So these first 48 days with Jonah, I have spent around 288 hours breastfeeding. Yup, I counted… sorta. I’d like to say I’m a pro at it now, but I’m not there yet. I am, however, much better at it than I was the first few days. We haven’t had any complications – Jonah was able to latch on properly right away (super important for my own comfort, and for his ability to get the milk out sufficiently and efficiently!), my milk supply has been quite plentiful, I haven’t had cracked or bleeding nipples or clogged milk ducts or the dreaded mastitis, and we’ve generally had a very easy time with breastfeeding. But nursing every 1-3 hours is a lot, and when I’m super sleepy and I have an awake, hungry baby, it’s not the most fun thing in the world to do. Am I glad to be able to breastfeed? Yes! I know I’m giving Jonah great nourishment, as evidenced by his delicious chunky thighs and cheeks. But it took some getting used to, and it’s not always my favorite activity. Of course, there are times I absolutely love it, too – when I’m not trying to sleep, and we have our sweet quiet early-morning time together…I know I’ll miss this once he’s weaned.
Anyways, here are some things that have made our breastfeeding journey go much more smoothly:
1. Getting a proper latch! We took a breastfeeding class while I was still pregnant, our awesome doula Becca helped with the first latch-on and has checked up on us since then to make sure things are going well, and these online videos are also helpful – if you can’t take a class or hire a doula, I recommend watching them! Or finding a breastfeeding friend who can help you out. It’s seriously so important to get that latch right.
2. A good pillow to help with proper positioning. I have the My Brest Friend. Stupid, stupid name, but it’s a great pillow and I much prefer it to the Boppy. It’s firmer, it straps on, you don’t have to lean forward or use additional pillows with it to have the baby in the best position, and it has pockets for essentials like lanolin and nursing pads! When I’m seated at my desk with the pillow on it, I can basically nurse hands-free. And when you’re nursing frequently, it helps to be able to do it hands-free some of the time.
3. Lanolin. For keeping my nipples from getting all sore and dry. I put it on religiously, pretty much after every feeding. And I haven’t had any problems. I know you wanted to hear all about my nipples, huh? But any soon-to-be-breastfeeding mamas out there will thank me, I promise. Get yourself a big tube of lanolin and use it often!
4. Introducing a bottle at 4 weeks. My awesome mama friend Debra (yes, +Debra!), told me about the Breastflow bottles and Jonah took to those right away. We wanted to introduce the bottle somewhat early on so that Jonah would get used to it and not refuse it, and so that I can get a longer stretch of sleep while Jonah is still nursing super frequently. So Mark feeds Jonah once or twice in the evening while I get my snooze on. We followed the bottle-feeding suggestions on Kellymom.com.
5. A great nursing cover. We received a beautiful hand-made one from a friend at our baby shower. It has a strap on it that goes around my neck so that it doesn’t fall or get tugged off, and it arches out at the top so that I can look down and see Jonah while he’s nursing. This has made nursing in public way easier than I feared – I feel sufficiently covered (not that you have to be! I support anyone who breastfeeds bare, but I’m just more comfortable with the cover when we are out and about). and Jonah isn’t smothered by it, either. So it works great for both of us!
Those are the main things… oh, and having Mark around to fetch me water, food, the DVD remote, etc. That’s been a huge help!! But you can’t go out and buy a Mark, sorry.If you do plan on breastfeeding, I’d also recommend not having a bunch of visitors the first week… you’ll be figuring things out and you’ll likely be nursing every 2 hours, so unless you don’t mind having your boobs out around everyone, it’s best to limit the number of visits early on…you’ll also want time to bond with your baby, and to sleep, so for us it helped to keep it to 2 visits per day.
And now my sweet, hungry lil man is ready to eat! Happy Breastfeeding, y’all!