Breastfeeding Tips + Tricks For The New Mom
Happy FRI-YAY, everyone! A week or two ago, I posted a picture on my IG stories of my current milk supply in my garage freezer. After 10.5 weeks, I’ve filled an entire standing freezer FULL of breastmilk. I got TONS of dms about how I keep up my supply while still breastfeeding, how best to bond with baby, and what my pumping + breastfeeding schedule looks like. I plan on keeping this post updated each month with what I learn as I go – so be sure to bookmark it and check back if you are on this journey with me! Let’s dive into this.
Breastfeeding Tips + Tricks For The New Mom
These beautiful pictures of Jack & I were taken by my sweet friend Laurel. You can find her photography website here!!
I’m going to come at this post Q+A style with the questions I’ve gotten the most. Alrighty.
What is your pumping + breastfeeding schedule?
I breastfeed on demand with Jack. When he’s hungry, I feed him. I go based off of his cues. That means it can be a little different every day. Our typical day looks a lot like this:
5:00am: Jack wakes up and feeds 10 min on the first breast, 5 min on the second. I then pump until empty (usually 5-6 oz)
7:30-8:00am: Jack wakes up from his first nap and feeds 10 min on the first breast, 5 min on the second. I switch breasts each time I feed him.
10:00-11:00am: Jack wakes up from his second nap and feeds like usual.
1:00-2:00pm: Jack feeds like usual.
5:00-5:30pm: Jack takes a bottle of pumped milk for Adam. I pump until empty (5-6oz).
8:00-8:30pm: Jack feeds like usual.
9:30-10:00pm: Jack feeds like usual.
10:30-11:00pm: Jack tops off before bed and falls asleep nursing. I pump until empty (4-5oz) before I got to bed.
As always – this can change day to day. Moral of the story is I pump about 3x a day. 2 of those pumps get frozen, 1 gets put in the fridge for fresh bottles. We haven’t started using our frozen stash yet. Depending on our schedule, I may top him off before we leave the house for something or go a bit longer if we are out and about. I try to make sure he eats at least every 3 hours during the day. He always gets 8-10 feeds a day.
How do you track how much you feed baby?
I have used two methods – a paper version + a phone app!! I personally use the phone app more, but the paper version is also great! If you are a pen and paper kind of girl, Tiny Tracker is a lifesaver. I know the sweet lady that created it and she is AWESOME. There are so many amazing resources for new moms on breastfeeding, sleep training, and just knowing the ins and outs of raising a newborn inside. Definitely an awesome thing to have (or gift a new mama). The app I use was recommended by the lactation consultant at the hospital and it’s called BabyConnect. I think it is $2 – but worth every penny. The first 8 weeks I diligently tracked every feeding, every diaper and every nap. Now that Jack is gaining weight steadily and is healthy – I just track feeds and night sleeps. I gave up on getting every diaper (I know he’s good as long as he has several wet diapers a day and a poopy diaper every day or two) and all of his naps during the day. I like to know how long he is sleeping at night, so I still track that when he goes down, but otherwise I’m more relaxed now 10.5 weeks out.
What is the best way to keep up my supply?
This is a great question!! I do a few things. I started pumping right away when my milk came in. I think it’s smart to do that for a few reasons: 1. it can help prevent mastitis and blocked ducts in the beginning engorgement stage. I pumped after every feeding, and froze it all right away. You have so much coming in that you can store a lot away and reduce a lot of uncomfortability. It took me about a month to regulate to Jack’s needs, and once that happened I just pumped when Adam wanted to give him a bottle so I never missed a feeding (that can cause your supply to go down). ANY time I’m going to miss a feeding for some reason, I pump. I use the Elvie portable pumps to pump when I’m out (like when I went to the movies last week, or taught my small business workshop). If I’m home, I use my Motif Medical Luna pump.
If I feel like I’m starting to make less and want to jump start my supply, I power pump for a day or two. If you haven’t heard of power pumping – you can read about how to do it here!
I also make lactation cookies that I feel really help (plus they are delicious). I eat two a day, one with lunch and one with dinner. You can find the recipe I use here.
