Breastfeeding Guide

What You Should Know About Breastfeeding (Before You Start)

People don't talk about this enough
What You Should Know About Breastfeeding (Before You Start)

1. Breastfeeding. Is. Not. Easy.

And you are going to need help. Sure, breastfeeding is biological, but it is also learned. Most new moms (if not all) have a rough go at it, and need support in learning how to position their baby for breastfeeding and making sure their baby is correctly latched on to the breast.

Today, "support" usually comes from a lactation consultant or nurse. Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it, especially in the early days, as unresolved issues with latching will only cause you significant pain (like sore nipples), but also affect your milk supply and lead to early weaning.  

2. You Need Rest

Mamas need adequate rest in order to make enough milk for their babies. Excessive tiredness also can lead to a low breast milk supply and clogged ducts (which can be painful and lead to mastitis).

With the intense breastfeeding schedule of feeding your baby every 3 hours, it's hard to find time to rest. One thing I've done when I reeeeally needed the sleep, was to pump in a bottle so someone else can feed the baby (your partner, mother, nanny or friend), and you can catch your zzzs. 

3. Time Your Breastmilk

The composition of breastfeeding changes all the time in response to all sorts of things, like the needs and health of your baby, temperature, and the time of day. 

For instance, breastmilk produced at night contains more melatonin (a.k.a. sleep hormones) which helps your baby to get back to sleep quickly. By contrast, breast milk pumped in the morning to afternoon contains a higher concentration of cortisol, a stress hormone that makes babies more alert.

If you're a pumping mom struggling to help your baby sleep better at night, try feeding your baby timed breastmilk i.e., feeding him milk pumped at night for night feeds, and vice versa. 

4. Pumping vs direct breastfeeding

Breast milk — pumped or straight from the breast — is the best food for babies. 


That said, recent studies have shown that breast milk is not the same when it's delivered in a bottle vs at the breast.


For instance,  this study found that breast milk from women who use a breast pump to express milk is poorer in beneficial bacteria and contains more potential pathogens than milk from women who only breastfeed. 


Also, breast milk nutrients match your baby’s needs especially well when your body is interacting with your baby in the close way that breastfeeding requires. Your breast responds to the baby’s saliva content, producing antibodies for viruses or bacteria to which the baby has been exposed. 

That said, it is a privilege to be able to breastfeed directly for months on end e.g., not everyone has the benefit of a long maternity leave. Just know that regardless of how it is delivered, your breastmilk contains all the nutrients your baby needs. This is somethings all experts agree on :)

About the author: Claire is a nursing bra specialist and founder of maternity brand Embrace. She is a mother of two and has spent four years breastfeeding her babies. Understanding firsthand the unique needs (and woes) of breastfeeding mothers, Claire has made it her life's mission to help make mothers' breastfeeding journey a little more comfortable.