In honor of it being World Breastfeeding Week, I finally decided (after a lot of “no, I shouldn’t”) to share my polar-opposite experiences with breastfeeding, as well as a few things that have helped make my experience not just easy, but enjoyable this time. I respect any way a mother feeds her baby, be it formula, pumped milk, or breastfeeding. Truth be told, I am actually pretty shy when it comes to nursing my babies (unless you live in my house, the shyness is 100% out the door, haha!)
When I was in labor with Sadie, I remember doing laps around the hospital, and in all seriousness, lamenting aloud, “In a few hours, I am going to have to breastfeed again!” You wouldn’t expect this coming from a mom who nursed her baby until she was 14 months old, but I had an incredibly difficult time breastfeeding Hadley. She never got comfortable in my arms (so she preferred a nursing pillow,) there was a time where her horrible case of gas caused her to not latch (so for a good two months I had to pump all of her bottles from the afternoon until bedtime,) and in my first two weeks, I was a bloody, chapped mess. It obviously got much better, and I was thankful I was able to experience breastfeeding her. By the end, it was more just an excuse to hold her close and snuggle for a few minutes, which is completely okay, too! 😉
This time around, I couldn’t have had a more opposite experience. With Hadley being born at midnight, being a newbie first-time mom, and not wanting to keep family waiting until the wee hours of the night, I didn’t experience the “golden hour” with her, therefore we did not do skin to skin in her first hour of life. This time, I was adamant about getting the golden hour with Sadie, and it was as wonderful as I imagined. I am very comfortable talking about basic things in life like pregnancy, labor, and breastfeeding, but when it comes to actually being in situations where people see my body…I am incredibly modest. It’s always a big step out of my comfort zone when I give birth, but I am thankful that I feel completely safe with doctors and nurses, and am not afraid to ask for help. Even this time being my second, I was a fish out of water trying to nurse Sadie, and I needed help! Here’s a little list of things that went right this time to make my nursing experience with Sadie the easiest I could imagine. (*I am by no means an expert, but these are things that have worked very well for me this time around.)
1.) Golden hour– fight for it, plan it, make it happen. Whether you’re nursing or not, having that uninterrupted time of skin to skin is something you will cherish forever.
2.) The dimple— imagine when you make a kissing-fish face….well, if you see your newborn doing that, break the latch! My nurse, Christina, who was also a lactation consultant, enforced this. Apparently, that kind of latch is way too superficial, and will only cause chapping way faster than imaginable.
3.) To avoid cracking/bleeding— I was beginning to get uncomfortable, so I washed and air dried my breasts every time I fed new-baby Sadie (I only had to do this until my milk was in, and things were under control.) It sounds tedious, but I think less bacteria on an already irritated part of your body is helpful.
4.) Coconut oil—Lanolin, schmanolin! I used coconut oil immediately after washing and drying to soothe and moisturize. Coconut oil is antibacterial and absorbs into the skin nice and quick! I bought little jars to put coconut oil in for the sake of not carrying around a big jar everywhere.
5.) To pillow or not to pillow?–After having Hadley only want to nurse on a Boppy, I wanted so badly to be able to hold my baby in my arms while feeding. I brought the Boppy to the hospital, but even my nurse encouraged me to go without it, and prop with regular pillows if need be. I think that with Sadie not getting “spoiled” by feeding on a soft pouf, she now prefers the feel of being held in my arms. Thanks to this, I am able to feed her in bed, in the car, anywhere—without the “ball and chain” that was the nursing pillow. (I still love my Boppy, but use it for other things, it’s even great for people to use when they visit and want to hold your baby for hours, as it relieves their arms!)
6.) Get a cover you love (if you want.) Since I am way more on-the-go this time around, I have to nurse Sadie in public a lot more. Going back to my shyness, I do prefer a cover, and am really happy with mine! It’s worth it to get a great, breathable cover if it means making mama & baby more comfortable.
7.) Confident & Calm: babies are intuitive, and definitely feed off of the feelings their mamas give off. Relaxing, putting the phone away, looking at your baby, and just enjoying your few minutes of being close with your baby really gets things to a good start. I remember the look of shock on Aaron’s face when he saw me walking around the kitchen while nursing Sadie, because I always nursed Hadley in the nursery. He’s been encouraging and helpful both times, and he loved that I was getting comfortable feeding baby anywhere.
8.) Noise— get your baby used to it! You don’t want to be confined to a quiet room every time you need to feed! This goes with the kitchen/car (parked) and basically anywhere feedings…just go for it!
Those are a few of my tips! I will end this with a few of my favorite nursing goodies that have also been helpful to me:
~Nursing Cover: Bebe Au Lait Muslin Nursing Cover
~Around the house/sleep bras: Bravado Seamless Nursing Bra
~Out of the house bra (with an underwire.)*I am still always willing to find a better version, but these have worked great this time around, as I am bigger busted but have a smaller ribcage: Gilligan & O’Malley Lace Bra
~Nursing Pads (I still haven’t tried cloth ones, but these are great:) Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads
~Breast Pump: Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump
~Milk Storage Bags: Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags
~Burp cloths (these are a splurge, but having even two of these, and a ton of the white, classic, cloth-diaper style is still awesome!) Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs
Thanks for reading, and a happy Friday to you!