Image courtesy of Jessica Marchetti Photography

My top 10 breastfeeding tips and tricks… things that worked for me.

1. Build a varied support network. It’s not enough to just plan to meet with the hospital lactation consultant before you come home. It’s not enough to just have a good friend or relative who’s breastfed. You need to have support on many levels, and you need to remember that a lot of the time the advice others give you will be greatly affected by their own, unique experience. Get second and third opinions. If you need a friend to encourage you to keep going, tell them that. Sometimes friends don’t know how to best support you, and may encourage you to quit. If what you really need is a cheerleader, tell them that.

2. Have a pump from day one. Even if you don’t plan on ever feeding your baby from a bottle, you need a pump. I didn’t have one when we brought Kendall home, and within a few weeks I had to explain to Scott what to buy at Target while I laid in bed with a 103 fever and my first round of mastitis. With Leyna, I had to pump an engorged breast before she would latch. You don’t have to have an expensive electric pump. A manual pump will do the trick, and you can usually get them for less than $30 or $40.

3. Stock up on one-handed, healthy snacks. You’re going to be spending the majority of your time sitting down with your baby. It’s really, really hard to find time to eat a proper meal. Get cheese-sticks, protein bars, have your partner make you some sliced fruit, or a quartered sandwich. Smoothies are another great option.

4. Don’t be afraid of teeth, BUT... Teething babies don’t always bite, but in my experience, it’s happened with both of mine. They’ve never drawn blood. It still hurts like hell, though. While the natural reaction may be to pull the baby away from your breast quickly, DON’T. Instead, hold them very close to you, smooshing their face to your breast. This should make them unlatch very quickly. (Obviously don’t hold them there very long.)

5. If you want your baby to take a bottle, don’t wait too long and keep it up. I guess this is conflicting advice, because I know some say you should wait 6-8 weeks before introducing any sort of artificial nipple, so do what works best for you and what you feel comfortable with. That said, Kendall took a bottle when he was very young because he had to. I had mastitis and needed the rest. Then we took a few months off, and he never took one after that. I wish we would have kept it up. It was very stressful not being able to leave him. With Leyna, we started bottles and pacifiers within the first couple weeks/days. The bottles were only every now and then, as a means to give me a break, but the pacifier was and still is a frequent thing for her… and I am completely, totally fine with that.

6. Nurse when and where and how YOU want. Β If you want to nurse in public without a cover, ROCK ON. If you feel more comfortable covering up, go for it. If you would rather bring a bottle of pumped milk or nurse in your car, that’s totally your call. Don’t let anyone else make you feel bad about HOW you feed your baby. If you desire to nurse in public but are too nervous to jump into it, bring your baby and a good friend to a quiet park or bench to practice first. If you never find yourself comfortable enough to nurse in public without a cover, that’s fine! Don’t feel like you have to, but please don’t judge other moms who do. And please, never ever let anyone make you feel like you have to feed your baby in a bathroom… unless, I guess, you wantΒ to?

7. Know your rights. Breastfeeding in public, covered or not, is a legally protected right in most states. Go here to find out what your breastfeeding rights are, both in public and in the workplace, if that’s applicable.

8. Learn to nurse laying down as soon as you can. I know, I know, it’s scary laying down to nurse a newborn. They are so tiny, and what if you roll over them?! You won’t. Use safe co-sleeping practices, and even if you don’t ever fall asleep, you can still rest while laying down. It took me a couple months before I was comfortable doing this with my first. With my second, I was nursing her in the side-laying position in the hospital bed her first day of life (which felt much better than sitting up at the time).

9. Plan to keep the baby in your room for a few months. Oh, those nurseries are so fun to decorate, but, to me, they’re completely useless (or at least very expensive rooms to change diapers in) the first few months. Even if you don’t plan on co-sleeping, it will still be so helpful to keep the baby next to your bed in a Pack & Play or, even better, an attached Arm’s Reach Co-sleeper. Breastfed babies tend to wake more frequently at night (not always, though, and formula fed babies can wake frequently, too), and you’re not going to want to trek across the house to their beautiful nursery every time they wake.

10. Take care of yourself. All new moms need to do this, but if you’re breastfeeding, it’s really, really important you’re staying hydrated, eating enough and getting enough rest. If you start to get a fever or feel flu-ish, check your breasts immediately for hot-spots and hard lumps. It could be the beginning of mastitis, which will knock you on your ass SO. HARD. if you don’t catch it early. Call your doctor right away to see if you need antibiotics. In the meantime, hop in a hot shower and express your breast and massage the hard lump as much as you can stand. Drink a ton of water and get some rest.

