Since I’ve been breast-feeding for the past couple months, I feel like I have some authority…actually, scratch that, I have ZERO authority to talk about breast-feeding, but I can commiserate with you if it didn’t come easy for you. Dudes, BF’ing is hard, and for something so natural, it does not always come very naturally. A is what I like to call a “lazy latcher”. Especially in the beginning, she was really impatient and just wanted to chow down and not take the time to properly latch on, leading to really sore nipples for awhile. She had what lactation consultants call a “shallow latch”, and it was super painful. It’s taken awhile, but we’ve finally clicked, and I can happily say I no longer hate life when she latches on.
I do consider myself lucky that I haven’t had any issues with milk supply, and for all intents and purposes, A has really taken to nursing well. And she has no issues going back and forth between a bottle and boob, so it’s not lost on me that just a couple weeks of sore nipples is my only complaint.
So, even though I am NOT an authority on BF’ing at all (if you are experiencing major problems, there are a TON of resources for BF’ing! Don’t give up on it!) I do have a few things that have made BF’ing a more enjoyable experience. Just like taking care of baby, there are things you can get that will make it much easier, and therefore you can keep it up longer, because, duh, formula is super expensive.
Or any BFing pillow that works for you. I have three: A Boppy that stays in our living room, a Mombo that stays in our bedroom, and a travel Boppy for when we, well, travel. When A was first born I didn’t use a pillow because the nurses and LCs had me using the football hold. We ended up switching to the cross cradle position, because, well, ouch. I don’t know why, but I was surprised at how much easier it was to nurse with a BFing pillow. Having multiple is awesome because if I’m feeling lazy (which is often) I don’t have to go too far for the pillow.
2. Nipple butter
I know most people swear by Lanolin, but I find it super goopy and a little weird feeling. I bought a nursing care kit when my nipples were sore, and there was a sample of nipple butter in it. It lasted me a whole weekend, and the difference in how my boobs felt in just a couple days was amazing. The butter was much more soothing and seemed to just kind of, for lack of a better word, melt on there. The kind I have is The First Years Lanolin Free Nipple Butter, but a lot of people also swear by Motherlove Herbal Nipple Cream.
3. Booby Tubes
Booby Tubes are are cotton packs filled with flax seed. You can either put them in the microwave and use them warm to encourage milk flow or letdown, or put them in the freezer to soothe after you nurse. They’re also great if you get engorged at all. I have tried many things to use to soothe the girls after nursing. Mine are always really tender after A nurses, she is an “enthusiastic eater.” Booby Tubes are by far the least harsh. They also help if you’re having problems getting things flowing when pumping.
4. Breast pump
Speaking of pumping, even if you are a SAHM and able to nurse your baby around the clock, it’s still good to have a pump, unless you want to be tethered to your baby 24/7 until you wean. And if you want that, rock on, sister! But for most mommies, being away from baby, either because you are going back to work or you just want A COUPLE HOURS FOR YOURSELF IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK OH MY GOD (ahem), becomes necessary, so you’ll need a way to get your milk from your boob to a bottle so someone else can feed your baby. I recommend having both an electric and hand pump (FYI, nicer electric pumps can convert to hand pumps with additional accessories). I have the Ameda Purely Yours pump. So far I like it a lot, but I have a lot more to say about pumping later.
Nice but not necessary is an e-reader or smart phone with fun apps. Nursing sessions can last anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour, and it’s nice to have something to occupy your time. I have iBooks for my iPhone (I have a Nook, too, but I find it easier to hold and operate my phone while nursing), and I’ll read during feedings. Sometimes I’ll be so into a book during those midnight feedings I’ll wish she’ll nurse a little longer so I can keep reading. But then exhaustion wins.
What’s made BF’ing easier for you?