Tips for Strugglig Breastfeeding Moms

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I recently encouraged a new mom who was having difficulties breastfeeding and thought it might be beneficial to others to post some tips for making things easier.  There are many different struggles that a new mom and baby can have.  After all, baby has just been through a traumatic experience being born and now we are expecting her to work for her food!  Sometimes this comes easy for mom and baby, but sometimes it does not. 

For those who are struggling (or know someone who is) I would love to give you some tips on how to help baby latch on properly and make this transition easier for both mom and baby.  My qualifications are that I have had 5 babies :) and each one has nursed differently.  Also I was a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for WIC (Women Infants and Children) when our 4th baby was a baby/toddler.

Breastfeeding is hard work for the baby.  There is quite a bit more involvement than with bottle feeding.  This is simply because there is not much sucking involved when using a bottle as the liquid inside tends to drip out easily.  You may notice this as you turn a full bottle upside down.  You can turn natural feeding any way you wish, but it rarely drips out!  So baby has to suck vigorously to stimulate milk flow and then continue almost a rhythmic pattern to keep things going smoothly.   Some babies are born with natural sucking instincts and don't have any trouble breastfeeding.  Others have to be taught.  If you have one that needs a little coaxing, don't despair.  It will all work out.  Just don't give up.

One of the first things I like to encourage a new mom to do is to

try lying down to nurse the baby
Since mom is so exhausted from delivery and stressed from lack of sleep and probably too many visitors, etc. it is a good idea for her to lie down any chance she gets.  Mom needs to lie on her side and use lots of pillows; one behind her back, one between her knees, and one or two under her head.  Then have a blanket rolled to put behind baby (in a minute).  Before mom gets all comfortable though, she should remove her shirt so she will have less to worry about. 

After mom is comfortable and taken a few sips of cold water, have dad or grandma to bring baby to her.  Baby should be undressed down to her diaper so that mom and baby can have that skin-to-skin contact.  Position baby on her side facing mom and place blanket roll behind baby.  You do not want baby to lie on her back and try turning her head to mommy.  This is very uncomfortable to baby and is harder for her to swallow.  Have you ever tried to swallow while having your head turned to the side?  It is nearly impossible.

Now just tickle baby's mouth with the nipple to let her begin "rooting".  Then when she opens her mouth wide, gently, but quickly push the back of her head to help her latch on.  You may have to try this a few times to get it to work, but things should begin to go smoothly soon.

Some of the advantages of nursing while lying down is that mom is not having to worry about holding baby, fighting with clothes, blankets or anything else that might get in the way.  In the comfort of your own bed, just baby and you, breastfeeding will become relaxing instead of a chore.

Another tip for helping mom to be able to relax is to apply heat to those tired achy muscles.  Put uncooked rice in an old sock with just a hint of lavender/chamomille.  Heat in microwave for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes (do not overheat).  The lavender/chamomille is a relaxing herb.  The combination of the herbs and heat will provide relaxation to a tired mommy.

Remember what your goal is. 

Breastfeeding is a healthy choice for you and baby.  I'd love to help you walk through this process.  Let me know if this was helpful or if I could be of any other assistance.  Hang in there and you will be glad for the end rewards!


Homemakers Cottage said...

Excellent post, Sis. Niki! I LOVE nursing my babies but it hasn't always been easy. My biggest hurdle has always been low milk supply, especially with our boys... any tips or suggestions on that issue?


Niki said...

Drink lots of water...gallons...almost literally. I have also struggled with this issue. I know it is better when I drink lots of water. I even tried some herbs that were supposed to help, but was unable to afford to take them long enough to notice any difference. One of them was marshmallow and I don't remember the other one. I learned from my training as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor that all women produce the same amount of milk, but that each woman has different size milk ducts. I'm not sure if I totally agree with this though. I've always struggled with low milk supply. The women who tell stories of feeling able to feed triplets etc. make me jealous almost. :) Just be encouraged that you are doing the best you can and God gives you exactly what you and baby need.

BTW it was a blessing to get to see you last week and talk face-to-face about mommy things! You were an encouragement to me.

Love ya!

Homemakers Cottage said...

You were SUCH an encouragement to me, girl!! I'm still soaking in that good fellowship!!

Thanks for the tips... glad I'm not the only one who feels like she's starving her baby. :( Seriously, I feel so BAD that I sometimes run out of milk when he still wants to nurse (it doesn't help that he's a bit of a piggy!). To make matters worse, he's a skinny little guy and I feel personally responsible!!

At what age did you start your babies on solids or rice cereal? I waited until 5 mos with my last two but am considering starting sooner with Cole... I really want him to start filling out. He's just now 3 mos old... it still seems too early to offer him "food"... so I'm holding out and trying to keep my milk supply up. Any thoughts?

Niki said...

It sounds like you are feeling the same way I did of Courtney. Her metabolism is different than all my other babies. She is thinner and has less of an appetite than I've ever experienced. I ususally offered 1tbs of rice cereal mixed with 1/2 water and 1/2 white grape or apple juice to my babies between 2 and 3 months. They usually would get a little dribble in, but would not start eating it regularly until 3 or 4 months. Courtney is a different story. She wouldn't eat the cereal or much of any thing I tried to feed her. Not trying to sound totally negative here. We've just never had a more "lean" baby. One positive thought is that she stays in the same size clothes longer!

As for the rest of my babies, they tasted cereal and loved it. It immediately put more fat on their bones and they seemed more satisfied. I would go ahead and give Cole a little bit and see if it helps him. My Tyler was my biggest eater (still is :-) ) and he yummed cereal and everything else up! Cole may just need an extra little something to put in his tummy because he never feels quite full enough. It's something those precious "piggy" babies need! :-)

Please let me know how he does if you decide to introduce cereal to him. I'd love to hear it!

Anonymous said...

Before my first baby was born, I heard from a very experienced B/F mother that taking Brewer's Yeast would increase the milk supply and makes it richer. I tried it before waiting to find out if it was needed and had too much milk!