Breastfeeding Tips

We were lucky to have two good mother suckers, but the following things helped us:

Get Help!

The #1 tip is to have someone (like a lactation consultant) work hands-on with mommy and baby. Every breast and every baby is slightly different, so an experienced person can help you find what works for you.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

When Lizzie was focused and well-fed, our baby seemed to be more focused and feed well. So, feed mommy first!

Latch Mechanics

The baby's body should be as close to mommy as possible, and a bit lower than you might think: their nose should be at the nipple level. This allows them to raise their chin up to latch with a nice, big mouth (their mouth should be asymmetrical on the nipple). You can also help them by pushing their shoulders in slightly, and shaping the breast into a "hamburger" (using your hand in a "C" or "U" hold so the breast can fit in their mouth easier). This YouTube video illustrates how it works: ...and this longer video goes through more detail with lots of examples:

Mama Sutra: Try Other Positions

Many mommies/babies do best with the classic "cross-cradle" position, but after a few days Lizzie and both babies liked the "side-lying" position the best (...and since we were cosleeping, this also allowed relatively easy nighttime feeds). Other positions include the "football" (or "clutch") hold and the "cradle" (both a bit more comfortable than cross-cradle but often not as easy for starting breastfeeding), and the "laid-back" ("biological nurturing") position. More info on various websites such as ...and some comprehensive/funny ones on this blog.

Diapers Before Boobies

Adam hates having wet diapers, so even if he was very hungry, if his diaper was wet, we found that he breastfed better if we changed the diaper first. This was less of a deal with Rose, but she was in disposable diapers more often so 🤷.

Narco Feeding: Keeping Awake

Early on, Adam kept falling asleep before finishing a full nurse...later on he was able to successfully nurse while asleep, but in the first few days, we had to massage his body to keep him awake. Lizzie also found that flexing her pectoral muscle helped jostle him slightly to wake him up. (This was less of a problem with Rose.)

Keeping Focused: Sheet

Especially as both babies got older and thus better neck control, they were easily distracted when breastfeeding, especially if we were outside. We found that draping a sheet over Lizzie & the baby helped them focus.

Treats for Teets: Mrs. Patel’s

Having trouble with milk production? Try fenugreek, a natural stimulant. One delicious way to get fenugreek and other lactation-inducing herbs is Mrs. Patel's Cookies, available directly at or at the Natural Resources store in SF. Simplyrealmoms has some other tips for increasing your supply. Lizzie also found that pork stock (especially homemade with a pig's leg—not for the faint of heart!) brought up her production.

Too Much of a Good Thing: Mastitis

If on the other hand you're over-producing, you might get plugged ducts and mastitis. Lizzie was able to treat hers with hot compresses, vitamin C, echinacea, homeopathic phytolacca, and lots of rest/water. Massaging plugged ducts—including with an electric toothbrush—also helped. Check with a doctor if it persists for more than a day! (A friend also recommended Green Clay, either using compresses or directly on the breast like a face mask.)

Colic: Diet, Burping, and Gripe Water

We found that our baby was less colic-y if mommy avoided certain foods (spicy food, onions/garlic, and sugar), we were good about burping him frequently, and occasionally we gave him "gripe water" (chamomile tea with fennel and ginger, recipe here, you can also buy it in the store...we got the Mommy's Bliss brand, which was easier to use since you don't need to refrigerate it). We gave gripe water to Adam when he was being particularly fussy, and often he'd chill out a few minutes afterwards (thus making going to bed easier).

Mariposa for Motivation

If your baby isn't eating well, you can try mariposa lily flower essence: put a few drops on your hands and hold his head or feet. This seemed to help Adam in the first few days.

Combining Bottle & Breast Feeding

Some folks exclusively feed breastmilk (or formula) from a bottle; some exclusively feed from the breast...a lot of folks will probably want to combine the two. How do you do it? We never managed to get our first kid to use a bottle, but we succeeded with the 2nd; here is some of what worked:

Start at ~1-2 months

Waiting too long to introduce a bottle makes it much harder; this was probably the biggest mistake we made with our first.

Find familiar-shaped nipples

Some breasts have nipples that are longer/narrow and others have nipples that are shorter/wider...if you're trying to give a baby something they're not used to, it will be harder for them. At first, we tried the Pura & Comotomo bottles/nipples but found that the long, narrow nipple made it hard for Rose to drink (she kept gagging on them). Once we switched to a different shape (Lansinoh and Pigeon, although Evenflow Balance nipples are similar), she had a much easier time. Rachel O'Brien has a great series of blogposts about "Bottles for Breastfed Babies" that discusses this in more detail. (Shea Collier and Nicole Schwartz have a similar blogpost here.)

Start with low-flow nipples

Too high of a flow makes it hard for the baby to keep up, and it could make them prefer the bottle and thus reject the breast. For example, we found that even at 4 months, Rose did best with the "super slow" ("SS") Pigeon nipples.

Use the right technique

There is surprisingly little information online about how to hold the bottle/baby/etc. For example, you should sit the baby upright and tickle the nipple along the roof of their mouth to trigger a latch. This YouTube video from The Doctors Bjorkman has some pretty good tips & demonstrations. Rachel O'Brien's blogpost has more details/ideas for babies who resist bottle feeding, as well as photos of good/bad bottle latches.

Bottle feed at least once every ~2 days

Once you have a good bottle feeder, you should keep feeding them every few days so they don't lose that skill. Our pediatrician says she's worked with parents who train their baby to bottle feed but then discover that they have to re-train them if they go too long between bottle feeds.