Breastfeeding was the most challenging part of early motherhood for me, as it is for many. It’s one of the things I worried the most about while pregnant. Would she latch? Would I produce enough? Would it hurt? Would I figure out how to pump so I could leave the house? There are a few things I did and have learned throughout my experience with nursing that helped me make it through and exclusively breastfeed until Piper was 13 months (despite all of her allergies).
- Educate yourself. I continue to be so surprised at how many women don’t attempt to educate themselves about breastfeeding while they are pregnant. There is so much to learn and it will make you feel so much more confident if you’re educated on it! I suggest taking a class if you can find one near you – our hospital offers one. Lactation Link is a great source online available to women anywhere!
- Read! In the same vein, I read as much as I could about nursing and what to expect, what challenges I may face and how to prepare myself. My favorite book is The Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding and I really want to read Work. Pump. Repeat . I also found myself on Kelly Mom all the time.
- Find a support group. This is so key! If it can’t be in person, there are plenty of opportunities online. I’m in a local breastfeeding Facebook group set up through our hospital and also have found other communities online through Instagram and blogging. I found these to be invaluable resources in my first few months of trying to figure out breastfeeding, I could ask any question with no judgement, any time of the day and get feedback from other women going through the same thing. If you need help finding one, email me!
- Shop! Prepare yourself with tools that will make the experience easier for you, I have a huge list of over 15 products that helped me along the way as a starting point. As with most things in motherhood, you’ll figure out what works and doesn’t work for you but it’s great to know about everything available to help!
- Find a lactation consultant. If nothing else it will ease your mind to have the contact info of a lactation consultant on hand when you head home from the hospital. I had to call one and my hospital’s nursing help line and just knowing I had experts a phone call away made me feel a little more at ease.
- Plan to pump. Make a plan for how and when you’ll start pumping when you’re pregnant. I also advise getting out your pump, reading the directions, practicing and cleaning all the parts. One less thing to do when you’re sleep deprived! I’ll be sharing another post on how I started to pump and develop a stash of milk early on.
- Use an app. By the end of my nursing journey I looked back and laughed at how obsessed we were with using our app to track Piper’s feeds but it was so helpful at the time! My husband and I could both access it so we knew when a feeding was coming up, I could time each nursing session so I had an idea of how long she should be on each side and I knew what side was up next. You can also notate diaper changes, bottle feedings, sleep time and so much more. The app we used was Sprout.
- Nourish yourself. Hydration is key when breastfeeding and your body needs extra calories to keep up with all that milk it’s producing for your baby! I suggest getting a big water bottle so you can monitor your intake and attempt to meal plan, this makes eating healthier much easier. I found myself relying on snacks (much like my toddler now) every few hours — and lactation cookies were the best indulgence! I also drank Mother’s Milk Tea.
- Get a nursing cover & practice using it at home. We didn’t go out a ton at first so when we did and I tried to nurse with Piper under a cover she had no idea what was going on. I used Covered Goods and found it pretty easy to use overall.
- Familiarize yourself (and your partner and caregivers) with breastmilk storage guidelines. I’d suggest printing off a guide (like this one) and sticking it on your fridge before you come home with your baby!
Image by Olive Juice Photography