Breastfeeding 101: Set Yourself Up for Success from Minute 0

OK’re almost there! 

You’re prepared for everything post-birth: from foods to moods, from sleep to sex; now get ready for the letdowns…(of breastmilk, that is 😉)

Call it a rude awakening, but after carrying and delivering your baby you will need to keep them alive and thriving...which means LOTS of around-the-clock feedings and everything that goes with them! Welcome to the starting line of the mama marathon... 


First things first, you’ll want to remember this: Don’t quit on a bad day! Write it down, tape it to your mirror, set a daily reminder...just remember it.

AND if you find yourself having only bad days, the most important thing to remember is to be gentle with yourself...a well-fed babe and a pain-free mama are ultimately the only goals. If this looks like supplementation or a transition to a formula journey, that is absolutely ok 💖

AMMA “Breast” Tips for Nursing Success

Before baby’s born

  • Ask yourself questions and make a plan:
    • What’s your ideal breastfeeding goal? 1 month, 6 months, 3 years, etc.? 
    • Do you want to exclusively breastfeed, or is pumping and bottle-feeding more your speed?
    • Do you have any specific concerns to address before babe arrives (flat/inverted nipples, any aversions, breast reduction, etc.)?
  • Build your team of supporters 
    • Make sure you share your goals with your partner, your birth team, and your babe’s care provider -- you’ll want them in your corner!
    • Ask for encouragement (especially on your hardest day!)...and don’t be shy about relaying what encouragement looks and feels like to you. 
    • Find a breastfeeding-friendly doctor for babe -- we can’t stress this one enough; your baby’s care provider can make ALL the difference in your breastfeeding journey. They will be the one tracking baby’s growth and milestones and you will see them way more than your OWN care provider, so they need to be part of your support system!
  • Crowdsource!
    • Find IG accounts that give tips on breastfeeding...and make sure you’re following us to get connected to our community.
    • Join a Facebook group (there are both local and online communities worldwide)...Milky Mamas and KellyMom are good places to start!
    • Deputize your experienced mama friends -- solidarity and community will get you through challenges, plus it’s nice to have a group who appreciate the humor in dropping food on your nursling’s head or accidentally spraying them in the face when they unlatch during a letdown 😆 or can cry with you over spilled milk (you might not find that one funny yet…)
  • Get local
    • Find your closest La Leche League chapter (it might be online). They offer in-person meetings and support from volunteers who are trained to they’re free!
    • Hire a postpartum doula to help you in those first few weeks...they are “experts in normal” so this can be a great first step to instilling confidence and getting a baseline of information.
    • Take to Google! Type “breastfeeding support + [your city]” into the search bar.
  • Breastfeeding laws...know your rights
    • It’s legal in all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) to breastfeed in public, so don’t let anybody tell you differently.
    • Your health insurance most likely covers the cost of a breast pump as well as the cost of hiring a lactation consultant!
    • Pumping laws for working mamas vary state by state but if you’re in doubt or fall outside the legal requirements of your location, talk to your supervisor or human resources department. No mama should have to pump in a bathroom!
  • Go pro
    • There are many different types of professional breastfeeding support; check out a summary of your options (as well as some other resources) here. An IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), is considered the gold standard since they are required to complete the most rigorous training and highest number of service hours. 
    • If you are birthing in a hospital, they likely have a lactation consultant on staff. Schedule them to come in ASAP after the baby is born to make sure you are starting off well from the very first latch. 
    • We’re gonna say it again cuz it’s probably the #1 thing you can do for a solid start to nursing: hire a lactation consultant and have them come ASAP (ideally within the first day or two) after the birth. Don’t wait until you’re exhausted and stressed with sore nipples...worst that can happen is they tell you all looks great and you’re doing everything right (and hey, then you get an ego boost out of the deal).

Baby’s here! Set yourself up for success from minute 0

  1. Stay together after the birth → put this in your birth/postpartum plan, so your birth team knows you want to room in with your baby. For mamas who have a belly birth, dad or partner can be the one to stay with baby while you move to recovery.
  2. Skin to skin → also called kangaroo care, this is a great way to promote bonding and set yourself up for a good milk supply (plus, delicious newborn snuggles = LIFE)
  3. Get expert help (as soon as you can, ideally within 1-3 hours of birth) even if you don’t think you need it...if you’re giving birth at home, some lactation consultants will even make house calls! 
  4. Establish a solid latch → HUGELY important...a good latch will help your supply and save your nipples! Watch this video for a helpful visual and how-to.
  5. Be patient - this is new for you and babe. Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s easy.
  6. Feed the baby on demand → the more you nurse your newborn and have them empty your breasts, the more milk you will make...basic supply and demand! This means around 8-12 feedings in a 24 hour period; check out our post on how to navigate this!

Mama Pro-Tip → BE FLEXIBLE. Things change quickly and MOST IMPORTANT is making sure your baby is happy, thriving and fed. 

From Our AMMA IG Community: What helped you succeed with your breastfeeding journey?

@priscilla.alexandria → A supportive husband and YouTube! Breastfed for 27 months 💖💖

@therealslimshadybaby → Tongue revision and going in with no expectations.

@alexdelamofra → Supportive husband, co-workers, & pediatrician!! 

@jahisart → Knowing that my body was made for this and that any small ache will pass...BUT first an LC 😌

@kp_gilbert → Support! A very supportive husband, knowledgeable midwife, access to a lactation consultant, and reading stories of other mamas’ journeys all have helped me push through the hard times and rejoice in the easy times. My baby girl will be 5 months old on Thursday! She is chunky and amazing 💕

@lydiavirino → Lactation consultant in my home, tongue tie revision, and nursing as much as possible during work day.

@_algal → Pure, raw grit and perseverance 💪 26 months of nursing my son and we started out struggling. I pumped 7-8x per day (including a 2 am power pump) while nursing on demand every day for a year! I don;t know how else we made it so far.

@terejaye → Determination, patience, a good midwife and good latch got me through breastfeeding three children.

Additional Resources 

KellyMom → evidence-based info on breastfeeding and parenting; SO invaluable!

International Breastfeeding Centre → home of the sage wisdom of Dr. Jack Newman, who has been helping breastfeeding mamas for almost 40 years

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding → the La Leche League’s bestselling guide is incredibly comprehensive and designed for all types of mamas


B&W photo by Zach Lucero

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