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Exclusive Breastfeeding: How To Make It Through

Are you struggling to breastfeed your baby? Doctors recommend exclusive breastfeeding for mom and baby for at least the first six months of baby’s life. My third son was born in July of 2020. Yesterday, he turned six months. I confessed to my mother over FaceTime that I was amazed that I had accomplished exclusively breastfeeding him for that entire time.

I could not do that with my first two boys. So, I know the hardships faced. And man, this time around was anything but easy. There were long nights, sore nipples, and my fussy little one. But through it all, I remained patient and overcame.

I learned so much during this journey. Over time and through various sources, I discovered most, if not all, breastfeeding tips. In this article, I share them all with you. So without further ado, these are the top 10 breastfeeding tips that lead me throughout a successful six months of exclusive breastfeeding.

This post contains affiliate links. This simply means I earn a commission if a purchase is made through some of these links – at no cost to you.

Tip #1 – Drink Water

sunset cup water drink

This first tip is short and, maybe not so sweet. But it is perhaps the most essential. Drink water. Drink it in abundance. Because all liquids provide hydration, it is all right if you mix your water with flavor enhancers or juices, but try and drink it independently as well.

Also, try not to wait until you are thirsty to drink something. If you do, your body is already showing early signs of dehydration. To avoid this, I drink water before I nurse, while the baby eats, and immediately after breastfeeding.

Why this helps with exclusive breastfeeding:

About 90% of breastmilk is made up of water. Therefore, it is necessary that you stay hydrated. Many sources show that if a mother is not getting enough hydration, her milk supply will suffer as a result.

Tip #2 – Do Not Supplement While You’re Exclusively Breastfeeding

photo of baby bottle

This next one may seem a little obvious, but you’d be surprised how many women plan to breastfeed before delivery and leave the hospital with free formula samples. Before they know it, they’re pumping baby with Similac every 2.5 hours. I’m just saying you don’t want to do this. I did it with my first two sons. Huge, no-no! 

Why this helps with exclusive breastfeeding:

Stick to the goal you set early on to exclusively breastfeed. You had your reasons. Research shows that it really is the healthiest choice for babies, especially newborns. Supplementing with formula will only make your precious boo prefer the bottle nipple because it is an easier alternative. Can you blame them? If humans didn’t prefer convenient meals there’d be no fast food spots. 

Tip #3 – Feed Your Baby Whenever They Are Hungry

grayscale photo of woman kissing child

Now, God bless everyone who rushes to give you advice after you become a new mom. They are only trying to help and support you. But, as a mom, you must learn how to discern the advice that is for you and the direction that garners you to nod your head and press on to do your own thing. 

With this next tip, some people will claim that you are spoiling your baby. They will tell you not to make your little one feel like they are in charge of you. Your mother will advise you to put the baby on a schedule. Girl, don’t. Just don’t. Your baby knows when they are hungry. That’s one of the most natural parts of them.

So when they just ate and then cry for more food, ten or fifteen minutes later, feed them again. I remember my son doing this to me countless nights in a row the first several weeks. Shoot, I would cry right along with him some nights. I thought I was doing something wrong. It turns out I was. I was clocking him.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It is okay to write the times down. It is quite all right if you are aware of how frequently your baby eats. But do not use that information to determine if it’s too soon for them to eat again.

Why this helps with exclusive breastfeeding:

The more your baby eats, the more milk your body produces to accommodate the need of your growing child. So if you hold out on your baby, you are not helping your body make enough food to satisfy them the next time they eat. And by the time they do eat, they will be extremely hangry at you, so good luck dealing with that!

Tip #4 – Drink Water

I know this was number one. But it is that powerful! So please do it. Do not worry, I am not skimping on the tips. I certainly would not dream of it. There will be an extra tip at the end 😉 .

Tip #5 – Ensure Your Baby Empties The Breast Completely During Each Feed 

Every time you feed your baby you should try and make sure they empty your breast before switching to the next breast. You will know when your breast is empty by monitoring your baby’s swallowing and sucking pattern. Both will slow down in comparison to their normal pattern.

I used to make a mistake with this early on. From the hospital, I was alternating breast for each feed regardless if one breast was empty or not. I did this for about the first two months after giving birth. That was indeed a boo-boo.

It seemed like I was never producing surplus milk for my son’s healthy appetite. It was as if he was never satisfied. So, if the baby does not finish the entire breast on its own, pump the rest.

Why this helps with exclusive breastfeeding:

This practice sends the signal to your body that it needs to produce more milk. If you are not emptying your breast, your body will think that it is making too much. As a result, you will make less milk or just enough, which is just not good enough for your growing bundle of joy.

Tip #6 – Take Your Complete Multivitamins Daily

picture of multiple vitamins shaped into a heart

Breastfeeding takes up a lot of nutrients. And after giving life, your body can take its time recovering. Ensuring that you have all of the essential vitamins and minerals necessary to heal and maintain your health is important. Therefore, taking a complete multivitamin can help to reassure you that you are meeting these needs satisfactorily.

I have been using One A Day Women’s Prenatal 1 multivitamins. I see the results physically. My nails are stronger, my hair is thicker, and I have rich milk.

