Breastfeeding 101: Tips For Successful Breastfeeding
I want to start by saying that I am first and foremost no expert in this subject. With that being said, since I started on my breastfeeding journey, I have had a handful of moms reach out to me to ask how I did it or what has helped me to become so successful. I am writing about what has worked for me, and trying to offer some helpful advice to moms out there that were wondering the same.
I have learned a few basic principles when it comes to breastfeeding. I will call them the 3 P’s. Breastfeeding isn’t something that you can learn overnight or from reading a chapter or two in your ‘What to Expect’ book. It takes patience practice and perseverance. So let's break it down.
When I first considered breastfeeding my baby, I thought, how hard can it really be? All you do it put the baby to your breast and let them do all the work - it’s a natural and simple process, right?
Well, I quickly learned that that is not always the case. If you are a mom that took to breastfeeding that quickly, I applaud you and am very jealous. However, for the average mom it takes time. They say if you can try breastfeeding for two weeks without giving up, you are very likely to succeed (and I have to agree with that!) On the hard days I kept telling myself, you are 5 days in, 9 more to go! It helped to have a goal in mind and to keeping positive, knowing that it would get easier. Being on the other end now, breastfeeding feels effortless. You just have to have a little bit (okay a lot a bit) of patience throughout the process.
You won’t truly learn how to breastfeed until you actually do it. There are many different positions you can try holding the baby in to be able to get the best latch, and that is something you will get the hang of once your baby has actually arrived! Some moms prefer support pillows such as the Boppy or BrestFriend, and soon you will figure out what works for you too. What I thought would originally work for me, didn’t. I bought a pillow and used it three times. It just wasn’t the right one for me. It’s all about trial and error. It took a good two weeks (that magical number again) to find the correct position that worked for baby and I. What works for one person isn’t always what is best for you, so don't compare, and don't judge yourself.
I am not going to lie to you; Breastfeeding is hard. It is a beautiful thing once you get the hang of it, but until then you will most likely endure some real pain. Because your breasts aren’t used to having a baby sucking on them you may initially have cracked nipples, pain when baby latches, discomfort when your breasts are engorged with milk, sensitivity, etc… but don't worry, it's nothing that you cannot handle! For me, it was tough during those first two weeks. I cried at some feedings and prayed that the baby would latch on after an hour of trying. But here I am three months later, breastfeeding pain-free and baby latches on within seconds. The point here is that initially you may endure rough times, but push through them because the benefit is beyond rewarding. Staring at your baby as they nurse on you makes you feel so happy knowing that you are able to provide comfort and nutrition to your newborn.
Now that we understand the 3 P’s, there is also another P that I have forgotten to mention… products! What would we do with out them? And how in the world did they use to do it before a little help came along? Since I started breastfeeding there are many items and products that I found helped to set me up for success. I am not going to go into too much detail just yet because my next post, “10 ‘must-have items’ for your newborn baby” covers my favorites, but here are a few that I found super helpful during my journey. Would love to hear yours as well.
- Lansinoh breast cream
- Breast shields. You will hear me RAVE about these a lot. They were hands down the best things I purchased during this pregnancy. They cover your breasts in an air filled dome, so that you can comfortably wear a bra and not feel any pain! It also collects any milk that may leak during your day. (For this reason, I never had to use breast pads)
- A reliable breast pump
- Handsfree bra
- Breastfeeding bra and cami. I live in these tops. Any breastfeeding top is great because most come with snaps that you can just undue when you are ready to feed!
- Freezable milk storage bags from Target, if you plan on pumping. I have gone through a bunch of different bags but these seem to be the best! They have a double lock closure and freeze flat.
- The app BabyNursing. I use this app everyday. I track each time I breastfeed, what side, and how long. In the first month I also tracked every wet diaper. You can do so much on this app and it was so helpful to my husband and I. It can even export all of your data into an awesome spreadsheet that you can bring to the pediatrician.
Did you find this post helpful? I would love to continue this series and talk more about pumping, establishing a milk supply, and/or whatever else you might want me to talk about. Please let me know your thoughts below and any specific questions you might have!
More in this series: