50 breastfeeding hacks, truths, myths and misconceptions

Uhm, WHO decided that breastfeeding should be just as (if not more!) difficult than birthing the baby itself?! Don’t worry GF, we sym-pa-thise! Big time. It’s hard enough navigating your way through postpartum, but throw learning a whole new skill (‘cause let’s be honest, breastfeeding does not come naturally) into the mix and it makes the days feel longer, the nights feel that much more tiring and honestly? It can really take the shine off the newborn days.

But it’s okay. We Got You. Scroll on for 50 of our very own unique, research-backed, super helpful breastfeeding hacks, truths and totally myth-busted misconceptions about feeding your new bub.

 

Milk Supply

  1. Demand = Supply. How to do this? Feed your baby as often as you (and your nipples!) possibly can. The Australian Breastfeeding Association recommends offering your baby a feed every 2 hours if you’re trying to increase your supply. Baby already feeding every 2 hours and your supply still seems low? Offer an extra feed in between.
  2. Eat oats! Yep, they’re a breastfeeding superfood. If you’re pressed for time (let’s be honest, which new mum isn’t?), trying blending them into a Breastfeeding Smoothie. Check out our other Lactation Recipes here.
  3. Tying yourself in knots over getting the hang of feeding? Increased stress can cause your supply to drop dramatically. Slip one of our Bath Teas into your tub and take a nice, long soak to reset. Getting fresh air or speaking with someone can also help to ease feeding anxieties.
  4. Add Brewers Yeast into your diet! It’s recommended to help milk production because it’s overflowing with B vitamins, protein, iron and minerals. 
  5. Break out the breast pump and start pumping, especially after a feed! This tells your boobs there’s more demand for milk, which will increase your supply if you stick to it. If you have two flanges, pump both breasts at the same time to tell you body, “we’re feeding twins!”.
  6. Ever heard someone say, “don’t let them use you as a dummy!”? Offering your little one a feed instead of other comforting strategies (like a dummy, rocking, patting or shushing) for a few days can increase the demand for milk. Hello increased supply!
  7. Always let your baby properly empty the first breast, before switching to the second. You need to properly drain one side for your body to know there’s a serious demand for milk.
  8. While pumping or feeding, it can help to get really hands on and use your fingers and thumb to gently compress the breast for a few seconds. This gentle compression massage technique will stimulate milk flow.

 

Breastfeeding Comfort

  1. Use the breastfeeding position “side lying” to help with positing and to accommodate those long night-time feeding marathons! Read the ABA’s detailed guide (https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bf-info/early-days/breastfeeding-while-lying-down) on just how to do it.
  2. Make sure to invest in a comfortable, well-fitting nursing bra for your breastfeeding journey and keep an eye on how the band and cups sit around and underneath your breast. A bra that is too tight or restrictive can cause unwanted blockages and engorgement.
  3. Build a Nursing Station (before you go into labour!) and stock it with all your feeding essentials. This will make settling in to breastfeed much easier and more comfortable. We recommend including the basics like a large water bottle (preferably a tumbler with a straw for easy sipping), Lansinoh nipple balm, burp cloths, a phone charger, wipes, lip balm, entertainment (books, magazines, a tablet), snacks and your Hakka Pump (or similar).
  4. Always feed from a comfortable, supportive chair and try to remove any annoying distractions so you can truly relax and enjoy the time with your baby. Doing so will also help your milk let-down quickly!
  5. Try skin-to-skin to improve your baby’s chances at latching correctly and feeding for longer. Skin-to-skin also increases your milk production, so it’s a win-win all round.
  6. Use a breastfeeding pillow! We absolutely love the Snuggle Me Organic Pillow from The Memo.
  7. Be prepared to wear breast pads for the first 12-16 weeks of your breastfeeding journey! Some mama’s milk will settle a lot quicker, but it’s best to prepare for the long haul and avoid flooding your t-shirt with milk because you heard a newborn three isles over in the supermarket. 
  8. Practice relaxation and deep breathing to help you mentally and physically reset when feeding is becoming overwhelming. Breastfeeding a new baby is taxing on the body and you can better support yourself by breathing deeply and releasing tension in your body (one limb and muscle at a time). Repeat this exercise as many times are you need to throughout the feeding sesh.
  9. Make sure bub is latched correctly! If you are experiencing pinching or painful discomfort, go through this quick checklist;
  10. Is their nose nearly touching your breast with their chin buried?
  11. Are their lips flanged?
  12. Is there at least 1cm of your breast at the base of your nipple, in the baby’s mouth?

