I am so beyond thankful for my network of friends, clients, and fellow mamas out there! Without all of you, this post would have never gotten finished and would certainly had 1/4 of the amount of insanely helpful advice! So to all of you that helped, THANK YOU! <3
First off, let me be the first one to admit: breastfeeding f*#&ing sucks. It's hard. It's overwhelming. You just gave birth to a 7lb HUMAN and now you're supposed to pop your never sucked on (well, maybe not LOLOL) nipple in its mouth and expect it all just magically work. Well, sadly there is a lot more to it than that. I really, really, REALLY wish I would have researched and studied the art of breastfeeding prior to having my babe. We made it about 6 weeks between breast and pumping. What makes me feel so happy, is knowing I was not alone in my frustration and heartache trying to figure it all out. My hope and prayer is that this post helps just one soon to be or new mama. And what's even more amazing, is I feel so insanely inspired and empowered for when we have our next baby, that I will be successful in my journey on breastfeeding!
1. BE PATIENT.
This was a big one in my poll. So many mamas told me that patience is the key. Your baby is brand new to having to feed him/herself outside the womb. It's going to stumble, it's going to be confused, and it's going to take time. Try your best to be understanding, patient, and forgiving. If it hurts, break the latch and try again. Try a different position. Take a few minutes to gather yourself.
2. Do not be afraid to get help
This one I was guilty of. I was so afraid of asking for help, that I just didn't. For something that is so natural, it's actually pretty difficult. That is why there are trained professionals called Lactation Consultants! Chances are, your hospital offered their services for free. Ask to see one before you leave!! There is also an absolutely wonderful place local to Massillon, called The Breastfeeding Center. While I have never been there myself, I have heard RAVE reviews about that place and a lady named Betsy. I promise you, I will be there for my next baby! They offer consultation services, breastfeeding classes, and so many wonderful products that promote breastfeeding and baby bonding!
3. Lanolin/Nipple Butter is a necessity
Your newborn will be sucking on your nips pretty often, so the likeliness of them to get chapped and/or sore is pretty likely. Lanolin is a cream that soothes those feelings. A few mamas mentioned in the poll that they didn't care for how sticky lanolin was. They mentioned it was hard to spread. However, the majority of the moms said this was a life saver. MothersLove was another recommended cream, as well as Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple cream. And lastly, coconut oil was recommended as well! All of these amazing creams will give you relief when you need it most.
4. Invest in a good breast pump
Thankfully, most insurance companies are gifting pumps to new mamas which is so beyond amazing! I received a Medela electric pump with Asher and it was so nice! Pumping after a feeding, first thing in the morning, and after a hot shower were all great tips mamas had. Not only is it nice to have a stash of milk on hand for feedings, but so many moms swore by it for skin rashes, eye infections, diaper rashes, etc. Breast milk heals all! It's also nice to have milk on hand when you just need a break. Allowing dad to take over for a feeding here and there (if baby will let you!) does wonders.
5. Don't skimp on nursing bras
SO many mamas told me this. While it can be financially overwhelming, cheating out on good, supportive. COMFY bras for nursing is a no-go. Medela makes some really comfortable ones, Motherhood Maternity has a variety of options, and even Target has some great options as well! Camis/tank tops were also highly recommended for comfort and support.
6. Don't watch the clock
Pay attention to your baby and his/her cues. While most newborns eat every 2 hours, every baby is different. All your baby needs in the beginning is YOU. I know that sounds overwhelming, and it is. But knowing you are all your baby requires to stay fed and happy, that's a pretty amazing feeling! Signs for hunger include: rooting, clenched fists, fists going to mouth, and crying.
7. Clogged ducts
A clogged duct can happen, and it can be very painful. While most mamas recommended pumping/nursing through it- some other remedies were mentioned. Cold/warmc impresses. A hot shower and then an ice pack.
8. Find your tribe
HUGE! Surround yourself with positive, encouraging, and supportive friends. Talk with other mamas, don't be afraid to ask questions. If it's one thing I learned with being a first time mom, is realizing it takes a damn village. Whether it be to just vent/cry to, know it's ok! Motherhood is by far the hardest "job" I've had, but the reward is far greater than any paycheck. Reaching out to a mother's group on Facebook, texting a friend, or calling your own mother. Just know we are all in this journey together and WE GET IT! <3
And lastly, I found this image in my research. Man, how damn helpful this would have been when I had Asher. I had NO idea his stomach size, how much he needed to eat, how often...sheesh! It was overwhelming to say the least (the theme of the post!). So know that just as your body created, grew, and birthed this baby, as it knows how to feed him/her! Trust your body and trust your baby. If something doesn't feel right, listen to that and seek help. I promise you, breastfeeding regret is real and it sucks. Just knowing if I would have powered through and gotten help would have made the world of difference.