Why this helps with exclusive breastfeeding:

Taking multivitamins is necessary when exclusively breastfeeding since you need your body to nurture and grow another life through breastfeeding. It helps to know that you are at your best. Taking multivitamins also ensures that your baby gets all the nutrients they require for their growth.

Tip # 7 – Eat A Balanced Diet Designed For The Exclusively Breastfeeding Mama

photo of woman eating a well balanced meal

I don’t know about you, but after a C-section and with two other boys to feed, it was hard taking care of myself. I definitely didn’t have time to shop or cook what I really needed to eat to produce enough milk for the baby. So in the beginning, I made a lot of smoothies.

Thank God for my Ninja Professional smoothie maker. It was a game-changer! No plug intended here. What I’m saying is, it was hard making sure I ate a balanced diet. But I knew it was necessary so I did it in a manner that worked best for me. And you should too. Make sure you get your fruits, leafy greens, and protein any way you can.

Why this helps with exclusive breastfeeding:

When you are exclusively breastfeeding, you should be mindful of what you put into your body. You need to have a diet full of nutrition because this ensures that you and your baby are the pillars of health. Try not to give in to too many sugar cravings (due to breastfeeding, you will have them). I know this is easier said than done. But there are ways you can resist, which brings me to my next tip.

Tip # 8 – Use a Lactation Protein Powder

Remember when I mentioned having an issue with making just enough milk? Well, I resolved this by investing in a lactation protein powder. These protein powders provide mothers with the postnatal vitamins and lactation supplements they need to nurse.

There are many on the market, so if you are open to it, do your research. I did mine and decided to try a plant-based lactation protein powder called Milk Dust. Amazon sells this product, but I purchased it from the manufacturer’s site.

I love this product so much that I am providing a direct link to it here. If you buy directly from the company right now you get 10% off your first order. Get an additional $5.00 off with code: HELLO2021. I am not getting any compensation for this. But I know it worked for me and I am sure that it can help you too.

You can add the powder to your smoothie recipe or just mix it with water. This product started working within two hours of me drinking it. My breasts were almost engorged! Finally, after nearly four months of exclusive breastfeeding, I was working with a surplus of breastmilk. I am still amazed!!!

Why this helps with exclusive breastfeeding:

A breastfeeding protein powder can help you obtain the surplus you seek when you are exclusively breastfeeding. That is especially true if you are looking to store some of your milk supply for emergencies or convenience. Also, (it was not my intention when I bought mine) some protein powders can even help with weight loss.

It is a great way to make sure you are getting all the right nutrients as you work to shed your pregnancy weight. Milk Dust does this and it also helps to kick those famous breastfeeding sugar cravings.

Tip #9 – Use Lanolin Cream

Do you have sore or cracked nipples from exclusively breastfeeding? I know I did. I still get it sometimes. When this happens, I whip out my lanolin cream. Lanolin cream is a product made from sheep’s wool and is safe to use on your skin while you are breastfeeding. You will feel instant relief.

I use the Lasinoh brand. I cannot speak about other brands because it is the only brand I have ever needed. It does the job of keeping my nipples soft and bearable.

Why this helps with exclusive breastfeeding:

When you are nursing your baby exclusively, it can be physically taxing. However, you do not want anything to interfere with the intimacy taking place between you two. And nothing sucks more than trying to feed your little one and having to endure the torturous pain of sore, cracked nipples! Why suffer if you do not have to? Lanolin cream will help you.

Tip #10 – Pump After Each Feed (Or When Baby Doesn’t Empty Out Your Breast) 

This next tip goes hand in hand with number five. If you are a lazy mama who is not big on pumping for breast milk storage (guilty!), that is perfectly fine. Pumping helps when your baby is full, but you still need your body to think that the baby consumed all the milk produced for that feed. Your body will continue to provide surplus (or at least enough) milk for future feedings.

Why this helps with exclusive breastfeeding:

Breastfeeding is like a marathon, the longer you are in the game the more likely the chances that you will win. Pumping trains your body to make milk in excess. I know some moms who pumped while they were still in the hospital. Also, if you’re a busy single mama or are prone to stress (stress can interfere with milk production) having milk in storage can come in handy.

#Bonus Tip – Invest In a Hands Free Pump/Nursing Bra 

When it comes to pumping, I wallow. Ain’t nobody got time for that! But because I know how necessary it has been for my exclusive breastfeeding journey, I endure. Investing in a hands-free pumping bra was the right choice for me. Now that I am no longer limited to one position or location, I can pump and complete various tasks.

I am currently using Momcozy Free Pumping Bra (be sure to adjust the size selection to your needs). And because it doubles as a nursing bra, I do not have to bother changing out of it once I am done pumping. I use this with my chargeable electronic breast pump. I couldn’t have asked for a better combination. If you also cringe when it comes to pumping, please do this!

Congrats, you have made it to the end of the guide!! Thanks for sticking through it with me. Your little one (and your breasts) will thank you. So, was this information helpful? Did I miss one?

I am open to any suggestions that you have for me. Comment below and let me know what is aiding you through your exclusive breastfeeding journey? Until next time. XOXO, friends.

…Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!

Luke 11:27

Let’s start a discussion! What have the highlights and triumphs of your breastfeeding journey been? Any challenges? Leave a comment below and let me know. I can’t wait to hear from you.

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