I am going to lead this post off by saying I am “pro breastfeeding”. I have breastfed all three of my children. However, I also believe that fed is best. I had my first child, a daughter, 8 years ago. I wanted to breastfeed for many reasons. I was breastfed by my mother and my sister also breastfed her children, so I had this overwhelming feeling I had to as well. I thought, it’s so natural. They did it and so can I. They said it would take some time to learn how to breastfeed, find a comfortable feeding position and for baby to learn to latch. They weren’t kidding. It took a lot of practice.
Within my babies first few minutes of life, I had her in my arms and began trying to get her latched on. The first time she latched I jumped up a little. I honestly didn’t think a tiny baby good suck so hard. It was like a Dyson vacuum on overdrive lol. Every 2 to 3 hours I was breastfeeding my baby 15 to 20 minutes on each breast. Fast forward, 3 days later my nipples were so sore. I cringed every time I put her to my breast because I knew it was going to hurt. She wasn’t latching properly. I always had large nipples and they were too large for my little girl’s mouth. My go to resource for advice was no surprise, my mom and sister. With their advice and a bit of research, I was able to get my baby to latch.
- Find a comfortable position to hold baby (ex. Cradle hold, football hold, side lying or koala position to name a few. You can also try laid-back position for those who may have had a c-section).
- Make sure babies body is as close to you as possible. Hold them flush to your body.
- Holding your baby with your opposite arm, firmly hold your breast with the arm on the same side as your breast, with your thumb high on the breast and your forefingers below, but on your breast.
- Bring your baby to your breast, angling your nipple to the roof of their mouth. Allow baby to come to the breast and latch on.
- You want your baby to get as much of your areola in their mouth as possible, with their chin resting on the breast. See picture at beginning of tips.
- If the baby latches onto just the nipple, using clean hands, gently put your pinky finger inside the corner of babies mouth to break the seal and try again.
Now, even after getting a good latch, I still had my fair share of troubles. It takes your nipples anywhere from 2-5 weeks to “toughen up”. Which means they will still be a little sore until they do. To help combat this, get yourself a good lanolin nipple cream and apply it after every feed. You can also use some of your own breast milk to help heal your nipples. Express a little milk and dab it onto your nipples. Allow it to air dry before covering it up. You will also want to get some breast pads to keep your breasts dry and comfortable. My favorite are the Johnson & Johnson brand. You can also by reusable breast pads. It generates less waste and can be very cost effective in the long run. Something no one tells you is that your nipples will leak milk. They leak when they are full, if you get emotional, if your baby brushes up against them, if your baby cries and for a number of other reasons. Both your breasts will leak during let down, so make sure your opposite breast is covered. I use Milksavers to catch the run off milk while breastfeeding and store it in the freezer. You can also use a Haaka to collect your milk. Save that precious gold mommas!
It is not as easy as it looks, but it is worth it. Breastfeeding will create a strong bond between you and your baby and there are numerous health benefits. Breast milk contains antibodies that are produced by the mother. These antibodies protect your baby and build up their immune system. The best part is, it protects against the current pathogens the mother has been exposed to. Mother’s milk also contains the exact amount of protein, fat, sugars and vitamins that most babies need. It adjusts to meet your babies needs as they grow. You can’t get more customized than that! Although, you will need to give vitamin D supplements, as it is not found in breast milk. Breastfeeding can also offer mom additional benefits, burning up to 500 calories per day, helping contract the uterus back to normal size, lowering the risk of postpartum bleeding and depression. The moral of this story, is stick to it and try not to get discouraged. No matter what happens, just try your best. If in the end you are not able to breast feed or find it to challenging, just remember that a fed baby is the best baby and it is ok to give them formula. Many advancements have been made and many formulas offer complete nutrition for babe. Unfortunately, without the added health benefits breast milk provides. I am not a health professional. Just one mom trying to share what has worked for me. Good luck latching! If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them here.