Breastfeeding is so commonly talked of in the motherhood community as such a beautiful bonding experience. Hardly ever do we get the raw and real picture of what breastfeeding can look like. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what way you choose to feed your baby. The most important thing is that both mom and baby are happy and healthy. If you do choose to breastfeed here are some difficulties you may encounter and tips for handling them.
A Good Latch in Breastfeeding is not Innate
Breastfeeding is a learned skill. Babies do not come out of the womb ready to nurse with a perfect latch. It is okay if your babe has difficulty in learning to nurse. Give you and your baby grace and try to keep your cool.
There are many great youtube videos to inform you about proper latch and what it looks like. Generally breastfeeding should not be painful. If you are still struggling do not hesitate to get help from a lactation consultant.
Your Nipples Might Crack and Bleed
When you first start breastfeeding your nipples might get a little beat up. This is especially common if you’re struggling to get a good latch. I remember joking with a friend about how my nipples looked like gang members. It is funny now looking back on it, but when my nipples were wounded it was no fun at all.
If you do get cracked nipples, look into different nipple creams for soothing the pain. I have personally used coconut oil to help with the discomfort while breastfeeding because my OB said it was safe. Check to make sure whatever you use to relieve some of your pain is safe to leave on before nursing. A tip an elderly woman from church told me when I was pregnant in regards to breastfeeding. Get a dry towel and rub it against my nipples after showering to toughen them up for breastfeeding. I took her advice, but you do what works for you.
Finally, I will say that I do not love the nipple shield in most instances. However; it can be a great tool when your nipples just need a break from breastfeeding to heal.
Clogged Ducts Can Happen
The body’s ability to create breastmilk is nothing short of amazing. Sometimes due to latching problems, lessened feedings, and many other factors our milk can begin to clog up in a pore. Clogged or plugged ducts are uncomfortable, but sometimes easily resolved. Mastitis is also similar to a clogged duct. Generally, mastitis causes more severe pain and mom will feel ill. Talk to a medical professional if you think it is mastitis as antibiotics are sometimes necessary.
Caring for a clogged duct or mastitis is very similar. The best thing you can do is increase your fluids, rest, and eat nutritious foods. Manual ways to try and resolve a clogged duct include massage, dangle feeding, warm compress, and frequent and thorough nursing.
Breastfeeding with a clog can sometimes not be enough. Pumping is a great way to get any excess milk out if your baby is truly done eating. If you have a pumping bra (or a sports bra with holes cut into it) that can be helpful in giving you free hands for massaging. Or get someone like a spouse to help massage it out for you.
If you like to sleep without a bra on and you are breastfeeding, think again. Milk will get everywhere. Nursing pads are a great invention that when working properly will save you from embarrassment and wet clothes. Your breasts will leak constantly until your body begins to regulate to baby’s needs.
Milk Will Get Everywhere
I love the idea of being eco-friendly and using reusable nursing pads. I have used them with both of my babies. However; I will say the disposable nursing pads are really great for the beginning of your breastfeeding journey. Typically you leak a lot in the beginning when baby nurses more frequently. And let’s be honest typically disposables absorb more than reusables.
Sometimes despite your best efforts, milk will get on your clothes. Packing an extra shirt in the car or diaper bag can be handy. Most mothers don’t want to walk around looking like they’re entered in a wet t-shirt contest. If you have a nursing cover you can also use that to hide wet spots, though it isn’t exactly subtle.
For sleep time I recommend finding sleepwear with a built-in bra if you want to be less constricted. Otherwise, get some comfortable non-restrictive, and non-wired bras for sleep to hold your nursing pads in place. If you absolutely hate the idea of any sort of bra while sleeping, opt to have a small burp cloth to stuff into your shirt. I have done all of these and they work fine, sometimes you leak, sometimes you don’t. But it isn’t worth crying over spilled milk.
No One Can Breastfeed for You
Breastfeeding is a wonderful bonding experience for a mother and her baby. Unfortunately sometimes between long nights and tiresome days, breastfeeding can sometimes feel like a chore. Unless you have a wet nurse, you’ve got to do that chore.
If you begin to feel tired of breastfeeding try to remind yourself that this time is short-lived. You can also try a side-lying position, a nursing chair, or a nursing pillow to get yourself more comfortable while feeding. Sometimes a little distraction is all you need to keep you from becoming so overtired of nursing your babe. I loved meeting friends at a coffee shop, nursing while enjoying a latte.
Breastfeeding is not as simple as holding your baby to your breast. There are intricacies that can make it quite difficult and sometimes a hassle. If you are thinking about nursing, then go for it! You may face challenges, but that is what makes motherhood so refining. If you are currently struggling with breastfeeding, I am sorry mama. I have been there. Reach out to friends who will understand or at least try to. Know that you are doing great, and use your experience to help other mamas. We have got to stick together.
Did you breastfeed? Leave a comment below and tell us about your feeding experience.
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