This post is for expecting moms planning to breastfeed.
The information in this post is one of the main reasons for the existence of this blog. (a must read!)
I know this is probably TMI for dads, but for the moms, I really want to share some things to have if you plan to breastfeed.
Keep reading for my story and some recommended products to have on hand:
Breastfeeding was hands down, the hardest part of adjusting to new mom life. I did all I could to learn about breastfeeding through books and a hospital class while pregnant and it was still incredibly challenging.
Baby was born by cesarean section and from what I’ve read, some c-section moms have a delay in getting their milk supply. At the hospital Baby started to lose weight and was unusually fussy after feeds (i.e. hungry); the nurses and my pediatrician recommended supplementing with formula. My worry-prone mother was completely frazzled, thinking that they were pushing formula-feeding on us. I was totally sleep-deprived and still in pain from surgery. Not good times.
Most babies will lose 10% of their birthweight. So we were really worrying for nothing.
Baby was born on a Wednesday. We started supplementing Friday if I remember right. That Sunday, my milk supply came in. On Monday, the nurses at the pediatrician’s office weighed Baby and he had maintained weight, so that was a great sign. I felt pretty good but wait–there’s more.
From having little milk supply, I went to having too much supply. Engorgement!
Then I had plugged ducts and sore nipples for what felt like an entire month. First on the left side, then on the right side. Then back to the left and again on the right. I broke down in tears after talking to a lactation consultant (our hospital has a hotline) because I was going through so much pain, I felt like I was a complete failure. She assured me I was doing great because baby was getting fed, according to all the wet and dirty diapers he had.
Baby had and continues to have this incredible appetite. So for the first 10 weeks, I felt like I was nursing in bed all day–feeds every hour or two. It was insane. I could not get out of my pjs.
It especially happens at 2 AM or 4 AM when you are completely exhausted and have to get up to feed the baby: you want to quit. It’s painful at first and you are still not fully recovered.
Please don’t quit. Give it a month. Give it 6 weeks. You will feel like you are failing because you can’t see what your baby is eating; it’s a complete test of your faith.
It’s worth it for your baby. And for you.
I’m not a lactation consultant and I’m not an expert on feeding babies, so I will leave all that educating stuff to them.
Here’s some things to have on hand—you won’t want to without these:
- heating pad – whenever you feel plugged ducts coming, apply heat, especially before feeding to assist with flow – huge lifesaver!
- cold packs (or frozen vegetable packs wrapped in towels) – for treating pain
- lanolin – Moneysaver Tip: Don’t buy lanolin. Get a few samples from the hospital, from registry gift bags (Buy Buy Baby) or a lactation consultant. You only use it for the first month or two. A full-sized tube (which costs $9-10) will likely not be used up.
- Lansinoh disposable nursing pads – these have two adhesive squares on them so they stick to your undergarment. I have not switched or tried any other brand because I repeat—they are stick like stickers to your bra or nursing undergarment! Sometimes they slide around, but other pads slide around all the time. They’re disposable not cloth–not great for the environment–but they work the best. (Amazon Subscribe & Save has the best price for 4 boxes–and yes, this was an unanticipated cost of having a baby because you go through these like crazy for the first three months)
- Lansinoh milk storage bags – Moneysaver Tip: Instead of buying these at the store, save the samples that you get from the Lansinoh nursing pads (each box of pads comes with two bags) – you will have a lot by the end and you can build up a good supply in the freezer.
- Avent breast pump – I really like this one–but there is a newer model too–it’s easy to clean and you attach the avent bottle to it. Make sure to pump at an ideal time (when you have supply). Yes, your hand will get tired but it’s a manual pump that costs $40. You can buy the $200 electric Medela pump, but if you are staying at home you really don’t need that one (and will save yourself $160), unless your baby is a premie in NICU. Even if you don’t plan to pump regularly, you can use this pump for when your baby starts solids; I am using ours every day now that I mix breastmilk with oat cereal for Baby.
- Nursing pillow: My Brest Friend or Boppy
- Loose fitting t-shirts
- Nursing bras: Motherhood brand are a good option (but don’t get the Motherhood bras available at Kohls; not as good as the real brand!)
Some helpful advice:
- Get some support. I have a wonderful mom, an aunt who’s a nurse, and SimpleGuy has an aunt who is a true believer in breastfeeding and knew everything about pumps and what to have on hand–who sent me encouragement via Facebook messages. Any little bit of encouragement goes a really long way. Don’t shy away from the lactation consultants. It’s weird to nurse in front of someone, but do it. You need guidance!
- A great tip I got from many moms is to dry off the nipple after feeding, express some breastmilk and rub it on the nipple and let it dry. This really helps sore nipples.
Breastfeeding is so worth it. Trust me: You and your baby can make it through all the challenges.