Breastfeeding seminars

5 breastfeeding tips for a new mom, from experienced moms

You get a lot of information in the hospital and in pre and post natal classes about breastfeeding. But sometimes what you need is hands-on, real-world experience – and support. Here are five breastfeeding tips from experienced moms…and what they wish they had known when they first started.

August is National Breastfeeding Month.

1. Breastfeeding is super cool… but super weird at first

Breast milk is amazing! Out of nowhere, your body produces premium nutrition for your baby. Mad! Even so, breastfeeding for the first time may seem strange.

Before that, your boobs were probably only for sexy times. Then, in a single day, a restless little human has to suck them. Nursing changes the way you perceive your body. This once sexy private space is transformed into a very functional and necessary part of the body.

Just be warned, breastfeeding may seem strange at first. It will probably take some time to adjust to this new use of you. It’s normal, these feelings are totally normal.

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2. Breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone, and that’s okay

Every mother we meet has a different breastfeeding story. For the lucky few, nursing is like second nature. But for many, this comes with a whole host of challenges!

Sometimes your milk arrives late. Sometimes you don’t produce enough milk for your baby. Other times, mothers have to take medications that prevent them from breastfeeding. Some mothers have to work and breastfeeding and expressing their milk is difficult. Many babies are allergic to various proteins or foods in breast milk. Babies can be mute. Other babies suffer from reflux. Sometimes babies have trouble latching on properly. Some babies prefer a bottle, which means you can only pump your milk.

There are so many different reasons why breastfeeding may not be good for you and your baby. Each mother’s journey is unique. Really you are not alone if you’re dealing with bumps in the road or breastfeeding isn’t working for you. It really doesn’t matter if you can’t or choose not to breastfeed!

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3. Breastfeeding hurts

We don’t know why we didn’t realize it before baby. You put your softest skin — which before this pretty was almost always covered — through the ringer. From sore, cracked nipples to clogged ducts…breastfeeding can hurt! Lanolin relieves sore or cracked nipples and is safe for the baby. They seem to keep making great products for moms all the time. There are even nipple shields now! The good news is that it will get better as the weeks go on. That being said, if you are experiencing pain, especially excruciating pain, please speak to a doctor or breastfeeding specialist immediately, as some breastfeeding issues require medical intervention.

4. Introduce a bottle early or risk bottle rejection

Some breastfed babies will not take bottles. If this happens, it means that while your partner may want to help with feedings in the middle of the night, baby may just be accepting you. It can be a lot to manage! A way to make babies accept the bottle? Start early! Babies as young as two or three months will recognize a different feel, texture and smell right away. Listen to the advice of your doctor or lactation consultant of course, but what worked for us? Introduction of a bottle of breast milk at 2 to 4 weeks. See more tips on introducing your baby to a bottle.

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5. Your breasts will be seen in public

In public, we see new mums trying to sneak into a corner to breastfeed so as not to “disturb” anyone, or trying to cover their baby with a blanket – which often annoys baby. Listen: you and your baby are NOT the problem! A friend told us best: If I wanted to have a happy baby and not miss out on valuable social interactions, I was going to have to be brave and breastfeed this baby in public. I started with a lot of gear, but once this baby started crawling, I had to give up the blanket. Now I do my best to keep the boobs hidden using the clothes on my body, but I’m sure unsuspecting strangers have seen my rack on more than one occasion at this point.

If you decide to breastfeed or can breastfeed, you will find that it is a big step into the unknown and you have never done anything before. It’s a wonderful adventure with lots of ups and downs, just like the rest of parenthood!

Good luck, sweet new mom. You have this.

A version of this article originally appeared on Macaroni KID Richmond, Va.