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Yes, breastfeeding is a natural thing women have done since the dawn of time to supply their babies with the best possible nutrition. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy or the most convenient (though I will say, most of the time it’s pretty darn convenient).
For the first time mom, breastfeeding comes with a learning curve. Though, our babies are born with an instinct to breastfeed they are learning a new skill as well.
Trust me when I say, the first few weeks can be difficult, but I promise it gets better AND easier. My daughter is now nine months old, and I legitimately feel bad for the moms who have to take the time to make formula simply because they have to take time to make formula.
I’m no breastfeeding expert, but I have learned a few tips, tricks, and hacks in these nine months.
Use a hair tie to remember which boob you started with last
During my birth classes, another woman asked the instructor how to remember which boob you feed with during your last feeding session. Our instructor responded, “You’ll just know!”
Well, you don’t always know. Yes, sometimes you can grab your boobs and feel which one is heavier and know that’s the one you did not use (I’ve used this method way too much). However, in the beginning your boobs fill up with milk so fast, or your baby may pass out before receiving tons of milk, so your boobs feel the same.
The easiest way to remember which boob you used last is to use a hair tie. Place a hair tie on the wrist of the boob you just nursed with. Then when it’s time for the next feeding, you will know to use the opposite boob. Once finished transfer the hair tie to the other wrist.
Download a breastfeeding tracker app
The first few months after the birth of my daughter are a blur.
I was adjusting to this new sleep-deprived lifestyle, and constantly wondering when my baby ate last. Then I discovered the Baby Tracker app.
The Baby Tracker app keeps track of how long each feeding session lasts and how much time has elapsed since the last feeding. It has several other features, but those are the two I mainly used it for.
This app was instrumental in helping me work out a schedule for my daughter, while building confidence in my ability to breastfeed. I used the app the entire three months I was on maternity leave.
Invest in a good nursing pillow
I received My Brest Friend at a baby shower. I brought it with me to the birth center when I gave birth to my daughter, but didn’t use it the first day and a half.
Once I got home, though, I used it non-stop. My Brest Friend is firm and supports your baby entirely. It, also, provides a lot of back support during a time when you need it the most.
Many other nursing pillows exist, and I’ve read great reviews for some of them, but I will always recommend My Brest Friend.
The only reason I have stopped using My Brest Friend is because my daughter no longer stays still as she nurses and can support herself.
Use nipple balm or coconut oil from the beginning (or even your own breast milk)
Your nipples need time to adjust to constantly having an infant attached to them. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong if your nipples become cracked or bleeding.
Cracked or bleeding nipples can be a result of an improper latch, but in the beginning it’s most likely because your nipples constantly have a baby on them.
Mine cracked about a week into breastfeeding my daughter. I found Lansinoh Nipple Cream worked great. However, just plain coconut oil will also do the trick.
Or you may even treat them with your own breast milk. Breast milk contains anti-bacterial properties, and can be used for countless things. I’ve treated my daughter’s diaper rashes, scrapes, and some weird eye thing she had all with breast milk.
Routinely do these yoga poses to help support your back
After nine months of pregnancy your back muscles are non-existent. No back muscles plus slouching over to breastfeed for hours upon hours a day can leave you hunched.
I found consistently practicing these yoga poses helped combat the hunch and relive the pain of lifting an eight to 10 pound baby all day.
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Let your nipples air dry after each feeding
Once your baby finishes feeding allow your boob to air dry. Don’t stuff it back into your nursing bra wet.
The last thing you want is your nipples to dry and become encrusted to your bra. Believe me when I say ripping your bra off of your already cracked nipple is not pleasant.
Also, allowing your nipples to air dry helps to prevent thrush.
Have a breastfeeding basket
and keep it near you at all times.
For the first few months, there’s no such thing as a quick nursing session. I found myself on the couch for hours on end feeding my daughter.
A breastfeeding basket full of bottles of water, snack bars, the remote, and everything else you could need or want will come in handy when you can’t get up and get things for yourself. Especially, when you’re home alone and can’t ask your husband to bring you things.
Always wear easy access clothing
I originally used this picture in my post 6 Tips to Successfully Flying Alone with an Infant. If you’re interested in a teething necklace like the one I’m wearing you may find it here on Amazon. Teething necklaces are a great way to entertain your baby while holding her without worrying about her dropping it on a dirty floor. Teething necklaces are all I wear anymore.
My clothing choices these days revolve around one thing: how easily can I get to my boobs? If the answer is not easily, I don’t wear the article of clothing.
I haven’t worn one dress to work since returning from maternity leave. My favorite shirts to wear are ones with deep V’s or swoop necks, so I don’t even have to lift my shirt to nurse my daughter.
Related Post: 14 Pumping Hacks that Change the Game
Wear Bamboobies or Milk Savers
As I mentioned in my post 10 Items Every Breastfeeding Working Mom Needs on Her Baby Registry, Bamboobies were absolutely clutch for the first four months of breastfeeding. My boobs would get super engorged and leak.
Bamboobies kept that leakage from being noticeable by everyone else, and saved my nursing bras and shirts. I personally prefer Bamboobies over other nursing pads because they are made from bamboo, are super thin and discrete, and are machine washable so you can use them again and again.
Or you can try Milk Savers. Milk Savers actually catch any of the milk that leaks out, so you are able to use every last drop.
Honestly, I did not use Milk Savers. When I first learned about them while pregnant another woman told me not to bother. She said, “You’ll produce so much milk in the beginning you don’t need to hoard every drop.”
However, I wish I would have used these in the early months when I leaked a lot. Now that I’ve discovered all the uses for breast milk it would have been great to have frozen lots of small doses back then. So, I say learn from my experience and use Milk Savers early on.
Unlatch your baby by inserting your pinkie finger into her mouth
As your baby learns to feed, she will undoubtedly have poor latches. Poor latches can make already sore nipples worse. It’s best to just unlatch her and start over.
To get your baby to unlatch simply stick your pinkie into the corner of her mouth and pull. This will break the suction.
Try a new hold to relieve a clogged milk duct
Clogged milk ducts are a part of breastfeeding. The easiest way I have found to break it up is to hold your baby in a new position while she nurses.
I tend to nurse my daughter in the cradle position. When I experience a clogged milk duct I switch to the football hold. By switching nursing holds your baby sucks milk from a new part of your breast first. This allows your baby to work out the clog.
Another sure-fire position to unclog your duct is to lay your baby down on the bed, hover over her, and feed her. This position uses your baby and gravity to work through the clogged duct.
I find it takes about two to three feedings for my milk duct to become completely unclogged.
What are some breastfeeding hacks you have discovered?
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