So there is phase of motherhood that no one really “tells you about”… You know all about the milestones and a little about the burping and sleep patterns, but everyone fails to mention those first 8 weeks, where as a new mother, your body aches in places you never knew existed. If you have chosen the breastfeeding route, you feel as if someone has put you through 12 rounds of a boxing ring. The one thing you don’t see in those cosy cute pictures of mammas breastfeeding their babe’s is the endless hours of “back end” work to get them there. Soothing hot towels, cabbage leaves to reduce swelling, nipple creams slathered on 🙂
So let me set the record straight, Breastfeeding, in the early days is PAINFUL! Before everyone jumps on and shouts at me to say Breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful, I’m not referring to the ACTUAL act of breastfeeding, I’m referring to everything around it. Your breasts are adapting, your milk kicks in and they are they are full, hot, swollen and bruised and then dealing with a baby learning to latch correctly you can get all sorts of issues happening with your nipples (I looked for a more kosher word but sorry, there isn’t one 🙂 ). Let me say this does only normally last for about 3 weeks, the pain does go away, but in that moment, it can feel like a lifetime. I encourage all mums to HANG IN THERE! Please, continue on in your breastfeeding journey, if you can, it is one of the worlds most beautiful experiences.
This blog is focused on products that can help you through that, and hopefully, get you on track to one of the most rewarding experiences ever. I managed to exclusively breastfeed both of my boys for over a year each (I don’t have anything against formula, I personally just found it more convenient to breastfeed.) Here are some of the things that helped me through:
A lanolin based salve can do wonders for sore, cracked nipples in the early days. I tried both Medela and Lansinoh. My personal favourite was Lansinoh – it has no horrible “stickiness” to it.
Seamless nursing bra – A good nursing bra is a God send, you will literally spend 24 hours a day, and then some in them 🙂 Personally I used “Carriwell”, and used both the normal t-shirt ones and the ones with extra padding. The extra padding can really help especially when baby starts sleeping for longer stretches.
Electric pump – Personally for me, this was my best friend and I would never have lasted so long in my breastfeeding journey without my Medela swing pump. I actually started off with the single swing pump, and after spending 20 mins each side expressing thought I should switch to the double. Ironically, the single pump was waaay more effective and remains my staple. Going back to work when expressing is always fun, I would hide myself in a locked interview room pumping while interviews were taking place in the rooms around me J. I will say I HATED the time spent pumping, I felt like I was wasting time (though I know the end result was far from that), often I considered pumping on the way home whilst stuck in traffic and I know many mums that successfully do so. Pumping also helps to stimulate milk production if you have a dip in your supply.
Nursing pads – I started off using the Phillips range and to this day that was by far my favourite. Soft, non itchy and disposable but for some reason I couldn’t find them anymore in South Africa, so I switched to Pigeon. Once your milk is more settled and more of a routine formed I switched to cotton based, washable ones which were a big cost saver.
Cooling Gel Pads – Can be used hot (to stimulate your milk production) or cold (to soothe the pain). I will be honest, I didn’t use mine . I found them a bit uncomfortable and heavy, and in the early days the ONLY thing that worked for me was warm wash cloths and cabbage leaves J YES, Cabbage leaves. However I know a lot of new mums that swear by them.
Extra Vitamins – This is a must! breastfeeding, coupled with lack of sleep, or rather broken sleep, drains you! You need essential vitamins to promote healthy supply. Continue with your prenatal vitamins even after birth. You need all of those extra vitamins for breastfeeding. Personally the found the hugely popular Preg-Omega disagreed with me, the Salmon Oil content (or something) was too high and made me terribly nauseas. I switched early on to a generic pharmaceutical brand and that worked like a dream. My best breastfeeding tonic was Vitaforce’s Schlehen Blackthorn Berry Elixir (with my firstborn I swore by it). I would make up litres of jungle juice to store in the fridge. With my second, I just took a good old tablespoon every time I felt I needed it. The other thing you desperately need is WATER, and lots of it!
C Shaped nursing pillows – These are life changing. They take all the weight off your arms and baba sits at the perfect position, so no wriggly awkwardness. If you have had a c-section, it also protects your scar.
Nursing Cover/ Breastfeeding blanket – Debatable … Ummmm I will admit I never really used it. Nothing that a good old muslin blanket won’t quickly cover up when you need it to and IF your baby doesn’t mind the cover over him/her.
Whatever your breastfeeding journey is, or for however long it lasts, remember each day is an accomplishment. You have given your baby precious anti bodies and created a beautiful bond. Try and join your local la Leche league to invaluable advice and encouragement.
I’d love to hear your breastfeeding stories, one thing I have learnt is to talk about it more. Every woman who has had children and gone through the same thing but for some reason, the struggles around breastfeeding aren’t spoken about enough. The aim of this blog is to open that up. Its okay, we have been there, and as fellow mother’s we should all support each other. Every way we can.