Congratulations! You’re a mom for the first time, and your world is changing. Breastfeeding has probably never crossed your mind before you became pregnant, but right now your life is about to change.
In this article, we’ll discuss the first-time mom breastfeeding essentials. We’ll highlight everything you need to know or do as you grow up, enjoying this life-changing journey with your baby
First-Time Mom Breastfeeding Equipment
This breastfeeding equipment will make your life easier and help you provide adequate care to your little one.
Breast milk is the best food for your little one during his or her first years of life.
It contains all the needed nutrients to help your baby develop properly.
Below are some essential pieces of equipment that you need during your first experience with breastfeeding.
It helps to relieve the milk’s pressure and can help you have some time when your baby is hungry. Hospital-grade pumps are designed to use by multiple users. They’re mainly used to establish your milk supply if you’ve had twins, a premature baby, or having any trouble with breastfeeding, so the pump usually has a strong motor and is quite durable. The closed system prevents contamination.
You can either buy electric pumps or manual ones. The electric ones relieve the pressure off your hand as the pumping pressure is preset. You don’t have to worry because the motor does the work on your behalf. Manual breast pumps are more time-consuming but are affordable.
Most manual pumps are single, pumping the milk from one breast at a time. Electric models are either single or double. They can be used to pump milk from both breasts at the same time.
You can even try the hands-free pumping bra. It’s compatible with most pump horns and is machine-washable.
Check out our review of the best breast pump for first time moms here.
Choosing a baby bottle can be a little challenging because there are lots of options. Glass bottles are very safe because they contain no chemicals. They’re quite easy to clean and can be sanitized at very high temperatures for maximum safety. Glass also maintains the pure taste of the milk.
However, glass bottles are more expensive, and there’s always the chance of breaking. Moreover, they can be a little heavy for your little one.
For these reasons, some parents choose plastic bottles because they’re light, don’t break, and there are more models available. Nevertheless, plastic bottles aren’t that easy to clean due to scratches. They still contain some chemicals and are less durable.
Nanobébé bottles are available to help you store, cool, and warm breast milk. The design of the bottle resembles the shape of the natural breast to satisfy your baby’s needs. The bottle cools and warms 2 times faster than other milk bottles to preserve the milk’s nutrients. The double-vented system is also anti-colic.
Spare bottles will allow you to store milk for later use. The Medela bottles are compatible with the Medela breast pumps and will enable you to pump, store, and feed in one container. The bottle is dishwasher-safe and comes with easy to read measurement marks.
Tommee Tippee BPA-free bottles come with super sensitive nipples that flex just like the mother’s nipple. They’re made of silicone that feels just like skin. The anti-colic valve reduces excessive flow, and the bottles are easy to clean.
If you need glass bottles, you should consider the Philips Avent natural glass baby bottles. The bottles are heat and shock-resistant and feature an anti-flex venting technology that decreases the airflow to keep your baby comfortable. The wide breast-shaped nipple promotes a natural latch to satisfy your baby’s needs.
Milk bags come pre-sterilized to facilitate milk storage. Lansinoh milk bags are designed to lay flat for fast freezing and thawing of breast milk. They’re compatible with almost every brand of breast pumps and feature strong double zipper seals to prevent leakage.
Medela milk bags are designed to store milk in the freezer or while you’re traveling. You can make use of the free-standing design or the lay-flat feature to store milk in the most convenient setting. Each bag features a large area where you can write information regarding the storage and consumption of milk.
An overall sterilizer guarantees maximum safety. It uses high energy to kill bacteria and make sure that only clean and bacteria-free parts can get in touch with your baby’s milk and mouth.
This 3-in-1 model from Chicco sanitizes quickly and efficiently without any chemicals. You can keep different parts sanitized for up to 24 hours when it’s not opened.
A bottle brush is able to reach the bottom and corners of your baby’s milk bottle to make sure that all the residue is removed. This model from Dr. Brown’s features a sponge and a bristle head for thorough cleaning. It also comes with a pin to keep it stored next to the sink.
