Breastfeeding Confessional: Why many moms throw in the towel, and 4 life saving tips that make it better.
Before I had a child of my own, I imagined that breastfeeding would be this beautiful and magical experience that came naturally.
I thought I would be one of those well-rested, fresh faced women sitting in an armchair gazing lovingly at her tiny baby while she nursed joyfully.
Then reality set in. 🤦♀️
For many women (dare I say most?), breastfeeding has a lot of growing pains. Both of my babies had trouble latching on to the breast when they first started nursing, which set us on a straight course to pain town. My nipples were bruised, bleeding, and so sore! The pain led me to stop nursing and, instead, offer a bottle to the baby. This led to nipple confusion and risked my milk supply. Thinking back on it now, my palms are getting sweaty because it was so hard in the beginning.
With both of my babies, it took a solid six weeks of nursing before things got more comfortable. And let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be the first time I quit something because it got difficult (see: learning organic chemistry and training for a marathon).
But the thing that kept me going was knowing that we can provide antibodies to our babies through our breastmilk.
This is especially comforting with the reappearance of vaccine-preventable viruses, because infants often cannot receive their vaccines until they reach a certain age, leaving them vulnerable in the early months.
That’s not to say that a breastfed baby will never get sick, but the baby’s immune response is stronger because of mother’s antibodies. And if the baby gets sick, the baby’s body communicates with her mother’s body through the baby’s saliva, so the mother produces the antibodies that the baby needs. Amazing, if you ask me!
My son, who I breastfed for nine months, is now almost seven. Aside from some sniffles here and there, he has never really been sick. I REGULARLY pat myself on the back and credit breastfeeding him as helping him with his strong immune system. When my daughter came along, I knew nothing could stop me from breastfeeding her to offer her the same great benefits.
With my daughter, I figured, hey this is the second baby, I know how to breastfeed and this should be easy! Nope. Same struggles as last time, but maybe even worse. Luckily, I had a few tricks up my sleeve to help me have a successful breastfeeding journey this time around.
👇 🤱🏽 If you are the type of mom who wants to give her baby the very best food nature created, take note of these tips to ease your breastfeeding journey:
1. Visit the lactation consultant.
When you are in the hospital and a lactation consultant comes by, you are tired, your baby is hours old, and you don’t know what the hell is going on. If you find yourself at home a couple days later struggling to breastfeed or experiencing pain, make an appointment with a lactation consultant right away. Many hospitals have breastfeeding clinics staffed by experienced doctors and nurses who are just waiting for you to come by and see them.
At the appointment, the specialist will weigh your baby and check for physical issues like a tongue-tie. Then, you will nurse. They will give you hands on support and instruction for the best latch and position. (Hope you don’t mind people grabbing your boob, because that’s going to happen.) 😅
After you are done nursing, the specialist will weigh your baby again to see how much she drank. You will leave with tips on nursing and pumping, and an open invitation to come back for more support if you need it. I promise you will leave with more confidence.
2. Get a nipple shield!
The nipple shield was a godsend for my traumatized nipples and it helped my baby latch better. Nipple shields are helpful for everyone, but especially great for women with smaller nipples, flat nipples, or inverted nipples. In my experience, I only needed the nipple shield for a few weeks until my baby got a better latch, my nipples healed, and everything worked better overall.
Medela makes a great nipple shield. Pay attention to the size, because you only want the nipple in the nipple shield, not the areola. If too much of the areola gets pulled into the shield while nursing, this will cause pain and rubbing. The size “medium” is 24mm. As a point of reference, the standard size flanges that come with a Medela breast pump are 24mm.
Everyone is different, so buy the perfect size for your body. https://amzn.to/2FzaUHR
3. Get a Haakaa manual breast pump or something like it.
If you are anything like me, pumping can sometimes feel like torture. You spend all that time nursing and then you are expected to pump?? Enter the Haakaa. It is not a regular breast pump, but it creates suction on the breast and collects the milk that lets down while you are nursing. Instead of all that liquid gold soaking into a breast pad, you suction the Haakaa onto your breast while you are nursing your baby. I might collect 1-3 ounces of milk in the Haakaa while nursing, which really helped me build up my freezer stash.
Here is the link to the original Haakaa: https://amzn.to/2CKmkYy
Nature Bond makes an alternative that includes a carrying case, stopper, and base attachment: https://amzn.to/2TYLddI
4. Nipple cream is a must!
Especially in the beginning when your nipples are being put through the ringer. Plain lanolin works great and is safe for your baby, such as this one from Lanisoh: https://amzn.to/2U7aJhf
If the plain lanolin cream just isn’t cutting it, talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for the Dr. Newman Nipple Cream. It is a compound ointment that is anti-bacterial, anti-yeast, and also contains a steroid to speed healing. It isn’t something that you will use all the time due to the medicine and steroid, but this will help you heal so quickly. The Dr. Newman Nipple Cream is not available over the counter.
Some moms decide not to breastfeed for various reasons.
Some babies just need the extra nutrition from supplemental formula. Some babies need special formula instead of breastmilk. Some moms simply can’t produce enough milk (even though they try their hardest).
You have to do what you can to feed your baby the best food that you can. However, for those moms who CAN breastfeed, I highly encourage you to stick it out and push through the struggles you will undoubtedly face. Do whatever you can to succeed on your breastfeeding journey. You are stronger than you know!
Do you have any tips for making breastfeeding easier? We would love to hear about them in the comments! 👇
PS: I’m not a doctor, just a mom sharing her experiences and favorite products in the hope that it will help another mom. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any breast or breastfeeding issues you may be experiencing.
Hi, my name is Katie. I’m a busy working mom, fit foodie, and lover of life. While there is no instruction manual for being a great parent, I hope is that the stories and information I share inspire your day, and help you show up strong for yourself and your family. Cheers!
P.S. Some links found in this article may be referral links, meaning we would get a small percentage of sales when you click them. We appreciate your support, as it funds this blog.
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