Before I had my son, I heard a lot of negativity about breastfeeding. It seemed that everyone who didn’t enjoy it was quite vocal about the inconveniences and difficulties. I was a bit scared that I wasn’t going to be able to nurse my son from all the stories that I had been told. But I was determined to at least try.
My first few attempts at the hospital did not go very well. The nurses had me supplement with formula and pump. It would have been so easy to just give in and feed my son formula, but I didn’t give up, and I’m so proud to tell you that I ended up nursing my son until he was a year old which was my goal.
Now, let’s be honest, breastfeeding is hard! For the first two months it was a lot of work. I felt like I was constantly feeding my baby and it was quite painful. All of those stories that I had been told, were true. But that doesn’t make breastfeeding impossible. While breastfeeding does require a lot of work at the beginning, it become much easier. After a few months when my son didn’t need to eat as often and I was getting more sleep at night, I realized just how easy nursing was. I didn’t have to wash bottles, buy formula, or pack any feeding supplies when we went out.
I hope that if you are considering breastfeeding, you will be encouraged to give it a try and stick with it. It is so fulfilling to know that you are the one providing nourishment for your baby. You will feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment and reap several health benefits yourself!
1. Be Determined
This is the MOST important tip of
all! The first two months are the hardest. Unfortunately, most moms quit
during those difficult months, and never get to experience the joy that
come from sticking with it.
There were times,
especially at night, that I thought how much easier it would be to use
the formula samples I had been given. But each time I had that thought, I
reminded myself why I was choosing to breastfeed. I learned that
formula fed babies can go longer than breastfed babies because formula
takes longer to digest than breast milk! In other words, formula is
tougher on a newborn babies digestional track than breast milk. The food
and nutrients that I was providing for my son were specifically
designed for him and were better for his body. That was motivation
enough for me.
Of course, I understand that there are
circumstances when formula is necessary. My son had some formula during
his first week of life while we were both getting used to nursing. So I
know how important formula can be. But I feel strongly that the best
nutrients I could provide for my son were through breastfeeding, and that
was what kept me going even on the days and nights that I wanted to
2. Be Informed
While I was pregnant, I took a free online course that was offered by my hospital. I also found Cloud Mom on Youtube. She has some practical, quick videos. If you know someone who successfully breastfed, ask them for any advice. Surround yourself with positivity and those who will support you. Try to tune out the naysayers. Just because nursing was not for them, does not mean it isn’t for you and your baby.
3. Use a Nursing Pillow
I used the Comfort and Harmony Mombo Nursing Pillow. The pillow is good to use during the early stages of nursing while you are still figuring out a position that works for you and your baby. It also helps prevent arms from getting too tired. I only used the pillow for about the first 4-5 months when my son was still little. However, as he got older the pillow wasn’t needed.
4. Use Cream
During the early stages while your body is getting used to breastfeeding, it can be painful! Although the pain decreased over time, there were days that I applied cream every single time I finished nursing to help with the pain, especially duing those first 2 months. I chose to use Lansinoh HPA Lanolin because it is 100% safe for baby and easily available. The Lanolin was a life saver and helped me not give up!
5. Buy a Night Time Nursing Bra
I had purchased bras to wear during the day, but had forgotten about night. After I got home from the hospital I quickly ordered a Wirefree Comfort Wrap Nursing Sleep Bra. It was so comfortable and and made it easier to sleep (the little sleep that I got)!
6. Use a Comfortable Chair
As I look back on the first few days that I was nursing, I realize that I had a hard time finding the right position because I was trying to feed my son on the bed or couch without any arm support. The nurses had told me to use a pillow under my son for support, but that really seemed to just get in the way. Then I switched to feeding my son in our recliner which has padded arms. Having the comfortable arm supports helped me hold my son better and in turn helped him get a better latch.
7. Get a Pump
I didn’t use the pump often, but I was
thankful for the few times I did need it. Whenever my son started to
sleep longer at night, I had to pump once or twice for comfort sake
before my milk supply adjusted, usually within 24 hours. Before purchasing a pump, I read multiple
reviews and articles on them. Ultimately, I purchased the Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump and loved it! It is easy to use and clean. I highly recommend it.
8. Focus on Your Progress
While you are on this journey, it may seem like little progress is being made, but each week will be better than the last. When I would get discouraged, I would think back to a week ago and realize that my son and I had both made progress. Either I was in less pain, or my son was latching better. When I focused on the progress instead of the current struggle, I was more motivated to continue. Eventually it became like second nature for both of us.
If you are starting out right now, and it is a struggle, please know that it gets better with time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advise. If you have any questions or just need some encouragement, feel free to email me.
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