Ohhh the topic of breastfeeding can be a tricky one. It seems so many give breastfeeding a bad wrap; and while its hard as hell – it actually is a beautiful experience. I more than understand the hardships mamas go through and get defensive about when they stop or dont breastfeed. I didnt know what lip ties were when I had Kaiden and latching hurt so much, anything suggested to me didnt help – and sadly enough the resource providers I had NEVER mentioned lip ties or the ability to correct them. So i quit nursing after 4 weeks and switched to formula.
Fast forward to when he was 4 months old, and I felt guilty and decided to give pumping a try. I relactated not even knowing that was a thing (I was a completely green first time mom, surrounded by people telling me to just give up). I went on to bottle feed my milk to Kaiden until he was 15mo old.
This caused me to get educated about breastfeeding because I knew in the future I wanted to try exclusively nursing – and I realized all of the info I NEEDED and the suggestions I could have thrived from were NEVER MENTIONED TO ME. I have taken much pride in having an empathetic information based approach in assisting moms with lactation; and I have seen so many mom’s confidence be boosted as they stuck it out, relacted, we cry together and celebrate each other during our journeys.
I know lactation consultants get this bad wrap like they are breastfeeding task masters but I assure you, all arent like that. I do believe perceptions vary based on mama’s security with breastfeeding (some moms are so anxious about it and so nervous they will fail it actually impacts things), how emotions play into a factor and more importantly if they have a stable support system within family and friends. You know what, and there are just some moms who want to flat out not try or quit. A there is a small percentage of moms who have production issues.
While this is generally what start the draining arguement within the mother-hood of breastmilk vs formula feeding – guess what: I am SURELY a breastfeeding advocate but I am pro-informed choice. People do what they deem best and I have better things to invest my energy into than to try to forcefully educate a mom who isnt interested in breastfeeding.
Anyway – I can proudly say that my almost 10 month old has been breastfeed since birth and my long term goal was a year which we are slowly approaching. I will admit I intend to allow her to self wean but I have my days where I dont know if I can thug this thing out. It can be tiring, your milk can regulate a few times, and clusterfeeding – ….whew child. Its not a walk in the park BUT there are things you can do and have on hand to make things easier.
This brings me to my list of favorite things to have for breastfeeding. I do believe the first few months are the hardest and I have assisted many first time moms who were already anxious while still carrying their babies; as well as seasoned moms who were just as nervous.
All of these items have helped me and if you are reading this to take note of these tips I hope they help you too:
1. Nipple Cream – a LIFE SAVER. This helps give relief during the times of soreness during breastfeeding. A suggestion : hand express your milk and put it on your nipples then allow it to air dry prior to applying cream (your milk can assist with the soreness too)
2. Haakaa another life saver. If you are nursing and leaking alot, you can suction this to the alternate breast and it serves as a “milk catcher” so your leaked milk isn’t wasted. This is also a great purchase if you over produce, or if your baby only nurses on one breast during a feed- this ensures both breasts are removing milk during feeds to prevent engorgement or worse.
3. Cooling Gel Pads these were very helpful during the first 8 weeks for me due to clusterfeeding. Pop these in the freezer and use whenever you are extremely sore for optimal relief.
4. Nipple Pads are definitely a must have to prevent those embarassing leaked through shirts. Many get disposables but its honestly more cost effective (annnnd eco-friendly) to buy reusables or cloth. This way you can use them as many times as you need and you can just pop them in with the laundry.
5. Soft Shells for Inverted or Flat Nipples these helped me because I have flat nipples (kudos to my husband because he found these for me). While my daughter had a nice latch, it was still uncomfy because my nipple wouldnt protrude. These help bring your nipple out so baby can latch more easily. Over time babies become nursing pros and will be able to latch easier as their mouths grow, but in the beginning as they are learning these shells are very helpful.
6. Nipple Shields are are very helpful if you have soreness during feeds; and are great for temporary use if baby has ties that need to be corrected. They help bring out the nipple more for an easier latch and less anxiety for mama.
7. Spectra S2 Electric Double Pump is the best pump hands down!!! Some days may require some pumping in between feeds; or you may opt to start a stash (especially if returning to work). I love the functions of this pump you can decide on the strength and rapidness of the suction and this comes with a cute carry bag, a few bottles and flanges and milk storage cooler. If you are in need of a pump contact your health insurer you most likely can choose a pump they will send you for FREE. I believe the S2 is offered with most insurances.
8. Nursing Cami Top for mamas who like to discreetly nurse in public and utilize the 2 shirt method. You can wear this under anything and it provides easy access without self exposure when baby needs milk while you are out and about.
9. Boppy ‘s are amazing to make feeds comfy for both baby and mama. You can position in around your torso to your liking for feeds; its a great body pillow for baby and arm rest for mama.
I hope these help, all of these products are affordable or decently priced. Remember to keep an open mind- breastfeeding is hard but its doable and there are non-pressuring support resources if you are in need of them. Sometimes there may be needs for trial and error to find whaf works for your and your baby. For every horror story there are also a ton of success stories.
Check out 9 Things to Try During a Nursing Strike as well to get some info in case baby decides they arent feeling nursing – it happens to more mamas than you think and there are ways to get through it.
Happy nursing! 💜