How do I know if I’m producing enough milk? How long should I breastfeed my baby? These are some of the questions every new mother has about breastfeeding and luckily, there are plenty of resources out there to help you get started. To make sure your breastfeeding experience goes as smoothly as possible, it’s important to find answers to these questions before you even give birth. Once you’ve prepared, follow these breastfeeding essentials and nursing tips from expert mothers to help you through each stage of your nursing journey with ease!.

Getting Ready to Breastfeed

While breastfeeding certainly comes with a learning curve, nursing itself is easy — if you know what you’re doing. Like any new mom, you’ll have questions about how to prepare for breastfeeding. You may be wondering whether or not your clothes will get in the way of feeding or whether it’s safe to breastfeed while on birth control pills. Luckily, there are answers to these common questions. A lactation consultant can help make your first time easier and more comfortable—and most insurance plans cover at least some lactation services. It might even be worthwhile to pay out-of-pocket for a consultation since breastfeeding helps newborns gain weight faster.

For example, studies show that by six months old, babies who were exclusively breastfed gained six ounces more than that fed formula as their main source of nutrition during their first few weeks after birth. That might not sound like much until you consider that babies typically lose seven percent of their body weight in those first few days. They also tend to sleep longer between feedings. So that extra ounce could really make a difference over several days—especially if they end up losing weight due to sickness or other complications after they leave the hospital.

Things You’ll Need

Breastfeeding is a natural process, but it’s still helpful to have some tools on hand. You’ll need a place for your baby to nurse, such as your bed or a comfortable chair. Breastfeeding in public is generally accepted when you’re covered up so be sure to take a swaddle blanket with you for some privacy so that nursing isn’t a stressful situation. Many new moms will find it useful to invest in a nursing pillow and nipple cream for soreness during feedings. A breastfeeding schedule is also useful if you are trying to track how much milk your baby gets from each feeding and learn how often he should be eating.

Here are other helpful items that some lactation consultants suggest: 

  • Lactation cookies
  • Lactation drink mix
  • Breast pump
  • Nursing heat pads to help relieve plugged ducts and also help with milk let-down during feedings.
  • These swaddle blankets for extra privacy whether at home or in public

Tips for Successful Nursing

The first few weeks of breastfeeding can be a bit of a learning curve. However, once you’ve mastered positioning and latch-on, it’s smooth sailing from there. If you’re ready to start nursing your baby but aren’t sure what tools you need for success, don’t worry. Here are some tips for successful nursing:

  • Positioning: Place baby with her back on your chest at an angle where both breasts are easily accessible, and where she won’t accidentally pull herself off with her arms or stretch too far forward with her neck. Putting pillows behind your back for support will also make it easier on your body if you’ll be nursing lying down on your side. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different positions until you find one that works well for you!
  • A good latch is important so that baby has a proper seal around your nipple. Cup both breasts with your hands while using one hand to support baby’s head. This maneuver helps ensure baby’s mouth is covering most of your breast rather than just biting at air.

Nursing a baby requires that you prepare your body, so make sure you’re eating well, drinking lots of water, and preparing yourself mentally. Have fun with it! Keep an open mind and remember that breastfeeding is all about working together. If you follow these tips, your baby will be nursing just fine. Before long, she will be old enough to try solid foods and won’t need those extra calories anymore. Until then, enjoy yourself — and don’t forget the lactation consultant!