This is a follow up post to this one about breastfeeding. These are some tips and suggestions that were helpful to me when I was starting out. I hope they can help someone else out as well.
- Lansinoh cream – This stuff is like a miracle drug! If you are breastfeeding you need it glued to your side 24/7 for the first couple months. It not only helps relieve the pain, but provides some cushioning so there is less friction.
- Breast pads – I use Johnson and Johnson, but there are several brands out there. I thought about using washable ones (cloth), but never got around to purchasing. Breast pads can help decrease the chances of embarrassing situations because your milk has leaked. In the beginning, my milk “let down” often and without breast pads I would have been soaked.
- Good support – A partner that will stand by you (or a friend if not partner is available) both night and day. Ben was a great support. He would help keep me awake at night when I was so tired. He would help Mikayla latch on in the beginning and pull out her lower lip when we were having that issue. He also was great at positioning pillows, Boppy, etc to support Mikayla.
- Cushions – I have gotten to wear I just use pillows to support my arms and Mikayla while feeding, but in the beginning I used a Boppy or a My Brest Friend.
- Water – Lots of it! Ben jokes, but every time I begin feeding Mikayla I ask him for a glass of water. It is almost immediately that I feel dehydrated when I begin nursing. Drink lots of water, this will also help with milk supply.
- Nursing tank/bra – For the first few weeks I would strictly wear my nursing tank. When you are nursing around the clock it is important that you have easy access and something that is comfortable and supportive.
- Entertainment – Some people would say this can be detrimental to the nursing bond, but I need some sort of entertainment when nursing Mikayla (especially in the middle of the night) and I don’t feel like our bond has been threatened. I have used anything from DVD’s on the computer (I went through the entire Friends series between pregnancy and the first few months of nursing), books/magazines, conversations with Ben or close friends/family, or the Internet (i.e. email, shopping, etc).
- Nursing wrap – Not a must have (I actually don’t even use mine that much anymore), but nice if you are going to be out and about. Breastfeeding freaks some people out and so sometimes it is just easier to cover yourself up than explain why you have your breast out in public. As Mikayla gets older, it is harder to use the wrap (she just doesn’t want to stay hidden)! I have gotten to the point now that I will just nurse her without a wrap and fight off the stares some people throw in my direction. It is more important to give Mikayla a good feeding than it is to please everyone around me.
- Sleep – In the beginning this seems impossible, but if you become too sleep deprived you will lose your milk supply. It might seem cliche, but it is important to sleep when the baby sleeps. This means you need to lay down as soon as they fall asleep, because if not they will be up before you even think about it.
- A good breats pump – Especially if you are planning on going back to work. I have a Medela one and it is great! I also bought some extra “air horns” as Ben refers to them so I wasn’t washing non-stop.
- Breast pump wipes – These are great for at schol if I am going to have to pump twice. It is not convenient to wash the pump parts at school, so I use the wipes to sanitize between pumping sessions.
- Positioning – There are several different positions and holds you can use when nursing. In the beginning I gave them all a shot, but in the end decided that the traditional cradle hold worked best for us. Occasionally I have gotten clogged milked ducts (painful by the way), and when this happens we have to switch to the football hold when nursing, but this is the only time. Here is a great video of some different positions to use. The position where you are laying on the bed nursing is not included in the video, but is one that I hardly use. I am afraid I will fall asleep and crush my baby. Some people I know swear by this position and use it daily. My advice is to give them all a shot and then figure out what works best for you.
- Time – Don’t try and rush a nursing session. This will stress out you and baby, plus your milk may not let down if you are stressed. At first feedings take between 30 minutes to an hour. Now I can nurse Mikayla in 10-15 minutes. The longer you nurse, the quicker it becomes. I am not sure why, but that is what I have experienced.
Most importantly though is to relax and try to enjoy yourself. It is hard at first when you are in so much pain and so exhausted, but it does get easier. Before each feeding I make sure I am comfortable, have some supportive cushions (i.e. pillows, Boppie), entertainment (i.e. computer, book, someone to talk to) and a hungry, but not starving child! Nursing has been one of the best decisions I ever made, and even though we have had some struggles I wouldn’t change it for anything. The bond I share with Mikayla is like no other bond in the world.
Any of you other experienced moms have more tips/advice/must haves to add to the list?