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Breastfeeding is one of those mysterious things which you magically have to master when you become a mom. Here are some breastfeeding tips and things I didn’t know when I started my journey of parenthood. I hope this helps you in some way to tackle this part of raising a new human.
Things about breastfeeding I didn’t know until I started doing it
In the movies, it all seems so simple. You put a baby to a breast, and the magic happens.
In the real life, it turned out a bit more difficult.
So here are the things I didn’t know about breastfeeding until I tried it. You’ll find the best breastfeeding tips I’ve used so far and see what you can expect.
Everyone has a unique situation with milk supply at the beginning
Several friends who already had babies warned me that the first days after giving birth will be painful not only down there but for the breasts as well. They had experienced very large breasts due to the milk in them. Especially in the beginning.
I was prepared and expected that.
But for me, it was the opposite. For the first couple of days, it seemed that there is nothing in my breasts. When doctors tried to squeeze them, nothing came out.
The Internet says that the first milk is very nutritious and even a couple of drops is enough for the newborn baby. But my baby seemed hungry even though she spent a lot of time sucking.
We kept going at this, used a bit of formula, and eventually, the milk showed up. But this was different from what I had expected in the beginning.
Your nipples will be sensitive (at least in the beginning)
When my baby was born, she liked to have a connection with me through breastfeeding. Each session could be around half an hour and would be repeated after an hour.
This was a surprise for my breasts. Never have they gotten such a big attention.
Soon they felt tender and a bit painful.
Nurses suggested using a cream with lanolin. It helped me to get through the first days. It’s one of the things like baby clothes that I’d recommend to put in your hospital bag.
Luckily, the nipples adjusted and now they are just fine without any cream.
One boob will leak when the baby feeds on the other
This was a weird thing for me. I’m not sure if it happens to everyone, but my boobs seem to be very leaky.
When the milk supply came in, the baby would feed with a great enthusiasm. And the milk comes from both breasts simultaneously (but with just some drops from the other breast).
I thought that this would stop after the breasts become more familiar with breastfeeding, but no. 6 months in and still leaky.
That’s why I use nursing pads so that the bra and the baby stay dry.
Milk supply is highly related to your hydration (duh)
I’ve seen some Youtube videos with guides on how to increase your milk supply.
As I’m always with the baby and don’t have any other caregivers, my milk supply is steady. I think that excessive pumping and being away from your baby could be some of the reasons why there is increased/decreased milk supply.
But even though I don’t do those things yet, there have been a few times when I was scared that I’ve run out of milk.
That’s when my partner suggested for me to drink some water.
And it fixed the problem almost instantly. So always keep a water bottle with you if you are breastfeeding.
Maternity bras at all times
When I was still in hospital, one nurse came to check on me and was shocked.
I wasn’t wearing a bra!
She instructed me sternly that for as long as I’m breastfeeding there are only two occasions when it’s allowed for me to take off my bra.
While feeding the baby or taking a shower.
Otherwise my breasts would become saggy from the weight that they are carrying.
I don’t know how much truth is in this statement, but I don’t want to risk it. Nursing bras are quite comfortable anyways.
Stretch marks on breasts are common
During pregnancy, I expected to get a few stretch marks. I have a quite elastic skin and didn’t have any marks before, so I expected them to be on the belly.
On the most stretched part, obviously.
I didn’t get any on my belly. And I got a lot on my breasts.
Looking back, I should have used the anti stretch mark cream on the breasts too. In addition, I liked to have a sugar scrub on the belly for better blood circulation. Should have applied that to the breasts as well. Maybe that would have helped a bit.
My breastfeeding routine (and the hack)
How often do you remember which was the last breast that you used for breastfeeding?
When I thought about breastfeeding I imagined a lot of things that could go wrong. But remembering the last breast never crossed my mind.
It’s probably way down on the problem list, as there could be more important issues. But for me, there was this one neat little trick that has helped to worry about one less thing. I hope this helps you too.
When I started breastfeeding, I wanted to use an app for tracking it.
This got unmanageable quite soon.
I didn’t have the phone with me all the time. Even when I had the phone, sometimes I forgot to log the session. And I hated to switch on the screen during night, as that disturbed me and the baby.
Then I thought that I’ll just remember.
Nursing so many times in the same positions and locations quickly blend all the times together in the memory. So that wasn’t a solution as well.
What I do now is something simple. I use one nursing pad. I put it on the breast I’m not nursing with. When I start a session, I check which breast has the nursing pad. I take it off and put it on the other breast. And the baby gets the free breast.
This is easy to manage no matter the location or the time of the day.
What to do when the baby is distracted from breastfeeding
Around 4 month mark my daughter started to pay much more attention to our surroundings and it interfered with the breastfeeding. She would not eat if something interesting was happening behind her – she would just turn the head away and look in the direction of the sounds or lights.
Carrying her to another room didn’t work. waiting until she is a bit more hungry didn’t work as well.
The solution which has worked for me is to position myself so that she sees the party.
Sometimes it means that I am standing with my back to people. And sometimes I’ve asked for someone to stand behind me and entertain her. So far that has been enough. She just wants to be par of everything that’s happening around.
What hardships have you experienced while breastfeeding? Did you overcome them? What was your solution?