Do you have anything you’d add?

By the time Kendall, my first, turned one, I had an end date in mind for our breastfeeding relationship. He had self-weaned down to 2 times a day at that point, and I was just… done. The 13.5 months that I breastfed him were a struggle at times, especially the first few months. I was very aware of every day that I breastfed him one day longer.

This time around, my experience has been much different. We had a small challenge at the beginning, getting Leyna to latch to my left breast was a battle the first few days. Once we moved beyond that, though, it was smooth sailing. Leyna, now a year old, still nurses 6 or more times a day (and night). She loves solids, she drinks cows milk, but she’s just not ready to give up nursing, and I haven’t felt the need to press the issue.Β 

So all that is to say I’ve breastfed for a combined total of nearly 26 months now, and I’m still going. I’ve been through a few struggles, and have learned a lot. Maybe you can learn something from me, too.

Kendall is 3.5 years old and Leyna is 1 year old.

89 thoughts on “My Top 10 Breastfeeding Tips”

  1. This is really good info. Especially about the laws and nursing mothers rights. I don’t think all women know and it’s scary to think that they can be bullied into nursing in a way or a location that is not comfortable to them (I can’t even IMAGINE stepping foot into a bathroom (even my own) to nurse). And SNACKS! Bring on the snacks. Even at 10 months, I still keep raw nuts in individual packages in my bedside drawer – because without fail a wave of hunger hits as soon as he latches on;)

  2. Great advice. I breastfed 2 daughters for 12 months each & they were very different experiences! So just because you have done it doesn’t mean it will be the same the 2nd time.

    I’d like to add that I think the biggest disservice that LC’s do for new Moms is tell them they that if it hurts you are doing it wrong. That shit hurts! I don’t think many women have someone sucking on their nipples that many hours in a day… it takes some time to get used to! In the mean time Medela makes Hydrogel pads that are a gift from God!

    1. Yes, definitely! It hurt for me with both kids. With Kendall it hurt until he was 8 weeks old. Luckily the pain subsided with Leyna after only 2 weeks.

      1. This was exactly my experience with my two. The first time was so painful that I literally bit my lip to keep from crying while my nipples were cracked and bleeding. The second time hurt too, but was much more bearable and only lasted for about two weeks. My oldest nursed for 13.5 months when he quit cold turkey out of the blue. My second is six months old and she loves nursing. We’ll see how long she goes for.

  3. 11 – If you need a nipple shield DO NOT let anyone make you feel bad about it. You are still breastfeeding and there is nothing wrong with a little assistance to help you succeed.

    1. Yes! Moms NEED to know about nipple shields. It took a hysterical call to a private LC before anyone even told me such a thing existed and once I had one it was like night and day. It did nothing to hurt my nursing relationship and probably saved my sanity.

    2. My daughter didn’t latch for TWO weeks. And then only with a nipple shield. We used that thing for 10 weeks or so before she got it right. My best friend sent me that shield and I will never be able to thank her enough! We probably wouldn’t stll be breastfeeding at 4 months if not for her and that shield.

      1. this is GREAT Advice. I nursed my son for a year and then had my daughter and had issues and it was the FIRST time I had evere heard of one. We used one for almost the first 2 months and even went thru a nursing strike. If it’s something you want to do, keep at it. we are now at almost 9 months in and she nurses wonderfully without a shield, but I am so glad something got us started.

  4. Thanks for this!

    I’ll add a link. the forums from the la leche league are invaluable. I’ve been fighting what I guess I’ll call atypical thrush and they’ve been a HUGE support.
    http://forums.llli.org/index.php

    P..S. I still can’t master side lying nursing. Between my giant boobs and my tiny daughter, I can NOT get it right.

  5. Excellent advice! I wish I had half of these tips before I started nursing 5 months ago. The side laying is a must! I didn’t learn that until my nursling was 2 months. We do it all the time now.

  6. Wonderful advice! I feel a friend set herself up to not succeed at nursing because she was determined that her husband would share the night responsibilities from the moment their son was born (even in the hospital). I tried to tell her she should get nursing down first. She ended up pumping for only 6 weeks then gave up. Breastfeeding is a huge commitment that you can’t really do half way –at first. Im still nursing my 2nd at 19 months.

