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Eight Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. It’s a good time to review the pluses of breastfeeding and look at important breastfeeding tips for new moms.

Studies show breastfeeding is best for babies. Breast milk is rich in nutrients for a baby’s healthy growth. It also protects babies against many illnesses and improves their overall health. Breastfeeding helps mother and baby bond.

Breastfeeding is also good for a mother’s health in important ways. It can lower your risk for certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and postpartum depression. It may also help you lose weight after the baby is born.

Along with the many pluses may come a challenge or two for some moms. Breastfeeding is a skill you need to learn. It requires patience and practice to get off to a great start. Here are 8 breastfeeding tips for new moms from the Mayo Clinic and other sources:

1. Ask for help right away. A maternity nurse or lactation consultant can check to make sure the baby is latching on the right way and give you tips like how to best position the baby. Also ask to have your baby in your hospital room so you can feed on demand.

2. Try to breastfeed in the first hour of birth. Babies are alert right after birth, but then will spend much of the next 24 hours sleeping. Nursing your new baby in the first hour or two after birth helps to kick-start your milk production, so try to nurse as soon as you’re able to after birth.

3. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and make sure your body can make enough milk. A good idea is to sip from a glass of water while nursing.

4. Have your baby sleep in your bedroom. Place your baby to sleep in a crib or bassinet in your bedroom so that you can breastfeed more easily at night. Research has found that when a baby shares a bedroom with their parents, the baby has a lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Learn the ABCs of Safe Sleep to reduce the risk of sleep-related deaths.

5. Learn your baby’s hunger signs. For the first few weeks, most babies breastfeed every two to three hours around the clock. Watch for early signs of hunger, such as putting their hands or fists to their mouths, making sucking motions or restlessness. Crying can be a late sign of hunger. Feeding on demand builds your milk supply, while waiting too long in between feeds can slow milk production.

6. Make healthy choices. Follow a healthy diet and rest as much as possible. Don’t smoke. Check with your doctor first before using medications, including herbs and supplements.

7. Don’t use a pacifier right away. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting to use a pacifier until your baby is three to four weeks old and you’ve settled into a breastfeeding routine.

8. Give it time. If breastfeeding is tougher than you expected, try not to get down. Feeding a baby every few hours can be tiring, and it's OK to have a slow start. Remember that the more often you breastfeed your baby, the more milk you will produce.

Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline

At any time, you can call the Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline toll-free with questions at 1-855-4BF-MOMS (1-855-423-6667) and speak to a lactation professional. This service is 24/7 and available in any language.

Additional Resources

The Tennessee Department of Health’s Breastfeeding for Mothers page includes tools to help moms find an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a designated breastfeeding expert or an advocacy group in their community.

The TDH’s Breastfeeding Welcomed Here campaign gives moms a list of businesses that have pledged to be breastfeeding-friendly in their community.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health offers a lot of helpful information in Your Guide to Breastfeeding.

Learn 12 reasons to breastfeed your baby.

Find out why breastfeeding is healthy for babies and moms.

If you plan to breastfeed, here are some suggestions to follow while you’re away at work.

Mother’s Milk Bank of Tennessee is a non-profit that provides safe, pasteurized donor human milk to babies most in need. Visit the website to learn about becoming a milk donor.