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Despite what you may here from others, breastfeeding does not always come easy. I have been fortunate enough to breastfeed both of my babies, not without a fair amount of struggles. I nursed Leilah until she was 16 months old, and Samara is still going strong at 4 months. It was a lot of hard work for me in the beginning with both of them. Dealing with things like cracked nipples, refusing to latch, engorgement…a first time mom can be seriously overwhelmed. Like there isn’t enough to worry about with a newborn, now you have to figure out how to get this screaming baby, who is obviously hungry, to latch. Not only for their sake, but for your boobs to finally feel some relief!
I was determined to breastfeed my babies as long as it was working for our family. If I was happy and baby was happy, then we were going to keep on trucking! Now, this in no way is to say that choosing to bottle feed, or supplement is wrong. We actually supplemented Leilah with formula when she was around 10 months because my milk supply was dropping. I am a true believer that FED IS BEST!
Here are some of my top products and tips for making the breastfeeding journey a little easier.
Get as many pillows as you can and surround yourself with them. You’ll need one behind you, on your sides, maybe under your feet. But, most importantly, get a nursing pillow. You may think that it’s not necessary, but since it literally forms around you, you’ll have support where you need it. For the first 3 weeks of Samara’s life we struggled together. She had a slight tongue tie which made it difficult for her to latch and stay latched. Which meant I was constantly hunching over shoving my boob in her face, resulting in major back and neck pain. Trust me, pillows are incredible. Also, when baby gets older and you no longer need the pillow to support them while nursing, they come in super handy when they are trying to sit up on their own. Makes for a great cushion when they start to topple over.
With both girls I needed to use a crazy amount of lanolin. Cracked and sore nipples were a serious issue. I mean, cringing in pain every time the baby latched on. It was like a whole new “breathe through the pain” experience. Whoever said that breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful was a liar! I experienced pain for 6 weeks with Leilah, and 4 weeks with Samara. Using lanolin before and after each nursing session seriously helped save me. It creates a barrier to prevent friction, and also helps to heal your poor, sore boobies. I used Lansinoh’s Lanolin cream because it’s 100% natural and safe for baby as well. No one wants to try wiping it off before you feed your baby again. FYI, also comes in handy when you need chapstick in a pinch. DON’T JUDGE!
In the early days of breastfeeding, once your milk has come in and whenever it’s time for baby to eat, your milk may start to let down. Now, baby could be latched on to one side already and the other side starts leaking, or baby could be at grandma’s house getting a bottle and your body just knows it’s time to let down. Something I experienced for 6 months with Leilah was leaking during the night. Once she started sleeping longer stretches, I would wake up completely soaked if I didn’t have absorbent nursing pads on. I recommend getting some that are reusable and able to be thrown in the wash. Because trust me, you’ll be going through them a lot. Plus, better for the environment. So it’s a win-win! These are the ones I recently bought and am loving.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Duh, Brittany, obviously I’m going to get burp cloths for my baby. Well I know that! But how you use them is going to be the save all here. When I was a new nursing mother I would get so frustrated when Leilah was finished eating and milk had dripped down the side of her face, all over my shirt. I was going through so many shirts because of this. So I started tucking a burp cloth into my nursing bra, under my boob. This catches any milk that spills out of baby’s mouth and protects your clothes from getting stained! It’s like a bib for your boob. Trust me, try it!
I mean, A TON of water. All the doctors I’ve spoken to about breastfeeding have said the same thing. Your breastmilk supply is effect more from the amount of water you drink than anything you eat. If you are dehydrated, your body will not be as worried about producing breastmilk as it will be in survival mode, keeping your organs healthy. So, drink at least 100oz of water a day. I have a few cute water bottles near me at all times to constantly stay hydrated. I’ve heard so many people say that they feel like drinking water more often if they have a cute bottle. So, get shopping!
Something I was unaware of before I had kids was that you must continue to take your prenatal vitamins even after you have given birth, especially if you are breastfeeding. As a new mom, it can be so difficult to make sure you’re getting a balanced diet. So, continuing to take prenatals will make sure your breastmilk is full of the proper nutrients that baby needs. Not to mention, continue fueling mama’s body too! These ones by Nature’s Way were the only ones I could take without throwing up during my pregnancies. Before I even got pregnant I took the regular women’s version. Two thumbs up from this mama.
Side Lying Nursing Position
I had a friend tell me about this position early on in my breastfeeding journey. If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll know that Leilah was a terrible sleeper in the beginning. Something that seriously helped me get more rest while feeding her was lying down and nursing her in bed. I would plop her next to me, and let her get her fill, while I could lay down and continue to rest in the middle of the night. Now in order to do this, make sure you are still keeping a safe environment for baby. Have your phone nearby to keep you awake during feeds, make sure no pillows or comforters are near baby’s face. But girl, if you haven’t been doing this before, start now. It’s seriously a game changer.
Baby Glow App
This app has helped me with both girls. It is great for tracking each nursing session to make sure baby is eating enough. Early on when baby is nursing every two hours, it helps you keep track of when you last fed them. You can even use it to monitor wet and dirty diapers, sleeping patterns, pumping sessions, milestones and so on. I’ve had nothing but good things to say about this app and even recommended it to friends before writing about it here. I definitely suggest downloading it if you are pregnant or have a nursing baby. You won’t regret it.
I hope these tips have come to be useful for some! My goal is to just pass on any helpful information I have discovered along the way, in hopes that it can come in handy for another mama out there at some point.
Below is an overview of all products listed in this post, just in case you’d like another look.