Monday, April 9, 2018

My Top Breastfeeding Tips

            Hey folks! If I haven't said it before, breastfeeding is hard! At least a lot harder than media and marketing seems to portray it. It may be natural, but that doesn't mean it's easy!
            This is one of the many things I wish I had known with my first baby. On top of trying to deal with having what I still feel was an avoidable c-section, I felt like an extra failure when I wasn't able to breastfeed my first daughter. While my husband and mom were supportive, that was about the extent of it. The lactation consultant at the hospital was an appalling joke. I don't recall the pediatrician's office talking about lactation consultants either. Basically, I didn't know what the hell I was doing and there didn't seem to be anyone else around who did either. (We also lived in a different state than my family and friends at the time, so there was no help from that front either.) I couldn't even get her to latch!
             While I was able to nurse my second daughter, we had a slew of issues with her tongue and lip ties. Though I had them corrected, I was still only able to nurse her about 5 ½ months. My supply just seemed to keep dwindling/not keeping up with her and my poor nipples were still so sore all the time that I wanted to scream whenever she nursed and dreaded it. :(
             So far, knock on wood, baby #3 and I have been having a much better nursing relationship than I did with my first two. She definitely has a lip tie, which makes for sore nipples, but it's nothing in comparison. I have no desire to get it fixed and go through the hassle of lots of LC and physical therapy appointments this time.
             With that being said, I'm no expert on breastfeeding, but I would like to think by this point I have a lot more wisdom and tips to impart to others who may be struggling. This is just a short list of my personal favorites as you can find tons of suggestions for just about anything breastfeeding related online. I hope you find something useful here!

*Use a burp rag in place of nursing pads.
I don't know about you, but I have one boob that's extra leaky. I usually just nurse on that side first, but if I don't for whatever reason, instead of blowing through a bunch of nursing pads, I just shove a burp rag under my boob if I'm at home. Ever better, invest in a Milkies Milksaver so you're not wasting any liquid gold! You can learn more about it in my review.

*Invest in a quality breast pump!
Seriously, do yourself a favor and get a good pump, even if you plan on exclusively breastfeeding. If you live in the U.S., take advantage of the programs many insurance companies offer now to receive a free (high quality too) breast pump! It is totally worth having on hand, whether you plan on pumping when you go back to work or just a night out occasionally, need to boost your supply, or just want to bottle feed pumped milk etc. Whether you buy one yourself or get a free one, don't get a cheap one price-wise. Pumps are one of those things that I have found that you definitely get what you pay for!

*Get properly sized flanges for your breast pump.
I'm not sure about all brands, but I know at least Medela sells flanges in different sizes. Why? If you have ones that don't fit properly, especially ones that are to small and pinch your nipples, it can cause you to not be able to express as much milk as you should be and can even affect your supply in a negative way!

*Pump after nursing.
There are a few reasons for this. 1) To increase your supply if you're having issues. The more you nurse, the more milk you will make. (In theory) Also, you want to make sure your breasts are completely empty as this is also conducive to making enough milk. If they don't get empty after nursing/pumping, that tells your body, “Hey! You're making too much!”, which won't do your supply any favors.

2) The main reasons (besides trying to keep my supply up) I do this a couple times a day is to help deal with cluster feeding and give my nipples a break. I know it's perfectly normal, but cluster feeding literally makes me feel crazy! My nipples are already sore and I can't stand sitting around so much. So it's nice to have some extra milk waiting in the fridge for these occasions. Plus, as I mentioned, it give my nipples a bit of a break. Extra bonus: Daddy can do it, so extra break!

*Eat certain foods to help increase your supply.
By now you are probably aware that certain foods are said to help increase your supply, such as oats, hummus, flaxseed, etc. Each person is different, but I can attest to oatmeal helping!

*Be cautious of fenugreek.
I know what you're thinking: I thought fenugreek is supposed to increase milk production? For some...yes. More and more information has been coming out in the past several years that indicates that fenugreek may only help about half of women who use it, but actually negatively impact the supply of others! If you're already having supply issues, it's not really a gamble you want to take. I hear blessed thistle is the new fenugreek in the breastfeeding world.

*Drink plenty of water.
Getting plenty of fluids is just a good habit to get into regardless of whether you're nursing or not. While there are lots of factors that go into how much breast milk you make, it's going to be a lot harder if you are dehydrated. I recently read, as a general rule of thumb, that a nursing woman should drink about 96 oz of water a day. It seems like a lot, but if you consciously make an effort to get into the habit, it's not so bad. I know many women like to keep water on hand while they are nursing so they don't forget!

What would be your #1 breastfeeding tip for a new mom?
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  1. Wow, I'm super impressed with how determined you are to keep trying to breastfeed! Sounds like you've had quite the challenges. Both of my babies took to feeding very quickly - the biggest issue I had was with Pip being too sleepy as a newborn.
    My biggest tip is to get your baby on a proper routine for him/her off the hop. This will help to eliminate those extended "cluster feeds" and get your baby sleeping through the night faster. Your body will also know how much milk to provide at what time, because you're going to be feeding at predetermined intervals.
    Also, if it's not going well and just stressing you out, QUIT. Don't let others talk you out of formula feeding just because they're guilting you. you're doing what is best for you and your baby and that's what matters.
    Ps. I just finished up an entire series on Sleep Training (gentle baby whisperer way) over at - if anyone is interested.

  2. Hi,
    respect that you keep on breast feeding although it is really hard sometimes! I admire you especially for pumping after just having fed your baby. I really was into the whole breast feeding game and my surroundings tried to support me. Anyways it also stressed me out! As Katelynn was already writing sometimes there is a lot of pressure from other people. I think you really want to breast feed what is great, but I also really wanted to do so but it was just to much pressure for me. I was at a low point in my motherhood when I finally decided on using formula in addition. Using the Holle organic formula in addition changed a lot for myself. I could finally have my mind free for enjoying motherhood and get lost of the pressure. I found a community where mothers were open minded on not that determined on exclusively breast feeding - what was a big help for me!

  3. Making sure you have the right sized flanges, pumping after nursing and drinking tons of water were my 3 tips I lived by!
    Hope this helps some nursing mamas out there!