For some mothers, a breastfeeding pillow can help you feel more comfortable. For others, the baby might be sitting too high, especially during the first weeks after birth.
Some medical specialists advise against using a pillow, especially if the mother is too tired. It’s normal for some first-time moms to feel too tired and accidentally sleep while the baby is breastfeeding.
When the weight of the mother and her breast is pushed against the baby’s face, breathing will be jeopardized. Without the pillow, the baby has room to wiggle, and there’s body contact to alert the mother that something is wrong.
It might be a good idea to start wearing a breastfeeding or nursing bra even before your baby is due. These seamless and comfortable bras feature wide straps to support the breast, as you can expect an increase in size from 1 to 4 cups. This bra features easy to drop cups with single hand access, so you can feed your baby conveniently.
Nursing or breast pads are designed to absorb milk to prevent embarrassment and protect your clothing from stains. You will need a nursing pad as early as the first weeks after birth when your milk first comes in.
A pad is essential if you have an overabundant milk supply or if you’re spending time away from home for work. Some women also prefer to use pads while having sex with their partners, and they can also be worn while you’re sleeping.
These disposable pads from Lansinoh are super comfortable with a contoured fit. You can also use reusable pads made from bamboo for extra absorption. They’re eco-friendly and will fit perfectly in your bra.
A good nursing cover is made of soft and lightweight material, so you can breastfeed your baby comfortably in public. It features a semi-ring on the front, so you can keep an eye on your baby. It can also protect your baby from the sun in hot weather.
You might need some or all of the following products to facilitate your breastfeeding journey with your little one. A nipple shield is essential if you have a premature baby or if your nipples are too small. The shield holds the nipple, where the milk pools in the tip of the shield. You will also need it if you have flat or inverted nipples that your baby has a hard time to latch onto.
A breast shield or shell is slightly different as it covers the areola and allows your nipple to protrude through. It shouldn’t be worn while breastfeeding and can help fix the problems of flat nipples. Most women feel more comfortable with nipple or breast shields when they have sore or cracked nipples.
Nipple cream is another must-have to keep your nipples in top condition. This soothing cream from Lansinoh protects delicate skin.
If you’re looking for a burp cloth, you need to make sure that it’s efficiently absorbent to protect your clothing. It’s quite thick and is machine-washable.
Some first-time moms can struggle with the pain while breastfeeding. Hot and cold compresses can be used to relieve pressure and alleviate pain, so you can breastfeed your baby successfully.
Engorgement is quite common among first-time breastfeeding moms because the breasts haven’t fully adjusted to the baby’s feeding needs. The milk is collected in the ducts, and the breasts get swollen, causing pain and discomfort. You can use hot moist compress before nursing and cold compress after nursing to relieve this pain.
Hot compresses will also help clogged ducts as they stimulate the milk flow. You can use a hot compress to unclog a clogged nipple pore or milk bleb and should be used regularly to prevent this issue from happening again.
The Challenges of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is overwhelming on the physical and mental side. As your body adjusts to the tens of changes you’re experiencing, your mind needs to catch up, so you can be better prepared for the challenges ahead.
What to Expect Before Breastfeeding?
There’s no way you can know how breastfeeding will work out for you or your baby. Every journey is unique, and after having multiple babies, you will know that everything can change.
However, you need to know that your newborn already knows what to do, so together, both of you will learn to go through this journey. Your baby is born with the rooting and sucking reflexes, and once he or she finds your breast, they will know what to do.
You need to expect that there will be some discomfort. Breastfeeding is a full-time job, especially when your baby is too young. But it gets better as your baby grows, and you’re able to have more control over feeding times.
Dealing with Potential Problems
The first days and weeks after giving birth can be quite difficult. Fortunately, with time, everything gets better, and you and your little can become more comfortable and happier. You might feel that your nipples are sore, or they start to crack, but this gets better with proper care as your body adjusts to the new experience. Using nipple cream really helps.
