Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Breastfeeding tips

Also, I love nursing. I have from the beginning, but there were days during the first few weeks when it was really hard, and hurt, and I wondered if I was going to make it. It's okay. It comes more naturally for some babies than others. And, in the end, all that matters is that your baby is fed and loved, whether formula or breastmilk. But I also think there is a definite lack of support and information for nursing mothers in the USA. 

I'm not a certified medical anything (not "that" kind of doctor), so these are just things I, as a new nursing mom, found useful. I would take all of these things with you to the hospital, so you have them when you need them.

1. Soft shells for sore nipples 

They might have them at Target or Walmart, and definitely at Amazon (I got mine at Target). They are a little weird at first, but they help with airflow and keep you from sticking to your shirt.

2. Nursing pads (when not using the soft shells).

They're thin, keep you from leaking all over and keep the lanolin or nipple butter from getting all over your shirt.  I personally liked the Nuk variety longer term because they are very thin, but tried several other brands and didn't have any complaints about them. When we had a washer/dryer at home, I also used the reusable ones, but switched to the disposable when we moved. The reusable ones are nice, but, in my experience, don't seem to hold as much milk, so I had more leaking with them.

3. Nipple Butter by First Years.

The hospital will likely give you lanolin. Lanolin is nice, but gets hard when it is cold, and isn't always as easy to spread, which can be torture on already sore/cracking nipples. The Nipple Butter is very smooth, and lanolin-free (good also in case you have an allergy to lanolin). I liked it better, but that's my preference. It is definitely worth having it as a second option, and there are many others. In any case, however, it will probably help to have something to help soothe sore nipples and keep them from drying out (a friend I have even preferred organic crisco). 

4. Nursing tank, or some other "easy access" shirt. 

Although I didn't know I'd want it, I loved the nursing tank I got at my shower. It was from Target, and unclipped at each side. Now, I've found lots of "normal" shirts/tanks that can work, but the nursing tank was especially strait-forward and easy to use as a first time nursing mom in the hospital. You don't have to worry about all the extra layers.

Another option that I stumbled upon is the "yoga bralette". I haven't seen something else similar to this, and I really love it, especially now that I'm back at work and don't want to wear nursing tanks every day. It is great for nursing moms because it provides a little structure without being too restrictive (and inhibiting milk production), is very flexible for accessing breasts for nursing or pumping, and can be worn with any regular clothes, so you can start to dip into your pre-baby wardrobe again - yay!

There are so many types of nursing bras/tanks out there, that are probably better/worse based on your body type/breast size. I tried a few different ones, and realized, for my lifestyle and shape, the above options were best, but like jeans, it isn't one-size-fits-all.

5. Cool/warm pads
I used the Nuk/Gerber cool/warm packs. I would put them in the freezer and then, when engorgement hit, they were great relief. I never warmed them up, but I imagine they would be nice for that. The benefit of these versus a regular warm/cool pad is that there is room to leave the nipples exposed (especially if they are still healing).

Nursing has so many benefits for mom and baby, but it isn't always easy to go it alone, especially when institutional support isn't always the best. I hope these tips are useful, and wish you the very best in your adventures in breastfeeding!


Mike Russo said...

If you don't mind me asking, how long do you intend to breastfeed for? According to WHO research it should be waaay longer than most women do it (something like 5 years I think).

mathbionerd said...

I've seen figures floating around that, on average, children worldwide nurse until 4 years of age. The WHO suggests breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months, and then continuing to breastfeed along with introducing solids until "two years of age or beyond".


We exclusively breastfeed until six months, and still most of her calories (at 11 months) come from breastmilk, although as she gets older she is more and more interested in solid food. I don't have a definite end date in mind. Basically, I figure that as she continues to show more interest in solid foods, we'll be on a sliding scale where she gets more calories from those and drinks less breastmilk. I'm planning to continue breastfeeding until she is 2, but it might end earlier depending on how my supply keeps up. I figure it will probably drop dramatically whenever I decide to stop pumping at work, so although I'm really, really, really ready to be done with the pump, I am also afraid of losing supply.