  7. I found when he became more aware of his surroundings I had to nurse him in a quiet/no stimulation area or else he was all OMG SHINEY OBJECT.

    When you pump for the first time do it in private because it will probably freak you out. Joe walked in on me while I was doing it the first time and I think it would have been less embarrassing if he had walking in on me and a vibe.

    1. Excellent advice! I’ll be sure to lock the door my first time because I’m pretty sure I’ll be freaked out too.

    2. ::snort::

      And yes, the distraction goes way up as they get older! I usually take Leyna to her room to nurse her in the rocking chair when we’re home.

  8. Where do I start yes it hurts, a chunck of you boob may fall off and if you are large they can look latched on but are not. I can remember in the hospital after my 1st was born he came back from being circumcised and he latched on I was so sore I started laughing histerically and my husband asked what’s wrong I said payback is hell. #2came and I figured out how to flip it over the car seat carrier so we never had to stop to breast feed in the car

  9. Totally agree with Suzi. It hurt so bad when I started BFing my first. And all the LCs and nurses at the hospital were telling me that if it hurt, then you were doing something wrong. Luckily, I had my mother (an experienced breastfeeder) to tell me that it is perfectly normal for it to hurt at first, but IT WILL GO AWAY!

    I like to tell people that I had about 4 weeks of horrible pain, then 11 months of breastfeeding bliss. It was so worth toughing it out. The Lansinoh gel soothies were a godsend, too. πŸ™‚

    1. YES, the GEL PADS are a MUST. I kept telling people the first 2 weeks as that was how it was with my son, since I had to paritally pump at first with my girl, it was like 6 weeks. but how awesome it is now

  10. Great advice! I am up to 26 months as well (19 with my oldest and 7 months with my baby so far)..

    I have found that so many people supplement with formula immediately in the hospital because the baby loses weight or sleeps too much or grandma insists on it. Then they come home and have no supply and quit breastfeeding by 3 weeks. So frustrating! Moms need to realize that babies lose some weight and they are supposed to nurse A LOT at the beginning to establish supply. It is a supply and demand process. And more hospitals need to stop pushing formula!

    1. Totally agree about the weight loss & formula! So stupid! If a mother has IVs she will accumulate water weight & so will the baby! It isn’t rocket science, maternity staff! Therefore, the baby will also lose that water weight in addition to the regular after delivery weight loss. Sorry not a fan of maternity staff. Too many bad experiences. Wish I didn’t have high risk pregnancy.

    2. On this note, I had a 9lb 9 oz baby and one of the nurses in recovery was trying to tell me I’d have to give her formula to make sure her blood sugar stayed stable since she was “a big baby.” I’m glad this was my 2nd baby and I had the confidence and state of mind to tell her to back off. That was the nuttiest advice ever. Her blood sugar was just fine, and my body did exactly what it needed to do.

      1. Ok, I always lurk (like, for three years!) and never comment, but the same thing happened to me! They gave my 9lb 2oz baby formula minutes after birth for this very reason. I wish I would have known to tell them no. It didn’t affect our breastfeeding relationship, thankfully, but I still regret not being more informed.

  11. I breastfed my son 14 months and I third the side lying nursing – seriously, it was a lifesaver! Finding a good LC is also key and you shouldnt wait until you are having problems to talk/visit with them. I’m expecting my second child next week and I’ve already scheduled a home visit to make sure we get off to a good start.

  12. All-Purpose Nipple Ointment. You can google “Dr. Jack Newman APNO” for the details and the ingredients (and you might have to bring a print out to your OB – 3 out of 5 people I’ve asked for the script had never heard of it) and yes you have to get a prescription and take it to a compounding pharmacy and OH MY GOD that all sounds like SO MUCH WORK…but the stuff is magic. MAGIC, I TELL YOU. It prevents thrush, relieves pain, reduced inflammation, and keeps your nipples from falling off. I don’t know why they don’t send every single woman home from the hospital with a jar of this stuff, but by my second baby I had wised up and demanded a prescription before I even needed it and it made EVERYTHING about nursing easier.

    1. I think this is what I used when Kendall sucked off a chunk of flesh from my nipple! All I know is I had to have it compounded, but it seemed to work.

