Breastfeeding. I have come to understand it is so much than just a word, more complex than just a decision on how to feed my child, oh it is an all-encompassing lifestyle! At least, that’s what it feels like in the beginning. So, Mama, to save you time and effort, I’ve compiled a list of tips to make breastfeeding easier for you.
With my first baby, I spent so many hours thinking, reading, researching, comparing ideas, products that would help me to effectively and easily breastfeed. It was trial and error to see what worked. With my second baby, I used what I learned and it was an entirely different and much smoother experience.
Here we go!
1. Find a comfortable place to nurse
I don’t need to tell you that as a mom of a new baby, you will be nursing often, on demand, multiple times an hour especially with cluster feeding. Good support is crucial to minimize the strain on your back, arms, and shoulders. I recommend using a recliner or glider or prop up with pillows. I often used a glider or my pregnancy pillow to prop me up if I was sitting in bed.
2. Invest in a Nursing Pillow
Once baby gets the hang of nursing and is a little older, you probably won’t need a nursing pillow as much or even at all. But in the early days, it is a lifesaver. There are many options for nursing pillows but the ones I used were the BrestFriend and Boppy. During the newborn days when I was recovering from c-section, I found the Brestfriend helpful. It is adjustable and fastens and stays in place, even if baby is a wiggler. For infancy and beyond, I switched to Boppy because it was smaller and versatile. As baby and I became more adept at nursing, we no longer needed a large pillow that fastened. The Boppy can be used as a nursing pillow as well as for tummy time or to support a baby tring to sit up. I found both helpful at different times. For more details about the two pillows and to see what others are saying, here are some reviews. In sum: if you don’t want the pillow to move a lot and like the security of a clasp or if you are recovering from C-section, go with Breastfriend. If you want a multipurpose pillow and don’t mind readjusting the pillow, get a boppy. Either way, just get something for support. Trust me, it makes life so much easier!
3. Learn some breastfeeding positions
Technique matters! If it hurts, readjust baby’s latch and positioning. Proper positioning to get a deep latch helps getting milk to the baby and proper emptying to prevent plugged ducts, inflammation, or mastitis. I recommend trying various breastfeeding positions to see what works for you and your baby including cross cradle, cradle, football, laid back breastfeeding/natural, and side lying holds. You’ll find some positions easier than others so use what feels right.
4. Don’t Neglect the Nips
All of that frequent nursing can really do a number on your nipples. I recommend using Lanolin cream after feeds to moisturize and soothe. You can wipe it off before the next feed but it is nontoxic and safe even if baby gets some of it while nursing. If nipples are very sore and it is very painful to feed despite proper latch, try using a nipple shield temporarily to allow healing. If nipples are cracked, bleeding, shooting pain in breast during the entire feed, this is not normal and can be due to infection. Let your doctor know if you are having these symptoms so you can get the proper treatment.
5. Keep clothes dry with Nursing Pads
Leaky boobs? Two words: nursing pads. If you want environmentally friendly option, go with reusable nursing pads like Bamboobies (that’s what it’s called, I swear!). They have overnight nursing pads as well as regular nursing pads. I loved the softness of the reusable nursing pads. I did find that they would sometimes move around in the bra so unfortunately it didn’t always prevent leakage. Disposable ones like the Lansinoh nursing pads work too. There are other brands but I didn’t use them and can’t comment on them. But feel free to experiment. The disposable pads have backing that stays in place in your bras/tops. They aren’t as soft as the reusable ones and are not environmentally friendly but they do get the job done and don’t add to the laundry pile.
6. Wear BF friendly clothes
Go with clothing that gives easy access for breastfeed (BF). These include nursing bras, nursing camis/tanks, shirts or dresses with buttons or that can be opened in the front. You don’t want to be that girl at a party that needs someone to unzip the dress and then find her a different room to feed baby so there wouldn’t be indecent exposure. Oh, was the girl someone I knew? Sigh, it was me and yes, it was kind of awkward.
7. Use a Nursing Cover
Makes nursing in public manageable without the stares or comments from people or without having to find a different location to feed. I found that using a nursing cover or breathable muslin blankets made it easy to nurse in a restaurant, at the mall, on a plane, or even in your house if you have guests visiting. If you feel comfortable enough to go coverless, go for it. For me, I loved the ease and privacy a cover offered without having to isolate myself in a different location.
8. Boost Milk Supply
Stay hydrated and eat a well balanced nutritional diet. Lactation teas and cookies are yummy options. I’ve tried a few recipes for lactation cookies and my favorite is the recipe from How Sweet Eats. You can also use galactologues like Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle, Brewer's Yeast. They can be taken separately or in a combo formulation. For example, Upspring Milkflow has both Fenugreek and Blessed thistle. Check with your doctor before starting any supplements or if you have any questions.
Other tips for good supply: nurse often, let baby finish each side, and use breast pump to empty breast if baby only feeding one side, if nursing interval increasing, or if you want start a milk stash before going back to work. Additionally, be on the lookout for signs of breastfeeding issues and seek help by consulting with your pediatrician and lactation consultants.
What tips or must-have items did you find helpful during your breastfeeding journey? Feel free to share and leave comments! I look forward to hearing from you.
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