During those first few weeks with your newborn, you will feel like breastfeeding takes all your days. Your baby is pretty much attached to your breast around the clock and the responsibility to provide adequate nutrition for your baby is all on you.
It can get exhausting and stressful, but also the most beautiful bonding moments that you can spend with your new baby.
Breastfeeding can be simple or difficult depending on how you approach it. You can make it hard on yourself if you have a negative view about it, however, if you approach it positively, breastfeeding can be the easiest way to feed your baby.
Of course, there is definitely a learning curve in the beginning of breastfeeding. It’s not just the mom that is learning a whole new approach to feeding, but your baby too.
You both have to be on the same wavelength to really make it work, but it is definitely possible!
Best Breastfeeding Hacks for the Stressed Out Mama
Here are some tips, tricks, and hacks that I’ve learned after breastfeeding two little ones. The key to being successful at breastfeeding is finding little ways to make it easier on yourself and your baby.
Also, check out my Tips to be Successful at Breastfeeding from Day One.
General Breastfeeding Tips for Home
1. Make a portable breastfeeding basket
Due to the fact that you’ll be breastfeeding constantly while you’re home, you want to set up a little station or basket that is easily accessible while you’re nursing.
Your newborn may be attached to your breast for 45 minutes at a time and you NEVER want to disrupt a feeding newborn! Therefore, make sure everything that you may need is easily accessible and within reach.
Also, since you may not always be nursing in the same spot, make it a portable station that you can carry around with you.
Be sure to include what is needed out of these items:
- A bottle of water
- Nursing pads
- Lanolin cream
- Ameda Gel Pads
- Haakah or milk cups
- Teething necklace (3+ months)
- Burp cloth
- Television Remotes
- Hair tie
- Cell phone and charger
- Snack packs
- Cup to put Haakah or pump in
- Breast pump, bottles or storage bags (if you’re pumping the other breast while nursing)
- Nursing cover (if you have guests over)
- Extra shirt for mom and onesie for baby
- Anything else you need to occupy your attention while stuck in a chair for 45 minutes.
2. Hair tie on the wrist of the last breast you fed on
When breastfeeding, you need to switch back and forth between each breast. You want to start your breastfeeding session on the breast that you ended on last.
Therefore, if you started on the right breast, then switched to the left before ending, you want to start on the left one the next time you feed your baby.
Always keep a hair tie on your wrist (and in your breastfeeding basket) so you can alternate it as you nurse, making sure to start on the correct breast the next time.
3. Feeding tracker app
Download an app like Baby Tracker or Glow, or jot down information by hand, such as: Start times of each feeding, which breast the baby was on (R or L), and how long the baby was feeding, for each nursing session.
It can be tough to remember all this information so keeping it all in an app on your phone is the perfect solution.
4. Nursing pillow: My Breast Friend
It straps high around your waist to provide more support for you and the baby. There’s no need to hunch over while feeding so it really saves your back.
You can also walk around with your baby easily nursing on you!
5. Large jug of water
Breastfeeding makes you soooo thirsty! Always have a large jug of water close by (especially before sitting down to breastfeed). You’ll need it!
6. A comfortable nursing bra
A comfortable nursing bra can seriously make all the difference in your comfort while nursing. When your breasts are achy, you want good support and ease from your bra.
Kindred Bravely French Terry Nursing Bra is so soft and comfortable and perfect for all day wear and sleeping. It makes your breasts easily accessible and I literally spend 24 hours in them because they feel like air while sleeping.
7. Continue your prenatal vitamin
The vitamins and minerals that were vital during pregnancy are still crucial to take while breastfeeding. You can continue your previous vitamin or start taking a Postnatal Vitamin, which provides similar nutrients for both you and your breastfed baby.
This way, you don’t have to worry if your baby is receiving adequate nutrients just from the foods you are eating.
If you don’t know about this nifty little invention, get one ASAP! If you are a woman with an average milk supply or oversupply, this is for you.
This small manual breast pump attaches to the opposite breast that you are feeding on and provides mild suction to dispense any additional milk out.
You’re not taking any milk away from your baby, but the milk that would just drip out from your let-down is contained and saved for later use. Otherwise, it would just end up saturating a nursing pad.
9. Enlist the help of your partner
Don’t think that you have to do everything on your own just because you’re the one feeding your baby! After breastfeeding is done, hand off the baby to your partner for the burping and diaper changes.
10. Feel confident feeding your baby after drinking
If you’ve had a little too much alcohol to drink and are worried about whether or not you should feed your baby or pump-and-dump, you’re covered!