  13. Agree that you shouldn’t feel bad to use a nipple shield if your tried everything else. It enabled me to bf my daughter when she wouldn’t latch any other way in the beginning, when I was exhausted, worried and suffering from PPD. Then miraculously at 10 weeks she just latched without it and we haven’t needed it a day since. Also, I’d suggest getting all your bf “supplies” before the baby comes so you are fully prepared when you get home from the hospital. My essentials were: Pump, hands free pumping bra, (bottles and slowest flow nipples you can get in case you have to pump and bottle feed, which I did), COMFY cotton nursing bras/tanks, gel soothie pads, nipple cream, nursing pads, nursing pillow (I love My Brest Friend) and booby tubes that you can heat or cool to relieve engorgement or pain. When I was struggling it was great I has all the tools I needed right there to use. Also lastly, an extra set of hands from someone that you trust and is 100% supportive. I needed either my mom or husband to help get her latched the first couple weeks and two hands were not enough!!

    1. I’m first baby is due in March and I plan to breastfeed. It pretty much terrifies me but I really want to be successful at it. Thank you very much for your list of items to have on hand! I will definitely make sure to have these things. Thanks!!

  14. Thanks so much for this! I gave up really early on BFing my first daughter because no one ever told me how hard it was! I really think I was just so overwhelmed that I became mentally defeated. I didn’t even try with my second. But if/when I have another, I am going to go at it with all my determination! These tips are great!

  15. Ha! I’m working on my own top ten breastfeeding tips, but they are quite different from yours. So, I’ll keep working on them.

    I disagree about the pump. I learned hand expression and used that from the beginning when I was uncomfortable. Now I hand express at least one bottle a day and am actively building my freezer stash. I learned using videos on YouTube. My baby is almost 4 months old. I like to call hand expression “the pump no one talks about.”

    I did try out a single electric pump about 3 times. I bought it about two weeks after we came home from the hospital. I picked out the pump Medela recommended for my lifestyle ($60ish). I hated it and found hand expression much faster and much more comfortable! And I got more milk that way!

    Also, it would suck if you bought an expensive pump and something happened (like your milk never came in) and you’ve basically wasted $300.

    So, in my experience, I did not need a pump (it sounds like you definitely did). Hand expression is greener as well :-).

    I love the rest of the list, especially one hand snacks! Great advice.

    1. I totally think that one can master hand expression, but I just don’t think most new moms are going to have the time or energy to look up YouTube videos on how to do it those first few weeks, especially if they’re fighting mastitis. I think, if anything, have a manual on hand, in the box. You don’t have to open it unless you really need it. If you get to the point where you’ve mastered hand expression, then take it back.

      I also encourage my friends to start with a manual pump before investing in an expensive electric pump just in case something doesn’t work out. Plus, I find manuals, for me, are great for travel, specifically on airplanes.

      1. Great points! I totally agree. If you have mastitis and are trying to care for a newborn, get off of YouTube. I watched the videos before the baby came, not after. I didn’t plan on buying an expensive pump, so I needed to learn. I read and watched videos about hand expressions before baby.

        I kinda wish I had a manual pump, but have a suspicion that I’d prefer hand expression and I”m trying to do this whole “want what you have” thing.

  16. I so desperately wanted you to write this about 6 months ago to hear how you made breastfeeding work for you. You hit so many awesome and true points. I had matisis several times and you’re right it sneaks up on you and kicks you in the ass. I wish I had attempted to side-nurse much sooner than I did…it’s great for the weekends.

    To add to your point about owning a pump, make sure you know how to use it. Nothing was worse than sitting in the baby’s room at 3 a.m. googling “how long to pump” on my phone because she wouldn’t latch and I needed to express some milk before my breasts exploded. This is something I wish the lactation consultants at the hospital had actually covered.

    I really thought breastfeeding was going to be a means to an end…a cheap food source but I’m surprised how much I enjoy it. I”m so glad I didn’t give up in those first few weeks after my daughter was born. I tell everyone if you can make it past the first two months you can do it forever.

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying it! Yes, definitely learn how to work that sucker. My sister, thank GOD, was able to figure out my electric pump when I was crying, trying to get Leyna to latch.

  17. I am seriously in awe of breastfeeding moms. Especially ones who breastfeed for a year or more. I sincerely wish I could have with both my sons but my boobs and brain couldn’t get it together πŸ™‚

    I only breastfed for a combined six months but I’m glad I worked so hard to do just that. Those six months of literal blood, sweat and tears still mean the world to me!

    #6 is my favorite! I felt most comfortable with a cover and sometimes went to my car. I didn’t care what anyone else thought. I always smile at breastfeeding moms now when they’re out in public!

