Breastfeeding Tips and Tricks

We’ve all heard that breast is best, but even though you know that breastfeeding helps you bond with your child, protects both you and your little one against illness, and is even better for the environment (and your wallet!), it can also be a painful and emotional experience. What if the baby isn’t latching? What if your nipples are cracking or bleeding? What if you just don’t want to do it anymore? We’ve gathered these ten tips and tricks to make breastfeeding a little bit easier (dare we say enjoyable?).

  • Think about crying babies. Can’t get your milk to let down? When you’ve got about ten minutes to pump in the break room between meetings, you’ve got to get that milk to flow fast. When you think about your child – or any crying baby – your body releases oxytocin, which stimulates milk let-down. You can even bring a picture of a sad baby with you into work, although we might not recommend that.
  • Ditch the diet. Despite what your friends, mother-in-law, and well-meaning strangers in the grocery line might say, you don’t necessarily need to go on any exotic diets to produce Grade A breast milk. Before you cut out soy, dairy, gluten, wheat, and other forms of edible happiness, check with your pediatrician. Make sure that such a restrictive diet is actually what you need before you go through all that!
  • Clean those cracks. If your nipples are cracking or bleeding, wash your breasts every day with fragrance-free soap and warm water. On those days when you don’t have the energy to actually stand up and take a shower, a gentle wipe with a washcloth can prevent infections and soothe the ache. While Lanolin can help your nipples feel better, it can leave terrible stains on your clothes. Speaking of which…
  • Don’t cry over spilled milk. Just buy some Oxiclean! Breast milk stains are notoriously hard to remove. Soak the stain in Oxiclean before you wash it, and then hang it out to dry in the fresh sunshine. It will smell like outdoors (in a good way) and those milk stains will disappear!
  • Avoid the blocked duct. A clogged milk duct hurts. On the pain scale, it’s about the same feeling as those labor pains that first made you realize you were about to have a baby. If you feel a clogged milk duct coming on, drop everything and rest in bed. Nurse your baby as much as possible, and never sleep on your stomach. Breastfeeding is hard, but breastfeeding with a clogged milk duct or mastitis is so, so much harder.
  • Make a breast sandwich. A CDC study found that over half of women who stopped breastfeeding before the baby was even one month old called it quits because they couldn’t get the baby to latch. Help a baby out by pressing on the top and bottom of your nipple to create a ‘sandwich.’ Your little one can only open his or her tiny mouth so wide, so make it easy by offering a smaller ‘bite.’
  • Change it up. If what you’re doing isn’t working for you (or your little one), it’s time for a change! A different position might help your baby latch; maybe you need a nursing pillow so that the baby can properly reach the breast. Breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful, so talk to a lactation consultant about changes you can make to ease the process.
  • Supplement your supply. Feel like your little one isn’t getting enough milk? When your milk supply starts out as Old Faithful but slows to a dribble as your baby nears his first birthday, you may want to increase your milk supply with tea or herbal supplements. There are lots of Mother’s Milk teas out there. We’re partial to Earth Mama Angel Baby, which includes fenugreek – one of the few herbs that has been scientifically proven to increase breast milk supply.
  • Have an exit strategy. When you’re ready to end a nursing session, use your index finger like a hook to scoop inside the baby’s mouth so he pops off like the cork on the wine bottle you can’t wait to be able to drink. If you try to pry him off any other way, it can really hurt your nipples!
  • Dress for success. After you get dressed in the morning, break out your stopwatch and make sure you can expose yourself in five seconds or less. Now is not the time to wear your tight shirt or your favorite maxi dress. Low-cut V-necks show off your newly endowed physique and offer easy access to the goods.
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