Breastfeeding the second time around has been completely different than what I experienced as a newbie. Not only did it just seem easier, but I now know what works and what I can live without.
The MOST important thing to remember when it comes to breastfeeding is that it’s OK if you can’t or don’t do it. All too often, a mom gets her heart set on breastfeeding, and then it just doesn’t work out for any number of reasons. After wanting so badly to successfully breastfeed your baby, and trying so hard, just know that the first time you give your baby formula, you will cry. You will feel defeated. You will feel like you can’t provide for your own baby. Wrong. You are providing for your baby by giving them the nutrients they need. Once you realize that it is completely alright for you to feed your baby formula, you will begin to feel much better. Whether it be breastmilk or formula, you are feeding your baby in the best way you can and you have to do what will work for you.
With that said, here’s what I’ve learned about boob to baby feeding…
- It hurts at first. I’ve had a few people tell me that it never once hurt for them. Ok. Just not the case for me, so this is worth sharing. For about the first month, every single time your baby latches on, you’ll think, “OW, OW, OW, OW, OW!” And then after about five seconds, baby is suckling nicely with a deep latch and everything is great. But those first few seconds, man…painful! Think of it as an intense workout for your nipples. You’ll be sore, but the more you do it, the more in shape they become.
- Drinking a ton of water makes an unbelievable difference in your milk production! The first time around, I was working all day and never made myself drink enough water. Like, not even close. The end of the day would roll around and I wouldn’t have even finished half of my water cup. NOT OK! If you drink a ton of water throughout the day and especially before bed, you will definitely increase your milk supply. Getting good rest helps production too, but let’s be real, who is getting good rest with a newborn!?
- If you’re a working mom, PUMP, PUMP, PUMP! With my first little guy I was still teaching. The school day isn’t all that long, so I assumed I could pump once before lunch and that would be enough. WRONG! I would feed Mason before we left the house, then pump in the late morning, and then I would feed him again when I picked him up around 4 or 5pm. I was thinking, “He can go 4 hours between feedings, so I really only need to pump once during the day. If your baby is not eating from you, you should pump more like every three hours. Every time your nipples get that stimulation to get the milk flowing, it encourages more milk production. After a few months, I would only get 2 ounces when I would pump. That’s not nearly enough to cover a feeding, not to mention wanting to build up a freezer supply. It began to feel like it wasn’t even worth it to go through the process to get so little. *Enter: supplementing with formula and the tears that came along with it. I should have been pumping WAY more to ensure my milk supply stayed where I needed it to be. Whether working or not, I highly recommend pumping every morning, about 30 minutes after you feed your baby. This is what I am doing now and I have created a great freezer supply! Or as I like to call it, “liquid freedom.”
- Get a GOOD pump. I’ve had numerous friends tell me they had problems with maintaining a good milk supply because their pump just wasn’t doing what it should have. Saving the extra money isn’t worth it. Just think how much you’ll save by not buying formula! Check into what your insurance covers too. After doing research and asking friends, my top choice for a quality breast pump is Medela. The Pump In Style Advanced (see photo below) comes with everything you need in a handy black tote bag or backpack. I could discreetly grab my backpack and no one questioned a thing. Check into them. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
- There’s plenty of great items out there to help with sore nipples. My favorite is the Medela Tender Care Lanolin. I use it a lot at the beginning, after every feeding, but then I gradually move to just putting it on before bed. However, the BEST, and when I say best, I mean THE BEST thing you can put on your nipples to soothe them is your breastmilk! At first it’s a little bit like, “um,what?” But it’s sooooo nice. I would keep a small little container of expressed breastmilk in the fridge and after a feeding, just dip your finger in and apply it to your sore nipples. It’s cold, you don’t have to rub it in, and it heals them and helps soothe so much quicker than the other stuff. Oh, and it’s free!
- There’s no hunger like breastfeeding hunger! Or thirst for that matter. Before you sit down to feed your baby, get a nice big cup of water. I’m a lover of Tervis cups (if you aren’t familiar, please google them. They’re amazing!) so with my first round of breastfeeding, when I was at home I would have this cup filled with ice water by my side at all times. As soon as your baby latches on, it’s as if your boobs are directly linked to your thirst indicator and the light goes off. It’s nuts, but happens every time. Also, do yourself a favor and get some healthy little snacks you can keep handy such as almonds, yogurt, granola bars, peanut butter. When you wake up in the middle of then night to feed, the hunger that sneaks up on you can be crazy! Keep those snacks by your bed or wherever you do nighttime feedings. You’ll be much happier to be awake at 3am with your bundle of joy if you’re munching away on something delicious and sipping nice cool water.
- I never found nursing pillows to be convenient or comfortable. They never fit on my lap the way they should. They were often too thick and made my baby too high up. Both times, I preferred to use a regular standard pillow. It’s big enough that it can lay across your entire lap and support your baby’s whole body, even when they begin to grow. You can go to Target or Walmart and get a couple of pillows for just a few bucks. Grab some cute pillowcases while you’re there and you’re set! You just saved a ton of money. Plus, when your baby spits up or poops on the pillow, (because it WILL happen) you can grab a new pillow or pillowcase easily.
- Try feeding your baby in different positions. When you find the ones that work for you, stick with them! When baby seems fussy, try a different one. It sounds simple, but when a baby is crying and not latching on, it can be easy to forget this. Turn them every which way until they seem comfortable and can get a good latch. And try to be patient.
- The last thing I’ll say is that breastfeeding is not for wimps! A breastfeeding mom makes many sacrifices and it takes a lot of discipline to do everything involved. The pain, the pumping, getting up early, staying up late to wash and sanitize all your pump things, engorged boobies, mastitis, and the list goes on. So why do people do it? Because it can be so rewarding. The extra snuggle and bonding time, the fact that it’s FREE, the nutrients you pass to your growing baby, the fact that it helps you drop baby weight quicker!, and many more.
I could go on and on. I’ll plan on another post soon about nursing covers and tips for nursing in public.
I’d love to hear any tips you have about breastfeeding. Also, are there any questions you have about it? Leave a comment and ask! I’d love to chat about it!