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TEN GAME CHANGING WAYS TO MAKE BREASTFEEDING EASIER
Breastfeeding is hard!
Breastfeeding is easy!
You will hear both of these proclamations. Which is it?
The truth is it can be hard for some mamas, and it can be easy peasy for others.
I’m going to share ten ways to make breastfeeding easier for you.
I am all about making a new mom’s life easier.
Mama, have you heard the phrase, little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems? Anyone who has said that clearly hasn’t been trying to breastfeed a screaming baby at 2 am when she is going on about twenty minutes of sleep for the last two days.
Some days will be easier than others. Most moms do hit that magic moment when they realize they have hit their breastfeeding sweet spot. They say to themself, “I’ve got this!”
I want to put you on the fast track to easy breastfeeding. These are ten things that will make breastfeeding easier.
PREPARE FOR BREASTFEEDING BEFORE YOUR BABY IS BORN
Most women take a childbirth preparation class. And most don’t take a breastfeeding class.
There is a belief that since breastfeeding is natural it will be easy.
Research shows that women who have some kind of formal breastfeeding education will breastfeed for a longer time (Source).
For most moms their time preparing for breastfeeding may involves taking a two hour class. The rest of their breastfeeding prep time is e trying to decide what pump and other breastfeeding products to buy or put on their registry.
While some products definitely will make life easier, I promise you that babies can and do breastfeed every day without pumps, pillows and all the other things you have been told to buy.
However, the education is really important. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting it.
TAKE A BREASTFEEDING CLASS
- This is one of the most important things you can do to prepare. Classes are available in person and online. Pick the option that works best for you.
- While you are pregnant, it can be difficult to think about what is going to happen after the baby arrives. Most moms are just focused on getting the baby out of their body,This is normal.
- Don’t expect to learn everything you will ever need to know about breastfeeding in one class.
- If the class tries to teach you ALL THE THINGS I guarantee that you will zone out and not hear anything after the first hour. Two hours max.
- It would take hours to teach a class where you learn everything about breastfeeding that you need to know.
- Look for a class that will prepare you for the first couple of weeks.
LINE UP AT LEAST TWO LACTATION CONSULTANTS
You need someone you can call to ask questions. you want to have a couple lactation consultants that you can make an appointment with if you need one-on-one help.
Virtual lactation consultations are becoming increasingly popular.
Getting the names of consultants when you are still pregnant gives you the opportunity to find out what experience a consultant has and what her credentials are.
CHOOSE A HEALTH CARE PROVIDER FOR YOUR BABY WHO IS SUPPORTIVE OF BREASTFEEDING
A provider who believes that breastfeeding is important can make the difference over whether you stress about every little detail or whether you feel confident and reassured about how things are going.
Most doctors do not get more than an hour or so of education about breastfeeding in medical school.
You don’t necessarily need a doctor who knows how to manage breastfeeding problems. You just need one who knows when they should refer you to a lactation consultant when you need it.
KNOW WHAT THE MOST COMMON BREASTFEEDING PROBLEMS ARE
When you know what problems are likely to come up you can have a plan in place to deal with them.
MOMS WORRY THEY DON’T HAVE AN ADEQUATE MILK SUPPLY
One of the most common reasons that moms say they gave up breastfeeding before they had planned to is because they didn’t think they had enough milk.
This is true even when their baby is thriving on their breast milk.
I have had moms with a chubby baby tell me that they are worried that their baby isn’t getting enough to eat. I look at their little chubster’s leg rolls and double chin and say, “I don’t think this one is missing any meals.
We have a good laugh, and then I look her in the eyes and say, “Just. Stop. Worrying!”
Why do moms worry about not having a good milk supply?
- Their baby eats very often. This is usually very normal.
- They don’t have a supportive support network of family and friends.
- They compare themselves or their baby to other moms and babies.
- When they pump, they don’t get as much as they think they should, often because they are comparing themselves to other moms.
MOMS STOP BREASTFEEDING BECAUSE OF NIPPLE PAIN
Sore Nipples is the other most common reason for giving up breastfeeding.
FIND YOUR BREASTFEEDING TRIBE
You need people who will support you during your breastfeeding journey
- Friends – Do you have any friends who are breastfeeding?
- Reach out to women you know who are breastfeeding. Even if you were not close to someone before, you might find that you will enjoy spending time together now that you breastfeeding in common. This is often true even if your babies are not exactly the same age.
- If you don’t have anyone who fits the above description, join some Mom and breastfeeding groups. A hospital or community center can be a good place to look for these.
- Facebook breastfeeding groups are popular.
GET BREASTFEEDING ESSENTIALS THAT WILL MAKE LIFE EASIER
You don’t need to buy ALL THE THINGS on the lists you see on Pinterest. You can often use things you already own.
