The day my wife and I were schedule to leave the hospital with our son I saw a sign on the wall that had the heading, “breastfeeding tips.”
As I read the flyer I looked to my wife and said, “none of these are actually tips.” I’m not joking. There literally wasn’t one tip.
Our son was a pretty good latcher from his first hour of birth, but once we got home we definitely experienced some moments of anxiety.
Then there was the day the doctor told us our son had lost a little more weight than was to be desired and that we had to do a two hour feeding schedule for the next two and a half days.
Every. Two. Hours.
It was fun and all for a bit, and then we hit a wall. My wife was exhausted, slightly discouraged and just overwhelmed with the frequency.
Things are now a lot better now, especially after our little guy gained the weight, plus some back in two days, but if it weren’t for the breastfeeding tips below we might be in a world of hurt.
Breastfeeding Tips from a Dude
Each of my 10 breastfeeding tips are highlighted on the infographic below. If you want to learn more about each tip, when you get to the bottom of the infographic you’ll see that I’ve provided a bit more in-depth information about each item.
You can click the infographic to make it a bit larger.
1. Skin to Skin – One hour of uninterrupted skin to skin contact with your baby is crucial. This was suggested to us by a number of people and it was very beneficial to our baby learning to breastfeed. Not doing so is a big missed opportunity for mom and the baby to bond.
2. Get an App – Prior to having our child my wife downloaded a breastfeeding app, but I didn’t do so until after she gave birth. We each had different apps on our phone and I opted to test both. It turned out that the app that I downloaded had a few more features so we went with that one. I will say that we tried a few cycles where we kept track of breastfeeding and pee/poop cycles via a notepad on our phone, and that was just stupid. Don’t do that. Just don’t. It’ll make you crazy, you’ll mess up and it doesn’t give you a lot of actionable data. Read my breastfeeding app post here.
3. Pump it Up – If you plan to breastfeed, doing so from the breast is the obvious first choice. It’s highly likely that this isn’t going to happen 100% of the time, nor should it have to happen all of the time, which is why pumping is something you want to consider.
- Pumping will allow your partner to help with the feeding process, which in returns gives you the opportunity to get added rest, take a shower, go to the bathroom or to do any number of things.
- Want to get a nanny or have a relative watch your baby so that you and your partner can have a date night? Pumping makes that possible.
- Pumping is not a bad thing and will not cause nipple confusion, granted, it’s good to have a solid breastfeeding connection prior to starting the pumping.
4. Go Team – my wife has only been breastfeeding for a short period at this point, but it’s an epic task. Every time we turn around it’s time to feed. I’ve made a very conscious effort to help her during the process when at all possible. Ways you (the partner) can be a team during breastfeeding:
- Remind her when it’s time to feed
- Handle the app tracking when possible
- Burp the baby after he/she has fed
- Get the burp cloth ready
- Talk to her and/or simply be pleasant so she’s not going at it alone
5. Take a Class – we went to a handful of classes, some of which were an absolute drag and didn’t seem to be helpful at all. The one class that was helpful though was the breastfeeding class. It lasted for around four hours and had a good chunk of education. There was some fluff packed in, but all and all it was time well spent. By doing so you’re going to feel much more comfortable with the process when your baby is born and it’s time to breastfeed.
6. Nipple to Nose – understanding the nipple to nose concept is super important. This is something your going to hear about when you take the breastfeeding class mentioned in number 5. In short, it’s the process of, with the nipple, starting at the tip of the babies nose and making a downward motion. Doing so essentially signals to the baby that the breast is there and that it’s time to feed. It’s also helpful in getting a good latch.
7. Get a Latch – by doing nipple to nose you have a much higher likelihood of getting a good latch. And a good latch is just everything. This is the connection of your baby to the breast. If they take a smile “bite” and only get your nipple you/your wife is going to hate life. And I mean hate it. A good latch will include as much of the areola as possible and will have the babies lips somewhat flush with the skin. I promise you… these little people have magical sucking powers and a nipple only latch is miserable. Do it a couple times and you’ll know exactly why.
8. Soothies are a Savior – No matter how educated you are about breastfeeding and getting a good latch, your nipples are going to hurt. You’ll start by feeding the baby 10 – 12+ times a day and it’s almost inevitable that your nipples are going to hurt and/or bleed. That’s where Soothies come in. You have to have them. For lack of better words they are these round pads you put on in between feedings that help your nipples recuperate. My wife swears by them and based on what I’ve seen, they work.
9. Dip the Nip – I just told you about Soothies, but there’s even time where they don’t fully do the trick due to feeding frequency or increased damage to the nipple. This is where saline solution comes in play — get some from the hospital before you leave. You put a small amount in two little medicine cups, dip your nipples in them and then sit back and let the saline do the healing.
10. Baby Timing Trumps an App – when we first started using the breastfeeding app I felt like a NASCAR Crew Chief. I was timing. I was prompting. All was well. And then you hit a point where you realize your baby is exhausted and/or they are hungry when they aren’t supposed to be. I’ll touch on both below.
- Tired Baby – our little guy lost a bit more weight than the doc wanted after being born, so there was a two day period where we had to feed every two hours. It exhausted us and, more importantly, it exhausted him. A tired baby falls asleep constantly while feeding and that’s not what you want. Yes, there are absolutely times you’ll have to wake your baby up from a nap to feed, but just know that if kiddo is tired it’s probably not going to be an efficient feed.
- As your baby starts to grow they are going to start controlling a bit more of the feeding. You might feed the baby and know that he/she “isn’t supposed” to eat for another two or three hours, but then starts showing hunger signs. It’s OK to let them eat. Consider them a captive audience at this time and take advantage of it.
Having an 11 point list is annoying, so I’m tossing another breastfeeding tip in as a bonus. because it’s important.
Bonus Tip: Timing Strategy – a breastfeeding window starts at the beginning of a feeding cycle. For example, lets say you are on a 2 hr feeding schedule. If you start feeding at 1 pm and finish at 1:30 pm, your next feeding time is scheduled to start at 3 pm, NOT 3:30 pm.
The window is the window and you need to strategize a bit, especially if the doctor has put you on a strict schedule. What do I mean by strategy? Lets say you start at 1 pm and then the baby pees halfway through. Do you stop and change them? You can, but that’s going to further prolong this feeding session (assuming the baby needs to feed on both breasts), which in return reduces the amount of time you/your baby gets to rest between sessions. Strategizing your timing and actions during feeding routines will be a big help in the long run.