Happy World Breastfeeding Week! If you don’t already know, I’m a huge supporter of breastfeeding! I breastfed my son for two and half years and my daughter is going strong at just over a year so far. Along the way I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks. So here ya go! All my secrets!
Nursing Aversion and Self-Weaning
For me nursing was an amazing experience. If you read my previous posts about nursing, you know how truly special it is for me. Since I started nursing Maddox more than three ears ago, I have had only a few months between Maddox and Marlow when I was not nursing. Even so, I have experienced something that many others have as well, and I wanted to tell you about it so that you know it doesn’t have to spoil it for you.
While Maddox was still nursing full time, I experienced nursing aversion. This term describes a period or phase when nursing can seem really annoying. For me, it was an overwhelming feeling of not wanting to be touched at all. By anyone! When it was time to nurse I felt instantly annoyed (for absolutely no reason) and had this feeling like my skin was crawling. It was a terrible feeling! For me, it only lasted for a few weeks off and on. It wasn’t ever time I nursed. It was maybe every 3rd or 4th nursing session. It was extremely frustrating for me.
If you are nursing your baby, what do you do when you are out and about? Do you try to find somewhere private? Do you use a cover? Or do you just nurse and not worry about it? I do a mix of all three.
With Maddox, more often than not, I went somewhere private to nurse him. I completely support a woman’s right to nurse her baby anywhere! However, as a first time mom, I wasn’t as comfortable nursing in public all the time. There were many times I nursed Maddox in the bathroom. And I have to admit I hated it. I felt so isolated, left out, and dirty (public bathrooms are so gross)! Trying to nurse a new baby while not touching anything is incredibly hard! When Marlow was born I was tired of going to the bathroom to nurse. While I have done it on rare occasions, I decided I was tired of leaving dinner, missing conversations and searching for nursing room while shopping.
Planning to breastfeed? If so, these are my favorite nursing must haves!
Nursing Pillow: I used Maddox’s boppy pillow. It doubles as a nursing pillow and positioning pillow for babies to lay on. Here’s the boppy pillow I used. Extra bonus- They come with tons of super cute covers!
Nipple Cream: Buy LOTS of nipple cream! I applied the cream immediately after nursing Maddox and reapplied throughout the day. Here’s the one I used: Nipple Cream
Nursing tops: I literally lived in these nursing tank tops. They were super comfy, convenient for nursing and cute! It also has a soft, built-in bra. (I also lived in nursing maxi dresses and I have a follow-up post about my other favorite nursing friendly clothing company coming soon!)
Nursing Bras: I wasted a ton of money on nursing bras before Maddox was born. I thought I wanted cute bras with underwire. I was wrong! I wore these comfy nursing bras almost exclusively for the first few months.
Breast Pump/Accessories: If you’re planning to go back to work, or pump so your partner can join in feeding time, or just trying to increase your milk supply you need a pump. I got mine for free through my insurance at www.yummymummy.com. Check it out before you go buy one! I got the exact one I had planned on purchasing at the store and it was completed free! I got the Medela Pump in Style and loved it. I also got accessories like Medela bottles, milk storage bags (to freeze milk), and the Medela Calma Breastfeeding Nipples.
WATER: Always keep it close by! The second I would start nursing Maddox I would be overwhelmed with how thirsty I instantly became! It sounds ridiculous but it’s true! (I always kept snacks handy too!)
I’m obsessed with Amazon so most of my links for products are from there but you can buy all these at most other baby stores or online.
Just a warning-this post is about BOOBS! (And not in a fun way) But more specifically about breastfeeding.
First I have to admit, I honestly thought breastfeeding would be easy. I naively assumed I just whip it out, Maddox would begin nursing and we’d have this kumbaya bonding moment. There’d be no struggles, no real learning how, and especially no pain. Wow was I wrong! While Maddox naturally knew exactly what to do, I on the other hand was the idiot. Even though my mom had nursed all 3 of us for years, I clearly had not asked her enough questions. Josh and I even took a couples’ breastfeeding class while I was pregnant but even then no one came out and said “BREASTFEEDING MAY BE HARD and IT MAY HURT!”
There are many reasons that some women aren’t able to breastfeed. Luckily, I had no medical issues or concerns that conflicted with breastfeeding. My main issue was how simple I really assumed it was going to be. When Maddox was born I immediately attempted nursing within the first hour (like all my books, classes, and experienced moms had told me to). Right away Maddox knew exactly what to do! However, his technique (specifically his latch) needed a little work. I kept attempting to nurse him every few hours but something just didn’t feel right. Honestly- It hurt like HELL!! I later learned this was partially due to the way I was errr…built…that made latching harder for him. Luckily my mom (and experienced breastfeeding champion herself) was there and recommended I talk to the lactation specialist at the hospital. The first one that came in was slightly helpful (but mom wasn’t impressed) so we asked for another one and let me tell you- She knew her stuff! She was an expert! She was beyond helpful and even talked to Josh about ways to help and comfort me while we all got the hang of it as well.
By the time we left the hospital Maddox and I still didn’t have this whole thing figured out but the nurses were happy with how he was doing and we were happy with the knowledge we had gained to feel comfortable continuing to work on it at home. The biggest thing I did wrong was to let Maddox continue to constantly nurse without properly latching. Both josh and my mom noticed how tense my entire body was getting every time I would feed Maddox so they would do everything they could to help me relax- i.e. shoulder massages, turning on the tv to distract me, talking to me, having me try Maddox in different positions, and having me stop feeding him so he could relatch until it didn’t hurt. I was so worried about him getting enough to eat that I ignored how uncomfortable it was for me. Boy was that a bad idea. Nursing him “the wrong way” for just a few days had caused cracking, bleeding, bruising, and blistering…. Talk about painful!! At that point there really wasn’t anything I could do. He had to eat, so I had to nurse. Now supplementing with formula, even temporarily, is definitely an option. However, I had decided and was very determined to breastfeed exclusively. There’s absolutely nothing right or wrong about either option. That’s just what I decided was best for us.
So in the beginning it was hard but for me it was totally worth the pain! I soon learned that nursing fixes everything! Hunger, sadness, tiredness, frustration, pain, you name it! I never had to worry about packing bottles or buying formula. I also feel like it really helped Maddox and me to bond, not to say people who don’t breastfeed are missing that bond, but for us, it created a closeness that I can’t explain. It was a lifesaver for us, in so many ways and I’m so glad Maddox and I were able to experience it! Fingers crossed things go smoothly with Marlow, but we’ll see.
After a few months of proper feedings, lots of patiences, terrific support from Josh, and a boatload of nipple cream and gel pads we were home free! Well…until teething-but that’s a whole other post. I don’t want to make these posts too long so I plan to do another post about how long Maddox nursed, when he nursed, when certain feedings started to tapper off, and how I dealt with the occasional feelings of “NO ONE TOUCH ME or I’ll scream.”