Things I’ve Learned About Breastfeeding

It occurs to me that I should write down all the stuff I’ve learned about breastfeeding before I forget about it.

Background
I nursed my first daughter until she weaned herself at 22 months. I’m still nursing my second daughter, who’s just over two years old. She doesn’t show signs of weaning herself, so I’m starting to taper it off to force her to wean now.

Starting Out
It hurts. Even when you know what to expect and what to do, it hurts. But only for the first week or so. The deal is, your nipple isn’t used to being constantly sucked on and your baby doesn’t automatically have her technique down perfectly. She will latch on wrong a time or two at first and that will injure your nipple. Having her continue to suck on an injured nipple just increases the injury.

What to do? Put a lanolin cream on it. This does nothing for the pain, but it keeps the scab that’s forming soft. This will make nursing on the painful nipple a bit easier. It’s natural and non-toxic, so you don’t need to worry about wiping it off before nursing again. Use ice packs between nursing to help with the pain.

Nursing Pads
There are lots of options for nursing pads. I used the disposable ones occasionally, but I mostly used washable cloth ones. I liked the kind with a bit of lace on one side because the lace helped keep them in place in my bra without any adhesives.

Nursing Clothing
For the most part, you don’t need to buy special nursing clothing. T-Shirts work great. Just pull them up to nurse. The top of you T-Shirt will cover you pretty well, and the baby will cover your belly. Button-up blouses work well too.

Nursing Bras
These are essential. Forget about pretty, lacey things for now. You just need to find one that’s supportive. Unfortunately, I can’t find a nursing bra that fits me as well as a standard bra, but I do the best I can.

You’ll likely find yourself wanting a sleep bra, perhaps for the first time in your life.  When you’re very full of milk, they can be heavy and a little extra support is helpful.  More importantly, however, you need something to wear to keep your nursing pads in place.  Because you’ll likely leak a lot and otherwise you’ll get milk soaking your nightgown and sheets when you wake up.

Mastitis
I occasionally get a mastitis infection if I don’t nurse as often as normal the day before. I end up with too much milk and it causes an infection. I get a fever for a day and feel pretty miserable, but I’m better the next day. To prevent this, I try not to change my nursing patterns from day to day. Especially on days when we have company over or we’re traveling.

Pumping
It’s a nuisance. I did it for a year with my first daughter so my husband had milk to do one feeding at night. I also did it occasionally to prevent mastitis when I had too much milk but the baby wasn’t interested in nursing.

Storing It
I froze it in the baby bottles.

Reheating It
I used the microwave. I know that experts will caution you against this. But as long as you make sure to shake it up before giving it to the baby, it works fine. Shaking it is important to prevent hotspots that the microwave can cause.

Nursing in Public
It’s really not that big a deal. Have the courtesy not to flaunt it (face away from other people in the room and, if possible, find a private corner) and they will have the courtesy to avert their eyes and give you your privacy.

Milk Supply
Sometimes it will seem like your body isn’t producing enough milk and you start wondering about ways to increase your milk supply. I’ve seen lots of advice about teas and herbal supplements and such. The first thing you should try is to just drink more water. Seriously, that was all it ever took for me. That always solved the problem. If you’re dehydrated, your milk production goes down.

Breastmilk vs. Formula
Breastmilk is free. I’m cheap. I breastfeed.

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