How I Survived the Start of My Breastfeeding Journey
Guest Post by Melissa Sparks
Breastfeeding is a tough journey. While some women struggle more than others, there's no denying that breastfeeding has its ups and downs. Many of us put pressure on ourselves when it comes to breastfeeding - and society certainly doesn't help.
When the thought of breastfeeding came up during my pregnancy, it wasn't a question of if I was going to try it. I was going to do what I could to make it happen, but I told myself that if for some reason I wasn't able to then that would be okay. Sure, I would have been extremely bummed because it is a great bonding experience for mom and baby, but at the same time, I fully believe that a fed baby is best no matter how it is done.
Fortunately, despite some inevitable hardships, I feel lucky that I've been able to breastfeed. Here's what I've learned.
Start Pumping Before You Give Birth!
My breastfeeding journey actually started before my daughter was born. I was trying to naturally induce labour (probably like most moms passed their due date!). My midwife had told me that sometimes pumping can help things get started. So, I tried pumping a few minutes every day. A couple days later my colostrum started coming in, which totally freaked me out because I hadn't expected that to happen.
Six days after my due date, my daughter was born. Once Ivy was weighed, measured, had her Vitamin K shot and was all cleaned up they placed her back on my chest and said we should try breastfeeding. Luckily, Ivy took to it right away. It was an incredible feeling. By pumping ahead of time, it sped up the process of my colostrum and milk coming in.
Lanolin. Enough Said.
Your nipples will get quite sore - at least mine did - so Lanolin was critical for me. Some might crack and bleed and some might just hurt. Even if you have the perfect latch, your nipples will likely hurt at some point.
So, Lanolin, a soothing and healing nipple cream, will be your breast friend (I mean best friend, although in this case it's the same thing)! When I started to feel soreness on one nipple, I would use the cream and place a breast pad over it and let it rest for one feeding. Then, I wiped all of the Lanolin off when it was time to nurse. The good news is that if you don't get all of it off, it is natural and completely baby safe.
Warm Compress or a Bath
There are so many milk ducts in your breasts, which makes it very easy for them to get plugged. It is a good idea to feel your breasts for lumps daily! If you find a hard lump try a warm compress or a warm bath and then massage the lump while hand expressing the milk out until it is gone.
You may have to massage it a few times before it goes away. If at any time you feel flu-like symptoms while you have a plugged milk duct then be aware that you could have mastitis. If you think you do have mastitis then consult your doctor.
Pump Pump Pump!
Some people say to not pump the first month or two while nursing but I started around 3 weeks. Pumping was a great way to give my breasts a break from nursing.
We started bottle feeding right away. Once again, we got lucky that Ivy took to it quite easily. I tried nursing even when it was quite painful but there were times where my nipples would bleed a bit (#reallife), so I would pump and bottle feed which really helped my boobs get a break!
All The Water!
To produce enough breastmilk, your body needs hydration. The best thing to put into your body while you are breastfeeding is water. Women on average need about 65 ounces of water, while a breastfeeding woman needs an extra 32 ounces of water. If you're dehydrated, how do you expect your body to produce liquid?
Finally, relax! Try and not let the pressure of breastfeeding get to you. Yes, most of us would love to breastfeed but look at the big picture: You just gave birth to this beautiful baby and keeping he or she happy and healthy is enough.
Melissa Sparks is a new mom, blogger, coffee lover, amateur photographer and wine enthusiast. Melissa lives in Kelowna, BC with her boyfriend Nathan and their baby girl, Ivy. She loves connecting with other moms so feel free to reach out via Instagram @melissajordyn or check out her blog at MelissaJordyn.com.