When it comes to first time breastfeeding, some women are blessed with a natural ability to produce white gold on command. For the rest of us, we have to work at it, or just know a few of these secrets to success.
Motherhood is a journey that never stops teaching you new lessons. I remember the overwhelming feelings of relief after my first delivery and feeling like I had made it to the other side.
Then, I was handed a screaming infant while I was still writhing in pain from delivery and trying to forget the horror of labor. You have to learn to adapt quickly.
When it comes to breastfeeding, some women are blessed with a natural ability to produce white gold on command.
For the rest of us, we have to work at it, and I struggled a lot the first time I breastfed.
With my second baby on the way, I will be doing a few things differently this time in order to have a more positive experience.
Ask For Help
I had been somewhat reluctant to ask for help when I was having trouble breastfeeding my first son mostly because I felt like it was my fault that it wasn’t working.
Before his arrival, I had read so much about breastfeeding, and I thought it was just supposed to be a very natural and organic reaction from my body.
Not so much. My son was in the NICU the first few days, and I had to pump instead of actually breastfeeding him. When my milk came in, I was so engorged and swollen that I couldn’t get any of the milk to come out. I was literally crying and trying to pump.
Eventually, I had a nurse come in and take pity on me. She packed my bra with ice and helped me slowly pump the milk I was producing. Her patience and guidance was exactly what I needed in such a time of frustration.
Now, I know better than to stay quiet when I am having problems.
Take advantage of the lactation consultants and help from professionals while you are in the hospital.
Ask, ask, ask for help.
They can come right to your room and guide you through basic questions to actually working with you to get baby to latch.
These professionals help moms and babies all day, and they will have plenty of advice to help women in a variety of situations.
Take notes, record their advice, do whatever you have to do in order to make yourself feel confident about breastfeeding on your own.
Don’t Let Setbacks Frustrate You
Because my son was born early and spent time in the NICU, he was IV fed the first 24 hours. Then, the doctor insisted he be bottle fed until he could confidently suckle.
I was devastated that I didn’t have this wonderful, natural breastfeeding experience. I was hoping he would be born, and I would immediately get to feed him and bond, and it would all be sunshine and roses.
Instead, I pumped like crazy trying to get anything I could and add it to the bottles he was taking. It wasn’t how I wanted it to go, but at least he was getting something from me.
Once he was well enough to go home, I worked like crazy to get him to latch. It was beyond frustrating at times, and I cried constantly, but I kept at it. Eventually, I learned to stay calm and take my time as we learned the process together.
Once I began to calm down, it seemed to calm my son too.
Don’t fret if your experience isn’t what you expected. Motherhood rarely goes according to plan.
Take it as it comes and don’t let it discourage you when you run into roadblocks. You can go back to a lactation consultant, discuss your issues with your doctor, ask friends and family, try out lactation recipes and don’t forget to commend yourself for your dedication.
Every mom is different and every baby is different. Take your own path to happy and healthy. If you have to supplement with formula don’t feel guilty.
Making sure baby is fed and content is what is most important, and if that means they need some formula in addition to breastmilk don’t let it deter your efforts.
Keep trying and allow your body time to adjust to such a major physical change.
Invest in Good Products
Use anything and everything to help keep your breasts comfortable. From vitamins for breastfeeding mom to soothing balms to plain old ice, take care of your breasts to help ease discomfort and make your experience more enjoyable for you and baby.
I was so sore at first, I would cut open my nursing pads for my bra and put ice chips in them before tucking them inside my bra. It helped reduce swelling and soothe some of the pain from nursing and pumping.
There are also a variety of organic balms that can be applied to your nipples to help heal chapping, and it won’t need to be washed off before breastfeeding.
You will need something to ease discomfort so try out your options and see what works best for you.
When you are comfortable, the whole process will be much easier.
Get a Good Nursing Bra
Comfort and Convenience. These are key when buying a nursing bra. Having a great nursing bra will make it easier to nurse on the go, and having the right support will make you feel better.
It can be difficult to predict just how large your breasts will be while you are nursing post birth, and it takes time for the milk to arrive and eventually produce in a regular pattern.
Often times the breasts grow larger than necessary after birth because your body doesn’t know how much it needs. Not until the baby begins feeding does the body begin to recognize a suckling pattern, and it will start to produce accordingly.
If you are shopping for a nursing bra prior to delivery, it is important to buy a bra that will be ready to anticipate your constantly changing body.
Get fitted for a bra
It will probably be easier to go shopping for a nursing bra before you have a baby in tow.
If you go while still pregnant, wait until you are near the end of your pregnancy as this will be a more realistic idea of what size your breasts will be after your body has adjusted to nursing.
You will want to go in and actually be fitted for your bra. The professionals have lots of helpful advice, and you can try on a variety of styles to see what fits you and your lifestyle best.
If you wait until after the baby is born, it can be a nightmare trying to find the time and energy to go somewhere and be fitted or try on bras until you find what fits best.
Not to mention, you will probably have to dodge leaking and other post-baby body woes.
My favorite bra for breastfeeding
As I prepare for the arrival of my second child, I have already fallen in love with the Tilly Jane Medium Impact Bra.
Made from soft, breathable fabric and designed to offer support with easy functionality, it is exactly what I need as I embark on motherhood a second time.
I need a bra that is convenient while I breastfeed but also supportive as I chase around my three year old.
I love that this bra can be worn under regular clothes and still offer a smooth fit. No woman wants a bra that makes her feel lumpy and droopy especially after giving birth.
The front zipper allows me to adjust the amount of support I need so when my milk arrives, I can unzip the front for more room, and zip it back up after feeding when my breasts are no longer full.
Front straps can easily and discreetly be unclipped for feeding sessions. The back strap is secure and comfortable with a variety of hooks so I can adjust the size as my rib cage returns to pre-baby measurements.
There is also a ring and hook combo in the back when you need a more snug fit. Your body will change a lot after birth, so it is important to get a nursing bra that can be adjusted to fit you as your body fluctuates.
The Tilly Jane Bra has a great sporty fit that doesn’t ride up or cut into my skin, and it has plenty of adjustment options to accommodate my changing body.
They offer a variety of styles and sizes to help breastfeeding moms stay comfortable and ready to feed wherever and whenever. These are also a great transition for when I am ready to start working out again.
Be Aware of Problems
If something doesn’t seem right, call your doctor. I always hated calling to ask questions because I didn’t want to be the stereotypical first time mom. Trust me, your doctor expects it.
Call with any problems.
If you suspect you have mastitis, thrush, or if anything out of the ordinary is happening give doc a call.
Better safe than sorry. The easiest way to breastfeed is when you and baby are happy and healthy. When in doubt, check with a professional.
Give Yourself a Break
With all those hormones and long restless nights, it is very easy to get upset when things don’t go well.
Don’t blame yourself. Accept offers of help from your spouse or family members and try to get your rest.
You don’t have to do it all on your own. Trust me! Take help that others offer. When you do breastfeed, try to find a calm, quiet spot where you can baby can relax together.
Give you and baby time to adjust and get it right. Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy all of those wonderful moments before they pass you by.
Thank you to Tilly Jane for letting me try out their Medium Impact Bra! All opinions remain my own.