 

Breastfeeding Techniques

  1. Use a scrunchie on your wrist to keep track of which side you fed from last. It’s easy to become engorged if you empty the same breast two feeds in a row.
  2. Try a “koala hold” for bigger babies! Sometimes the fatigue of labour and postpartum can make positing a larger baby difficult. This hold allows you to support the weight of your baby on your leg. 
  3. Tuck bub’s feet in. This one sounds strange but experts have found most newborns will feed more contentedly if their feet are tucked under your arm, against a pillow or even held by your partner! #BondingMoment
  4. Always take the time to set yourself up correctly with adequate back support, pillows to support your arms and baby and something under your feet to ensure you don’t create muscle strains. Told ya breastfeeding is a workout!
  5. If you have an oversupply or a fast milk flow, it can help to stimulate a letdown and catch it (into a towel, Hakka pump or similar) before latching your baby. This will ensure they don’t choke or gag initially and results in a comfier feeding experience for the both of you.
  6. Position your baby on their side so that their tummy is against your tummy. Don’t hold your bub in a cradle position and expect them to turn their head to your nipple: that’ll just result in a shallow latch and a fussy newborn!
  7. Experiment with different positioning that allows baby to move their head and neck freely. Cradling baby into the crook of your arm can cause them to feed at an awkward angle. We recommend trying a football hold or using your free hand to help support baby’s head and neck whilst latching, before settling into a comfier hold.
  8. Don’t wait until your sweet newborn is screaming the house down! It’s important to learn their early hunger cues (sucking on their hands, turning towards your chest or appearing more alert), so you can offer a feed before they’re too hungry to latch and suckle properly.

 

Troubleshooting Pain

  1. Unfortunately, breastfeeding can be quite uncomfortable in the first week or two. It’s a combination of hormones, new sensations and simply the nipple tissue and nerves getting used to feeding! If you are experiencing prolonged pain, it’s important to see your healthcare provider, as there might be a more complex problem at hand.
  2. Nipple shields may just turn out to be your new best friend. Some argue they will cause ‘nipple confusion’ (https://www.laleche.org.uk/nipple-confusion/), but periodically using them to protect your nipples while cracks or abrasions heal, may extend your breastfeeding journey by weeks or months!
  3. If you are experiencing cracks (ouch!), pat leftover breastmilk over your nipples and allow them to air dry. #InTheNude
  4. Latched your baby and feeling the pinch?! It’s easy to break bub’s suction by gently placing your finger in the corner of their mouth and detaching from your breast. Take a deep breath and re-latch when you are ready.
  5. If you are experiencing engorgement or swollen breasts, pop in for a hot shower and gently hand express in long, slow sweeps from the top of your breast down towards the nipple. Be careful not to overdo it and stop expressing once the breast feels comfortable.
  6. Nipples on fire? Maybe they are burning, itching, or stinging? It could be thrush; a common fungal infection which will just keep spreading from your nipple to baby’s mouth, until you treat it! Your local chemist will have an over-the-counter solution for you which will have you feeling relief after just one or two feeds.
  7. Our multi-purpose hot and cold breast ice packs are wonderful for counteracting breastfeeding discomforts. Use cold to reduce swelling and warm up for soothing relief of blockages.
  8. Lots of women report giving your bare nipples a couple minutes of sun a day can aid in healing and helps them to feel less sensitive. Worth a try we say! 

