Congratulations—you're a mom! There are so many joys, surprises, and delightful memories to be made with your brand-new bundle of joy, as well as a number of new responsibilities. One of the most important responsibilities for a new parent is making sure the baby is fed and nourished. Many mothers will opt to try breastfeeding, and for good reason: breastfed babies are less likely to develop allergies, asthma, common childhood illnesses, and even sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
But breastfeeding can be a complicated process, and a certain level of education and self-care has to be taken into account. To stay ahead of the curve and be as prepared as possible for your nursing journey, here are 10 essential breastfeeding tips every new mom should know:
1. You Can Always Ask For Help
Breastfeeding can be a tricky task to figure out, even for experienced moms. Each baby is different; some latch easily, and some require more patience and guidance. Don't feel like you have to go it alone if you're having difficulty—reach out and ask for help from friends, family members, , or a lactation consultant. After all, as the old saying goes, it takes a village!
2. Having a Relaxing Space to Breastfeed Can Make All the Difference
Creating a comfortable, cool space to breastfeed can help make nursing easier and more enjoyable. This can be anywhere in your house, whether that be your living room couch or a corner in the nursery—wherever you feel most relaxed and comfortable. Stock this space with burp cloths, nipple cream, small snacks, bottles of water, and anything else you might like to have on hand. If you need extra support for breastfeeding, consider investing in a breastfeeding pillow or chair that is specifically designed for breastfeeding mothers.
3. A Good Nursing Bra Is Your Best Friend
Having a supportive nursing bra is essential for comfortable breastfeeding. Look for bras that are made of breathable, stretchy materials and provide good support, as well as easy access for nursing. When you try on bras, make sure to adjust the straps and cups properly—you may need a different size from the one you're used to wearing.
You might want to pick up some new shirts, too, while you're shopping. Look for tops that are made of soft, flowy fabrics and have easy access for breastfeeding. Some nursing moms prefer to wear a tank top, something low-cut, or a button-down shirt.
4. There Are So Many Ways To Track Feedings
For the first few weeks, your doctor or lactation consultant will likely ask you to track your baby's feeds, diaper changes, and sleep patterns. This can be a lot to keep track of, especially when you're already exhausted. Luckily, there are several different strategies you can use to make this task a bit easier. You could put sticky notes around the house, download a breastfeeding app, or invest in a journal to keep in the space you designated for breastfeeding sessions. If you try one and it doesn't work for you, don't hesitate to try out a new one. If possible, you can also ask your partner to help out with this process.
5. Take Care Of Yourself, Too
It's important to remember that breastfeeding means caring for not one but two people! Make sure to take care of both you and your little one. Eat a balanced diet, hydrate often, and try to fit in self-care activities such as taking a hot bath or going for a walk when you have the time. You don't need to sacrifice your needs in order to be a successful breastfeeding mom—in fact, taking care of yourself is absolutely essential for a successful breastfeeding journey.
6. It's Okay To Supplement With Formula
If your breast milk supply isn't enough to satisfy your baby's needs, it's perfectly okay to supplement with formula. This can be a difficult decision for some breastfeeding moms, but it doesn't have to be a source of guilt. Talk to your doctor about the best options for you and your baby, and keep in mind that supplementing with formula doesn't mean you've failed—it just means you're doing the best you can to provide for your little one.
If you want to avoid switching entirely to formula, it's important to still make efforts to stimulate milk production while supplementing. For instance, you should also continue to feed your baby at the breast whenever possible. You can also try using a breast pump or manual expression after each feeding. Giving up a feeding schedule and cluster feeding, instead allowing your baby to nurse on demand, can also help you to produce more milk.
7. Be Sure You're Positioned Correctly
The way you hold and position your baby can make a big difference in the success of your breastfeeding sessions. Keep in mind that there are several different positions you can try, such as the cradle hold or the cross-cradle (also known as a football) hold. Some moms also enjoy laying down to breastfeed and using a nursing pillow (or several pillows) to support the baby. It's important to experiment and find what works best for you!
Once you're comfortable, your baby's mouth should come to you, rather than you leaning over your baby's head. Make sure your baby's body is supported and their neck and chin are tucked in for a proper latch. If you're having trouble, reach out to a lactation consultant. With just a few adjustments, you can get your baby latched on correctly.
8. Keep Baby Awake And Feed From Both Breasts
In order for a baby's weight to increase, it's important that the baby is getting enough milk. By feeding from each breast during each session, you can help ensure that your baby is getting enough breast milk and that you maintain your milk supply. Similarly, don't limit how much time you let your baby nurse. This can decrease your milk flow, prevent your milk ducts from emptying, and leave your baby still hungry. Try to let them nurse for as long as they indicate that they need.
That said, though a good breastfeeding session can be relaxing for both you and your baby, it's important to make sure that they are awake and alert while feeding. If your baby falls asleep, they may continue sucking but not swallowing, limiting how much much they're actually getting. If they doze during a session, gently lift them off your breast and wake them up before resuming.
9. Someday, You'll Wean
For as hard as it is to imagine, someday you'll be done with nipple cream, leaky bras, and midnight feedings. At about six months of age, you'll be able to give your baby solid foods, and around their first birthday, you'll be able to start with cow's milk! When the time comes, you may feel torn about weaning your baby. But remember—weaning is a milestone that you should be proud of.
You may have to take it slow and wean gradually, as that is the best way for both you and your baby to adjust. Weaning can be a bittersweet experience, but you shouldn't feel guilty. You'll be amazed by how much your baby and your relationship with them have grown over the course of their first year. The time you spent breastfeeding was invaluable to both of you, and it's something that you can always look back on fondly.
10. You Can Always Ask For Help!
Whether you're a new mom or about to be, the experts at are here to help you every step of the way. As women's health experts, we understand the significance of breastfeeding and the struggles that accompany it. We'll be happy to provide you with the resources you'll need to help make your journey a successful one.