These little strips will test for the presence of alcohol in your breastmilk by determining the pH levels. It will let you know whether the breastmilk is safe enough to give to your baby.
If you’re pumping, just dip it in the pumped milk. If you don’t plan on pumping, express a little bit on the end of the strip and wait. They work great at helping me to feel confident the I’m safely feeding my baby after a couple glasses of wine.
11. Take a Breastfeeding Course
There is seriously so much overwhelming information out there about everything from pregnancy to parenting and all that’s in between. Find a course that you trust that will give you plenty of informative and honest information.
This Breastfeeding Course from Milkology is seriously everything you will need to learn the basics and tricks of breastfeeding. Reading information can be so confusing, but watching videos is much easier for you to absorb all the info.
The Milkology Course goes over everything from latch to how much your baby should take to healing sore nipples. It’s definitely worth the small fee and your time to watch this informative video.
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Making Baby Happy
12. Switch the hold, not just the side
If your baby is starting to eat a little bit less on one breast, you are probably inclined to switch him to the other breast to finish his feeding. However, before you do that, you can keep him on the same breast, but switch his positioning.
Coming in at a different angle may help him latch a little better and get more milk that he wasn’t receiving before. It will seem like a whole new breast to him!
This way you will ensure they are getting all the hind/fatty milk that’s left on the one side.
So transfer from the football hold to the cross cradle before you switch sides. Check out a guide to all of the nursing positions here.
13. Make sure they get the fattiest milk
There are two different types of milk that your body produces: fore milk (like skim milk) and hind milk (like whole milk). The hind milk is the fatty stuff that will fill your baby up and keep them satisfied and gaining weight.
That extra thick, dark white stuff that’s always left in the storage bags after you pump it out: that’s the good stuff! Make sure that doesn’t get tossed out.
This milk always comes at the end of a feeding. To ensure that your baby is getting this milk, make sure they are staying on one breast until it’s empty.
Your baby will sleep better and gain weight if you ensure that they are getting enough of that.
14. Strip the baby down
On top of the fact that your newborn is always sleepy, nursing makes them even more tired. Before you start feeding them, strip them down to just their diaper.
The little chill that they will get will help them to stay awake a little bit longer and maximize their milk intake.
15. Cue your let down before starting to feed baby (hot shower)
Some babies may get frustrated that it could take 30 seconds to 1 minute before the let down occurs and they receive the milk. If your baby is one of them, try to initiate the let down yourself before they start suckling.
You can do this by taking a quick, hot shower, starting to pump for just a minute or two, or manually massaging your breast and nipple.
When your baby reaches the 3 or 4 month mark, he will start grabbing at everything while he is nursing, including your hair, mouth, and necklaces.
Give him something to play with and look at to distract him from clawing at your face or fancy jewelry. These chewlery necklaces are made of food-grade silicone so they’re completely safe for your little one.
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Pumping and Storage Tips
17. Use flanges as a funnel
This is a simple way to ensure that all your milk goes straight in the bags or bottles when pouring. Use the flange from your breast pump to funnel the milk right in and decrease the risk of spillage.
18. Place used pump parts in refrigerator instead of washing after each use
One of the most annoying parts of pumping is washing the parts after each use. Add the baby’s bottles on top of that and you could feel like you spend the entire day at the sink.
Non-contaminated (not drank) breastmilk will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 6 days. Therefore, if there is a little bit of breastmilk on the pump, it’s safe to keep that refrigerated until your next pumping session.
Just stick it in a ziplock and you’re good to go. You should still wash them more frequently than 6 days, however, just know that your refrigerated milk will not contaminate the new milk.
19. Put your Haakah or Pump in a Cup to Prevent Tipping
Ah the dreaded ‘spilled milk’ phrase has a whole new meaning when relating to breastmilk. After you’ve worked so hard at pumping that precious liquid gold, only to see it tip over and spill everywhere, really hurts.
Therefore, when you set down your haakah or open bottles/pumps, always secure them in a cup or glass! No matter how careful that you think you will be, there is always an accident waiting to happen.
20. Hands-free pumping bra
Don’t be stuck holding your breast pump for 30 minutes so you can’t get anything done!
This is a lifesaver if you’re pumping at least once a day. This Simple Wishes Hands-Free Pumping Bra does the trick to give you a hands-free experience while pumping.
You can also find a simple DIY tutorial here on making your own hands-free pumping bra here.
21. Purchase extra pump parts
Don’t make yourself have to worry about constantly washing your pump parts after every session or even daily. If you have a few extra sets, you will feel much more at ease when it comes to staying on top of dishes- which as a busy mom is very tough!
