mouth with a soft cloth and water once a day since she was a week old. So far after three months of exclusive breastfeeding, we’ve never had thrush.

    Side note: Another benefit to wiping out the baby’s mouth is that they get used to it. It makes it easier to transition them to getting their teeth brushed once they get a few in. You want to make sure you brush the baby teeth because if they rot, they can affect the permanent teeth underneath.

  3. Wendy Tomlinson says

    These are wonderful tips that I wish I’d have read before my son was born. He’s almost a teenager now but I still remember so desperately wanting to breastfeed him. I managed for 3 months and hated the experience. I had very little support and cried every time I did it. I am so thankful that you are here to support parents, so that they don’t need to go through that experience. Best wishes to all mums.

  4. Rachel says

    The tip about having a “tribe” of support is SO TRUE. When I was pregnant with my youngest I was insistent that I would breastfeed her, and I had a few good friends who had been breastfeeding moms that supported me all the way though. It was like a sisterhood of understanding, and they were there even in the middle of the night if I needed them. My mom and my grandma just did not understand my desire to breastfeed and were even critical of it, especially when the baby ended up getting sick, and the strength and encouragement of my ‘tribe’ really helped pull me through. She was exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of her life, and continued until just before her first birthday (when she weaned long before I was ready for her to).

  5. Emma says

    I breastfed all of mine but I found the more children I had, the harder it was to devote the time to that task. My 4th baby was in the special baby unit because of Group B Strep and he wouldn’t feed from me when I finally got him.

    I even got a nurse to check how I was feeding him, even though I knew what I was doing as I had breast fed before. She agreed that the problem was not with me.

    I knew I should have persisted but tired and worn out with 3 other children to raise, I copped out and switched to formula.

    One of the best things I ever found for sore breasts whilst breast feeding were nipple shields.

  6. librarylady says

    Wow, this is a goldmine of information. Any new mother who wants to breastfeed should be armed with this article. Why doesn’t anyone tell you that nursing will be painful at first? I was shocked at how much it hurt for the first few days, but we persevered and all was well. I just wish someone had warned me. I nursed my first three children and then my fourth had to be in the hospital for a few weeks and she got used to a bottle. Luckily she was pretty easy going and she’d nurse when I was there and take a bottle when I wasn’t. It came in handy, but I’ve been told that’s pretty unusual.

  7. Chris says

    I definitely agree with the tip regarding the helpful online videos. YouTube is such a wealth of information and I really can’t recommend it enough. Getting to see the videos – getting to see all of this information in action – is a perfect complement to the tips listed here.

  8. Christy Bagasao says

    Wow! This is the single best breastfeeding post I have EVER read! I wish I had this information when I first nursed my oldest 18 years ago. I’ve been either pregnant or nursing (and often both) for 19 years, and experienced many of the difficulties mentioned. I had no support, apart from my husband, but he knew less than I did. I even had relatives who were adamant about me nursing toddlers. I don’t bother mentioning I still nurse a preschooler!

    The video is really good. After nursing seven babies, I still didn’t know about the hard/soft palate issue. Fascinating! Thank you for that.

    Hey, number 38 is the greatest! Eat to appetite. Thank you very much. Aren’t we mamas all STARVING about 15 seconds after baby comes out? Or is that just me? I eat like a crazy person for the first year and a half before it finally starts tapering. I think I single-mouthedly double our food budget.

    Seriously, thank you for an excellent post. I’m sharing this as many places as I can to get this important and encouraging information into the hands of other mothers who, like me, may not have the support they need to breastfeed. I still did it, but if I knew then what I know today, I would have done it better and longer with my earlier children. The shortest was 15 months, which is no slack, but the longest was four years, so comparatively, that’s a big difference.

    Again, thank you.

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