Before Clarissa was born, my hospital offered a free two hour class on breastfeeding. The one benefit was that she showed us how to breastfeed in a few different positions and we practiced holding a baby doll in those positions. It sounds dumb, but she also walked around and watched how we held our breast in those positions and it was really helpful. The other parts of the class weren’t that helpful. So you can always watch a youtube video or talk to a breastfeeding friend. It would be good to know a few positions before your baby is born. Also, while you are in the hospital, ask the nurses for help. Some hospitals even have lactation consultants to help you.
You need a comfortable place to nurse. My friend gave me a cushioned chair that swivels and rocks. At my parent’s house, I use my dad’s recliner. I also nurse on the couch while we watch tv. Normal rocking chairs haven’t been really comfortable for me. You just need to try a few things and see what is comfortable for you. Also, I couldn’t figure the boppy out for nursing. In the hospital, I used normal pillows and that has worked for me since. I just use a normal bed pillow on my lap and Clarissa lays on that. At first, when did the football hold a lot. But now we pretty much always do cradle hold.
Everyone talks about the benefits of breastfeeding because of the bonding that happens between mother and baby. That is true. But nursing can also take a long time and get kind of boring. So it is helpful to have something else to do. I find it hard to hold an actual book. I have a smartphone and a Kindle. Those are easier to hold and read. Plus, you can nurse in the dark in the middle of the night so your baby will go to sleep easier. I can even watch Netflix on my Kindle.
In the beginning of breastfeeding, your nipples will get sore. There were a few things that really helped with the pain. The first are Soothies Gel Pads by Lasinoh. You can also find them at Walgreens. They were great because you apply them to your breast. They feel kind of cold and really help with the pain. You can take them on and off when you are nursing. They are safe for baby so you don’t have to wash your breast off to feed. The only downside is that they are only for 72 hours of total use. So they don’t last as long as I would like. And if you are in the phase where you are making too much milk, they might not last 72 hours because the milk will get absorbed into the gel pad. I went through a few of these in the beginning of breastfeeding and then again a few months later after she had a cold.
Another thing that works for sore or cracked nipples is nipple cream. My favorite is Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter. Each jar lasts several months. Originally, I was just using this when I was sore, but that was happening random times. Since I have been pumping almost every day, I apply every night before bed and I haven’t had a problem with soreness in a couple of months. This is another thing that is safe for baby so you won’t have to rinse off your breast. Clarissa seems to like the taste anyway. I have also used this on Clarissa’s face in the winter. I didn’t want to put Vaseline on her face because of the petroleum, so I tried this when her face was getting irritated from the wind and cold. It worked well. And she liked the smell!
Another thing that I use a lot are nursing pads. My favorite are Bamboobies. The reason I like these are because they are thin and don’t show as much under your shirt. They also have a lining so that milk doesn’t leak through your shirt. I wear these everyday. I just throw them in the wash with my cloth diapers. They also make an overnight version that is thicker. I don’t have the overnight ones. I have just used washcloths in a sports bra at night.
I also recommend getting a good nursing bra. Having two is helpful so that you can wash one and wear the other, or let one dry out when it gets wet. Department stores can fit you for a bra. A good fit will help prevent mastitis. I use the Anita Women’s Maternity Underwired Nursing Bra.
I wrote a post on the benefits of pumping. Call your insurance company to see what they will cover. The one I use is Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump. Any pump should be fine. I recommend a double electric pump. Just make sure the flanges fit correctly. You can order a different size if your breasts are too large for the flange.
A lot of moms that I know swear by Nursing Covers for nursing in public. Clarissa would nurse under a cover until she was about four or five weeks old. After that, she would kick around and move the cover. Since I pump on a regular basis, I just bring bottles when we are out and about. Speaking of which, you should have a few bottles for when you pump. We use AVENT bottles with the Natural Nipples.