For Lu: The Nursing

I think we can all agree that breastfeeding is best, and according to the World Health Organization your baby should have nothing but breastmilk until six months old, yadda yadda you can nurse until two years and beyond.
I think we can also agree to not judge each other.

I started feeding Liam baby food before he was five months old.  All signs said he was completely ready for them, and I don't care if someone thinks that he will be obese in five years because I fed him early.  He slept well, and he was a happy baby.  He also basically weaned himself around 9 months.
MG, on the other hand, is nowhere near ready for solids.  She doesn't even like to taste our food.  I've started feeding her formula bottles with a little rice cereal in them to beef her up, and still, she is tiny.

Point is - you're the mama, do what you think is best.
I can't give much helpful nursing advice through a blog post, but, here's a list of things that have been valuable to me as a breastfeeding mother.

1. Lanolin cream.  My dear Tay gave me some Lansinoh and suggested that I start using it weeks in advance.  I did, but probably not as faithfully as I should have.  I still cracked and bled a little.

2. Nursing pads.  Honestly, I haven't needed these much.  Like, maybe ten times and mostly in the night.  So I never used them regularly and I don't know which ones are best.  Sorry.

3. Pump.  I've used a few and liked both this one and this one just fine.  Don't use the one you get from the hospital, it's awful.

4. Boppy pillow.  Not everyone loves these.  I did.  I could nurse Liam and still use the computer (ha!).  Also, sometimes I dozed off during the nighttime feedings, and it was nice to have him cradled in the thing instead of falling out of my sleepy arms.

5. Nursing bras and/or camisoles.  Buy yourself some decent ones, you'll use them to death.  The Motherhood Maternity salespeople can be very helpful.  Think about a couple things when you're looking: clothes you normally wear, activity level, comfort, size, padding.  I never really needed a sports or sleep bra, didn't want underwire, did want padding.  Try on a few at Motherhood Maternity or Target, and buy the ones you like.  I never wore the 3 cheapo ones I bought.

6. Tops.  I didn't realize how tight-fitting all my shirts were until I had to nurse with them.  Then I went out and bought 7 new shirts.  One way around this, if your shirts need camisoles underneath (mine did), is to buy nursing camis or halftees, or a bra like this that can pass as a camisole .... but you'll probably want a white one. Ahem.

7. Special underwear.  DON'T buy nursing tops, they will make you furious.  Any top with a stretchy neckline will do - cotton or carinessa.

8. Nursing covers, if you want them.  I use mine mostly at church.  They're much easier to use than blankets, and don't have to be anything fancy.

9. True grit.  You will be in exceedingly great pain for at least a few weeks.  Just plan on it, and know that it will end, and know that it's worth it.
When I first started nursing I thought it was inconvenient.  Now that I have to supplement with formula, I know better; compared to bottle-feeding, nursing is suuuuuper convenient.
Just a thought.


Bonnie said...

Okay, I hope you don't mind me jumping in with my input on this post. For me, the nursing pads are an absolute necessity. Like life and death. Like if I'm out of the house and realize I don't have nursing pads with me, I'll take an extra stop at the first pharmacy or grocery store I find to get some. I am leaking ALL the time. So, it really just depends on your anatomy. I found that the only pads worth anything are the Lansinoh disposables (they come in a purple box). You would think that the normal cloth pads would be great but they really do nothing. Nothing at all. My body is a bit of a milk cow (we joke that I could feed triplets).

For that reason I also never really pumped to get my supply up - I only pumped to get rid of some of the excess milk (quite painful) so I only used a handpump I got for free from WIC. So...breastfeeding is different for everyone. Figure out what kind of person you are and do what is best for you. With my first my milk didn't regulate very well for 4 or 5 months. It's been faster this time around.

If you're like me (a.k.a. very milky), you'll need a lot of burp cloths and towels to sop up the extra milk when your child unlatches and the milk sprays everywhere (or when the other side that you're not even nursing on decides it's time to produce milk and you end up all wet).

Also, learn how to nurse lying down. It will change your life and help you get MUCH more sleep.

I completely agree about the nursing bras - find ones that help you feel good - I find there's nothing worse than a bad bra to make me feel frumpy. I don't think Rachel mentioned this, but you won't really know what size you settle into until after your baby comes, so you may want to buy a couple soft stretchy ones to wear at the beginning (that may or may not be frumpy) when you're engorged so any kind of structure is just painful and then go get ones of the right size and with some support after that.

She's totally right about the Lanolin as well. There are these new gel pads that are supposed to help as well - one of my nurses recommended them but I never used them. Give them a try if you're really in pain. Also, cabbage leaves.

Novel here. I have a lot of breastfeeding advice. If you find yourself needing it, please call me. Surprisingly, being married to the son of a lactation consultant has resulted in me being kind of an expert. Nursing isn't easy at the beginning and it's not necessarily worry free for the whole time you nurse, but I love it (after awhile) so know that it's worth the pain and agony at the beginning.

Bonnie said...

Looking at this comment I'm embarrassed about my wordiness. I'm sorry!

Jean said...

Bons, don't apologize! Perfect comment! I'm so glad to have other input here. I forgot to mention that I never pumped with Will except to get rid of the excess. Oh to have those days again. :)
And yes, lying down nursing is wonderful. Emma hasn't ever caught on and I've missed it.
I just remembered that I hardly even wore a bra for a week after having Will ... ha. Definitely get a soft stretchy one!

Thais Martins Fernandes said...

Awesome advice, the one that I think it is the best is: "Just plan on it, and know that it will end, and know that it's worth it. "
When I had my first baby I was 100% sure I was going to breastfeed. Two weeks after my baby was born I remember crying to my mother, "how can anyone do this? it is impossible to withstand the pain!" - I felt like I had no other choice but to give up... however deep down I wanted to nurse, so I bought a pump and fed my baby boy on a bottle for 2 days, which was enough for me to recover... after that it was a dream come true.. right now I am nursing my second child and I am glad I kept trying...

Chelsee said...

The Medela brand lanolin cream is also really good. It healed me up really fast when I cracked and bled this time around.

As with Bonnie I'd definitely recommend the disposable Lansinoh nursing pads. I bought the cloth ones thinking that I'd like it better to not have to buy the disposable ones all the time, but the cloth ones do nothing. I don't really even leak that much and I leak through the cloth ones in no time. Embarrassing to get caught wet, so just save the grief and buy the disposable ones. You may think that you are going through them quickly at first when you are engorged and leaking just about every feeding and through the night, but eventually you'll even out.

One of the best things that I did this time around to was learn how to manually express milk by hand. It helps in that first little bit when you are initially engorged and need to release a little so that baby can latch. It's super easy and goes quick when doing it right.

Also have patience. The first couple of weeks are just rough. You're learning, your baby is learning and all around it takes a little while to understand cues on if they are still hungry, just tired, or if they are bothered by milk-flow, etc. etc. Things will eventually work themselves out, it just takes some time.

Definitely figure out lying down. One of the best ways to help with those sore shoulders from holding your baby while nursing.

Also, with my first child, my milk didn't come in completely and so I wasn't able to breastfed him past 6-7 weeks. It's not the end of the world. Babies survive just fine on formula too. :)

These are the things that worked best for me, and I'm sure that you will figure out what's best for you. Everyone is different.