I wish I had stumbled across something like this before I had my first child. My expectation of breastfeeding was skewed from reality. I had read a little pamphlet going over different holding techniques and tips on how to get your baby to latch. It all looked simple enough. I figured it would just come naturally and would be a breeze. I had heard about all of the physical and emotional benefits of breastfeeding, and was committed to doing it. If this was not the case, I may not have survived those first 10 days of breastfeeding!
I had no idea breastfeeding would be such a painful and emotional thing until I had my first child! I would literally cry and my toes would curl in pain when he would latch. It did eventually get easier for me and I was able to nurse him for a whole year. In the end I was glad that I stuck it out through those first painful days/weeks. Since I had such a hard time nursing with my first, when I was pregnant with my second, I did some research to try and make it a little easier. Though it was still very hard, there were a couple of products I used that helped ease the pain. I highly recommend purchasing them before your baby is born. The last thing you want right after having a baby is to have to make a desperate run to the store for some sort of relief. I was so glad that I had these items at hand when I had my second child.
- Boppy: These pillows wrap perfectly around your body and provide just the right support for you to hold your child in the right position. I didn’t get one of these until my first was a few weeks old, and my shoulders and arms were so sore from trying to support him while nursing. I tried propping up pillows and blankets, but they just didn’t give me the support I needed. You don’t realize how heavy 8 lbs is until you have to support it in a precise spot for an extended amount of time, several times a day, seven days a week! My daughter is 9 mos old now and we still use our Boppy several times a day, everyday. Believe me, every penny you spend on this will be well used. I own the plain one, and got a green cover to use for my boy, and am now using a pink cover for my girl.
- Medela Tender Care Lanolin Cream: This cream helps sooth and heal sore/ cracked nipples. It is safe for mom and baby, and can be applied after each feeding to keep nipples moist. In the beginning, I wouldn’t go anywhere without one of these. I kept one tube by the rocking chair, and one in the diaper bag at all times.
To be honest, I didn’t nurse away from home much for those first 10 days. There is so much going on for both you and baby trying to get the hang of it. You can pretty much forget about using a cover. I would always ask if there was a private room I could use those first few weeks if I ever nursed away from home.
- Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads: The lactation consultant at the hospital told me that keeping the nipples moist allows them to heal and prevents cracking. I only bought one pair before my second was born. We had to make a run to the store to get more since these only last a couple days or so. I got a few pairs and used them for the first couple of weeks. They really help keep things moist in between feedings. I will be purchasing 3 or 4 pairs before we have our next baby.
- Lansinoh TheraPearl 3 in 1 Breast Therapy: When heated, these help with engorgement. When your milk first comes in, your body over compensates and produces more than your baby can consume. It takes a while for your body to respond to your baby’s ques and provide the right amount of milk. This fullness is called engorgement and can be very painful. The breasts may swell, become hard, and become very tender. Even laying on your side can become unbearable because of the pressure. The heat, when applied to the breast can aid in let down, allowing the breasts to drain the excess milk.
- Pumping: When done in moderation, pumping can also help with engorgement. If you pump too much, your body will respond by producing more milk, and thus cause your breasts to become more engorged. It is important to pump just until you feel a little relief. Do not completely drain the breast. If you experience sore nipples while pumping, you may want to look into a different size flange. An improperly fitted flange can cause nipple soreness. I borrowed and sanitized a hand pump from my sister in law with my first, and found that I much prefer an electric pump when I used it with my second. Breast pumps are a covered benefit through most medical insurance companies. Give yours a call to find out what they offer. My insurance provided me with an Ameda Purely Yours Double Electric Breast Pump free of charge. I love it. All I had to do was pick it up locally.
- Nipple Shield: These are supposed to aid with latching problems which are the main cause of sore nipples. At about day nine, I was in so much pain that I was feeling very desperate. I was blistered and bleeding, and when it was time to feed again, I would break down and cry thinking, “I don’t think I can go through it again!” I had done some research on nipple shields and thought I might need one. I didn’t own one so I decided I would send my husband to the store to get one in the morning. Thankfully by morning, the blisters had pealed and the bleeding had stopped. It suddenly felt so much better! I didn’t end up needing it after the drastic improvement, but I think I will buy one ahead of time, just in case, for my next child. You do need to be careful in using this product however because they can sometimes reduce milk supply if used for too long.
- Seek Help from a Lactation Consultant: At the hospital I talked with one who explained that if the baby is latched correctly, it should not hurt. I experienced pain from the very first feeding so I wasn’t getting a good latch. I just figured that it hurt with my first so it would probably be the same. You would think that you would have it figured out after breastfeeding for a whole year, but each child is different. You and baby are both learning, it is okay to ask an expert for help. I finally asked for her help after I had already become sore. She helped me find a good latch by using the football hold. For whatever reason, that is what worked for us. I used that position for the first few weeks. Next time around I will try to have the lactation consultant there to help me get it right on the first feeding. It is never too late to get help, most hospitals have certain days of the week you can walk in and visit with a lactation consultant for free.
Those first 10 days or so can be very difficult, but hopefully these products can help you through it. Having been through it twice, I can say that the benefits far outweigh the pain experienced at first. I am so glad that I stuck it out, and having these products certainly made it easier for me the second time around. It is important to remember that Mother knows best. No one knows your child and their needs like you do. You will be able to make the best decisions regarding you and your baby. From a mom who has been there, you are doing great! You CAN do it!
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