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I knew when I got pregnant with my oldest that I wanted to breastfeed. Naively, I thought it would be SO easy. Pop the kid on the boob and things just take care of itself. It’s definitely one of those pre-mom moments where I look back at myself and shake my head and just say “Bless Her Heart”. Fast forward four years and I’ve nursed both my girls to the one year mark and am still going with the youngest. Now, when a new mom asks me for advice on how they can be successful with breastfeeding or what worked for me, these are the 3 things I tell them.
Breastfeeding Support Groups
Sounds weird right? When I went to my first group called “Milk and Cookies” at (then local) boutique, Ollie and Me, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Was I just going to whip out a boob and sit in a circle with other women? Yes and no. I got to meet the amazing Nurse Wendy (yes, the famous one from Shark Tank!) and she was an invaluable resource for me. The baby gets weighed at the beginning, you go and feed them, then weigh them again to see how much you transferred. Nurse Wendy would be there to check your latch and offer any tips or advice on your particular situation.
Every baby and mother is different. I never had a problem with my milk supply, it was completely the opposite. Basically, I was drowning my child each time she wanted to nurse because my letdown was so abundant. I learned different holds and positions that helped and it made our breastfeeding journey together a little bit easier…until those razor sharp teeth started to poke through. Yikes.
Most hospitals have groups similar to this and you can also go to La Leche League and search for a group in your area.
So takeaway #1 – ask for help. Find the help you need. Be your own advocate. There are people and resources out there that can make your breastfeeding journey an enjoyable one.
If you thought you had a good appetite when you were pregnant, just wait until you become a dairy cow. I ate like a teenage boy during those first couple months and for good reason. This is when the old adage of “eating for two” really comes into play but now, more than ever, that you need to get cognizant of what you are eating and more importantly what you are drinking.
I turned into a camel. There wasn’t a water bottle big enough for me. It is so important to keep yourself hydrated. Not only will that help you tremendously when you are trying to get rid of the postpartum swelling, but it also helps your body create the milk that your baby needs. Food also plays a huge role in supporting your lactation. I lived off salmon, oatmeal and Boobie Bars.
I was anxious to lose my baby weight but I quickly realized that my body needed a little fluff to make the milk. So take away #2 – you are still eating (and drinking) for two.
Ironically, the thing that will change your life as a breastfeeding mother is getting your babe to take a bottle. You might be their sole source of nutrition but you don’t have to be the sole administrator. Invest in a good pump and get your freezer supply stocked up so that you can get a break. Sometimes it will seem like it’s more work than it’s worth but trust me, it’s not. It’s good for you, it’s good for baby and it’s good for your partner/loved one to get some bonding time.
Sounds crazy to advise a breastfeeding mom to bottle feed but being the only source of nutrition for a small human is a exhausting task – both physically and emotionally. Weird things happen to your body. Your hormones take you on the craziest roller coaster ride you’ve ever been on. It’s super important to try to take care of yourself. That might look different for each person, shoot…that might even look different each day but it’s paramount to take some time for yourself.
Whatever it is that might make you feel like you, do it. Take away #3 – it’s ok to make yourself a priority, even if it only lasts 5 minutes.
Must Have Items
That pre-mom me thought all you needed to successfully breastfeed a baby would be your boob (Bless Her Heart right?) but I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. It’s amazing that something so primal and basic could require so. much. stuff. These are the products that I really couldn’t live without those first few months.
One – Boppy Best Latch Pillow I love this pillow because it has a firm and soft side. I’ve tried a million others and walways came back to this old standby.
Two – Lanishoh Nursing pads I loved that this actually stayed in place and absorbed without looking like I stuffed two pancakes in my bra.
Three – Como Tomo bottles Both of my girls loved these bottles. Easy to clean and minimal plastic.
Four – Medela Sonata breast pump Worth every single penny. Compact yet powerful and quiet enough that I didn’t wake up the entire house pumping before I went to the gym at 4am.
Five – Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Cream I love this so much, I give this to every expecting Mama I know. I had a jar in every spot I’d nurse.
Six – These nursing tanks were my uniform….still are.
Seven – Lanishoh hands free bra Game changer even if you are pumping alone.
Eight – Let Down catcher This was my secret weapon to building up my milk stash, especially with an oversupply.
Nine – Camelback water bottle The biggest I could get that allowed me to guzzle water somewhat hands free
Ten – Tula Baby Carrier Seems strange to include a carrier but skin to skin contact can help regulate your supply. Bonus points for when you learn how to nurse with babe IN the carrier. Life changing and talk about feeling like a SuperMom. It’s the only way I survived Disneyland with two small kids.