  18. Great list. And I second the point made by Natalie about the nipple shield. I don’t actually know what they are supposed to be used for, but I used one to nurse through the pain of a cracked and bleeding nipple, until it healed. No problem, no confusion.

    I would also add to either #1 or #6 that especially at the beginning, if you have people staying with you long term, that you feel comfortable nursing in front of them. My MIL came to stay right after my son was born, and I just was NOT comfortable nursing around her. Since our apartment is teeny-tiny, that meant spending a lot of time in the bedroom. Should I have stood my ground? Yes, but I was just not up to it.

    Good luck everyone!

  19. My pediatrician is a young woman, but we saw an older man the first few days and at the hospital. He told me to NEVER nurse in bed. So the first week, I made a huge effort to get out of bed every time she needed to nurse. It was especially terrible because I was freezing. He said, “I’ve seen way too many youngsters who have taken a fall from a mother falling asleep in bed.” I never should have listened to him. I set myself up in the middle of the bed. There was no way she’d fall to the floor. So, I second the nurse whenever, and wherever you are comfortable!!!

    We started a bottle at 3 weeks. My doc said start between 3-5 weeks and then give a bottle at LEAST every other day or baby might start refusing. She said lots of moms give a bottle and check that off of their lists, and then when it comes time to leave the baby….she no longer will take a bottle.

  20. SOOOO agree about tip number ten – particularly in regards to the mastitis. My second bout of it wasn’t caught early enough {silly me thought I had the flu} and I ended up in hospital having minor surgery to drain the 30mm abscess that had formed in my left breast. NOT. FUN.

    My number one tip regarding mastitis? Massage your breasts like crazy. If you feel even the slightest bit sick or sore, jump in a warm shower and massage like crazy, massage while you are feeding as well because that can help to dislodge the blockage. If you feel crook; or the slightest bit feverish GO TO THE DOCTOR! I know it may sound extreme, but believe me it’s better to be safe than sorry. …. Abscesses hurt a lot. And they are not easy to deal with either. You can’t just do antibiotics to get rid of them. So yeah, one mom to another, take care of yourself and watch out for mastitis! It will not only knock you on your ass, but totally KO you if you are not careful. πŸ˜€

    xox,
    bonita of Depict This!

  21. Keep a big full water bottle with you at all times. After 12 months I still get wildly thirsty whenever I nurse.

    I would like to add that antibiotics are not always necessary to cure mastitis. I’m more of a natural girl and I’ve beaten mastitis twice without them. Using a few drops of massage oil to massage those lumps can help. Heating pad, massage and then nurse. Rest then repeat!

    1. Oh, I agree. I don’t think they’re always necessary. I was able to overcome it a few times on my own once I knew the signs to look for. But, the first couple times I got it, I was too far gone to not need them, in my and my midwife’s opinion. Yes, definitely massage, massage, massage!

  22. I’ve been BFing for 7 months after a really, really rough start. While it’s definitely NOT the norm, I had pain and wounded nipples for over 3 months, even after working with 3 different LCs. So I agree with those who said that pain doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong. That said, I am ALL about getting support. The 3rd LC I saw helped a lot. I also ended up going to a dermatologist who helped, too. About the nipple shields….they can definitely help with pain/latch issues, but I would say to use them WITH CAUTION!! They were quick to give me one in the hospital, and I used it for about 3 weeks, until the LC figured out that my baby had lost the weight he had gained back and was not getting enough milk through it. I had to do a ton of pumping to get my supply back up. Most women have no issue with them, but I did. SO glad that I got help and have been able to keep nursing.

  23. I wish I had read this before I had my daughter. Support is so invaluable.

    Nursing while laying down took me a few weeks to get comfortable, but it was such an important self-preservation skill.

    I also wished I had pumped and let my husband bottle feed more. We’ve had issues with her moving to a sippy cup that I think we could have skipped if Daddy had fed her more. I did prefer the manual pump to an electric.

    My daughter still nurses a few times a day (and night) and I’m going to let her keep it up until we both are ready for weaning. I never imagined that!

    Great post!

  24. I would add educating yourself 1st as much as possible. I read over stuff briefly & figured I am a hands on type of learner. Well, I was being bullied at the hospital to give my son formula for his weight loss. I was so uneducated at that point I let them try it. Thankfully, my son refused it. It took 5 days for my milk to come in. That’s normal, especially after a c/s, but I didn’t know. I was on a schedule to feed him every 2 hours, pump for 15 minutes after he nursed & then try to give him a bottle of what was pumped. I was sooooo exhausted by all of this & now I know it wasn’t really all that necessary. I got mastitis after I stopped pumping b/c the demand took a sharp turn down. There is so much that I have learned from reading that I wish I would have done beforehand, although I wasn’t familiar with the resources like I am now.

