Things that Make Breastfeeding Easier

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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.

Pumping is a Wonderful Thing!

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It will take a few days for your milk to come in. When it does, you may have too much. It takes a while for your body to adapt and get the right amount of milk for your baby.

I attended a breastfeeding class before Clarissa was born and the teacher said that you are supposed to feed a newborn every three hours even if it means waking up your baby. I tried that and it wasn’t really successful. Clarissa was mad that I woke her up and she wouldn’t eat.

So I basically had a meltdown before Clarissa’s first Pediatrician appointment. I was so upset that she would not eat like the teacher said. And I was super engorged. I tried to pump, but I couldn’t figure it out.

When I spoke to the pediatrician about it, she said not to wake Clarissa up to eat. She was getting plenty! Most babies lose weight when they leave the hospital and mine gained six ounces in one day! She recommended pumping or taking a warm shower and hand expressing milk in the shower.

I could not figure the pump out so I had to do the shower thing which helped the pain but meant that I was losing milk in the shower. We eventually figured out that my problem was that the flange on my pump was too small. Once we ordered a larger one, life got so much better.

When you pump, you have so many options. Pumping allowed me to sleep because someone else could feed Clarissa when I was in bed. I could also leave Clarissa with my mom to run errands or go to work. Even if you don’t plan to go to work, pumping would allow you to go on a date with your husband or for a fun night out with the girls.

It is also way easier to give your baby a bottle in public. Sometimes it is hard to find a place to nurse. They sell nursing covers but Clarissa would not stay under one after she was about six weeks. Unless you want to flash everyone, a bottle is a good choice.

Pumps are covered by most insurance companies. Some of my friends could buy whatever they wanted up to a certain dollar amount. I had to order mine through my insurance company and they had three to choose from. Call your insurance company to see what they cover. If you have any choice, I recommend a double electric pump. Any brand should do.

Before your baby is born, make sure that the flange fits properly. Do not turn the pump on, otherwise you will stimulate milk production early. Make sure you have the correct size before the baby arrives.

Colic or Food Sensitivity?

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Anyone who tells you that what you eat does not affect your baby is crazy.  Maybe that’s a little harsh… 

I am fairly convinced that when babies are super cranky or colicky,  one of the main causes is what the mother is eating.  At least that is the case for us. 

When Clarissa was very young,  there were nights where she was miserable with gas pain.  Gas drops helped but we were using them a lot.  So I started a food journal.  I wrote down what I was eating and noted the time.  Then I recorded what time Clarissa nursed,  for how long,  and I kept notes about diapers and when she was fussy.  I found a pattern.  She was miserable any time that I ate corn.  That was an easy fix.  I had to stop eating corn.  At first it was a big deal because I eat gluten free so my favorite snacks are tortilla chips with cheese and popcorn.  But after cutting those snacks out of my diet,  Clarissa was rarely fussy so it was so worth it.  It has been six months and I don’t crave those snacks anymore anyway. 

We had a few scary ultrasounds with her where they were concerned about her intestines.  Toward the end of the pregnancy,  it was no longer a concern.  It is interesting to note that during the time the doctor was concerned,  I was eating a lot of Mexican food.  At the end,  I was craving potatoes.  I wonder if what I was eating affected her intestines on the day of the appointment. 

If your baby is gassy,  you can try gas drops.  I like the Little Tummies brand.  But if you want a more natural approach, I suggest a food journal.  

There are other ways that what you eat can affect baby.  For the past few months,  I have been working part time.  On the days that I work,  I have noticed that Clarissa is up way later wanting to play with me.  At first I thought it was because she missed me and needed more attention.  But then it happened on the weekend when I took her to a party and I realized the culprit… Chocolate! 

I don’t drink caffeine at all.  I have never been a coffee or soda drinker.  But the days that I work,  I stay in a room with a ton of chocolate.  So between reading groups  I munch on Reeses cups and miniature snickers bars.  

I was hoping to be wrong.  So I stopped eating chocolate. I noticed a huge difference.  Not only were bedtimes earlier,  but Clarissa was sleeping ten hours straight at night.  We were doing so well until my wonderful husband decided to surprise me.  He brought home some chocolate for me,  and I am talking good stuff.  My favorite expensive chocolate.  So I had some. You know,  just in case my chocolate theory was wrong.  Well… It wasn’t.  Midnight and we are still wide awake and full of energy.  Oops.