(*I know some guys read the blog, this will be TMI*)
This week is National Breastfeeding week and though I’m not sure I qualify given we’ve only been doing this for 7 short weeks, I thought I would share some things that helped me.
I knew before Elizabeth was born that I wanted to try to breastfeed. Given my PCOS, there was a chance it wouldn’t work or that I would have oversupply issues. But I had a couple of reasons above and beyond how great it is for baby, for why I wanted to try: 1) It’s cheaper than formula, 2) I might lose weight faster and easier. May sound vain or contrite, but it’s the truth. In fact our instructor at our class reassured us that those reasons are great ones, not vain ones:)
Right after she was born I wanted to try breastfeeding immediately. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to try for an hour and a half after she arrived; they made me eat first. Didn’t matter, she knew just what to do when it came time. Although it was painful. Anyone that says it isn’t is just plain lucky. Because she was born at a hospital without lactation consultants on staff, the nurses are trained and they have a rotating LC that comes in. I asked every day I was there to see one and I left without seeing one. My only con of the hospital I delivered in. She seemed to be doing just fine, diaper wise, but it HURT. To the point that I cringed when it came time to feed her.
We checked out on Sunday and Monday morning I called a local lactation consultant group and made an appointment for that morning. Before I did that I sent out an SOS email to my friend Jackie who’s a bona fide Lactation Consultant. It was pretty late at night but she emailed me back so many helpful things even though she was miles away. They helped get me though that night until our appointment the next morning. So Monday morning I ventured out with Elizabeth alone. I was nervous, but we made it…thank goodness for valet parking at the hospital! While I was there they weighed her before and after feedings, watched her latch, and gave me some great pointers. Seems I was doing almost everything right, I just wasn’t confident enough. You really have to go for it:) And I left feeling much more confident, less sore, and ready to go.
The following weeks had a few challenges but for the most part, BF has come easily for Elizabeth and I. I have some oversupply issues and a slightly overactive letdown, but there are simple fixes for those. Breastfeeding does not come easily for everyone; I’ve read some great stories of perseverance here, here, here and here. Knowing it’s difficult for others definitely helped me keep my expectations in check. At the end of the day, it’s been such a great thing for me and Elizabeth and I feel really blessed that’s it has worked so well thus far!
But if you’re willing to give it a go, here are some things I found helpful.
1) Get educated beforehand.
Before we had Elizabeth, Alex and I took a breastfeeding class. Yes, my husband came along. After a good friend mentioned how helpful it was that her husband was there, Alex was signed up faster than he could say no! It was so helpful. Even if they were telling me things I already knew, I can’t tell you how nice it was, the days after Elizabeth was home, that Alex could “help” problem solve when I was sleep deprived and hurting.
help even if you don’t need it.
Breastfeeding has been an interesting journey in that no one in my family has ever done it. But I have had plenty of friends who I can turn to for help and great lactation consultants. #1 thing, ask those around you who have done it AND find help. I think everyone should see a LC either in the hospital or right after. So helpful and really encouraging. Even if nothing is going wrong, it’s a great confidence boost! If you know the day you are giving birth, schedule your appointment ahead of time.
3) Have some sort of manual available to you
If only breastfeeding came with a manual, or even the baby! But of course, like so many things, it’s instinct and learn on the job for the most part. That being said, I happened to have checked out Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding two days before giving birth. That book was well worn by the time its due date came around. So helpful to have something on hand. Another great book is “Nursing Mothers Companion”. Check one out, buy one, or check out Kellymom.com; great online resource for all things breastfeeding.
4) Stock up on breastfeeding items
Especially nipple cream. Lanisoh lanonlin or Motherlove, either one, just make sure you have it on hand. The hospital has some as well and they have all sorts of other various things; cold sticky things that ease soreness (hydrogel pads), nipple shields, and breast shells. Other great things for afterwards, nursing pads (disposable or reusable) & a breast pump.