Overall my journey with nursing has been pretty enjoyable. I feel very lucky that aside from the first two weeks (ouch) Piper and I have had a good experience breast feeding — she didn’t have trouble latching and continues to do well and our feeds are something I now look forward to. I know many women struggle with nursing and I had much anxiety and worry about it while I was pregnant so I thought I’d share a few things I’ve picked up along the way and products that have worked for me. Everyone has different preferences and experiences with breastfeeding, and I’m in no way an expert but hopefully there are a few mamas (or mama’s to be) that find this helpful!
- Know that it gets easier. I had a really hard time the first two weeks, after my milk came in I was extremely engorged which made it harder for Piper to latch and was in so much pain. I was so worried about ruining my supply if I didn’t make the right choices. Everything I read talked about how things should be one way or another and there was nothing that simply told me – it gets better. Every day it gets easier, you and your baby get adjusted and some things just take time.
- Get help if you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It can feel isolating when you’re having trouble, your husband doesn’t really understand and no matter how much others want to help you sometimes you need the advise from an outside expert. I called our hospitals lactation help line and was so re-assured after speaking to a nurse. There’s also several lactation consultants in my area and I had their numbers ready in case it came to the point where I wanted one-on-one help (call your insurance to see if they cover this kind of help, my insurance did). Your local La Leche League is also a great place to start for help.
- Educate yourself before baby. I highly recommend taking a breast feeding class before your first baby – Austin took it with me and it was great for him to have a better understanding of everything. I also suggest reading as much as you can! I loved The Womanly Art Of Breast Feeding and also read The Nursing Mother’s Companion.
- Join a community. Having a support system that understands what you’re going through with a newborn is so valuable, your local Le Leche League or breastfeeding class is a great place to start. I’m part of a Facebook group through my hospital and it’s been so amazing to post questions and get feedback from hundreds of women in my community. There’s also a great sense of community online. My friend Lynzy started a nightly discussion for breastfeeding mamas using the hashtag #latenightnursingfeed.
- Stock up on nursing tanks, bras & pads. I had a few options ready when I got home from the hospital but wish I had been more prepared in this aspect. Because Piper spits up so much I was going through several sets of PJs a day and quickly ran out of tops that buttoned up the front. Also be sure to think about outfits that allow you to easily nurse with visitors around – I found nursing tanks to be the best for this situation and wore them non-stop with a cardigan. The only tanks I tried and love are Target’s. I also like sleeping in them because they’ll hold a breast pad without you having to wear a sleeping bra. I also suggest picking up several sleeping bras for this purpose — love these. Be sure to have plenty breast pads on hand to, I relied on them the first 2 months. I like Lansinoh‘s and re-usable pads for night time.
- Use an app to track time & sides. We use Sprout religiously in our house to log Piper’s feedings with bottle & breast and her naps. It’s great because it works on all of our devices and our nanny can use it too. Most of the time I can’t remember what side I’m on so this helps!
- Get a Kindle! It’s a great treat to read while your feeding with one hand on a Kindle. I need to take advantage of mine more and get off of Instagram ;)
- What works for “everyone” may not work for you. Much like childbirth, everyone’s experiences with breastfeeding are different. Don’t get down on yourself if certain things don’t work for you — for example I struggled for weeks nursing with the boppy pillow because everyone swore by it before realizing — this isn’t for me! We use it now to prop Piper up but it just didn’t help me with nursing at first.
My favorite products for nursing:
I think most women experience those dry, cracked nipples associated with breastfeeding for at least a few days (sorry, it’s true!!). I had a lot of organic options ready to use but found the first few weeks that Lanolin really worked the best, I was close to having my doctor call in a prescription for “Canadian nipple cream” too. After the first few weeks I continued to use Zoe Organics .
I have the Medela Pump In Style Advanced and love it – my insurance covered the entire cost. Be sure to call while you’re pregnant and see what your insurance plan will cover!! I recently picked up a hand pump — also Medela after reading great reviews and prefer this to the electric pump when I’m out. I’ve been using it at my weddings and I find it so much easier to not deal with cleaning a ton of parts, but that’s just my preference! Someone recommended these cleaning wipes for on the go and they have been great — I use Babyganics at home and these handy bags for sterilizing parts in the microwave.
I ordered this bra for pumping and it works great!
I use my Coveredgoods cover for nursing in public.
KellyMom is a great resource for questions online.
First image by Olive Juice Photography
I’d love to hear your tips for breastfeeding and what products you love!