    Also, I 2nd the Booby Tubes! Earth Mama Angel Baby makes them & I preferred them over the cooling gels.

    I recommend Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Nipple Butter! Helps heal nipples quickly & other cuts or chapped hands from teething. Not only is it toxin-free it’s vegan unlike the lanolin types.

    And lastly, expect your nipples to go through it all again the 2nd time around. I had only weaned my son 2 months before my daughter was born & I thought I was in the clear. I was so wrong. We had issues with bleeding cracked nipples, which my pump actually broke the skin of my nipples. So another tip, make sure your pump is the correct size for your nipple or it may do the same.

  25. Love this! I’m in month 18 of bfing my first child, and after a rough first couple of months, it’s been pretty smooth sailing. I couldn’t agree more with the bottle thing: I was advised to not give her a bottle for the first 6-8 wks, so I didn’t. And she never, ever (STILL HASN’T) taken a bottle. And that made our lives quite a bit more difficult than necessary, as I was never able to be away from her when she was bfing exclusively for the first year. My bit of advice, for what it’s worth as a first timer, is RELAX. I think I made it more difficult on myself in the beginning, because it wasn’t going according to how everyone said it should go, so I stressed out, and trying to develop a healthy bfing relationship when you’re crazy post partum AND stressed and anxious is really, really hard. Once I relaxed and let my baby take the lead, it was amazing.

  26. This is fantastic!! Thank you for taking the time to pull this all together. A couple tips I give my students:
    1 – For older babies (4+ months) who are still waking a lot at night and hungry: pump, and let your milk settle bit to see how much “cream” rises to the top. That fat is essential for babies and if you’re not eating enough good fats (olive oil, avocado, etc), baby won’t be getting it either. Plus that fatty milk helps them SLEEP! πŸ˜€
    2 -Lansinoh saved my nipples.
    3 -Don’t assume you’ll remember how to nurse/not need an LC for your 2nd, 3rd, 4th babies. All babies are different and if something doesn’t feel right, get help! My cousin’s nipple detached (YES!) with her 2nd because she turned down LC help and her sweet boy just never got the right latch.

  27. Oh and online resources!

    Kellymom.com – invaluable!
    La Leche League – website is tricky, but find a local meeting if you can!
    Mothering.com – helpful for breastfeeding and a more natural approach to parenting.
    DrSears.com – great AP info.

    (Obviously this is a subject near and dear to me!)

  28. This is a great list. I just have two little additions to what you’ve already talked about.

    1. If you are going to pump, even just occasionally, you might want to get some lanolin. Seriously. I preferred Medela Tender care because it had some extra (safe) ingredients that made it go on easier than the pure lanolin, but it made such a HUGE HUGE HUGE difference in pumping–including how much I was able to pump.
    2. Nipple shields. Great for pain management (if your kid can handle them), but more importantly, they were all that let me nurse w/ one inverted and one flat nipple (tmi?). If you have flat or inverted nipples, be prepared that especially in the early days, your kid may not have a powerful enough suck/good enough latch to work around those issues w/out the help of the plastic. I used shields for almost 4 months (after that, the kid had stretched things enough that I didn’t need them anymore), and I’ll always thank the LC who gave my nurse grief for saying I’d never breastfeed w/my nipples.

  29. I would add to take a course before you give birth, even if it’s your second…they are pretty cheap and it gets you ready before you get handed a baby. I wish I would have taken a refresher before my second because it is not like riding a bicycle.

    I do have to disagree with a couple of your tips, from my opinion. Not all babys will be on you all the time…both my kids nursed for like 10-20 mins at a time every 3-4 hours. I just dont want to give the wrong impression to some first time moms to be that they will all be like that. You want to make sure they get a good feed each time, otherwise they just start ‘snacking’ and end up needing to be fed all. the. time. I also don’t think they need to be in your room. Both my kids have gone in their room right away. For me both them and I sleep better that way. You need to be up to get them out so a short walk to their room isn’t the worst thing.