The biggest thing is breastfeeding is a supply and demand system. You’ll make as much as you empty. If you empty more, you will make more.
How do you bond with the baby while breastfeeding?
This is an easy one. I love getting comfy with Jack before a feeding on my rocking chair or in my bed. We get comfy pillows and blankets and get settled. I sometimes put on relaxing music and dim the lights. We spend a few minutes (as long as he isn’t hysterical) talking back and forth and then begin the feed. He’s at a fun stage where he likes to take his time and look at me and smile and coo while eating. I don’t rush him, so sometimes he takes longer on one side. There are LOTS of snuggles and good eye contact involved.
How often should I be feeding my baby?
I feel Jack every 3-ish hours, usually more often at night. He cluster feeds every hour to two hours starting around 7pm so he occasionally does longer stretches in the morning and afternoon. I don’t wake him up to eat anymore so I go solely based on his cues. I feel good as long as he gets in 8 feeds in a 24 hour period.
Will breastfeeding always hurt?
Thank heavens – NO. It truly took me 4 solid weeks for breastfeeding to stop hurting. The first two weeks are the worst. They are HARD. The third week, I got mastitis and that was actual hell. I remember thinking there is no way I can keep doing this. I’m SO glad I pushed through because breastfeeding is one of my favorite parts of having a baby now. I love feeling so bonded to Jack and knowing that my body is providing everything he needs for him right now. But the truth is: it is HARD. and it HURTS at first. I cried and cried while nursing him in the beginning. I had cracked nipples, swollen boobs and every time he latched I would wince. After the four weeks though, it was like a switch went off. It is completely comfortable to nurse now, and I don’t have pain unless he does a particularly hard latch. My letdown still feels uncomfortable, but I wouldn’t call it painful, and it only lasts a few seconds and then it settles into a rhythm for him.
What should I do if I get a blocked duct or mastitis?
Cry and call your doctor immediately. I haven’t personally had a blocked duct – but I have had mastitis and I am not going to sugar coat this for you: it’s the worst pain I have every felt (and that is including giving birth). I would give birth again before I want mastitis again. I knew I had it because I felt like I had the flu, I had a 101 degree fever, and I had pain just on one side. After I called the doctor, I also noticed the tell-tale red streaks extending from my nipple outward. Luckily, once you get one antibiotics, it only lasts a few days. I had 3 days of unbearable pain and then about 3 days of manageable pain, and then it went back to normal. Unfortunately, it did affect my supply in the one side and I had to work to get that back up again (using the methods I talked about above, I was able to get it back to normal in about a week).
The first thing you should do if you suspect mastitis is call your doctor. I didn’t even have to go in to see mine – she immediately called in a prescription for me. I started on antibiotics that day. I had only been having symptoms for a little over 24 hours. The sooner you catch this, the better. I was going to try to tough it out – but that can be so much worse. Take an ibuprofen (preferably the nice high dose they give you at the hospital) and take EVERY SINGLE antibiotic pill. Mine was a 10 day prescription and I was religious with taking it. You don’t want it coming back. At this point, I haven’t had it again – and good LORD I hope it stays that way.
How do I build my freezer supply?
Pump a lot in the beginning, and then after every feeding if you are wanting to build a supply. I pump every single time Adam gives Jack a bottle and I pump every time I am going to miss a feeding. I put 4-6oz in a freezer bag at a time. If you aren’t making enough in the beginning after every feeding – don’t give up! Pump for 10 minutes after feeding and in a few days your body will naturally start making more to fill that 10 minute time span. You can choose to do that every time, or just after a few feedings. I find I make a lot more at night vs morning and afternoon so it makes more sense for me to do my big pumps at night. I use this milk storage bag!
I truly hope this was helpful for you guys! I know I’m not an expert by ANY means, but I have pulled a lot of what I’m doing from resources like my lactation consultation from the hospital we delivered at, The Nursing Mother’s Companion book (a gift from a friend and a GODSEND), and various internet websites. I feel like I’m in a really good groove right now with nursing, and Jack is continuing to grow and develop right on target and is even an overachiever in weight and height so I know he’s definitely getting enough.
Let me know your breastfeeding story in the comments below! I’d love to hear your experiences.