Breastfeeding has NEVER EVER been easy for me. Both of my babies had terrible latches and it never seemed to come natural. After 5 days of nursing my son I threw in the towel. I do think that being unsuccessful nursing him is what fueled my fire and determination to succeed with my daughter. If you struggled with breastfeeding your first or didn’t nurse for as long as you would have liked, it doesn’t have to be the same with subsequent children. In this post I’m going to share some tips and tricks and how I survived those early days. Im beyond proud to say that next week will mark 8 months of breastfeeding my daughter.
- If there are any latch issues get them corrected ASAP. You will know if your baby has a poor latch because it will hurt and breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt. A poor latch will lead to blisters, bleeding, engorgement, mastitis and more. Take advantage of lactation consultants at the hospital ( I was constantly paging them…NO SHAME). Once I left the hospital we were still having latch issues so I made an appointment with the lactation consultant at our pediatricians office. I saw 3 different lactation consultants before her latch was corrected. This video also helped me understand how to properly latch… I remember having an “a ha!” moment when I watched.
- This is the most important to me. Take it feed by feed. I set smalls goals for myself in the beginning and basically had to throw them out the window. I was getting so discouraged and fed up with the pain and cluster feedings that I almost quit SEVERAL times. I had to say “forget about making it 3 months, I just need to get through this feed.” And you know what? It helped! In that moment the thought of months or even more days seemed like a nightmare, and to be honest…torture.
- Before you leave the hospital ask for a prescription compound nipple cream. I was given Dr. Newmans and it was a life (and nipple) saver. There is a huge difference between Lanolin and Dr. Newmans. Lanolin is basically a chapstick for your nipples whereas Dr. Newmans is medicated (you need a prescription) and helps to heal your cracked and bleeding nipples.
- Cluster feeding… it sucks (pun intended) but is totally normal. At 10 days old my daughter started to hard core cluster feed around the same time every night and FOR HOURS. My advice, set up shop. Get your snacks ready, pick out a movie, have your water and prepare to be tied to the couch. With that being said…don’t make plans for the first few weeks and don’t be afraid to tell people if you don’t want company (I literally walked around topless for weeks and wasn’t comfortable with nursing in front of just anyone yet), and on the other hand, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
- Get yourself a nice robe. I bought a cute one from Pink Blush and it was perfect. It had pockets ( to keep my nipple cream, chapstick and cell phone), it was light weight so I slept in it sometimes (postpartum night sweats anyone?) and was a cute alternative to a shirt in those first few weeks. Im not kidding when I say my daughter nursed so much a shirt was just not an option for me.
- Step away from the electric breast pump ( in the first few weeks). Breastfeeding is all supply and demand. When you pump, you’re telling your body to make more milk ( if you are having trouble producing milk the pump may be your best friend, so ignore this tid bit). What to do to help relieve that pain when the milk comes in? Hand Express! Just enough so the pain goes away as you don’t want to completely empty your breasts.
- I would recommend this product to any breastfeeding mother The Haakaa This is a silicone breast pump that is, affordable, portable, quiet and easy to clean. It suctions to the opposite breast the baby is feeding on and not only catches the milk but helps to draw it out. I’ve collected as much as 4 0z with this milk saving tool, and was also able to build up a freezer stash. It will also work when baby isn’t nursing it just take a little more “work”. This is great for those early days when you don’t want to use the electric pump and you just want some relief.
- Have a support system… A friend, a family member, a lactation consultant, your significant other, anyone that will be there for you. None of the women in my family breastfed so I had to lean on some friends and my sister in law when times got tough. I don’t want it to sound like my family wasn’t supportive because that isn’t the case at all. I just think it was easier for them to recommend formula when times got tough. I remember one night when it was really bad, my husband walked in the room and I was balling from the pain and he said “just give the baby formula.” I screamed at him “if you can’t f****** support me then don’t come near me.” It was the last time he mentioned it and 10 minutes later he came in, told me I was doing great, and gave me a foot rub while I nursed our daughter. I thank him for that foot rub to this day because it really helped me relax.
- WATER, WATER and more WATER. I actually took the huge insulated water jug from my hospital room and filled that up constantly. It was perfect because it holds a lot of water and keeps it cold. Not to mention those hospitals charge an arm and a leg to have a kid, so why not?
- Snacks. You will be ravenously hungry. Unlike anything you’ve ever felt before and it will be all day. Have little snacks that are easy to get and prepare. Crackers and cheese, apple slices with pb, fruits, yogurt and granola, and avocado toast were some of my favorites.
You can do this! If you’re anything like me breastfeeding won’t be anything like you had imagined but it will be worth it. It took me 3 months to get to the point where I considered it easy and worth it. It took a lot of patience, selflessness, determination and just trusting in my body. If anyone needs a support system, I’m here! Feel free to shoot me a message at anytime. It does get better, I promise!
And here is a picture of my little nursling and I