Becoming a new Mom is certainly the most rewarding thing I have ever done but can sometimes be difficult. For example, breastfeeding didn't come so easy right off the bat. Now I know what you may be thinking .. how hard is it? You take your boob and voila! Well, for me it wasn't that simple. I didn't realise how challenging breastfeeding could be until I got pregnant and started researching. Right after Lottie was born they placed her on my chest and she latched on no problem. Later on when she woke up and needed fed again was when we had some troubles. She wasn't latching the best and I think because I was tired I hadn't 100% understood how I was to get her to latch. I wasn't sure what to do and neither did she, we were both newbies and that can make for some frustrating feedings. Here are some tips I learned from the super helpful hospital staff and my Mom that I want to share with you.
1. Squish your boob as if you would when you are eating a hamburger and put into babe's mouth. The baby needs more than just your nipple to latch properly. When they nurse the use their tongue to push up on your nipple to nurse and using just the nipple makes it difficult for babe to feed (it will also cause pain for you, generally speaking breastfeeding shouldn't hurt.)
3. The quick rhyme to remember what to do is "nose to chin and hug them in." This means you need to make sure baby is belly to belly with you and they pull their chin to their chest to nurse. (I'm sure you could have figured it out ... You're thinking "thanks genius, like the rhyme wasn't clear enough for me to understand.")
4. Keep baby on a downward angle when nursing. This helps especially if you have a baby with bad acid reflux like myself.
5. Make sure to get yourself a really good lanolin nipple cream. My favourite is the Medela Tender Care Lanolin. It has certainly helped keep my nipples from getting sore or cracked. I purchased mine online from Babies R Us for $14.99, certainly one of the best items I bought. (I have copied the link for you.)
6. Have a flatter queen or king sized pillow to lay baby's head and shoulders on when nursing. I looked at the "nursing pillows" you can buy at the store and talked to other women who used them and said they aren't great. The "form fitting" isn't exact for everyone and it is more money to spend that just adds to the already expensive list of things you will be purchasing for your new arrival. I love using my pillow to lay Lottie on. It's about 4 or 5 months old so it's flattened out a bit which has been perfect for me to use while nursing, and it saved me the money to spend on more important things.
7. Find the most comfortable position for you and baby. At the hospital they suggested I use the "football hold" because I am large chested but I actually found that to be the most uncomfortable way and much prefer the "cross-cradle hold", try the different positions and find whatever works best for you and your baby. I also find sitting with one leg tucked under the other is great. I lay Lottie's head on the folded leg and that helps to keep her head elevated and her body in a sloped position.
I also wanted to touch on something I have had happen a few times, plugged milk ducts. I hope you don't suffer from these because it is quite uncomfortable and can cause quite a bit of pain. When I spoke to my doctor she explained that some women experience them frequently and some not at all. I truly hope you are the latter. But, because I am one of the lucky ones I wanted to share what I found helped the most.
1. Firstly I would feed Lottie much more intermittently and I would also pump afterwards. This helped to alleviate almost immediately but there is usually still swelling and pain. It's hard to tell if it has become unclogged without seeing the long stringy milk come out, usually babe will draw it out when nursing but I tend to think it's better to be safe than sorry and err on the side of caution.
2. Grab a face cloth and dampen it with warm water, then put some plastic wrap over top and place a heating pad on that. I found the heat helped with the pain and also helped to ease the plugged milk out.
3. Take something for pain if it's very uncomfortable. I have had plugged ducts happen while I'm sleeping. On the rare occasion my little toad sleeps for longer then a 2 hour period. Make sure it is something that is safe to take while nursing, anything you were able to take while pregnant is safe. I use tylenol, but you are better to speak with your doctor or midwife about that.
4. Rest. Giving yourself a break is very helpful, when I had a swollen boob I figured it was my bodies way of telling me I am doing too much and need to take it easy. Sit with babe on the couch and watch a movie or television shows for a day, you deserve it.
Anytime I've had a plugged duct it has cleared up within 24 hours, if it persists give your doctor or midwife a call because it can lead to a more serious problem.
There are many benefits to breastfeeding and it has been such a great experience for me. I feel for the women who just aren't able to do it because it is definitely rewarding, but it doesn't mean your any better of a mother whether you choose to breastfeed or use formula. It's all personal preference and what is best for you and your baby, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
If you are having any difficulties breastfeeding reach out to your community. Here in Ontario they automatically ask if you would like to set up an appointment with the lactation consultant before you are discharged from the hospital and even if you say no they still give you the information should you need help in the future. You can always meet with them or ask your doctor/midwife if they have any recommendations. If you have hired a doula you could certainly ask them as well. I have copied some links for you below to check out if you want more information regarding breastfeeding.
Have a lovely day and thanks for reading!