The first and probably most difficult challenge is lack of sleep. Your baby needs to be fed regularly, and you might have to do that every 2 or 3 hours. This gets better with time, as you will be able to set better feeding schedules when your newborn is a little older.
Moms can face several issues while trying to breastfeed their babies. Naturally, your body will adjust according to the law of supply and demand. The more your baby feeds on your milk, the more milk the breast will produce. In some cases, unfortunately, things can be a little different.
Some mothers can have too little milk or an oversupply of milk. Consulting a lactation consultant will help you as you try to address the problem. In most cases, you can adjust your breastfeeding technique to match your baby’s needs.
If your unused breast feels too tight from too much milk, you can express a little amount without emptying it completely. If this method doesn’t work, you need to talk to your doctor. You can use pads to protect your clothes from leakages and relieve pressure by emptying your breast milk in storage bottles or bags to prevent engorgement.
Latching on problems can be temporary. You can use a nipple shield to help your baby, especially if you have smaller nipples. If this doesn’t work, you should consult a medical care pro vider to suggest the best solution
Some Tips for Breastfeeding your Newborn
In the first few weeks of your baby’s life, breastfeeding should be on-demand; whenever your baby wants. In most cases, your baby needs to be fed every 2 or 3 hours, which can be quite daunting for mothers. Here are some tips to help you schedule breastfeeding as your baby grows older.
It’s normal to try several breastfeeding positions to hold your baby before you can find the most comfortable one that works for both of you. Here are a few positions that you can try.
This is probably your first position because it feels intuitive. After your baby is born, he or she will be placed on your chest or tummy, and they will try to crawl to find your breast.
You can lay flat or use pillows and cushions to position yourself in the most comfortable way. This position works best if you have large breasts or your baby doesn’t like to be touched while feeding.
Your baby will lay on his side, stretching on your forearm while you’re sitting upright. You can use a pillow to support your arm or a breastfeeding pillow that won’t place your little one too high.
In this position, your baby is supported using the opposite arm, so this will work if your baby has latching problems.
This position will work if you have twins that you want to feed at the same time. You can cradle your baby facing upwards with a supportive pillow. While keeping your baby’s legs under your arm, use the same hand to support your baby’s neck.
Also known as upright hold, this position works by letting your baby straddle your thighs or hip. It works better if your baby is older and can sit upright. It will also work if your baby has ear infections or reflux.
This is a relaxing position that can be used at night or if you’ve had a C-section. You and your baby will sleep on the side facing each other, and you can enjoy looking at your baby while relaxing a little bit.
Dealing with Breastfeeding Challenges
Breastfeeding issues are common among first-time moms. Even if you have children before, you can still face some issues with your newborn. Here are some issues and the best way to handle them.
Low Milk Supply
Some women have pre-existing health conditions like PCOS or hormonal disorders that can affect milk supply. If this is the case, you need to contact a lactation or breastfeeding consultant. If your baby doesn’t latch on for enough time, you will also have a low milk supply, compared to a breastfeeding mom whose baby is keen on latching.
You might need to practice relaxation techniques while spending more time trying to have skin-to-skin contact with your little baby to stimulate the production of milk. Let your baby latch on for more time as this will stimulate the breast to produce more milk.
Your doctor might prescribe galactagogues to increase the milk supply. Some types of food and herbs can help with breast milk production. These include fenugreek, garlic, ginger, fennel, blessed thistle, brewer’s yeast, alfalfa, and spirulina. If this doesn’t work out, your baby might need the bottle after you’re done with the breastfeeding session, where you can use the formula or donor milk.
Too Much Milk
An oversupply of milk can be as problematic. The high rate of milk flow can make your baby uncomfortable or cause choking and spluttering. For you, the breast can feel too tight or even lumpy.
Just let your baby latch on for as long as they want to. You can also pump to relieve the pressure.
Block feeding can work to overcome this problem. You feed your baby from one breast for 3 or 4 hours, then switch to the other breast.