    1. I didn’t mean to imply they would be nursing all the time, but in my experience, both of my babies preferred to camp out on mommy while they slept. Since I couldn’t pass them off to someone else to feed, that made it doubly hard to find a few minutes to eat, shower, pee, etc.

      The room thing, I think it’s just going to depend on if the baby wakes frequently (mine were every 2 hours for very long stretches), and how far their room is from yours. But, of course, every mom should do what works for her, and I totally get needing the baby to be in another room at some point for everyone to get some sleep. Both of mine got the boot by 5 months because we were all just waking each other up.

  30. “but the pacifier was and still is a frequent thing for her… and I am completely, totally fine with that.”

    I know, right? What is it with people having issues with babies and their comforts? My son is a thumb sucker and I hate it every time someone walks up while he’s sucking his thumb and they say, “Uh-oh! Someone likes to suck his thumb!” Like that is a bad thing. He will grow out of it. Also, I like not having to look for a pacifier!

    We are still BF at 11 months, I was lucky and he took no problem, BUT IT STILL HURT FOR A WHILE. It will. Gets better and is awesome, awesome! I really didn’t think I’d love it as much as I do but I know I will want to do it again with the next one!

  31. I’m with you on all of this, especially the support system. You have to have different levels of support, or types of support. Like my mother breastfed both of her children and never had a problem; I couldn’t get my baby boy to latch for close to a month. She could support my breastfeeding, but not my problems. I had friends who would give me “touch love”, friends who had problems, friends who were just encouraging, even friends who told me they would skype their own breastfeeding if I needed help. who does that? Awesome people, t hat’s who.

  32. Woot woot breast feeding! Nursing in public can kinda suck when you have shy nipples! AND most covers look pretty but as soon as your darling babe gets their hand eye coordination down
    no boon is safe! I found these totally awesome covers, http://www.etsy.com/shop/BooBTooB, they cover front AND back! Worth every penny! Or a crafty mom could easily make one, it’s just a big tube of fabric with elastic on top and bottom…

  33. My son had problems latching on from day one. Watching videos of good latching methods helped so much more then reading about or being talked through or even having an lc do it for me.

  34. If you’re struggling, take it one feeding at a time. Don’t imagine nursing for the next year, 6 months or 6 weeks. JUST the next feeding. I battle thrush on & off when I breastfed my son for over 6 months…and I wanted to die. I swore I would never be able to do it again. But we got through it & he self weaned at 13 months. Then my daughter was born, and eventually, she too got thrush. It was easier to treat but it was still a long, painful battle.

    1. Yes! I always loved the advice of giving yourself a time frame before you quit. If you’re seriously considering giving it up, but a date on the calendar at least a week out from that moment. Then work hard that week to see if you can improve things. So many moms give up in the heat of a frustrated moment. Try to give it some calm, rational thought.

  35. Believe in yourself, believe in your body. You can do this! You’re body was made to do this! Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. Sometimes there are physical challenges to nursing but in my heart I think that sometimes we selftalk ourselves out of nursing. You can do it! Let others see you nursing so that it feels normal to everyone around you. Who knows? You might be a role model for a girl to decide that she will nurse her babies!

  36. Dear Future Jill,

    Will you please be my cheerleader?

    Love,

    Future Mandy

    Dear Present Jill – Hey, great post! Especially that whole “Don’t let anybody make you feel bad about how you feed your baby” thing. Rock on, moms. Rock on.

  37. Great advice, Jill! You are such a great inspiration!

    My advice is relax! Have a glass of wine and don’t let yourself get stressed over BFing. Don’t let yourself get wound up worrying if your baby is getting enough – they’ll let you know when they’re done! Staying relaxed about it has made breastfeeding one of the highlights of my relationship with my son.

  38. What I learned after 26 months of BFing (one kid) and returning to work full time after 12 weeks mat leave:

    1. Keep trying, even for weeks (or months). I had a friend who ended up exclusively pumping and, miraculously, after 6 months the baby latched and BF’d with no issues. It can happen.

    2. It hurts, even if you’re doing it right, but not for long.

    3. Pumping moms at work – DON’T wash out your equipment between pumps! Just throw it in the fridge with the milk. Saves time and energy.

    4. You don’t have to spend a bunch of money on special nursing wear. Bras – yes. But over those bras and under my shirts I’d wear an Old Navy lounge cami that was perfect for covering my belly but easy to pull down for a feeding.

