Like for most new moms, breastfeeding wasn't a joyride for me either. It was challenging initially and I was fearful of making mistakes. To top it all, I was bombarded with advice that did little good and perpetuated more confusion. If this isn't your first time, breastfeeding might not be that big of a deal — the experience becomes a part of your reflexes. But if you are a new mom or the last encounter was a grueling one, the information I am about to share with you will be handy (hopefully!). 
There's a first time for everything. You should know that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to your breastfeeding problems but starting on the right foot is the best way forward. And, just because the last time left a sour taste, it doesn't mean that you cannot become a successful breastfeeding mom this time around. As for me, I was a staunch advocate of breastfeeding who was determined to find a way out and even ace it (indeed, some of you may relate). So, with some practice and research, I figured out the right breastfeeding strategy that worked for my little one and me. To help ease out your breastfeeding journey, here I am with a list of some dos and don'ts that you need to bear in mind. 

The Do’s of Breastfeeding:

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Your breast milk is the elixir of life for your baby. It's power-packed with nutrients that nourish and boost your baby's immunity and aid their growth. The WHO and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby's life and can be safely continued even till their first birthday. Most women can breastfeed their babies, but it isn't as intuitive as many would have us believe (and may seem daunting in the beginning). So, the decision to breastfeed or not is crucial. With a host of health benefits breastfeeding for the mother and the baby, I must say, you should consider it without fail. 
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Your baby should finish drinking from the first breast before you offer them the other one. Also, start feeding each time with a different breast. For example, if your baby feeds on your right breast in the first feeding session, feed them from the left one the next time. Cracked nipples are common when the baby doesn't attach properly to the breast. If your nipples are sore and your breasts are swollen and painful, try taking a warm shower or put a warm compress on your breasts. Breastfeeding may seem complicated and demanding as your baby may desire to be fed often but fret not; you'll be at ease over time. It is a skill, and you'll slowly develop it, just like I did. 
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To each their own! There is no standard rule about how often you can feed your baby since each baby has different nutritional needs at various stages of their growth and development. But during the 4th trimester, that is, the first three months after your baby is born, they might need to be fed every one to three hours. If you decide to breastfeed them exclusively, the average interval between the feedings will be every two to four hours that is, about eight to twelve times a day. While some babies need to be breastfed every hour (also known as cluster feeding), others may eat every four to five hours. 
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If you are a working mom (just like me) wishing to involve your partner in feeding the baby or have a sudden trip planned away from your baby, breast pumps can be a savior (as they take most of your pressure off). You can store the expressed breast milk and use it at a later time when your baby is hungry. If you drink alcohol or take medications for an underlying health concern, you might need to dump the contaminated milk. Do speak to your doctor about breastfeeding safety measures or toxins in certain medications that may interfere with the quality of your breast milk. Also, check if pump and dump is an option for you or if you should entirely refrain from breastfeeding your baby. 
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Whether or not your baby has been fed sufficiently could be an ordeal for you since our breasts don't come with measure marks (haha). However, keeping track of the number of soiled diapers can help you keep pace with their hunger pangs or if they are sufficiently fed. Post the first week of birth, your baby should need five to six diapers each day. Ensure you breastfeed them after changing them into clear diapers only. If your baby is hungry, they will latch on to your breasts and continue sucking. However, an overfed baby will spit repeatedly, take longer pauses between sucking, vomit post breastfeeding, or even display fussiness while eating. Observe, and you'll soon figure the right amount and time to feed your baby.
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Breast milk is a complete food that also encourages mother-child bonding. Delaying the availability of milk for your baby can leave your baby irritated and fussy (which could make breastfeeding difficult for you). If you do not produce sufficient quantities of milk, know that the more you feed your baby, the greater the milk supply. If you formula-feed, your baby's demand for milk will be considerably reduced, restricting the milk you produce. Therefore, breastfeeding your baby on demand is crucial to ensure a healthy milk flow as well as to keep your baby satisfied.

Don'ts of Breastfeeding:

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Being a new mom is an overwhelming experience. More often than not, we forget our own need for rest and self-care. Set the intention to take good care of yourself. It'll make your breastfeeding journey smoother. 
Since your breast milk bears the taste and nutrients of what you eat, consuming nutritious foods is essential. Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fluids, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and reduce the intake of spicy foods. Also, include some physical activity in your routine and prioritize getting sufficient rest throughout the day. Take small naps when your baby sleeps. While you take a break, seek some help from well-meaning friends and family with daily chores and to keep a watch on your baby. Pain in any form can reduce the production of milk. Either follow home remedies to increase breast milk or consult your doctor immediately if you experience discomfort, bloody discharge, or notice lumps on your breasts while breastfeeding.
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Breastfeeding is a stressful experience for many new moms. The glares of passers-by in public spaces and the associated embarrassment that many women complain of can discourage new moms from breastfeeding. If you are overwhelmed, nervous and distressed, your baby could be left hungry. Seek privacy if you need it. 
That said, despite the common belief that "breast is best", there is no reason to feel guilty if you choose not to breastfeed. It is important that breastfeeding should be desired by you and your baby equally. Hence, cut yourself some slack. Don't beat yourself up if you don't get the breastfeeding technique right the first time around or opt out of it. Either way, you’ll be judged. Duh! So, do what you feel is right.
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Breastfeeding doesn’t have to dampen the intimacy you share with your partner. However, it is good to avoid birth control pills when you breastfeed your baby as they may affect estrogen production in your body. Estrogen-based birth control pills may cause your milk to dry up. So, in an ideal scenario, they aren't an efficient form of contraception for breastfeeding mothers. It could be a better idea to use condoms or other contraceptive methods as advised by your doctor.
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Smoking has been known to interfere with the production of milk. It can reduce not only the quality of your milk but also affect your baby's sleep. Even passive smoking can increase your baby's chances of respiratory and other illnesses. So, steer clear of smokes and vapes as much as possible.
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When you breastfeed, you must clean your hands and breast region before and after each breastfeeding session. If you use breastfeeding accessories, they too need to be properly sterilized before going into your baby's mouth. Being careless about breastfeeding hygiene can lead to health issues for your baby. Therefore, it is good to take precautionary measures to keep your baby healthy and happy.
We cannot perfect breastfeeding overnight. It takes time, and that's okay. If you're still on the fence about breastfeeding, this list of dos and don'ts should help you make the right decision. It's all about trial and error (like everything else), especially with the host of changes you need to adapt yourself to as you embrace motherhood. So, don't hesitate to switch things up and find the right breastfeeding strategy that suits the unique needs of your baby.