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Are you pregnant and planning to breastfeed, or currently breastfeeding? I’m so thankful to have been able to nurse one of my boys for 17 months and learned some great tips and tricks along the way. Now I’m nursing my third baby and we are doing great! If you’re nursing or planning to nurse, here are some tips, tricks, and product reviews to help you out!
When I had my first son I planned on breastfeeding, but for many reasons, it didn’t work out. I was devastated but ultimately fed him mostly formula and he is currently happy and healthy! So, I just want to start this post out by saying that I am NOT anti-formula! I don’t know what I would have done without it. Though I am very passionate about breastfeeding, ultimately I was just happy he was fed and healthy.
OKAY! Now that that’s out-of-the-way 🙂 I can get on with my post…
When I got pregnant with my second, I was determined to breastfeed him. I’m not going to get into why here, but I was absolutely determined. Ultimately, I nursed him until he was 17 months old and only stopped because I was following his queues and he was ready. I’m so thankful for those 17 months and I’m still sad that they are over.
Looking back, I have to say, that I really was NOT prepared to nurse despite my strong intent. I had the lactation nurse come help me multiple times when I was in the hospital, and left there still feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t sure he was latching right and I was convinced that my milk wasn’t coming in. I didn’t think I’d make it a week, let alone 17 months.
I felt like I was constantly second guessing myself and the experts (because I sometimes got conflicting information). Because of that, and the success I ultimately had, I thought some of you might find some of this information useful.
For some of you it will truly be “natural” and you will have a super easy time learning to nurse! If you’re like me though, it was a bit harder and took some work. The more I learned, the more confident and comfortable I became… and I truly feel that led to the success we had. I can only share from my own personal experience but some of this may work for you as it did for me… So here you go:
1. It’s a learning process.
When your little one is trying to latch (especially as a newborn), it might be tough to get them to latch right. In fact, you might not even know what a “good” latch is. You AND the baby are learning… so be patient. Breastfeeding isn’t “instinctual” to everyone – or even to most. Ask around for help … there are lots of tricks and you’ll eventually find something that works for you. I’ll try to pin some great resources about latching to my Breastfeeding Pinterest board . If you’re interested, please follow my Pintrest board or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to share my experience or point you in the direction of great resources!
The main thing you want to look for, though, is that the baby is putting as much of your breast in their mouth as possible – if they are latched to the nipple, you’ll be in for a world of pain! There are lots of tricks to helping your newborn achieve that and I cover many of them in this post called the Breastfeeding Mom’s Guide to Latch. What worked best for me was placing the edge of the areola on their bottom lip when they were trying to latch and using it to help them open wider.
2. Knowing how to pump and using the right pump is key!
It is SO important to avoid pumping too early because it can create an oversupply! An oversupply could sound amazing but it’s actually really bad for you AND your baby as described in this post.
The reality is that there is a LOT to pumping. You have to know how often to pump, how long, how to have the right flange sizes etc. If you’re pumping because you’re going to work you also need to know how to fit it into your work schedule, how to wash your pump parts daily, how to store your milk etc! My post about how to prepare for pumping at work is a great start if you are going to need to do this!
You will also want to make sure that you have the right pump for you! I have a whole pump comparing some of the most popular breast pumps including the Haakaa pump that you have probably heard so much about! Here’s some great resources on breastpumps!
- how to prepare for pumping at work is a great start if you are going to need to do this
- Direct link to the best pump for moms worried about milk supply or clogged ducts and mastitis Make sure to use the code “MOM20” for 20% OFF when you place your order! It’s usually on backorder because it sells out so fast but they get back in stock at least once a month and ship quickly! This is the strongest pump on the market and their warranty is amazing!
- Detailed post and video about the Haakaa Silicone Breastpumps which are perfect for WAHM or SAHM.
3. Whether you have a “good” latch or not – you may still get sore and even bleed.
For me, and many others, this happened around the 2 week mark. This may not mean you’re doing anything wrong. It could mean that you’re both still learning how to breastfeed and your body is getting used to it, of that you were previously doing it incorrectly and are now feeling the results of that. Seek advice if you’re unsure, but if you really want to nurse, try not to let this stop you. For an in depth look into HOW to latch, what a good latch is, and what some common challenges or complications might be, take a look at this post!
At the beginning, I had a REALLY tough time knowing if I had a good latch or not. Ask around, seek help… but don’t assume that PAIN = WRONG LATCH. That may not be the case. I had my latch checked multiple times by multiple professionals and family members when I was in the worst of the pain and they all told me my latch was fine. I had such a hard time believing them but now I know they were right.
4. Get Medela Hydro-gel Pads are AMAZING!
At $6.99 for 4, Medela Hydrogel Pads are not cheap but they are absolutely worth it. You can reuse them a few times which is nice… and I only went through about 3 boxes in the first few months. I’m not sure that I could have made it past those few months without them though! Within each box, you’ll get 4 gel pads that are cool to the touch.They are just the right temperature to cool you down and help you feel better, and they stick to your skin. Let’s face it, during those first few weeks, you aren’t going to want to wear a bra. Not even a nursing bra! It’s really nice that these stick so you can apply them and just enjoy the relief for 24 hours (or more in my case). (No they don’t hurt when you remove them)
I tried ice packs, and cool towels etc… but none were as good as these. They alternatives either needed to be held in place, or were too cold etc. This product is the #1 thing I recommend to all friends who plan to nurse! If you’re interested din these, please click the link above or the image below.
5. Never… I mean never… quit on a rough day.
This is a key one that the ladies in a forum I used to go to helped me learn! Basically, if you’re having a rough day nursing your little one, don’t make the rash decision to stop nursing then. You might be okay with that decision for a day or even a week… but you might also really regret it. If you go too long without nursing, it could be really difficult or even impossible to start up again.
If you’re having a rough day nursing, either try your best to push through it, or find a “band-aid” to use for a few hours and then try again. Just don’t run out and stock up on formula and stop nursing for a week or two. Find a way to get through the day and think about it with a fresh perspective the next day. I came very close to quitting so many times and the amazing ladies on that forum helped me through it.
In Part 2 of this post, I’ll give you some examples of how I got through those rough days and some tips for pumping at work! If you’re worried about milk supply, I’ve also got a great recipe for Lactation Cookies here.
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