I’m no expert on breastfeeding by any means. Just because I have four children does not mean I’m a pro. But, I wanted to do this post so that when my sisters and friends need help I will remember what and how I did it! And maybe it will help some of you also!
First things first, let’s get a few words out of the way so they won’t shock you as you read along; boob, boobies, breast, nipple, uterus. Haha! Ok, moving on.
The very best thing you can do for yourself is educate yourself as much as possible BEFORE the baby arrives. If you wait until the baby is here to start figuring all this out it’s going to frustrate you. You don’t have time to be researching, you’ll be too busy kissing on that sweet baby!
I think a big thing to remember is that you need to go into breastfeeding reminding yourself that if it doesn’t work out, IT’S OK! Your baby WILL NOT starve if you have to formula feed! Yes, breast is best BUT formula is just fine! People put so much pressure on new moms to breastfeed and I think that just makes it SO HARD. If you’re stressed out about it, it’s not going to work.
Soon after your baby is born, within an hour, it’s important to have that first feed. I let the baby nurse 15-20 minutes on each side. And then I supplement with some formula. GASP! Yes, I do. I do this until my milk comes in. It makes it easier to me…the baby is not starving, and is not so rough on your nipples! OUCH! Newborns need to nurse every two hours, around the clock. Yes, you have to wake them when they are first born! Usually mine are ok to start going as long as they want between feedings at about 2 weeks old…consult your pediatrician! You will have some cramping for the first few weeks when you nurse. Nursing helps your uterus to shrink back down! OH and a side note, some women don’t have a period while nursing..ME included!
Ask for help from a nurse or lactation lady while you are in the hospital. You need to make sure the baby is latched correctly every time or your nipples are going to crack and bleed and hurt like HELL. Breastfeeding itself DOES NOT HURT. The only time you will have pain is when you have let the baby latch incorrectly and nurse or when you go too long without nursing or pumping and let yourself get engorged. DOUBLE OUCH. If you do end up with cracked nipples, you should be able to get some gel pads from the hospital…stick them in the refrigerator and put them on in between feedings. Not only do they feel good, they help to heal you up! You still need to nurse or pump when you have sore nipples, I find it easier to try to pump whichever side is cracked until it heals. Your milk supply runs off of supply and demand, meaning the more you pump/nurse, the more milk you will have and vise/versa. After a few weeks your body will regulate your supply and you will have pretty much the exact amount of milk you’ll need! If you get engorged, pump pump pump…it’s likely your boobs will be too full for baby to latch.
It’s important to maintain a healthy diet while you are breastfeeding. I am still taking prenatal vitamins also. Drinking LOTS of water is important. I can always tell when I haven’t drank enough because my milk supply will dip. I am also taking a herbal supplement called Fenugreek…2 capsules, three times a day with meals. This helps to keep a good supply of milk also….I started that when Brooks was about 6 weeks old. As far as what you can eat, I try to limit my dairy intake as it can cause a gassy baby…Brooks is already SUPER gassy without me adding to it! Some people have to watch the caffeine…I don’t drink a lot of it anyway so I don’t notice a difference with that. Oatmeal also helps my milk supply. I eat Oat Revolution almost every morning. Luckily, breastfeeding burns A TON of calories…helping you shed those pregnancy pounds! I’m only 6 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight! And, trust me, it’s not from eating super healthly..I am eating to keep myself alive most days, no matter what it is! HA!
I am just getting over having a clogged milk duct. Lordy Jesus, that was no fun! I think I’ve mentioned before that I mainly feed Brooks pumped milk at night and I pump during the night. This is because he gets real comfy while nursing(so do I) and falls back to sleep really easily…not finishing up his feeding. Leaving my boob not empty and his tummy not full. This leads to him waking up frequently at night to nurse. I had a lapse in judgment over the weekend and decided to just let him nurse one night. I think this led to the clogged duct. Y’all I had a knot the size of a golf ball. Hurt SO bad. My skin was even painful. Luckily, I caught it in time before it got infected and turned into Mastitis. If that happens you will have flu-like symptoms and need antibiotics. To clear up the clogged duct I massaged before feeding and pumping, I always stated his nursing sessions on that breast, I used warm compresses before pumping and I pointed his chin towards the knot when he latched..supposedly this gets the best suction directly to the spot. I have no clue if that helped but I was doing anything I could!
I don’t have a whole lot of advice on nursing in public. I’m a pretty private person so I’m just not comfortable. We have had TONS of nursing time in the back of my Yukon! It’s really nice to not have hardly any bottles to wash!
Here are a few things that I could not go without while breastfeeding.
1. Pump-Do NOT sell yourself short with a cheap pump. Period. I have this Medela and I love it! And go ahead and get a double pump.
2. Boppy Nursing Pillow- I have THREE of these bad boys right now. Well one is my sister’s and she’ll need it back soon! ;) But I have one that I leave at the office and one at home.
3. Breast pads and a good bra – You need to wear a bra 24/7 while breastfeeding. If not you’ll end up with droopy boobies! And WHO wants that? NOT ME! Splurge and get yourself fitted for a few really good nursing bras. I have one that I use only for night wear that’s more comfortable. Nothing is worse than an ill fitting bra! I use Lansinoh Breast Pads, I like that they are thin and very absorbent.
4. Lanolin cream is good for sore nipples too, I have been told that using this while you are pregnant will help you to keep from getting cracked nipples once the baby is here.
These are the gel pads I mentioned earlier. If you don’t get them at the hospital I think Target and Babies R Us sells them.
5. SUPPORT! You NEED people around you that are supportive of you breastfeeding. People don’t need to be saying to you, “just give them formula, it’s too much trouble, the milk is not satisfying the baby.” BREASTMILK WAS MADE TO NURTURE YOUR BABY, I ASSURE YOU IT SATISFIES THEM!!!. Biggest pet peeve EVER!
Breastfeeding is very rewarding. It can sometimes be hard. But the good by FAR outweighs the hard times.