When I was pregnant with our first, I had 2 goals (read demands). I was not going to have a c section (um… About that) and I was going to breastfeed for exactly one year (also, about that).
I ended up nursing G for just over 4 years. We nursed through my pregnancy with M and we tandem nursed for about 7 months.
M is 14 months and still nursing a good bit. We will see how long he lasts. I don’t plan on pushing weaning anytime soon. And to be honest we didn’t really push G to wean. We just placed some big boundries on nursing once baby bro was born. The boundries were enough to get her to slowly wean.
So, with 4.5 years of nursing under my belt, what are my tips/tricks?
know that it’s not always easy. With G we had a pretty ok time of it but I wish I knew more when we started. I knew there was some not right about M’s latch immediately. He wasn’t opening his moth very far. I took him to the best in the area for a tongue and lip tie evaluation. He didn’t have one but if he had, we would have clipped it immediately. He did have a really tight jaw and neck. To fix that we went to the chiropractor. He was nursing like a champ almost immediately after. Took about 3 visits to get it perfect though.
Find your local La Leche League chapters. Connect on Facebook, zoom, or in person BEFORE baby is born. This way you know where to get help if you need it. I love LLL for so many reasons. Most of which are not really breastfeeding related. It’s just a great group of moms in my area they think similarly to me. It’s nice to just hang out with them. The Facebook group is great for questions too. LLL and Kelly mom are my favorite websites for good info.
give yourself a lot of grace. Nursing might be natural but it’s now always easy.
pain, pinching, lipstick shaped nipples, cracked or bleeding nipples are signs of ties or tightness. I would get them checked out ASAP by a tie savvy provider.
I nurse on demand for a year. This means at night too. After that it’s still mostly on demand. WHO recommends nursing for 2 years. AAP says at least 1 and longer of you want.
nursing to sleep and for comfort is totally normal. A lot of sleep experts will tell you do not nurse to sleep. But do what works for you and your baby. M is hit or miss with nursing to sleep. So we walk with him. G nursed to sleep for more than 2 years.
make sure your pediatrician is actually breastfeeding friendly. Our first claimed to be but looking back I don’t think the really were. They had an LC on staff that wasn’t great and didn’t give me current, evidence based info.
there is no thirst like breastfeeding thirst. Keep water around everywhere. I, also, find I drink more if it has a little flavor in it. I like this powder. You don’t need to use a full serving either. All I need is a little something in the water and I drink way more.
have nursing stations set up. Comfy place to sit, remove, phone charger, snacks, water, boppy, etc all handy. Get comfy. You might be there a while.
your boobs don’t have ml lines on them. It’s so hard to not worry about how much milk and is it enough. Count diapers and watch weight gain. That’s how you can feel better. Both my babies gained on the low side of average but they were totally fine!
i am not a huge fan of weighed feedings. Unless you do multiple a day. Because what if baby was just nursing for comfort and not really hungry? Baby won’t get a bunch of milk that one time. You need to do several weighed feeding to know if baby is actually getting a good amount of milk. And honestly baby probably is unless there’s a latch issue or a true low supply issue.
As far as I know (check state laws), you can nurse anywhere you are legally allowed to be and you don’t have to cover. Covers are annoying. I never use them. If you aren’t comfortable nursing in public, see if someone can meet you. Nursing or not nursing friends can be so supportive. If I love near you, I would be happy to meet you so you have a fan while you work on this nursing in public thing. Also, I think we get worried that someone will say something negative to us. I have only had one person ever say anything to me about nursing in front of others. All that to say, do what makes you comfortable. Cover or don’t. Leave the room or stay. Baby needs to eat so take care of baby and you.
you can nurse once baby has teeth. You can teach baby to not bite you. Both my kids had pretty bad latches when they were teething but wr were able to work though it and it got back to normal relatively quickly.
you don’t need fancy nursing clothes. I like nursing tanks and a top over it or, lately, I have nursing bras and a top. Sure people see my chest or my stomach but they see more on the beach or walking through the mall.
invest in a good pump. You might be a stay at home mom or a working mom but having a pump so you can go get your hair cut alone or go on a date with your partner is critical. I prefer the Spectra S2 over the other pump I had with G. The S1 is a nice upgrade but the only difference I saw was it has a battery. I have never been anywhere that didn’t have an outlet or I could go to my car. Never needed the battery. Insurance will hopefully cover a pump. Check with them!
Get at least 2 sets of pump parts. This way you don’t have to worry about them being clean and dry for the next day.
You do not have to wash your pump parts after each feeding! Refrigerate and reuse! I washed parts daily if I was storing them in my cooler at work or every other day when in the fridge at home.
get a hands free bra. I have one like this.
I really like the Haakaa with my second. Didn’t have it with my first. It was good for helping release a little engorgement.
do not feel like you need to pump a ton. If you are in pain, use the Haakaa or pump just a little to relieve engorgement. If you pump a lot, your body will keep making more milk. Supply and demand. I pumped once a day to get some milk in the freezer but I tried to avoid pumping those first few weeks.
Oversupplies can be tricky. I had a slight one with M. Try not to pump until empty. Pump just until you are comfortable. You can also hand express or use the Haakaa for this. The more you remove milk, the more your body will make.
Clogged ducts. Ouch. I am very prone to them and they hurt. When I get them I do whatever I have to to get them out (even pumping a lot). My method: pump/nurse a lot. Vibrations in the clog. Ibuprofen for pain and swelling. Lecithin. I am not a medical professional. That’s just what works for me.
In the beginning babe won’t drink a ton. But once you go back to work/baby is a little bigger, the average amount of milk needed is 1-1.5 ounces per hour. M was closer to 2 an hour though. G was average. I did 4 ounce bottles to start then you can give an ounce or so extra if that’s not enough.
when you freeze milk, freeze it in 1,2,3,4 ounce amounts. That way you don’t has to toss milk bc you thawed a 6 ounce bag.
freeze bags flat then store vertically.
you can refreeze milk IF and only if there are ice crystals still in the bag.
toss thawed milk after 24 hours (but I will admit I have kept it a little longer)
if your milk is outside the usable window, toss it in the bath. It’s great for skin. I put breastmilk on everything. Scrapes, ear infections (if ear drum isn’t ruptured), pink eye, stuff noses, diaper rash, etc. It’s amazing.
if you don’t feel like you are pulling enough to keep up with baby, remember baby gets more milk out than the pump. So it’s not a sign of low supply. Change your parts regularly, especially the silicone stuff. It’s wears out. Pump more frequently. Adjust pump settings (higher suction doesn’t mean more milk). Massage your breasts while you pump. Look at videos or photos of baby. Being baby’s clothes form yesterday to hold and smell. Hydrate. Pump in the car to and from work. Some mamas pump at night and on weekends to keep up. And look into paced bottle feeding.
you do not need a huge stash of milk. Today’s pumped milk replaces what you thawed for baby.
hang in there. Get help. Find support. Do what works for you, your family, and your baby.