Moms did tell me that these products helped to make breastfeeding easier.
Nursing Stool – This is my favorite product that can make breastfeeding easier. I have found that lifting your feet up just a bit makes moms so much more comfortable.
Bravado Bras get top ratings on Amazon and have been a favorite of nursing moms for decades. They just keep getting better and better.
I am a huge fan of nursing tank tops. They are especially perfect in that first week after having your baby. This tank on Amazon is so stylish you can wear it without anything else.
If you normally wear a bra you will definitely want to wear nursing bras. They just make life so much easier when it’s time to breastfeed.
Kindred Bravely has really nice nursing and pumping bras. They have free returns too!
Another product that is going to make breastfeeding easier are Nursing Pads. Leaking breast milk is a fact of life for most nursing moms.
When I was nursing I found that the cloth pads were more comfortable, but the disposable were a life-saver during the night.
Moms love nursing pillows. They really do help when you are trying to position your baby for more comfortable breastfeeding.
A Breast Pump
Check if your insurance provides you with a breast pump.
Even if you have an electric pump I recommend having a manual pump as well. There are times when you just need to pump a little and won’t want to set up everything to use an electric pump.
The Haakaa is a mom favorite. It is easy to use and very inexpensive.
FILL YOUR FREEZER WITH DINNERS
I did not figure this breastfeeding tip to make life easier until I had my 3rd baby.
It was so easy to be able to pull something out of the freezer and heat it in the oven or microwave. I was able to put off cooking for a month after having my baby.
- If someone offers to bring you a meal, take them up on it!
- If you don’t need dinner the night they are bringing it you can save it for the next day or ask them if you can freeze it for another night.
- Put freezer meals on your list of shower gifts that you would like.
- Better yet, have a shower where everyone brings you a freezer meal as the gift!
- Freezer cooking changed my life.
- Fix, Freeze, Feast: The Delicious, Money-Saving Way to Feed Your Family
GET ONE OR TWO BREASTFEEDING BOOKS
You may not read the books when you are pregnant. But you will be glad you have them once your baby is here.
Choose books that are easy to read in sections. You don’t want to have to read a ten-page chapter to figure out whether it’s normal for your baby to get the hiccups all the time (it is).
My favorite breastfeeding books:
The Nursing Mother’s Companion – When I worked at the hospital this was the book I chose as a discharge gift for our new moms.
Latch – the electronic version makes it easy to jump to different sections.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a book that has been helping moms breastfeed for decades.
Breastfeed Like a Boss – 52 Tips for The First Year of Breastfeeding – This is an eBook that I wrote. It keeps you abreast (no pun intended) of what to expect at each stage of breastfeeding.
BOOKMARK TRUSTED WEBSITES FOR BREASTFEEDING INFORMATION
Googling a problem or question can provide you with overwhelming and often conflicting information.
Of course you should bookmark this site – Breastfeeding Confidential.
Kelly Mom is a trusted breastfeeding site that I have recommended for years.
The Infant Risk Center is the place to go for up to date information about medications when you are breastfeeding.
PRACTICE BREASTFEEDING IN PUBLIC
You probably had one of two thoughts when you read that.
You might have though, “Of course I’ll breastfeed in public! Why on earth would I have to practice it?”
Or you thought, “I am too modest to breastfeed in public. I’ll just pump and bottle feed for those times that I need to feed my baby in public.”
If you had the “I could never” thought, what would you do if you didn’t have time to pump, or you had a screaming baby and you spilled the bottle of milk, or you had to be out longer than you expected and your baby drank all the milk you had pumped.
Trust me on this one.
Practice breastfeeding without a pillow.
Practicing when you are in your own environment will make it so much easier when you have to do it in public.
- Clothes – always dress in clothes that are breastfeeding friendly. You can buy breastfeeding clothes. You can also wear clothes that will lend themselves well to you getting access to your breasts. Shirts and sweaters are going to be best for this. A loose button up shirt will work too.
- Do it in front of a mirror
- Decide if you want to use a nursing cover.
- A nursing cover can sometimes draw more attention to what you’re doing. Practice breastfeeding without one in case you forget it.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON HOW TO MAKE BREASTFEEDING EASIER
Breastfeeding your new bundle of joy can be hard, or easy, and may be both at different times. These are some of things that you can do to make breastfeeding easier.
What kinds of things have you heard about or done that you felt like it made breastfeeding easier?
Leave a comment to share with other mamas! There is nothing like support and advice from another mom.
Andrea Tran RN, MA, IBCLC
Andrea has been working with new families as an RN for over 35 years and a Lactation Consultant for over 25 years.
She has her MA in Health and Wellness with a focus in Lactation.