This week is World Breastfeeding Week! We love breastfeeding – for obvious reason. We’ve been able to nurse all three of our children, the youngest of whom still nurses at 16 months old. The overlap between pregnancy and breastfeeding has meant that I’ve been either pregnant, nursing, or both for the last 5 ½ years! Still, I can’t get enough.
To honor this week and for the sake of breastfeeding success, we’d like to share our favorite breastfeeding resources:
1. Your Gut!
I listen to my gut far more than I do any other breastfeeding resource. You will know if your latch isn’t right – you’ll feel it! You will know if you’re coming down with breastfeeding-related illness and need to take it easy. You will know if your baby isn’t getting enough milk or even if you have an oversupply situation. You may need affirmation from a professional in some of these situations but be sure to listen to yourself first.
These ladies know all things breastfeeding, and they know how to support mothers. From Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC), who have extensive training in lactation, to mother groups, you can find the level of support you’re looking for, even if all you want is to meet more nursing mothers. You can find resources in your area by visiting their website.
I also love one of their publications:
This reference-style book is great. It has everything you need and is wonderful for troubleshooting questions and concerns early on. I read this book during my first pregnancy (turns out it also prepared me for birth!) and it prepared me for small breastfeeding woes. During a bout with Mastitis, I would remember: “Empty breast and lots of rest” and be sure to get extra rest and nursing to help myself recover. These small anecdotes helped me stay on track.
When it comes to nursing bras, comfort is everything! I’ve given up the idea that I can be comfortable in an underwire as a nursing mother. These bras are simplistic and comfortable, and actually, the price has improved since my last purchase. Hooray!
5. Motherhood Maternity
I bought a nursing bra from Motherhood Maternity on a whim, and actually really like it. I use it to this day, and in my mind, it’s comparable to my Bravado.
There are so many fancy reusable nursing pads out there, but I love the simple ones. I’m small chested and find that many nursing pads dominate my chest and are bulky, but these ones are comfortable and wash up nicely. I’ve used the same ones through all 3 of my postpartum phases now, and they’re still going strong!
This pillow is popular for good reason. When your baby is a newborn, you are holding him or her constantly. Since their little bodies don’t reach our laps, nursing pillows are helpful! I was surprised with my first baby how sore my upper body and neck got from holding my son and looking down at him on the breast. My Boppy also helps when I join everyone at the dinner table. I can rest baby on the pillow to nurse and use my free hand to eat with ease.
I find that many nursing tanks are bulky. Suddenly you have layers upon layers of fabric, two clasps, and two straps gathered near your underarm. Too bulky, I say! These nursing tanks are simple and minimal. They have no straps, but instead are a sort-of glorified tank top with hooks that attach right to your nursing bra! Especially when nursing in public, you then don’t have to worry about exposing your mid-section. They come in all sorts of colors, patterns, and even lace.
This is commonly known as the Crème de la Crème of breast pumps. Especially if you’re a working mom who will be pumping every day, this is a worthwhile investment. When I was pregnant with my 3rd child, I decided to upgrade to this pump because my insurance covered it, along with all its accessories! It’s most definitely worth looking into. I also prefer storage bags versus bottles – they’re easier to store and more space efficient.
10. Patience: Try, Try, Trying Again!
I find that I need this tool with every baby! Each time a new little one comes along, I have to retrain myself on nursing a newborn and baby has to learn to latch and eat for the first time! Yes, this is a “natural” thing, but surprisingly not easy. I found with my first, that trying over and over again until we got a comfortable latch did us a lot of good. Soon enough, my son would latch and it would be perfect the first time! Taking five minutes to unlatch and retry while your baby nurses can be tedious. But trust me, it helps in the long run and keeps you from getting sore, dry, or cracked. Don’t settle for anything less than the perfect latch!
I’ll end with an encouragement for new mothers: If breastfeeding is your choice, protect it as much as you can. You may find that others question you. Friends or family members may be concerned that you’ll be giving too much of yourself by breastfeeding, or that you aren’t giving your partner a chance to bond with baby (which is untrue, by the way). Doctors may give you a concerned look and wonder whether you might try supplementing. But, this is your situation. You own this. For yourself and for your baby. If you know that breastfeeding is best for your baby, if you know that it’s best for your family and that your baby is healthy (no number from a scale given to you will tell you this; look at your baby and you’ll know), then that’s the end of the discussion.
When I brought my daughter (our 3rd) to her 2-week well-baby appointment, our pediatrician questioned whether my latch and supply were sufficient. My daughter was small – still 4th-5th percentile like she’d been the entire pregnancy and at birth. But I looked at her. I saw how engaged and healthy she was. I understood that she was always with me, nursing virtually all day, and was growing. I never went back to that pediatrician.
If someone professional is questioning you against your own truth, there’s no harm in getting a 2nd (or 3rd, or 4th) opinion. Breastfeeding is the perfect arena for learning how to listen to your gut and stand up for what you know is right for you and your baby. You got this, mama. Make the world fall apart before you give up what you know to be best for you and yours.