Nursing Tips and Tricks
New mothers choose to breastfeed their babies for a variety of reasons, but whatever the logic is behind your decision, the Breakout Bras wants you to know we support you 100%. That’s why we’ve collected a few tips and tricks to make your nursing experience as pleasant as possible. Happy feeding!
1. Breastfeed your baby as soon as possible. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “Within minutes after your baby is born, breastfeeding can begin.” More importantly, nursing immediately after birth allows your newborn to consume what’s called colostrum, a sticky, yellow milk packed full of proteins, vitamins, antibodies, healthy fats, and other valuable nutrients. It’s incredibly concentrated liquid gold for your infant!
The American Pregnancy Association lists several benefits for newborns who consume colostrum including its ability to help “build a strong immune system, create a tough coating on your baby’s stomach to keep germs from causing illness, act as a laxative to help your baby pass meconium (the dark first poop), prevent jaundice, [and] give your baby’s brain, eyes and heart the right blend of nutrients to grow.” Some neuroscience professionals even add that feeding your baby within an hour of birth can strengthen your ability to bond and encourage the infant to nurse more willingly in the future.
2. Wash your hands before each feeding. According to the Center for Disease Control, “Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.” This understanding of sanitation has become somewhat commonplace; it's why you see permanent restroom signs prompting employees to wash their hands before they return to work. However, it can be easy to forget a wash, especially for a busy mother on the go. Still, we would encourage you to be intentional about keeping those hands clean, and make sure you’re soaping up correctly.
According to the Mayo Clinic, it is vital to wash one’s hands with hot, running water for at least 20 seconds and to carefully scrub one’s wrists, palms, and fingernails. Ironically, the clinic also prompts people to “skip the antibacterial soaps [because] antibacterial soaps, such as those containing triclosan, are no more effective at killing germs than is regular soap. Using antibacterial soap might even lead to the development of bacteria that are resistant to the product's antimicrobial agents — making it harder to kill these germs in the future.” After washing and rinsing your hands thoroughly, the Mayo Clinic also encourages you to dry them with a clean towel, using the towel to turn off the faucet.
Each day, you come in contact with countless germs that make you susceptible to viruses and bacteria; however, years of exposure have allowed you to build immunities to most potential diseases. Unfortunately, your baby’s immune system has not had the chance to develop well enough to fight off dangerous viruses and bacteria, so it’s crucial that you limit the number of germs you introduce by washing your hands as often as possible. If you don’t have access to running water, a generous portion of hand sanitizer containing a minimum of a 60% alcohol content will do the trick in a pinch.
3. Don’t feel chained to any one feeding position. Many women fall into the pit of feeling limited to one or two breastfeeding positions, but there are several options available when positioning your infant for nursing. Making both yourself and your baby comfortable it important for boosting morale and encouraging you not to give up in favor of formula. Check out some of these suggestions from whattoexpect.com:
"Position your baby so his or her head rests in the bend of your elbow of the arm on the side you'll be breastfeeding, with the hand on that side supporting the rest of the body. Cup your breast with your other hand, placing your thumb above your nipple and areola at the spot where your baby’s nose will touch your breast. Your index finger should be at the spot where your baby’s chin will make contact with the breast. Lightly compress your breast so that the nipple points slightly toward your baby's nose. Baby’s now ready to latch."
"Hold your baby's head with the hand opposite to the breast you’ll be nursing from (i.e. if nursing from the right breast, hold the head with your left hand). Rest your wrist between your baby’s shoulder blades, your thumb behind one ear, your other fingers behind the other ear. Using your free hand, cup your breast as you would for the cradle hold."
"Also known as the clutch hold, this position is especially useful if you have:
Had a C-section and want to avoid placing your baby against your abdomen
A small or premature baby
Position your baby at your side, facing you, with baby's legs are tucked under your arm (yes, like a football) on the same side as the breast you're nursing from. Support your baby’s head with the same hand, and use your other hand to cup your breast as you would for the cradle hold."
Laid-back position (“biological nursing”)
"This one can be particularly helpful for moms who have smaller breasts. Lean back on a bed or couch, well supported by pillows, so that when you put your baby tummy-to-tummy onto your body, head near your breast, gravity will keep him or her molded to you. Your baby can rest on you in any direction, as long as the whole front of the body is against yours and he or she can reach your breast. Your infant can naturally latch on in this position, or you can help by directing the nipple toward your little one's mouth. Once baby is set up at your breast, you don’t have to do much besides lie back and relax."
"This position is a good choice when you’re breastfeeding in the middle of the night. Both you and your baby should lie on your sides, tummy to tummy. Use your hand on the side you’re not lying on to cup your breast if you need to. You may want to place a small pillow behind your baby’s back to hold him or her close."
While there is no right or wrong way to hold your baby as you breastfeed, certain positions may aid new mothers in combating a their babies’ gas, acid reflux, preference for one breast over the other, etc. For more information, check out The Bump’s post “8 Breastfeeding Positions to Make Nursing Easier.” Improving your nursing experience could be as simple as adjusting the way you cradle your baby.
4. Avoid mastitis at all costs. One of the worst things a nursing mother can experience is mastitis, a painful infection caused by blocked milk ducts. According to Web MD, “Many women with mastitis feel like they have the flu, including achiness, chills, and a fever of 101 F or higher.” It is estimated that one in ten nursing women can experience mastitis because they are either unable to feed or pump regularly or because their garments are compressing their milk ducts. Tell-tale signs of mastitis are tenderness, redness, and heat radiating from a woman’s breast tissue.
If a woman is diagnosed with mastitis while she is not nursing, she can take antibiotics to fight off the infection. Unfortunately, nursing mothers are unable to take antibiotics, so they must fight off infections naturally. The University of Michigan advises women suffering from mastitis to “ help [themselves] feel better by getting more rest, drinking more fluids, and using warm or cold packs on [their] painful breasts.” They can also take Advil or Tylenol for the fever and pain. The University of Michigan also provides a list of tips for preventing mastitis including breastfeeding regularly (every one to three hours), treating cracked nipples with a “lanolin-based cream,” allowing nipples to air-dry between feedings, and purchasing a bra that avoids pressing on milk ducts.
5. Trust the fitters at Breakout Bras. As a woman’s body prepares for birth, her breasts begin to change, and shopping for nursing bras can be an emotional and intimidating experience. The fiitters at Breakout Bras do everything possible to show new mom’s they are valued by providing personalized fittings that account not only for women’s measurements, but also for their rib cages and tissue profiles. Many Breakout Bras fitters are mothers themselves and can offer first-hand advice to customers by drawing from their personal experiences and strong understandings of the store’s merchandise.
Breakout Bras offers the largest range of cup sizes available on the nursing bra market in both underwire and non-underwire styles. While many nursing gurus and doctors advise against underwire styles because they may put women at greater risk for mastitis, Breakout Bras fitters are specially trained to fit women in their correct sizes which eliminates any potential risk. Whether a woman is looking for a transition bra or her first true nursing bra, they’ll be able to put her in something that is flattering and comfortable. Breakout Bras allows women to find nursing bras that give both confidence and support. The store’s garments are more than functional, they’re attractive and exactly what new mothers need.