The magic of breastfeeding lies in the bond you and your baby grow over time.
Initially, you will both struggle. You need time to learn how to latch and hold your baby. Your baby needs time to learn how to suckle properly.
Your feeding ‘superpowers’ will depend on a few factors, such as:
- Your milk supply. This will increase as time goes by. More demand often increases breast milk production.
- Your let-down reflex (in charge of the flow of milk to the nipple). You might struggle with this at the beginning. But, more time with your baby will make this easier.
- The baby’s latching abilities. Over time, the baby should take in as much of the areola as possible.
- Your baby’s attentiveness. If your child is sleepy or distracted, you will have a harder time breastfeeding.
These factors can affect the time you spend on each breast. By being aware of the progress both of you are making, you will identify a pattern.
This awareness can help make breastfeeding easier for both of you.
How to Breastfeed and Meet Your Baby’s Nutritional Needs
Breastmilk contains all the nutrients your baby needs in the first few months.
Giving your baby all the nutrition they need depends on a healthy feeding schedule.
Initially, your newborn will need about 20 minutes of nursing for each feed. This may be longer or shorter. It all depends on their breastfeeding skills.
Once their skills improve, they may spend 5 to 10 minutes on each breast.
Healthy breastfeeding requires you to alternate between both breasts.
Alternating between both breasts helps you keep up supply on both sides. It also reduces the risk of engorgement. Engorgement can be painful if your breasts fill up with milk with no outlet.
Once you understand how much time your baby spends on each feed, you can:
- Alternate breasts in the same feed. Start on one side and switch your baby to the other breast about halfway.
- Alternate which breast you offer first.
- Alternate breasts between feeds. This works best if your baby has a regular schedule.
Which Breast Should Your Start With?
Soon, you will learn that both you and your baby have a favorite breast. Often, your baby will dictate this choice for you.
As the adult in the relationship, you need to let go of your ‘bias’ and create time for both breasts.
There is no ‘good’ or ‘better’ breast. You need to find a balance between both of them.
There are several ways for you to identify which breast to start with, such as:
- Find a ring you can alternate between both hands. You can put it on the side you’ve started with at every feed and change it at the start of the next feed. Make the ring extra-special by having your child’s initials engraved in it.
- Use something as easily accessible as a scrunchie, bracelet, or hair tie. Place it on your wrist and alternate it at the beginning of each feed.
- Create a breastfeeding journal. If you enjoy journaling, this will be both therapeutic and productive. It’s also an opportunity to keep a record of all the little changes happening in your baby’s life.
Breastfeeding and Pumping: How to Find the Right Balance
Combining breastfeeding and pumping can help you create and maintain a healthy schedule.
If you’re still working, you can keep nourishing your baby even when you’re on the go.
It also makes it easier for you to get help. Your partner or other caregivers in the home can use the pumped milk to keep up with the feeds.
If you are pumping and breastfeeding you need to find your beat and create your own rhythm.
Every process is unique to the individual and will depend on a few factors such as:
- Your current feeding schedule.
- Support available in the home.
- Your parenting schedule, especially if you spend time away from your baby.
Combining Breastfeeding and Pumping
Breast milk production increases with increased demand.
The more you breastfeed, the more milk you supply. The same happens when you pump.
If you’re having trouble breastfeeding, pumping can help you. It will protect you from breast engorgement and swelling. It also ensures your milk supply continues even if you don’t breastfeed as often.
If possible, you should wait until the second week after birth before you start pumping. This gives your body enough time to establish a steady milk supply.
If you combine breastfeeding and pumping, you should:
Create a Pumping Schedule Suited to Your Lifestyle
As you’ll soon learn, there is no silencing a hungry baby.
Your first priority should be feeding your munchkin. After they are full and burped, you can start pumping.
This helps you maintain a regular breastfeeding schedule. Pumping helps you get the extra milk left after breastfeeding.
If you cannot pump after every feed, pump in the morning. This gives your body an opportunity to provide the best supply.
It also helps you establish an alternative source of milk should your supply reduce during the day.
Create Realistic Expectations
Pumping while breastfeeding will get ugly.
You will have different struggles such as:
- Your supply will not be consistent. It will change over time. If you have set goals for yourself, this can be stressful, affecting milk production.
- Interruptions in your pumping schedule. This can be from your baby, other children in the home, or life’s demands.
- Breast health over time. If you get a breast swelling or infection, it can affect your ability to pump. This can interrupt milk production, making it hard for you to pump.
- Your baby rejecting milk in a bottle. Once your baby gets used to the breast, getting them to take on the bottle will take time. This can be frustrating, especially if you’re looking to reduce breastfeeding sessions.
Be kind to yourself, there is no right or wrong way.
Every day will be different. If you embrace this notion, you can take it one day at a time.
As a mom, you only need to do your best. Sometimes, this means being open to alternative nutritional sources for your baby.
You also need to take care of your nutrition. Maintain a healthy diet and staying hydrated helps boost your milk supply.
If you are pumping while breastfeeding, you can:
- Breastfeed on one breast as you pump on the other. You can have a partner help you or get an automatic pump.
- Separate breastfeeding and pumping sessions. You can breastfeed exclusively in the night and pump during the day. If you are working, this can help you manage both processes.
- Invest in the right breast milk pumps. The right equipment can simplify the process for you.
Staying Healthy While Breastfeeding
The time you spend on each breast will often depend on the health of your breasts.
Instead of worrying about the timings, you should focus on your health.
Both you and your baby depend on the health choices you make. You should prioritize choices around:
Your Mental Health
Start by setting realistic expectations.
Being a mother makes you a superhero, but, all the best heroes need some self-care.
Your routine should include simple practices such as:
- At least 5 minutes of quiet time away from your devices and people.
- A few minutes of physical activity. This can be a few minutes on the treadmill or running after your toddler.
- Drinking water and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Asking for help from your partner, friends, or relatives.
- Accepting help when offered. The strongest heroes make use of the help available to them.
Your Physical Health
Once you check in on your mental health, think about your physical health. This should include the health of your breasts.
This will include:
- Creating a routine to create time for physical activity. You can choose to include your baby in your physical activities. It can be as simple as taking a walk together or participating in ‘mother-baby’ yoga sessions.
- Dressing appropriately. Often, this begins with your undergarments.
You can start by investing in a quality nursing bra from New Bloom Maternity.
You will need an everyday maternity bra for:
- All-day comfort. If you’re spending your day in a bra, you need a comfortable bra made from high-quality fabric.
- Easy access to the breasts. Whether you are breastfeeding or pumping, you will need easy access to your breasts.
- Extra padding to protect you from leaks when breast milk production increases.
Enjoy easy and convenient feeding sessions with the Everyday Maternity Bra from New Bloom.
Shop the New Bloom collection of nursing and maternity bras from the comfort of your home today.
Feature Image: health.com