6 Breastfeeding Tips for the First Year
Nobody gets as much advice as a new mom: what to do, what not to do, and how to do it. On the cusp of their babies' first birthdays, our Mamava mamas Nikkie Kent and Annie Ode, offer their advice to making the first year as a breastfeeding/pumping mama as awesome as possible.
Ask for support.
Every mama needs a little help from their friends and fellow mamas. One of the most important advisors you can recruit onto your team early on is a lactation consultant. They can share secret-ninja tricks that will help you and your baby find the most successful breastfeeding situation(s). And many insurance companies will cover the cost. To find a lactation consultant, talk with friends who’ve recently had babies; ask your birth educator, doctor, doula, or prenatal yoga instructor for a recommendation. Or consider a mobile app-based lactation support service like Pacify.
Borrow gear when you can.
Ask other mamas about the must-have gear they recommend for the first year, and you’ll likely get a lot of different lists. What works for one mom and one baby might be a big fail for another. Before going all in with significant investments (like that suped-up swing), or buying in bulk (like dozens of 8-ounce bottles your baby may never use), consider borrowing from friends and family so you can see what works for you and for your baby. And remember that second-hand stores, and local gear-swapping groups on Facebook, often have major scores on baby gear.
Always have a backup plan.
Keeping a manual hand-pump in your bag can be a life-saver in an emergency—and never leave home without a big scarf or poncho. From pumping cover to leakage hider the poncho is the ultimate breastfeeding mama accessory. (Read more for one traveling mama’s top tips.)
Travel well… prepared.
Know the what the TSA guidelines says about traveling with breastmilk and breast pumps. (Annie swears by 3-ounce milk freezer bags so you can sail right through without having to check any of your milk.) Always travel with the printed TSA guidelines to avoid issues if a TSA agent isn't fully informed about them. And know where you can sneak away to pump or nurse a distractible baby when you need to. (Psst! Mamava's mobile app can help with that.)
Build your work village.
Your family and friends will support you in this intense first year, but if you also work outside the home, identify your people there as well. Before you go on maternity leave, plan to talk with your manager, your colleagues and human resources about what you will need at work when you return., (These resources may help inform your conversations.) A dedicated pumping space at work is key to being able to breastfeed for the first year and beyond—but just as important is a workplace culture that understands and respects the time and logistics involved with pumping.
You do you.
No mom is the same. No baby is the same. So try on others’ advice and see what feels right for you: keep what works, leave the rest. Share your best tips—without attachment—and share your struggles, too. We can all learn from each other, no matter how similar, or different, our paths may be.