Related Post: How to Make Breastfeeding Work as a Busy Mom
22. Pump into bags
Pumping into bottles is a waste of time if you’re preparing to freeze the milk. If you’re pumping to use the milk right away, I guess that will work for you, but otherwise, use the bags!
You will probably have to purchase an adapter to pump directly into bags, but it will save you so much time and room in your fridge! Depending on the pump that you have (for example, this adapter is for the Spectra), choose the adapter that will connect to it best.
This eliminates having to pump into a bottle and then pour into a bag for transport, storage, or freezing.
23. Store pumped milk laying flat
This method of storage saves the most space because the milk will freeze flat instead of all leaning toward one side of the bag.
Read more tips here about storing breast milk in the freezer and refrigerator.
24. Wearable breast pump
A hands-free, wearable breast pump like the Fremie Liberty or Willow is the ultimate lifesaver (especially if you have more than one child). The ability you have to use your hands while pumping is amazing.
These wearable breast pumps just slip into your bra so you don’t need to be plugged in, hold anything, or have any pump parts dangling from your chest. You’re free to go out in public without anyone knowing you’re pumping!
The only downfall is that insurance does not typically cover them (however it’s worth a shot to try through Aeroflow Breastpumps). So they are paid for out-of-pocket and can carry a hefty price tag.
Check out my whole post on My Honest Review of the Fremie Breast Pump
25. Boob-like bottles
For the times when you do have to give bottles, you want them to imitate your breast as much as possible. This is so your baby doesn’t end up preferring the bottle over the breast (making your life a lot more difficult).
I love Phillips Avent Natural baby bottles for this purpose. These perfectly form to your baby’s mouth and are very closely-shaped to a breast.
Another trick is to continue using the lowest flow nipple for as long as possible. Breastfeeding is typically harder for them and the flow of milk is slower.
Therefore, you don’t want to move them up to an easier nipple because that will confuse them of the difference between the breast and the bottle.
Related Post: 19 Tips to Try When Your Baby is Refusing to Breastfeed
Pain and Soreness Tips
26. Hot shower for breast engorgement
A hot shower is the ultimate pain relief for when your milk comes in and your breasts feel so full and rock hard. It even feels great anytime you need to manually release some milk.
Just be careful not to express too much in the shower because your body will keep producing that much milk thinking that your baby needs it.
These were by far my favorite breastfeeding accessory! My nipples were soooo sore after the first couple nursing sessions that I could barely tolerate my baby’s feeding.
You can put these Gel Pads in the refrigerator so they are cool and keep them on your breasts in between nursing sessions. They basically just numb the pain and provide a cooling and soothing feeling for your nipples. Honestly, I may have given up nursing if it wasn’t for these.
For more tips on managing pain from the first few weeks of breastfeeding, read my post on Saving your Nipples While Nursing your Newborn
Nursing On-The-Go Tips
28. Breast pump bag
Make your pumping on-the-go needs even more convenient by getting a breast pump bag. This bag is gorgeous and has back pack straps, insulation pouches for milk storage, and plenty of space for your pump and parts.
If you’re going to be carrying this bulky pump around, you might as well have something stylish and easy to carry it in.
Related Post: Tips for Breastfeeding as a Working Mom
29. Nursing-friendly shirts
You can purchase special nursing tops where you can easily slip out a breast to nurse, however I find these styles unattractive and expensive! You don’t need special nursing shirts to breastfeed your baby.
You’ve already spent enough money on maternity clothes, so it’s time to feel fashionable again! It’s much better to buy clothing that you can wear when you’re not breastfeeding or pregnant again.
Embrace all the button and zipper down shirts that you possibly can. These are the easiest tops to nurse in and you can find them almost anywhere.
30. Infinity scarf or muslin blanket as a nursing cover
If you’re on a budget and don’t want to purchase a nursing cover, you can always use a scarf or muslin blanket to cover you up.
You can lay or position the scarf or blanket over the baby just so they’re covered enough, but no too covered. The lightweight material in muslin scarves make for a great, breathable fabric to lay over your baby.
Most babies get hot when they’re laying under a nursing cover, so this allows them more freedom to breathe and move. Samantha at Breastfeeding World gave some great outfit options for this style.
31. Nursing tank under a flowy shirt
This is a great tip when you’re out in public or have company. If you’re wearing a shirt that you can’t pull down from the top, you’ll leave your belly exposed when your baby is nursing.
If you wear a nursing tank, underneath a larger shirt, you can just unhook the top while leaving the bottom covering your belly. Then, place the baby under the larger shirt and you won’t have any skin exposed!
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Did you benefit from any of these tips or do you have any further hacks to share?