Nursing can be the most amazing, bonding experience. It can also be the most frustrating, painful experience. I could make this post really short and tell you to just buy stock in #2, but it’s really a combination of these three things that can transform your nursing experience from seemingly impossible, to truly magical.
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- PEACE AND QUIET – Eventually, this one is not as big of an issue. Follow these three rules and you’ll be able to nurse any time, anywhere, any situation. But at first, it helps tremendously if you’re both calm, relaxed, and able to focus on one another. The baby can sense if you are tense and will have more difficulty latching on if it doesn’t feel natural and relaxed. I struggled with this at first. If the baby got more fussy or more obstinate, I got more persistent (that stubborn nature of mine I’ve mentioned). I learned when that happens its best to just step away for a minute, let both of you calm down, then try again. Follow their cues. They have more instinct than you would think
- NIPPLE CREAM – This is really the most important key to successful breastfeeding. I had a tube with my first, and used it whenever I remembered it was there, but didn’t realize it’s full potential until I had my second. It made all the difference in the world. With my first, I got cracked, bleeding nipples. That caused me to be more susceptible to infection, and in fact I got a bad case of mastitis. I managed to work through it, but it made the first couple months of the nursing experience extremely difficult. With number two, I had my tube of cream by my bedside in the hospital from the very beginning. I slathered that stuff on both before and after nursing like it was a second layer of (very protective) skin. Lo and behold, it worked! I had no cracking, no infection, and so much less pain. It really let me enjoy the whole process so much more. I used Lansinoh Nipple Cream, and it’s completely safe for the baby so it’s ok to use it before you nurse.
- BREAST PUMP – What?!?!? Yes that’s right, using a pump (at the right time) can be extremely instrumental in many ways. Many new moms have seemingly constant engorged breasts. That can make it difficult for the baby to latch on, so it helps to pump a little before nursing to soften your breasts (one of the few times we’re actually trying to soften not harden our bodies). It’s also good to pump after you nurse to completely empty yourself out. I found this helped my supply remain steady because otherwise I never knew if the baby was completely draining me. I wouldn’t do this every time, but maybe once or twice in the morning when I had a lot more milk. Then of course once I went back to work my pump and I because inseparable. It can be difficult to break away from work, or whatever you’re doing, every three hours. I forced myself to stay more on top of it with my second and was able to nurse for a few more months than with my first. (Side note, last I checked every new mom was entitled to a breast pump for free, or for a small co-pay, with the Affordable Healthcare Act.)
I want to emphasize that EVERY mom is different. Don’t feel discouraged if nothing works, but hopefully these three tips are easy to remember and can make a difference for some of you.