Before I was pregnant I always thought I would breastfeed. My mother breastfed me, and so I always thought I would breastfeed my children. When I was pregnant with my first child I was determined to breastfeed. I was surprised by the number of mothers who told me they had breastfeeding challenges with their children and my perception of breastfeeding changed somewhat. I didn’t do any breastfeeding classes and I made many breastfeeding mistakes. But that is what happens with your first child right? You make mistakes and you learn.
So when I was pregnant with baby number two I was determined to meet my personal breastfeeding goals (of 12 months). I took an ABA Breastfeeding class and learnt where I went wrong. It all made sense! This time around I also knew what things would help me through that dreadful first few weeks of breastfeeding. My babies had tongue and lip ties which caused more bloodied and bruised breasts than the average, so I thought it’s about time I shared my survival tips for breastfeeding to help make your experience a little easier!
Re-usable Bamboo Breast Pads
They are simple to wash, soft on the nipples and last longer than the disposable ones. I couldn’t stand pulling the plastic backing off the disposable ones and putting them in the bin all the time. I absolutely loved these. I bought a few packs so I didn’t have to wash so often. I loved that they were large, I tried some other brands but they didn’t hold the milk for long. These are the exact ones I used!
I used this nipple balm with my second baby and found compared to my first that my nipples healed a lot quicker. It has amazing healing qualities, and I love that it’s all natural.
Rite Aid Hydrogel Breast Discs
These were really soothing on my nipples, I kept them in the fridge and the coolness really helped with soothing the pain. When they got hot I popped them back into the fridge and used another cool set (when my boobs were really sore). It seemed to really help soothe them.
Big Bottles of Water
I have four 1L Tupperware bottles that I had ready to go with each feed, and my husband brought me a bottle as I sat down for my next feeding “sesh”. When he was back at work it was super easy to just head to the fridge and pull out a bottle. It also meant my toddler couldn’t spill my glass of water so the bottle was really handy if I needed to leave the house as a lot of places don’t have cool drinking water access, and there is no way I am paying $4 for a bottle of water! (I will save that rant for a whole other day!)
I made sure I had easy, ready to go snacks handy so I didn’t have to disturb a sleeping baby. Keeping hydrated and eating nourishing snacks helped keep my supply healthy. Some ideas are fruit, nuts, boiled eggs, wholegrain crackers & cheese, yoghurt.
You seriously cannot have enough of these! I had two very spewy babies and I relied on my burp clothes. I had a gorgeous friend of mine who had a sewing business and she made me some gorgeous ones with terry towel on the back. I loved the terry towel’s as they absorbed so much. You could pick up up some hand towels, you don’t need to buy specific burp cloths. (Anything made for baby tends to be double or triple the price!)
Phone Charger & Remote
Try and plug in a phone charger near where you are sitting & have your remote handy. Once you latch that baby you are not moving for who knows how long. I used to be sat on the couch for hours while going through cluster feeding sessions. I think it lasted about 3-4 hours each night!
While we are talking about phones, make sure you save Australian Breastfeeding Associations phone number – 1800 686 268 they have a 24/7 helpline. Breastfeeding mothers dedicate their time to support other breastfeeding mothers – which is just so a wonderful gift from mother to mother. I found them a great support to me during the lip & tongue tie challenges we experienced.
If you haven’t got onto this yet, you need to! It will become your new best friend. I recommend looking at series that have over 5 seasons to keep you going. Some of my favourites to watch were Supernatural, Star Trek- The Next Generation (actually fitted in quite well with my transition into motherhood, as humanity is much more civilised in the future).
Download a meditation app. My favourite is Insight Timer. Meditating will help keep you calm and grounded during your let down or during latching (which was very painful for me) – I used to have to breathe through the pain it was much more intense than labour pain for me. Not all women experience painful letdown but if you are lucky like me you will thank me later for this deep breathing that you will learn.
Supportive Partner & Village
Breastfeeding is a big job. You may spend what feels like all day just sitting/ laying breastfeeding a baby. Make sure you have as much support around you so you can focus solely on breastfeeding. If you have older children ask family and friends to take them/ or come over and entertain them. Ask for meals to be dropped off, or help with housework.
This stage is really demanding, the first 6 weeks I found to be the hardest. Breastfeeding is often compared to a full-time job, and I tend to agree. It does get easier and in my experience, it’s easier than washing bottles (it’s a huge reason why I breastfed) Oh and it’s FREE! It may feel like all you do is breastfeed, and that’s okay… you will get there! Keep up the good work!
P.S – I made my 12-month breastfeeding goal, which brought me so much pride & joy. I wish you all the best for your breastfeeding journey mama!
Remember, breastfeeding is natural… but it doesn’t always come naturally!
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