I recently had to indulge in my bad habit of googling things way past my bedtime…this time, for the purpose of seeing what “World Breastfeeding Week,” (which is August 1-7 of this year) is all about. It’s main goal is to provide support and knowledge on breastfeeding, and to recognize the difference you can make to help others…something I can definitely get behind!
Since I’ve now nursed three babies (and am still going strong with my littlest,) I get messages from friends asking for tips, tricks, or any kinds of facts I can share. While I did a post about two years ago, in my eyes that was basically a different lifetime for me, so here we are with some words I have about my latest experiences with breastfeeding. 🙂
1.) Be open to it. If you tell yourself you hate running, the odds are…you are going to hate running. Our minds have a lot of power, and staying positive and open to breastfeeding is probably *the* most important thing I could say regarding it. It doesn’t matter if your mom, aunt, sister, grandma, best friend, or next door neighbor did or didn’t breastfeed…this is your journey and your body…and not anyone else’s.
2.) Yep, it hurts a little at the beginning…every time there’s a new baby to nurse. I will say though, it has gotten easier, and the discomfort shorter with each new baby. When I began breastfeeding my firstborn, it took two weeks for my body to get used to it, and my skin to heal. With my second and third, I was completely comfortable within a week.
3.) Coconut oil and fresh air for those first few week(s.) Skip the expensive nipple butters, or icky lanolin. I had a travel sized jar, put some organic coconut oil in it, and that was my miracle salve. As silly as it might sound, after those long nursing sessions with newborns, washing, drying, putting a little coconut oil, and then airing out (yep, walking around topless, ha!) for a little bit helped the skin to heal, soften, and strengthen versus just stay sticky and sore. (I will add, I used a shield for a few weeks with my firstborn, as I needed to give the skin a break as it was getting used to its new purpose!)
4.) Skin to skin. With every new baby, I’ve become more insistent on not just my baby’s need for skin-to-skin, but for mine. As a first time mom, I remember family coming in not too long after Hadley was born, enough time for each of us to get a little cleaned up, and for me to hold her, look at her (and cry some tears of joy.) She was adored and passed around by loved ones, but when they all cleared, I felt terrible. I missed out on the golden hour of getting to soak in my brand new baby, and trying to get her to nurse. Maybe it was because of that, or maybe it was because I was a new mama and just so inexperienced, but I had some major struggles with being comfortable breastfeeding, and it wasn’t until she was almost 4 months old I finally felt 100% comfortable with it. I was pretty “mama bear” the second and third time around, and made sure I had at least 2+ hours to myself with the baby before any family could visit. Both Sadie and Reese were incredibly easy to nurse, and I attribute being more confident, and lots of skin to skin. For the first few months, whenever the big sister(s) would nap, I would put a comfy robe on, get my new baby down to a diaper, lay in bed, and take a skin to skin nap with them…and it was heavenly.
5.) If in doubt, Kelly Mom it! That has been my go-to for so many questions…whether I wondered if I could drink coffee & wine (and how much,) how I could boost my supply, or helpful tips about pumping.
6.) Be confident. Going back to #1, breastfeeding can be challenging, and is at times an incredibly selfless act to do for your baby (but so worth it,) but if you have a good attitude going into it, no matter what, it will be a more pleasant experience. If your baby gets fussy, or you get stressed, take a break, then try again. Some people might try to question why you’re nursing, or share their bad experiences—ignore it. This is about you and your baby, it’s your journey together, and if you give it your best, that’s all that matters. Don’t be afraid to feed your baby when you need to, it’s something your body is designed to be able to do, and that is nothing short of wonderful.
7.) Every. Three. Hours (at least, when they’re new.) To keep your milk supply up (or to get it to come in,) your breasts should be stimulated by your baby or pump every three hours. It is crucial in those first few weeks you don’t go too long of spans without nursing or pumping, as that can make regaining your initial supply a lot more work than it needs to be or it can cause you to get engorged, which is definitely not comfortable.
8.) Oatmeal, water, and lactation cookies have been my go-to for maintaining and replenishing my milk supply. These are the ones I’ve always made; they’re delicious and a totally enjoyable indulgence (after all, you’re sustaining a baby, go you!) 😆 I’ve tried fenugreek and it worked for about a week, but I ended up smelling identical to maple syrup, which sounds lovely but is actually kind of gross, ha!
9.) It’s okay if you’re shy. While some nursing mamas are totally comfortable nursing in public without a cover, this mama is not. I’ll even admit, the only people to completely see me breastfeed have been the nurses and lactation consultants at the hospital, and my husband. Bebe au Lait muslin nursing covers (so breathable for baby!) and scarves have been a lifesaver, as I’ll keep one in my diaper bag for feeds on the go, and one in my living room if I need to feed the baby while company is over.
10.) Enjoy it. Sometimes it can be stressful when your crying baby needs to be fed at that very instant, but overall, breastfeeding is lovely. When it’s time for me to feed Reese, I think of it as a little break I get to take, holding my baby, looking at her, and being still. Especially with two other adorable and busy little ones to keep an eye on, I’ve grown to savor the moments I get to have feeding my littlest baby.
I truly hope that I could give any support or encouragement. If you or a friend needs some encouragement or has any questions (I didn’t go into too much detail of products I use, etc.) please don’t hesitate to comment or email me. Breastfeeding has been a challenging, fulfilling, and positive experience for me, and I can only hope that any mama that has it on her heart to breastfeed feels the same way!
Have a lovely week!