By contributing writer, Jenni
When I was pregnant, there was no question as to whether or not I wanted to breastfeed. In my mind, there was no other option. As committed as I was, I have to admit it was more difficult than I thought. Now over six months into my first time nursing, here’s what I would tell a new mom…
Breastfeeding is a learning process. For you and your precious little one. I think I expected to have an easier time with it because it would be something that came naturally. To be honest, it doesn’t seem very natural at first. It feels awkward and takes a lot of work, time and patience.
Nursing is a full-time job. At times you may feel like it’s all you do. During your postpartum recovery, it may be all you manage to do besides eat, sleep and shower occasionally. And that is ok! There are differing opinions on scheduled feedings, but I firmly believe that it is important to feed on demand–especially during the first few months.
Sometimes it will hurt. You can expect to have sore nipples the first few days. Possibly bleeding, cracked ones if your baby has problems with latching. You can use Lanolin or some other cream for a little relief. The nurses gave me Soothies Gel Pads when I was at the hospital, which lived up to their name and were actually quite soothing! Personally, I found that using a little expressed milk and air drying after each feeding to be the best remedy. Also, when your milk comes in (usually around the third day) you breast may become hard and swollen. However, this discomfort usually only lasts a day or so as your body adjusts your milk supply to the needs of your baby.
You will probably leak. Some women find this to be more of an issue than others, but it’s always good to be prepared. You definitely don’t want this to happen in public, so nursing pads are a must until your milk supply regulates. I prefer to make or buy reusable nursing pads, but many woman have found that disposable ones work well for them.
Nutrition is important. Even though you aren’t pregnant anymore, you are still eating for two. Be sure you are eating a healthy diet with plenty of protein, healthy fats and vitamin-rich vegetables. This is very important as nursing mothers are at a greater risk for vitamin deficiencies. Most doctors suggest that you continue taking a prenatal vitamin until you wean your baby. Also, drinking plenty of water is crucial to keeping a good milk supply and for your overall health. Try to drink at least eight glasses of water daily.
You need a good nursing bra. Buying nursing bras that fit well can be a bit of a challenge because you have to purchase them before you know what size you will end up being. I suggest buying a comfortable sleep bra and a bra with no underwire (to avoid clogged milk ducts in the beginning) about a month before your due date. After you have your baby and your milk supply has regulated you can then purchase a couple more in the size you need.
There is a way to nurse modestly in public. Technically, there is still a debate–especially among men–on whether breastfeeding in public is ever modest. However, thanks to the wide variety of nursing covers and tank tops available, you can discreetly feed your baby just about anywhere. I still try to find an out-of-the-way place to avoid offending people or drawing attention to myself.
Breastfeeding is worth the effort. Not only does nursing create an important bond between you and your baby, it is often the most beneficial option for both of you. Sara has already covered several good reasons to breastfeed. If you need more convincing, check out this extensive list of articles about the many benefits of breastfeeding. Your perseverance will eventually pay off in sweet moments like the one pictured above!
What breastfeeding advice would you give a new mom?
Here are some additional great resources that will help you succeed!
Don’t miss the rest of the Breastfeeding series (past and future)…find them here
A word from Nikki: This post contains affiliate links for Jenni. She isn’t recommending because she gets money (though of course, that is always a plus), she is recommending the products because she believes in them! I cannot personally vouch for the products specified as I have not personally used them.