You guys, I’m two and a half weeks in with our sweet baby girl, and it’s simultaneously flown by and yet I feel as though I’ve been connected to her forever. This raising kids thing? It’s pretty spectacular! It’s also tiring and hard and beautiful and stressful and rewarding all at the same time. And I have to say, I realize why people keep having kids, because babies! This is number four for us, and I’ve learned that taking care of yourself (and your breasts) the first few weeks is imperative. So today I’m sharing just a few breastfeeding basics that have kept me sane through four nursing children and some tips for less breastfeeding stress in those first weeks.
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Yep, it’s my first tip and it sounds easy enough or like it’s a no brainer… but with everything your body is going through postpartum, you’re going to need the hydration, especially when you’re making milk ’round the clock! It can be too easy to let this go, so stay vigilant. Staying hydrated will help you produce the milk you need, curb other symptoms, give you more energy and also help keep you cleaned out and regulated (constipation is NOT your friend postpartum).
Keep taking your prenatal vitamin and most supplements you were on while pregnant. I like adding in a probiotic as well to help curb thrush and keep my digestive system running well (both can be issues after giving birth and when nursing). I went through thrush when nursing Skylar, and it was one of the most painful experiences of my life, thus these first two tips that will help in avoiding issues like this one.
Use a good cream.
There are so many great, natural nipple creams out there… Use one! Truth be told, one of my favorites right now is this one that I made, it’s soothing, moisturizing, smells great, and I know it’s healing to that sore, cracked area. The hospital will usually give you a cream as well, or you can easily find organic versions as well!
Check for proper latch.
This is a big, important one and will make a huge difference in how you feel when nursing your sweet babe. Make sure your baby’s mouth is wide open, like a yawn, before feeding. You’ll need to check that the latch is deep enough, and that you’re not hearing a clicking sound (usually meaning a shallow latch) when babe is nursing. This will end up hurting you, and it’s how we knew with our newest babe, Aria, that her small tongue tie needed to be corrected… it was making me raw and was getting too painful. Thankfully the process for her was a simple one, and after a couple of days I healed up as she learned how to have a deeper latch. Don’t be afraid to call a lactation consultant if you feel something isn’t quite right! They are there to help you, and if there is an issue, waiting will usually just exacerbate the problem, or the pain… and that’s something we really don’t want.
For me, I always have alternated sides for each feeding, meaning one side for a full nursing session and then beginning with the other side at the next nursing session. If baby is still hungry after one side, I’ll offer the other, but usually baby gets their fill from one side. With each feeding, the milk at the beginning provides thinner, more thirst quenching, milk and as baby continues nursing the thicker and fuller, more nutrient dense and fatty milk begins to make it’s way out. Giving baby a full feed from one side allows milk production to stay regular as well, because they are emptying the breast of the current milk supply. It’s all different for everyone, so do what works for you, I’ve just found this to be the easiest way to feed all four of my children (all four with different eating speeds and personalities).
Pump when needed.
After arriving home with Aria, and realizing through tremendous pain that the tongue tie she had really was effecting her latch, I decided to pump a little. This was for a couple of reasons; for one, my milk tends to come in at full force and until it regulates to what baby needs, it can also be painful. Meaning engorged breasts. Secondly, it hurt to nurse her and though I didn’t plan to stop nursing I didn’t mind letting one or two feedings go to shared duty. My kids were begging to give her a bottle anyway and so this mama didn’t mind the break. Pumping with already sore nipples will still hurt (just a little) but it’s also much gentler than a hard latch, which means that break that every new mama can use. Another plus, it’s also a great way to curb the jealousy from other kiddos, let them help. 🙂
Side note: When my first child, Aliyah, who was born three weeks early, was given a bottle in the hospital, I was terrified of nipple confusion, reduced milk supply, etc. For me though, I’ve found that with all of my babies, taking a little break and letting them experience a bottle early on allows for an easier transition when you need a sitter for a night out or when it’s time to return to work. In doing so, all four of mine have easily taken a bottle and have been able to be bottle fed if I’m away and breastfeed when I’m back home. So if you need it, don’t be afraid to get some relief, mamas, and let family help with a feeding now and then. A more relaxed mama is better for baby than one too stressed out from pain or trying to do it all on her own.
When we started a baby registry for Aria, we needed just about everything since we had first thought we were done after Skylar (our third). I was looking at all different kinds of bottles now on the market and we ended up trying Chicco’s NaturalFit® bottles which are designed for an easy transition between breast and bottle and the right flow for the early nursing stage she’s in. I liked the breast-like, angled nipple that kind of mimics breastfeeding for an easy and natural latch, and so far, Aria has been a huge fan and able to latch on to the NaturalFit® bottle comfortably as well as switch back to nursing at the next feeding.
So mamas, know this, it’s okay to do what works best for you and your family! Edit
The BIGGEST way you can take care of yourself is to do it without worrying about what others think, how you measure up, or base your worth on what others are doing or saying… even within this post, use what works for YOU and forget the rest. The comparison game is real, and especially after you’ve delivered a baby, have crazy hormones running through your body and are running on little sleep, it will try to creep it’s head up. Resist the urge. No matter how you’re feeling, you were made for this, your body is doing what it was meant to do for your little one and that in itself is spectacular. Whether you breastfeed or not, co-sleep or swaddle, laugh or cry, shower or sleep… Remember this; you are more than enough. You are capable, and mama, you’ve got this.
Now, go get yourself a nap if you can, you deserve it. 😉
Tell me mamas, were you able to breastfeed? What are some of your tips for less stress in those first few weeks?? I’d LOVE to know. And, then, I think I’d love a nap myself 😉
This post was created in partnership with Chicco’s NaturalFit®. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that keep Fresh Mommy Blog going!