I’ll start by saying that I’ve heard breastfeeding is not difficult for some moms, and if you’re expecting and plan on breastfeeding, I really hope that is the case for you! It certainly was not the case for me the first few weeks. There were moments where the pain was excruciating. I can recall more than once that I exclaimed through tears to my husband “I can’t do it anymore, I give up!”. He was completely supportive of whatever I chose to do, which was wonderful, but it was a struggle and decision that I had to make for myself. Breastfeeding was something I always wanted to do for our little girl, and I was very hard on myself. Exclaiming that I wanted to give up was merely a cry for emotional support, I was determined to make it work as long as it was physically possible. With the help and support of a lactation consultant, my family doctor, a public health nurse, and my husband (kudos to him for his emotional support through rough feedings), I made it through those hard few weeks. For all of you with little ones on the way, here are some tips that helped me get through those rough first weeks. I’m sharing this as the experienced friend to you that I wish I had during that time!
THERE ARE MANY FREE RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO YOU- DON’T BE AFRAID TO USE THEM! My best advice is to use the resources available to you. Here in Halifax, the IWK Maternity Hospital has a lactation consultant that is free. We signed up for a session the day after we left the hospital that was extremely helpful. The hospital will send you home with an overload of books, pamphlets and videos to watch. Take the time to read through them when you get home- they are full of amazing info that will help you. They include charts that help you monitor whether baby is feeding and using the washroom enough. The public health nurses are fantastic and will even make home visits to help you. This service is also free and one is assigned to you right after you give birth. Ours came over three times and called multiple times to check in on me and answer my many questions. Your family doctor is also a huge support. If you need to supplement with formula, or make the switch completely, don’t be hard on yourself! A baby that is fed is a happy baby. Do speak with your doctor or public health nurse to ensure you’ve got the amounts and scheduling right to keep your baby’s weight gain on track. THERE ARE TOOLS TO HELP YOU THROUGH THE PAIN! Breastfeeding is a skill. Like riding a bike, it takes some practice (and a few rough falls to get through). If you end up with blisters, scabs, and bleeding early on, it can become daunting to breastfeed every two hours as you never have a chance to heal. You can pick up various nipple creams at the pharmacy and most baby stores. I found that the ones with Lanolin worked best for me. I still use those creams after every feed, but to get you through scabs and blisters, there is a miracle cream that your doctor can prescribe you, “Newman’s nipple cream” it’s referred to. The pharmacist has to whip it together themselves so you may have to wait a day for it to be ready. If you are experiencing the same pain that I was, ask your doctor about it and if they recommend it for you as well.
I truly don’t think I could have gotten through those first weeks without a breastpump. It was something I held off purchasing until after Scarlett was born (I didn’t want to spend the money on it if I wouldn’t use it- they aren’t cheap!) However, feedings were becoming so excruciating those first few days that I was worried I couldn’t keep her on long enough to fill her belly. So, I purchased the pump, and it was the best thing I could have done! The pump has less suction than your baby, and gives you a bit of a chance to heal. I used it on and off for a few weeks when I got really sore. The one important thing is that you need to pump just as frequently as you would have to feed, even if you have a buildup of milk in the fridge- this keeps your supply up. I still use the pump every now and then. It helps relieve engorgement and it’s nice to have some stored for the future when you want to go out for a bit (in case you are lucky enough to get a date night in here and there)! IT GETS EASIER “The first six weeks are the hardest, and then it gets easier”. This is advice that was given to me by a few moms. It is hard to hear on week one, or two, or three, but those six weeks do fly by, and the advice is true. Somehow, around six weeks, things become easier. I still have feeds that don’t go so well, but not anything like those first weeks. Once you get the hang of things, breastfeeding becomes second nature. The pain goes away and it is super convenient! No sanitizing bottles and preparing formula. You can feed anytime, anywhere, and the milk is the perfect temperature. As long as baby is peeing and pooping on a regular basis, and gaining weight, you know they are getting enough milk. It is super rewarding that your body is nourishing and helping your baby grow- isn’t the female body amazing? YOU’LL NEED SOME NURSING WARDROBE PIECES Before I had Scarlett I’ll confess I had no idea what I was in for with breastfeeding. I bought a nursing bra when I was around 30 weeks pregnant, but mostly because my rib cage had expanded and my bras were all too tight. I quickly learned that the majority of my shirts were not nursing friendly, I frantically searched my wardrobe for plunging necklines and button-ups, and quickly realized that I had very little to wear. I had to send my sister to Thyme Maternity to pick up some nursing tops for me once we returned home from the hospital! I’ve since expanded my wardrobe to include a few key nursing pieces. I’ve posted the ones I’ve been living in below, you can click the photo and it will take you to the link on the Thyme website. If you have any v-neck cotton shirts or button up tops in your existing wardrobe- pull them out too!
1. Nursing camisole- I picked up two of these and pretty much live in them at home. They are made of the softest fabric. I use them both for sleeping and lounging around the house in. They are great for those middle of the night feeds.
2. Housecoat- I bought this housecoat while I was pregnant, wore it in the hospital, and still wear it around home! The neckline makes it easy to nurse in and its super cute. The tie waist fits belly and post-belly.
3. Nursing bra- I only wear this when I am going out of the house (for reasons I don’t think I need to explain, am I right ladies?!) But when you are heading out, it is nice to have a great bra with nursing access- practical and looks great!
4. Tie waist cardigan- I picked this up while I was pregnant as well, but I wear it all of the time post-baby! It’s tie waist allows you to wear it post-baby. You’d never know it is maternity. It is made of the softest cotton, and again, it’s easy access for nursing. Instead of having to pull a hoodie off while nursing, you can keep it on and stay warm!
5. Nursing top- I actually have this in the short sleeve version, but would love it in the long sleeve too! The cross over design allows you to wear it while nursing, with super easy access. My favorite part about this is the way the fabric can cover baby while you are nursing for privacy without juggling a nursing cover over your shoulders. SHOP THYME MATERNITY ONLINE HERE