I am by no means a lactation expert, but I have been successful in my own attempts at breastfeeding. Because I have several friends who are pregnant and planning to breastfeed, I thought I’d give my own two cents on the topic.
- If you want to breastfeed, decide you are going to do it no matter what. I think that makes the difference. If you go in with the attitude that you are going to “try it,” you probably won’t stick with it.
- Know that the first two weeks are going to be hard. You will be in pain and there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it. It does get much better.
- I know that many resources tell you to nurse for a set amount of time on each side, but I didn’t do that. Castiél pretty much nursed from one side at each feeding and continues to do so. I wear a hair band on my wrist and change it back and forth to remind me which side to feed on.
- You will leak at night – a LOT. The cute little nursing pajamas aren’t very practical because they don’t hold nursing pads in very well. The sleep nursing bras are the best bet for at night. I also wear them whenever I’m at home because they are so much easier to deal with than the regular nursing bras.
- About nursing pads, Lansinoh are my favorite disposable nursing pads, but I suggest getting at least a few cloth nursing pads. They are more comfortable and much more economical. My favorite kind are Nuk reusable nursing pads. They are kind of small, so they show through nursing tanks, but they don’t show at all under regular nursing bras.
- I didn’t use them, but I think you should get the gel nursing pads to use at the very beginning when you are very sore. After the worst was over, I saw them and wished I would have had them!
- Have lanolin crème available – even at the hospital. I like the Medela brand. But know that lanolin stains, so when you use it make sure you wear nursing pads, even if you aren’t leaking yet.
- Breastfeed as soon as you can. This is possible even if you have a c-section. I had a c-section and was able to breastfeed in the recovery room.
- Keep your baby with you in your hospital room. This is called “rooming in” and it makes a huge difference in getting a successful start in breastfeeding. I was able to feed on demand, and Castiél wasn’t already crying, hungry and frustrated when I was trying to get him latched on.
- When your milk comes in you very easily get engorged – PUMP! Some resources say not to pump until a certain time, but there is no reason to wait. Pumping relieves your engorgement, helps stimulate your milk supply, and helps you build up some “reserves” in the freezer!
- You can use a single pump at the beginning, but buy a good double pump for when you go back to work. Also buy a hands-free pumping bra. It makes all the difference in the world! (I’m actually writing this blog as I’m pumping!)
- Freezing milk: There are “milk storage” containers that sell for $15+. Sterilite ice buckets are exactly the same and cost about $2! If you put your milk in bags and lie them flat to freeze, they fit in the ice bucket perfectly.
- Feed on demand. At the beginning this means that you will be nursing ALL the time - literally. The first two weeks I pretty much nursed Castiél every time he cried - but he gained weight well and my milk supply became established very quickly.
- Ask for help - from friends, family, lactation consultants - whatever you need to be successful! Don't give up right away, even if it is difficult!!