Learning how to nurse my child took a lot more effort than I expected. I had heard that breastfeeding comes naturally and your baby just knows what to do, so when that wasn’t exactly the case for my son and me, I felt defeated.

I had a lot of self-doubts:

  • Am I a bad mom?
  • What is wrong with me?
  • Is he getting enough to eat?
  • Am I good enough?

My nipples bled, my baby was fussy, and I was sleep-deprived and stressed. I was also mad that it seemed like my partner could sleep through the end of the world undisturbed. Thankfully, there were people in my life who stepped in to guide me and teach me the “how-to” of breastfeeding. The internet today is filled with common breastfeeding tips, so I thought I would bring you some unique advice to help but also keep you on your toes.

{ Tracey in the Esther Nursing Dress }

Figure Out Your Nipple Situation

Nipples come in all shapes and sizes just like breasts. We are all beautifully unique that way. Part of successful breastfeeding is figuring out what kind of nipple you have.

The Hospital Group identified 8 different common nipple types:

  1. Protruding - The nipple sticks out from the areola.
  2. Flat - There is not a height difference between the areola and the nipple.
  3. Bumpy - Tiny bumps called Montgomery glands can be found on your areola.
  4. Puffy - The areola is raised typically because of excess tissue.
  5. Hairy - Hair on your nipple is normal, and the amount found there can fluctuate right along with your hormones.
  6. Inverted - The nipple goes inward towards your body. This is super common, but if your nipple suddenly inverted, then you need to speak with your doctor.
  7. Big
  8. Small

If you have flat, inverted, or large nipples, you may need extra help in the beginning while you and your baby adjust to breastfeeding. Reach out to a lactation consultant, your child’s pediatrician, or your gynecologist for help.

Common latch techniques include:

  • Cupping your breast as you guide it into your baby’s mouth to help them latch.
  • Hand-expressing your milk before you start the feeding. It is easier for a baby to latch when a breast is not engorged.

2.  Go Topless

Be free mama! In all seriousness, give your breasts some breathing room. When you have the opportunity, go without a bra or shirt for a while at home. This will help your nipples heal while they are adjusting to having a baby sucking on them multiple times a day all day every day.

Letting them go uncovered will also help them dry and prevent situations like yeast infections. Our nursing bras are often wet from sweat or leaking breasts, making the area prime real estate for yeast infections. Working to prevent infection and giving your nipples time to heal will help your overall breastfeeding experience. You don’t have to burn your bra. Just give it a break once in a while.

{ Tracey in the Eva Nursing Dress }

3.  Make Your Mental Health a Priority

As mothers, you and I tend to put all of our children’s needs above our own. Much to our detriment, society also reinforces this tendency. Our mental health impacts us being able to be present for our child. It can also affect breastfeeding because stress and fatigue lower your milk supply. You deserve to take care of your mental health. However, if that is still hard for you to hear, then take care of your mental health for your children. They need you as their mom.

Taking care of your mental health can look like many things:

  • Getting professional help from a therapist trained in perinatal mental health care
  • Prioritizing your sleep
  • Joining a support group
  • Getting help with breastfeeding from a lactation consultant
  • Getting outside in the sunshine at least once per day
  • Having adult time with a friend, family member, or partner while someone else cares for your baby

4.  Get Help Prioritizing Your Sleep

Is it a universal experience that we sit up a night during feedings angry at our partner for sleeping so soundly or by the fact that we are the lone milk supplier in the household?

My partner is a heavy sleeper. During one middle-of-the-night feeding session, I attempted to wake him up to change the baby’s diaper. It took several tries before he finally woke up. He then got out of bed, went to the bathroom, and got back in bed.

I woke him up again.

This time he got up, went to the foot of the bed, and was fumbling around in the dark. Frustrated, I asked him what on earth he was doing. He replied that he was trying to find the baby. Mind you, our baby sleeps in a bassinet beside me, and I was holding him at the time. My partner was feeling around in the dark along the wall and the foot of the bed.

Was he expecting the baby to be on the wall? We may never know. “He is right here!” I ragefully whispered at him. My confused and sleepy partner then got the baby from me, changed his diaper, and fell back asleep in less than a minute flat. Since then, I have thought that couples counseling would be a helpful buy one get one free deal that comes with your hospital delivery fees.

One thing that my partner and I worked well on together was prioritizing my sleep. During maternity leave, this looked like him taking the baby when he got home from work and me going to take a nap. We would do a similar thing on the weekends, so I could get sleep wherever I could.

It does not have to be a partner who helps with this. It could be a trusted friend or family member who comes over 30 minutes or an hour once a week, so you can get a nap. Get creative. I know it gets harder with each additional child, but any extra sleep helps you function better for yourself and your children.

Extreme exhaustion can lower your milk supply, which causes you more problems and fatigue in the long run. Asking someone to help you with this will leave you less frustrated than trying to simply follow the “sleep when the baby sleeps” mantra. So when you have someone make the offer “let me know what you need,” tell them you need sleep and let them help you (as long as you trust them with your baby).

{ Tracey in the Emilia Nursing Dress }

5.  Try Weird Positions

Don’t be afraid to try different positions to make breastfeeding work for you and your baby. In those early newborn days, I was desperate to try anything to make breastfeeding work better for my baby. My first child fed better in the side-lying position, while my second child currently needs the laid-back position. Every baby and mama combo is different, so you have to find what works best for you. Keep trying until you find it.

Different holds to try:

  • Baby Carrier: You may want the freedom of mobility and use of your hands, so try nursing with your baby in a baby Wait to try this until your baby has enough neck strength to hold their head up, and always make sure they can breathe well.
  • Laid-Back: You may have an oversupply of milk that leads to a lot of spit-up and fussiness, so try the laid-back position. Lay in a reclined position and put your baby on top of you with their stomach against They have to work to suck the milk up to them, so there is not a gushing of milk with this position.
  • Football/Rugby: You might try this hold if you have large breasts or have had a cesarean birth. Get in a seated position and lay your baby perpendicular to you along the side of your body with their chest facing Use your hand and forearm to support their head and body.


Put Breastmilk on Everything

  • Your nipples after feeding
  • Babies dry lips
  • Mild skin irritations

Get Comfortable First

  • Feeding sessions are more successful when you are comfortable. When you feel relaxed, you are less likely to end the session early. Proper support from pillows and furniture protects your back and helps you bond with your baby while nursing because you are not strained or in

Blanket Support

  • If you have large breasts, place a rolled-up blanket under your breast to hold it up for your baby while This will give your arms and back a break.

At Ellie and Becca, we want you to feel gorgeous while you are on your breastfeeding journey. That is why we make sustainable and beautiful nursing dresses. More importantly, we also want you to feel confident in your ability to nurse your children and have the tools you need to be successful. We got your back mama.

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