There isn’t a lot that can truly prepare you for breastfeeding. You can read books on the subject (which I still advise you do) but you can’t really know exactly how it will all unfold until you are nursing your own baby. It’s such a beautiful experience but it hurts, is messy, and sometimes very complicated.
I was determined to breastfeed my baby from the time I became pregnant. I read all the pinterest articles I could find, and I almost finished the book that my insurance company sent me on the subject (meaning I read about ¼).
Fast Forward to the day my baby boy was born. They squashed my boob into his mouth “like a hamburger”, they taught my husband how to help, and I took as many Lansinoh samples as they would give me. He did great! He was breastfeeding! It was a learning curve of course and I cringed and curled my toes and bit my lip through the pain on my nipples and in my uterus. But we were doing it!
And then they sent us home.
He nursed fine during the day while my parents were around. It hurt like a mother, but still, it was working.
Then night fell. He was a different baby! He suddenly forgot how to nurse. James and I spent a couple hours morphing my boob into different shapes to see which one he would respond to, but nothing worked. He couldn’t get a grip. He was crying and hungry and we were exhausted. Come on kid, I just pushed you out…give me a break! Eventually I gave in and pumped as much as I could to feed him with a bottle. I got a small nap in the recliner with Leopold in the swing in front of me. That lasted about an hour and then my dad showed up to take us to the pediatrician. It was not a fun night, let me tell you. Not to mention this was day 2 of Hurricane Joaquin blowing through SC!
Looking back, knowing what I know now, I think his severe jaundice and slight lip tie affected his latch and willingness to eat right off the bat. The lip tie was not a major factor but I do believe that it contributed to the pain and soreness I experienced for what felt like forever.
Here is my list of ‘must haves’ and a few ‘would be good to haves’ for a new breastfeeding mother.
Medela Lanolin cream
They gave us Lansinoh in the hospital but when I went to the drugstore to restock I bought Medela because it was a dollar or two cheaper and there was much more in the bottle. I ended up loving it WAY more than Lansinoh. It wasn’t as thick and it glided on so smooth. My nipples were SO sore for so long and the Medela cream didn’t hurt as much to apply. I put it on after he nursed and before showers and intermittently when my nipples were extra sore. It’s safe for baby so you don’t have to wash it off to nurse which is a huge plus.
I loved my Boppy. We used it for breastfeeding sometimes but more often than not I used it to sit him in while we ate (in the bed…we lived in the bed his first couple of months). We used it for tummy time quite often, and it was also a great prop for me to lean back on when I nursed him. In the early days post hospital stay it worked really well to sit on since my stitches were really sore and it hurt to sit.
Always Flex Foam Pads
(There are wings in the photo but I preferred the ones without wings)
This may sound crazy but these babies were LIFE. They hold 10x their weight according to the box and while I never calculated it, I believe it! In the beginning I had days where I would go to the grocery store and wear him and end up having to change both of our shirts because I had leaked so much. I bought a box of these and cut each one into thirds, and I would stick them to the insides of my sports bras. (Side note: I was too lazy to use nursing bras. The clasps never stayed clasped and it drove me up the wall!) I never leaked anymore and I could wring out a good bit of milk when I took them off.
Medela Double Breast Pump
This was obviously a life saver that first night, but it was also really helpful when I had to go back to work. It pumped pretty quickly and easily and was not bad to clean. But I’m glad I don’t have to use it anymore!
Nuk Nipple Shield
After our horrendous first night home, my mom grabbed me one of these babies and it was a game changer! I wouldn’t use one unless you are struggling because they can be a crutch that because tough to let go of. I was so scared to go back to life without it because it hurt so much less when we used it and he nursed so much easier. One day it fell off my nightstand and we never found it again. I have my suspicions about the dog…but he nursed fine after that and we never had to worry about weaning off it-thank goodness!
The Two Shirt Method
This isn’t a product but the good news is, it’s free! Just like so many babies, my son HATED to be covered up when nursing. I don’t blame him! It gets sweaty and claustrophobic if I hold a blanket over my head, so why would I want to eat under there? I learned to always wear a stretchy tank top (my favorites were the long ones from H&M) under my t-shirt. The two shirt method helped so much if we were out and about and he got hungry. I would just pull up my t-shirt and pull down the tank and my bra and let out just enough boob for my kid to get to. Most of the time no one could even tell what was going on!
These guys were great for the days when I didn’t feel like wearing a supportive bra but I didn’t want to leak all over the place. You just stick them to your nipple and push it in and it prevents leaking! I sometimes use them even now if I need to wear a dress that won’t work with a regular bra. They work really well!
Let’s be real here-especially if it’s your first baby, you’re going to be sitting down breastfeeding them a LOT. Some babies are really slow eaters or just like being on the boob. And then there is cluster feeding…phew! You will binge watch more shows than you ever thought possible. So grab the remote, your phone, some water and snacks (all within arms reach!) and settle in!
*Once they get a little older and more wiggly it’s nice to have a baby friendly necklace for them to play with when they nurse. Especially if they are pinchers like my kid was. He has never really bit me but he sure made up for it by pinching! OUCH!
What were some of your favorite breastfeeding essentials?