 

Mastitis

  1. First and foremost, if you suspect mastitis (cue swelling, burning, heat and fever), it’s really important to see your GP. Most cases of mastitis will need a round of antibiotics to avoid the infection worsening.
  2. Drain the affected breast (or breasts #OUCHMama!) often and gently. If the swelling and engorgement is severe, try hand expressing between feeds to help drainage.
  3.  Always feed from the sore breast first as bub’s suckling will be stronger meaning they are more likely to clear the blockage for you.
  4. Vibration is a really effective way of helping to clear a blocked duct. Remember to hold the vibration directly below where the lump/ blockage is, to help massage it away and allow the milk to flow. An electric toothbrush (among other handheld vibrating tools ) works great.
  5. Go bra free! Especially if your breast/s are really engorged. As we mentioned before, a well-fitting bra can become too tight if there is severe swelling, which can make clearing a blockage almost impossible and actually prolong the mastitis.
  6. The ABA recommends a combination of hot and cold therapy to help alleviate the pain associated with mastitis. The rule of thumb is cold packs to reduce swelling and relieve pain and heat packs (sparingly) to trigger a letdown and help clear the blockage.
  7. Gentle stretches which activate the pectoral muscle can help to clear a blockage causing mastitis. Try standing alongside a wall and stretching your arm that is flush against the wall, up. Splay your fingers and lean into the wall to deepen the stretch. You should feel a gentle pull through your pec muscle into your breast tissue.
  8. Mastitis is an infection, so it is incredibly important to rest as much as motherly possible! Drink extra fluids and stay in bed recuperating, feeding on your side lying down and napping when you can.  

 

Pumping

  1. Fell asleep during your 3am pump, only to startle awake at 6am? Don’t throw your liquid gold away! Milk can be safely kept at room temperature for up to 4 hours (a little longer if it’s winter or you’ve got the air conditioner cranked)!
  2. Make sure you accurately label and date each bottle/ bag of milk you express and always reach for your “oldest” milk first to ensure none goes to waste. 
  3. Don’t waste your money on a pumping bra! You can DIY one by unclipping your nursing bra, positing the flange against your nipple and re-fastening the drop cup around the inside of the flange.
  4. Breastmilk can be kept in your freezer for up to three months and if you have a deep freeze, it can be safely stored for up to 12 months! However, breastmilk is only safe to stay in the fridge for up to 4 days, so try and build the habit of freezing all milk that’s sitting in the fridge, every couple of days.
  5. Sometimes frozen milk will get buried in your freezer or pushed to the back of your fridge. If your liquid gold is past its’ safe-consumption date, repurpose it as a milk bath for baby or a topical treatment for nappy rash, abrasions or newborn acne. 
  6. Got an oversupply? It can be a good problem to have! Use leftover breastmilk to make milky popsicles. They’re perfect for a fussy teething bub or as a refreshing summer “treat” #TotallyMumApproved.
  7. Washing up has to be THE worst part about pumping, which is why this hack is actually the best! You can pop your used pump parts into a plastic bag and store them in the fridge during the day, cutting down on the number of times you have to wash up. You will have to get soapy every evening though – they can’t stay in the fridge for more than 12 hours. 
  8. The last thing your postpartum hormones need is for milk to be split. You will cry. We will cry for you. A handy way to avoid accidently knocking over your liquid gold is to put your Hakka pump (or similar) into a mug with a wide base to help reduce the likelihood of 2am spilt-milk-disasters!
  9. After pumping, use your flange as a funnel to transfer the fresh milk into a bottle or milk bag. You’ll save time, washing up and won’t waste a drop!  

 

Phew, what a list! Hopefully it’s armed you with one or two (or ten!) tips and tricks to use on your feeding journey. We do however recognise this list can’t cover everything, so if you are still running into problems with your supply, latching, positioning bub or recurrent mastitis, we strongly recommend you reach out to a certified IBCLC consultant for help. You can find a trusted list of contacts here.

Happy feeding mama, you got this!