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Breastfeeding 101

Breastfeeding 101

Breastfeeding can be a beautiful journey with a lot to learn, and maybe with a few bumps along the road, so we’re here to help prepare you with some “Breastfeeding 101” to empower you from day one.

The first thing to keep in mind is that this is a personal decision and everyone’s journey is different. The more you learn about how to breastfeed, the better prepared you will be to make these decisions for you and your family. 

Learning the Basics

Breastmilk is a wonderful blend of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that your little one needs to grow and flourish. It also contains the enzymes, white blood cells, and immune-boosting antibodies to help keep your child as safe as possible.

When learning how to breastfeed and finding the breastfeeding positions that work best for you and your baby, it may take some experimentation. Good starter positions are: cradle hold, cross-cradle hold and the football hold. At the beginning of each feeding, look for the depth of the latch, and the position of the baby's mouth. Establishing a good latch will help ensure that your baby is getting enough milk and that your breast is completely emptied, which signals your body to make more milk in preparation for that next feeding.

Hunger cues will become second nature with time, but it is important to become familiar with signs that your baby is hungry. The first thing to remember is that it is okay for your child to nurse as long and as frequently as they want – they’re hungry! If you see your baby moving their hands or fists to their mouth, searching for a breast, or you hear sucking noises, it’s time to eat. 

And, don’t worry! Your newborn knows when to stop eating. Once your baby relaxes and turns away from the nipple, they are probably indicating that they’re done. Just make sure your baby is producing wet and dirty diapers – that’s the proof they’re getting plenty to eat. 

How & When to Start Breastfeeding

You’re not only wondering how to breastfeed, but also wondering when to start? The best time is now! Most full-term, healthy babies are ready to breastfeed within hours after birth. Those early hours are also a special time for bonding between the mother and the child. This “skin to skin” contact will comfort your baby (and you!), keep them warm, and help stimulate that first feeding session. Skin to skin also helps your milk to come in, which typically happens 2-5 days after birth for most moms.

What Age Do you Stop Breastfeeding?

According to the World Health Organization, the recommendation is that your baby is exclusively breastfed for the first six months. While that’s the recommendation, it’s not always reality. You may choose to breastfeed for two days, or for two years, depending on many factors such as latching difficulty, infant health, work environments, and cultural norms. This is a decision for you and your family to make, and whatever you decide is right for you is absolutely fine. But, in general breastfed babies may start to self-wean once they start to consume solid food. For optimal nutrition and brain development, babies under one year old should be getting most of their nutrients from milk. 

Do I Need to Pump?

It is not necessary to pump to have a successful breastfeeding journey! However, you may choose to for various reasons, such as helping build supply, the freedom to be away from baby, certain medications, to build a freezer stash, or so a partner can feed your little one. If you’re trying to build up your milk supply, pump in between nursing sessions, and if you're pumping when away from your baby, it will replace feedings you’re missing.

Staying Healthy While Breastfeeding

You may have questions, such as how to stay healthy while breastfeeding, or does almond milk help lactation. The most important part of staying healthy while breastfeeding is maintaining a healthy diet and staying hydrated. A healthy blend of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins is paramount to support milk production. There are foods that have been found to be lactogenic, such as almond milk which could assist with breastmilk production.

It is recommended that you avoid herbs such as peppermint, menthol, parsley, sage, as well as decongestants and antihistamines. These are known to lower milk supply and could even dry it up.

Some studies suggest that the foods you eat make their way into the breastmilk and begin exposing your baby to those flavors - supporting the development of an adventurous eater from day one. This is an exciting opportunity to help shape your baby’s future preferences and indulge in some extra veggies!