I learned a few things during my breastfeeding journey so far.
1. It’s not a science. You cannot watch a video and replicate exactly what they are doing and get it perfect. Breastfeeding is more like a dance. You do your steps, your baby does their steps and together you make something beautiful happen.
3. If you want to use a Boppy, a My Breast Friend, or any other pillow then try it but don’t be dependent on it. I thought I needed a pillow. I bought several pillows for nursing and the only one that is being used is the boppy I sleep on at night… I found pillows annoying and useless. By not being reliant on a pillow, I found breastfeeding on the go much easier. Use the pillow if you want it but learn to feed without it for convenience!
4. Breastfeeding in public is scary and wonderful. I’ve never had an issue with people while I breastfeed in public, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not going to at some point. It is terrifying every time I need to feed R wondering if someone is going to have a cow. But there’s another side to breastfeeding in public. You will get support from people you don’t know, encouraging you to continue your breastfeeding journey. I hope that you only ever encounter these people.
5. You are going to have pain but you can combat it. Get a good lanolin, invest in coconut oil, and take stock in the soothies pads. The more preventive care you do for your nipples, the less of a problem you will have.
6. Be vigilant. I have yet to have a problem with blocked ducts, mastitis, or thrush, but that doesn’t mean they can’t happen to me. I make sure to continually check the latch (yes, even with my 9 month old), I pump or hand express if I’m feeling engorged, and if my breast pads or bra get wet, I make sure to change ASAP to prevent my nipples from sitting in a warm and moist environment.
7. Do skin-to-skin. I spent the first three months of R’s life in just a sports bra and pj pants. I was always ready to feed and doing skin-to-skin as much as possible. Does it really make a difference? I don’t know. But if I’m already cuddling with my newborn does it kill me to do skin-to-skin? Nope.
8. Take time to care for yourself. You have to eat and drink water and take your vitamins. If you aren’t then your body is going to have trouble making milk. No dieting. No being too busy to eat. You have to make time for it. You should still be eating an increased amount of calories especially in the early days. I was starving and thirsty all the time until R was about 6 months old. I had no shame in eating more than my share! And remember to continue to take your prenatal vitamin.
9. Your baby doesn’t have to nurse for comfort. My pediatrician told me I could let R nurse as long as I wanted to as Le Leche League suggests or I can cut her time short. I can be her pacifier or I can give her a plastic one. It doesn’t matter. He told me as long as she’s eating 10-20 minutes every 2-3 hours and is having enough wet diapers she is fine.
10. Some babies don’t poop as often. After the meconium passes, some breastfed babies only poop a few times a month while others poop multiple times a day. At one point, R was only pooping once a week. She still had plenty of wet diapers a day (11+) so I knew she was getting enough to stay hydrated and she was gaining weight so I knew she was not going hungry. If you have a concern about your baby’s poop or milk intake, see your pediatrician or lactation consultant. Better to be safe than sorry!
11. Find what works for you. In the end, maybe breastfeeding isn’t your thing. Maybe you decide to exclusively pump. Maybe you decide to formula feed. Maybe your body decides for you. Maybe you end up doing some combination of breastfeeding/pumping/formula. The thing that matters most is that your baby is fed and happy.
In the end, I don’t think I can express enough that you need to do what works for both you and your baby. If your baby only latches in the football hold, then continue to do that! Eventually they will get it another way but don’t give up just because it doesn’t fit your ideal. If you do decide to switch to formula feeding or exclusively pumping, that’s ok! Remember that any breast milk your baby gets is good for them and all food leads to healthy, happy, growing babies!