Baby is Unable to Latch
A poor or insufficient latch is another problem that can be quite frustrating to breastfeeding moms. As your baby becomes more frustrated because they can’t get any milk, they might start to refuse the breast altogether.
An electric pump can help you while you instruct your baby to improve their breastfeeding technique. You can also use a nipple shield to improve your baby’s latch.
This happens when the breast is full of milk, so it starts to feel lumpy and painful. If you’re unable to feed for a few hours, use a pump to express the milk and relieve the pressure before your breast gets too hard. You can also use hot compresses to help with the flow.
Blocked Milk Ducts
While there’s no clear cause of blocked milk ducts, in most cases, insufficient drainage can be the culprit. You should avoid wearing tight clothes and use hot compresses to improve the milk flow.
Use coconut oil to massage the ducts, especially near the armpits, and enjoy hot relaxing showers. Between feeds, use cold compresses to relieve the pain.
If you have an inverted or flat nipple, you can use a nipple shield. This also works if your baby is immature as the nipple shield allows the nipple to stretch enough to facilitate breastfeeding.
Nutrition for Breastfeeding Moms
1. When is breast milk ready during pregnancy?
Around the 15th week of your pregnancy, the milk-producing cells in your breast will become more active. You can experience some leakage of the colostrum in the third trimester before your baby is born. Your newborn will consume this special yellow liquid during the first few days, after which your breasts will become fuller, producing more milk.
2. What does letdown mean when pumping?
This is a reflex that happens after your baby has been feeding for about 2 minutes. The breast releases the milk as the oxytocin increases in your body due to the skin-to-skin contact with your baby.
If you’re pumping, you can increase the letdown reflex by relaxing while pumping, focusing on the picture of your little one, listening to a recording of your baby’s voice, and smelling an item of his or her clothing. You can also perform a breast massage or use a warm compress.
3. What is the importance of breastfeeding?
Mothers who breastfeed recover faster after delivery. It strengthens the bond with your child and can reduce the risk of breast cancer. For your baby, it protects against allergies, infections, obesity, and will help your baby grow and develop healthily.
4. Breastfeeding milk vs. formula: What is the difference?
Although the formula doesn’t provide the essential nutrients available in breastfeeding milk, it might be the only option if your baby has special dietary needs. Your baby can’t eat or drink anything but milk for at least 3 to 6 months, and you should pay the most attention to your little one’s nutrition and hydration.
5. How can I know that my baby wants to breastfeed?
Your baby will show several signs if they want your breast milk. They might start sucking fingers, rooting and opening their mouths, arching their back and moving their neck trying to find your breast, moving and wiggling, showing rapid eye movement, and at last crying. At this stage, your baby will be too distressed.
6. How to prevent cracked or sore nipples?
Make sure that you’re breastfeeding in a comfortable position, allowing your baby to latch on well. Allow your baby to breastfeed every 2 to 3 hours and keep the skin around the nipple healthy. Don’t use harsh soap to clean your breast or a rough towel to rub it after a shower. Use coconut oil or a nipple cream to condition the skin.
7. How long does a baby feed?
This changes as your baby grows. Breastfeeding sessions can last between 20 to 45 minutes for newborns. Your newborn baby needs to be fed every 2 or 3 hours, spending about 10 minutes on each breast per time.
When your baby is 3 months old, he or she can spend about 10 minutes to get all the milk they need. With the introduction of solid food around the 6th month, your baby will still prefer to be breastfed, especially at night. Toddlers can still enjoy breastfeeding, especially when they’re looking for comfort.
8. How much milk does a baby drink?
Your newborn’s stomach is the size of a cherry and will hold about 5 or 7 ml of milk. By the time your baby is 30 days old, the stomach becomes the size of an egg, holding about 150 ml of milk.
On the first day, your baby’s stomach can only hold a teaspoon of colostrum. You have to feed your baby constantly and increase the time between feeds as the baby grows.