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.
When I had my second born, I figured I knew what I was doing and all would be well. However, that was not the case!
I had a harder time with her and the first week was awful! I was SO close to giving up, but I used the breastfeeding tips in this post to get through it and ended up feeding her for an entire year as well.
There is no sugar coating in this post. – 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 becomes 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 compared to bottle feeding. 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! And if you are already breastfeeding, but really struggling,
Practical Tips for Breastfeeding First Week
1. Know why you want to breastfeed your newborn.
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 quit.
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.
Also, breastfeeding is new for you and your baby, it will take practice. If it’s not working, ask for help right away. When i breastfeed the second time, it had been over 3 years since feeding a newborn, so I had forgotten some of the correct techniques. After experiencing excruciating pain, I finally asked my doctor for help. She gave me nipple shields which were a life saver!
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 your arms from getting too tired. I only used the pillow for about the first 4-5 months when my babies were still little. However, as they got older the pillow wasn’t needed.
4. Use cream, ice pads, and/or nipple shields for pain.
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 during 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!
Hot cold breast gel ice packs* also help with the pain. Apply them to your sore nipples after breastfeeding. It’s also helpful to have a second pair of these ice pads to use for heat. Heat them in the microwave and place in your bra while breastfeeding to help produce more milk flow.
The third resource for pain during breastfeeding is nipple shields*. The first time I used these, I felt a tremendous relief. Up until that point, I was literally curling my toes in pain and crying every time I had to breastfeed my daughter. The doctor gave me these shields and I was finally able to feed my baby without pain!
The only problem with the shields is you will need to wean your baby from them after awhile because they will get used to feeding with only the shield. It would help to have back up shields in case you misplace one.
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)!
Read my 5 best tips to combat new mom sleep deprivation.
6. Use a comfortable chair to breastfeed.
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. Pump when you need a break.
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.
I also used a pump when breastfeeding was just too painful before I had the shields. It was more work, but it was worth getting a break from the pain.
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.
Bonus Tip! 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 you get discouraged, think back to a week ago and how far you’ve both come.
Focus on the progress instead of the current struggle and you’ll be more motivated to continue. Eventually it will become second nature for both of you.
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.
Before you go, be sure to get the FREE Balanced Mom Checklist so you can learn how to really enjoy being a stay at home mom.
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