Those first few weeks after birth is something that not a lot of mothers tell you about. It can be a dark place for new moms and it was for me when I had Liv. There were so many things going on when she was first born. She lost too much weight, she wasn’t gaining, her bilirubin levels kept climbing, she was on a bili light at home, she failed her hearing test, she wouldn’t latch for breastfeeding… the list goes on & on. I cried more often than not. I struggled after birth more than I did at any other moment. It was at this time that I needed the MOST support and couldn’t find it. This is a huge reason why I created the #latenightnursingfeed hashtag on Instagram. I wanted to create a safe haven for mothers that found themselves lonely at night and needing support.
I also felt as though many people just came to the conclusion that I didn’t need help breastfeeding. That maybe I already knew how to do it? Who knows, I just know that I have never been more frustrated or alone in my life. Thankfully I found a lactation consultant who was my little angel here on Earth and guided me along the way. I would have never breastfed Olivia without her.
Since I am in the medical field, it’s no surprise to me that breastfeeding is incredibly good for your baby. I always knew I wanted to breastfeed as long as I possibly could and we made it all the way until 14 months. I wanted to curate a list of things that I wish someone had told me before I gave birth. A list that would make me feel like I wasn’t a total failure and that I was trying my absolute best.
Here is a list that I hope you can use if you are planning to breastfeed…
- Know about your resources. Even if you have prior children and think that you have breastfeeding down, make sure you have the resources to help, should you need it. I still needed a lactation consultant with our second baby and I was so glad that our pediatricians office offered one. Call your pedi office and see if they offer this service. Go here to find support in your area as well. You can ask your local hospital for advice as well as where to find a LC near your home.
- Talk to friends. Talk with them before you give birth. Ask them about their experiences and see what kind of advice they have to offer you. The more knowledgable you are beforehand, the better.
- Have the right supplies on hand. I wrote about my breastfeeding necessities here & here
- Ask for help latching your baby FROM THE VERY BEGINNING. I cannot stress this enough. You will think your baby is on correctly and I guarantee you the latch can be improved. If you do not ask for help, your nipples will pay the price. Mark my words, mamas! Even after you think you have your latch down, ask for help during your hospital stay. You are paying to be there and the nurses are there to help. Have them come in every time you latch your baby.
- Be flexible. This one is hard if it’s your very first time breastfeeding. I used to plan everything on when I needed to feed Liv so that I wasn’t feeding her in public. Your baby needs to eat and you have every right to feed them whenever and wherever you need to. Try to remember that and don’t stress too much about it. I will tell you that I nurse in public ALL the time and I hardly ever have anyone staring or looking at me the wrong way. AND if they did, I totally don’t care – because my baby needs to eat too
- You may have issues with under production. You may have issues with over production. Make sure to read up as much as you can about both of these issues to better prepare yourself. I wrote a post here about increasing your supply (because I was always an under producer)
- Many will tell you that “it’s not supposed to hurt if you are doing it right”. I am here to tell you that it has always hurt me for a few seconds once the baby latches. This was normal for me and it may be normal for you as well. It’s important to know that the pain usually goes away after a few seconds or few minutes and it just feels like tugging.
- Three words. The Nipple Sandwich. Holding your breast like a hamburger for the baby to latch on to was always a HUGE help for me in the beginning when they are newborns and their mouths are so small!
- Ditch the nursing pillow. Sometimes the nursing pillows that are on the market now are putting you at a disadvantage. It totally depends on your body type, but for me I ditched it and never looked back!
- Drink a ton of water. Even after you finish drinking a ton of water – drink a TON more. You can never drink enough. Your body is making milk after all and it needs to be well hydrated 😉
Other great resources for moms:
GENERAL // Things I Wish I Knew Before Our Baby Arrived (Written by over 50 other mothers!) // What to Bring a Mom after she has a Baby // New Mama Must-Haves // How to Transition from a Bottle to a Sippy Cup // Why you Should Hire a Birth Photographer // What I’ve Learned as a Mom Thus Far
& don’t forget to join in on the #latenightnursingfeed!