    5. Get a hands-free bra. I never had one and spent 9 months pumping in an office. Just think about that for a moment.

  39. Working mammas:

    Pump as often as you can and try to keep a strict schedule. And bring some entertainment. With my first I was stuck in a private phone room with nothing to do but stare at the wall.

    Don’t beat yourself up if you accidentally spill out a bag or bottle. This may seem weird to some but if your supply isn’t that great, it can seem like the end of the world when you loose even an ounce.

    Coordinate with other BF moms at work. If you are all sharing a space try to make it work for everyone but stand your ground if something isn’t working for you. Until recently I was sharing a pumping room with a woman who would bring in really stinky food. I would say I am pumping 5 minutes longer each time now that I am not trying to escape the stench. I wish I had said something sooner.

  40. I wish the advice to get a pump – which is so often offered – came with the disclaimer/reminder that not all women respond to pumps and that what comes out for a pump may have no bearing on what a baby can get since they are usually far, far better at extracting milk.

    I would say rent a pump before you buy and, most importantly, rent a baby scale to go with it so mom can confirm the amount baby is eating.

    Pumps and a mom’s reaction to them can be a blessing or a giant barrier to a confident nursing relationship.

  41. Jill! You completely read my mind with this blog post! I was just thinking the other day that I needed to reach out to you and ask how you kept up the pumping while you have traveled by air. I’ve searched for tips but they vary so much from using dry ice, to pump and dump, to fed-exing your milk back home, that it’s confusing and overwhelming.

    1. 2 times I donated the milk to a mom in the city I was visiting (found via HM4HB) because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of traveling with it.

      When I went to L.A. in October, though, I brought it home with me since my freezer stash was dry. It was, honestly, a huge PITA. I kept it in the hotel fridge, then packed it in a cooler. After I got through security (where I had to open each bag of milk so they could do a vapor test), I went to the food court and filled some extra milk bags with ice and packed those in the cooler. I’m glad I brought it home, though. It’s nice to fill my freezer up a bit again.

      1. October 2009, I was away from my 10 month old for an 8-day (41-pump) vacation with my husband. Getting through security with all that milk was an exprience I will never forget. I couldn’t believe what I had to go through. I was sweating buckets while they opened every single bag. I still couldn’t tell you if I was nervous, embarrassed, or furious-it was such a range of emotions!

  42. I nursed 12 months with #1, and I’m on month 12 with #2: A swaddled newborn is the easiest newborn to nurse. Otherwise you have to control a floppy mess of arms and legs. But when you do nurse them unswaddled, tuck the bottom arm under and slightly behind the baby. This obviously keeps one arm out of the way, but also magically encourages the top arm to stay down, too. I saw this tip on a web-video I found after weeks of trying to keep arms/hands away from the baby’s face and my nipples. I was all “DUH”. But no one ever told me and it never occurred to me on my own. Also-with #1, I aimed to nurse like they tell you-10 minutes each side, every time, every 2-3 hours, except that he was a lazy latcher/nurser, so it was usually more like 20-25 minutes each side, every time, every 2-3 hours…oh. the. pain. for 7 long weeks. With #2, I decided to only nurse one side per session because every time I offered the second side, all he did was spit it all back up. He was on a 2 hour schedule for a good 5-6 weeks, which meant my breasts were emptied every 4 hours, so I didn’ have a supply issue. And even when he started sleeping longer stretches, nursing this way satisfied him. He had great weight gain and I had no supply issues so I didn’t worry about it. I “confessed” my method to a nursing friend who said she was doing the same thing and that she had read that women in the UK are advised to nurse this way?! Anyway, once he got a taste of solids at 6 months, he seemed to want more, so I began to offer both sides again and have been doing that since. Maybe it was just different with a different baby, but my nipples sure didn’t have to endure the repeated torture the second time around. I wish I had the confidence in myself to try it with #1 and maybe I wouldn’t have been so miserable. So I guess my biggest tip would be to trust your instincts and be confident with your feeding decisions. Do what you think is best for your baby and who is anyone to argue with that?

  43. hey – I vaguely remember you recommending some sort of cooler or container that would hold a bunch of pumped breastmilk. I’m trying to fill out my registry and remembered you said that you saw something that would be great for traveling/pumping moms. Do you have any idea what that was?

  44. Quite a few health insurance plans cover pumps. I was very happy to have mine when traditional breast feeding wasn’t working for me.:)

  45. Good tips! Having a pump already was nice for me since the traditional breast feeding wasn’t working for me. I believe many health plans cover them too. Mine did. πŸ™‚

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