The first month of breastfeeding can really be the most difficult weeks of breastfeeding. But don’t give up! Here are 10 tips to conquer early breastfeeding challenges! #5 is probably the most overlooked.
The first month of breastfeeding can really be the most difficult weeks of breastfeeding. And, unfortunately, it’s the time many moms give up.
I don’t blame them. It’s hard. It can hurt. During that time, there may be little milk and much tears–and maybe even some blood.
As I mentioned a few weeks back, the best breastfeeding advice anyone ever gave me was to just give it two weeks.
That little nugget of wisdom was all I needed to persevere to the 50+ months of breastfeeding that I now have under my belt. I firmly believe that if you can give it those two weeks, you can give it two more weeks. And, before you know it, you will have mastered one full month of breastfeeding!
If you can make it through that month, you’ll be well on your way to a successful breastfeeding experience.
Image by Mothering Touch
So WHY is the first month of breastfeeding so challenging?
Think about it. You’ve just been through 9 months of pregnancy and maybe hours (or even days) of intense labor. Labor in itself is beautiful and wonderful–but it’s also like running a marathon.
Your body’s been through A LOT. Your hormones are going CRAZY.
You might have postpartum depression.
But there’s a precious little one looking at you who is even hungrier.
And you’re his or her only source of nourishment.
It’s OK to feel overwhelmed. It WILL get better.
Here are some things that have helped me get through that first month (three times now!):
1. Breast-Soothing Creams
In the past, I’ve mentioned that lanolin was my best friend during those few weeks. Especially during my first breastfeeding experience, I’ve loaded up on the lanolin! I used the Lansinoh lanolin, which is 100% pure and contains no preservatives or additives.
I’ve since learned of the amazing benefits of coconut oil, which I believe is even better for sore nipples. Find out what works for you. If you are birthing in a hospital, I would advise to pack some breast-soothing creams to have on hand once baby arrives!
Note: You will most likely be sore those first few weeks with each child you breastfeed. I was shocked that I was sore with my second and third–especially with having nursed my first for almost two years. My third had a poor latch, and my nipples were probably the sorest with her!
2. A Breastfeeding Pillow
I used a Boppy. My Breast Friend is another option. To be honest, I only really used the Boppy during my first breastfeeding experience. With other little ones under toe during my second and third experiences, I had to learn to nurse without being completely still with baby on a pillow!
But during my first breastfeeding experience, it was so comfortable propping my daughter up on this pillow. You can later use the pillow for baby’s tummy time.
3. Good Reading Material
I suggest reading The Nursing Mother’s Companion and The Womanly Art of Breastfeedingthat first month. I kept both books by my “nursing station” (the place where I normally nursed). My hubby even bought me a small book light, so I could read while nursing at night without waking him up!
Drinking enough fluids is vital to milk production. Nursing moms should drink to their thirst, meaning that they should follow their body’s cues and drink when they feel thirsty. I kept a glass of water by my bed and nursing station and drank it ALL DAY!
Like I said, you’ve just been through perhaps the marathon of your LIFE! Your body needs to rest in order to make milk. It sounds cliche, but TRY to rest while your baby is resting. This is easier with your first baby because you don’t have older children to care for.
If a friend or relative volunteers to come help you, by all means, take them up on the offer, and GO TAKE A NAP! If can afford to do so, hire a postpartum doula to help you around the house.
Image by ODHD
It took 5 DAYS for my milk to come in with my first daughter. Each day, my stomach knotted up more and more–thinking my milk would never come. I stressed–big time. I remember looking at myself and saying: “Milk! Come in! Please!” Eventually, my milk arrived, but all my stressing probably did not help things.
7. Demand Feeding
When your baby is tiny, I would give them as much feeding time as they want. I would encourage them to nurse long and often.
Your milk supply is directly related to the baby’s demand. The milk they take in during those early days will help establish your supply (and help prevent problems later on).
I remember feeling FAMISHED those first days home after my first daughter’s birth. Not only have you just burned a massive amount of calories after your labor and delivery, but you’re also burning an extra 300-500 calories per day to make milk!
Eat lots of good fats, try a lactation cookie and enjoy being able to eat a little more than normal for the time being.
Image by Daquella manera
9. A Good Support System
Talk to your nursing friends, check out a Breastfeeding USA or La Leche Leaguemeeting, chat with your breastfeeding buddies in an online forum, like on your local Mommies Network, Baby Center or DiaperSwappers.
Never feel like you are in this alone! I remember thinking during those late-night feedings: “There are millions of mothers all over the world doing exactly the same thing that I’m doing right now!”
In my book, this is the most important. Remember that the God who created your baby, the God who created YOU, created your body to nourish this little baby He’s entrusted to you. When you feel like giving up, ask Him to help you.
What helped YOU get through the first month of breastfeeding?
If you liked this post, you may also like my post on homemade lactation cookies.
This post is part of the Breast-Kept Secrets: Breastfeeding Advice from One Mom to Another series. Go back and read all posts here.