Breastfeeding provides innumerable benefits to mom and baby. It’s one of the best thing you can do for your child.
If you’re looking for breastfeeding support, no matter what your child’s age, you’re in the right place.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. You can read my full policy here.
Preparing to breastfeed
Don’t worry, you don’t have to do anything special during pregnancy to breastfeed. No “toughening up your nipples” (like my grandmother’s OB told her decades ago), no special foods.
But education is always helpful.
If you’re still pregnant and looking for ways to ensure breastfeeding success (however you define success), make sure you check out Milkology’s The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class. This class, taught by a certified lactation consultant, is a great 90-minute intro into how to breastfeed. And did I mention it’s all online? Yep, you can grab a bowl of ice cream and learn to breastfeed while chilling on the couch.
Check out Milkology here. If you need more info before you commit, make sure you read my full review of Milkology.
Breastfeeding in the early days
There’s nothing like the cuddles and closeness you get breastfeeding a newborn. At the same time, this transition can be challenging for both of you.
Here are my resources to help you figure out breastfeeding. First, I have my top 12 tips on breastfeeding a newborn. And if you are wondering just exactly what to do with a new baby, my 8 surprising facts about your newborn may also be helpful.
While some moms may be afraid that they don’t have enough milk supply (don’t worry, you probably do), others have painful engorgement that they need help with.
Even with all the focus you may have on breastmilk production and supply, remember to take care of yourself during the postpartum period. Find breastfeeding positions (like the cuddle curl) that are comfortable for your neck and shoulders (I have a whole article compiled with a physical therapist on comfortable nursing).
If you’re worried about medications, many medications are compatible with breastfeeding (but definitely get the free app from the National Institutes of Health, LactMed, to check out specific drugs).
Breastfeeding and postpartum depression / postpartum anxiety
Postpartum depression and anxiety can happen any time in the first year postpartum. While some moms have an easier time with PPA or PPD when breastfeeding (due to oxytocin upticks from breastfeeding), others become more stressed from it.
One tip: Yes, there are antidepressants that you can take while breastfeeding (I discuss Zoloft and breastfeeding, for example). Talk to your doctor, and get help from a therapist or other professional if you’re dealing with mood swings or “baby blues” for more than 2 weeks at any time postpartum (not just during those first 6 weeks everyone knows about).
Continuing to breastfeed past the newborn stage
Breastfeeding continues to be beneficial past the newborn stage. In fact, I have a post about the benefits of breastfeeding at every age.
Just because your baby starts solids doesn’t mean you have to wean (BTW, if you haven’t heard of baby-led weaning, I HIGHLY recommend it as a great way to start your child on solid food). In fact, you can continue nursing through toddlerhood and beyond.
Sometimes in the late babyhood stage, you may become concerned that your supply is dropping. This post lets you know whether your supply truly is low, and if so, what you can do to boost it back up.
Tandem nursing and breastfeeding while pregnant
Breastfeeding is not a 100% reliable method of birth control (especially after 6 months). I should know; I’ve gotten pregnant while nursing three times.
If you become pregnant, you likely can continue breastfeeding without a problem (assuming that’s something you want to do). In fact, you can even nurse a younger and older child simultaneously – something called tandem nursing.
RELATED: Tandem nursing – Breastfeeding while pregnant or breastfeeding 2 kids at once
Problems while breastfeeding
While there are many sweet, cuddly times with breastfeeding, it isn’t always perfect. Here are some issues you may run into.
Sometimes, you may run into problems while breastfeeding. In particular, if you’re nursing a toddler while pregnant, you may develop nursing aversion, an unpleasant, creepy-crawly sensations while you’re breastfeeding.
One thing I want you to know: Nursing aversion is nothing to feel guilty about or ashamed of. I get it – you feel awful that you no longer enjoy breastfeeding your child. But it’s not something you can control (although you can alleviate it somewhat using some of the tips in this post).
Especially if your child is still waking at night to eat, you may get tired after a while! And while it’s easier to just feed your baby and go back to sleep in the early days, your child can definitely go all night without nursing once they’re over a year old.
If you’re ready to get your sleep schedule back, I have a whole post on gentle night weaning.
RELATED: How to night wean your toddler or older baby
Not only that, but I’ve created a night weaning action pack full of tips, prompts of exactly what to say to your little one when it’s 2AM and you’re exhausted, and a progress tracker to keep you encouraged.
Engorgement can be really painful. Here are my tips to get some relief and avoid mastitis, an infection in your breast.
Night weaning is so emotionally wrenching for both you and your toddler. That’s why I’ve written an entire post on it.
Looking for a complete guide, with a timeline, prompts with exactly what to say to your little one, and more? Check out the PREP Method for Night weaning here.
Toddler breastfeeding and weaning
Did you know the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding at least until age 2 and then beyond as long as you both enjoy it? Yes, there are many benefits to toddler breastfeeding (for both mother and child).
However, there will come a time when one or both of you want to wean. For some parents, your child will wean without you even having to push it. They’ll just… stop asking for the nursies.
But for others, weaning can be much more difficult. That’s why I’ve written a post on how to gently wean your toddler or preschooler.
And one of my favorite ways to help a toddler wean is to write a book telling them what awesome, big kids they are. After making two by hand (not an easy task), I finally wised up and made a weaning book template that I want to share with you. You just add your child’s name and picture and then print out the book. Afterwards, you have a sweet keepsake you can read to your child each night. They’ll feel so special knowing they have a book that’s just theirs.
Get the weaning book template here.