There’s no denying that breastfeeding can be hard, and sometimes painful. But more importantly, breastfeeding is rewarding. Breastfeeding is best for your baby. And breastfeeding is beautiful.
The truth is, as a mama you have 99 problems and breastfeeding should not be one. I’ve done our research talking to mamas all over America, and gathered the best tips and tricks to make your breastfeeding experience one for the books (or at least for the bedtime story you’re reading to your toddler as you simultaneously read this post).
1) Join a support group.
There are thousands of women out there who have dealt with the same problems you’re dealing with as a breastfeeding mama. Find the nearest La Leche League on Facebook or a local breastfeeding group. Not only will you have a strong community of women who are familiar the experience of breastfeeding, but oftentimes there are events to meet other mamas in your area. Additionally, many women reported that their local Le Leche League leader came over to their houses with invaluable knowledge and support the day they left the hospital! If there isn’t a LLL/other BF support group in your city, there are so many other mom groups that exist out there, and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll find one that fits what you care about. In addition to BF groups, I’ve coming across babywearing groups and even cloth diaper groups. They all have different themes but a similar purpose: to provide support and encouragement for YOU!
2) Learn your laws.
One of the best ways to feel more confident while nursing is knowing your state’s laws surrounding breastfeeding in public. This is America! Free the nipple! If you are ever approached by a nursing-shamer, imagine their face when you are able to look them in the eye and rattle off Title 27, Chapter 30, lines 27-33 of your state’s Civil Code. Boo-yah. Here’s the link to every state’s nursing laws: www.nationwidenursein.com.
3) Your own breastmilk can actually get you through the pain of breastfeeding.
Some say, “If it hurts, you’re not doing it right.” Well, from my experience with my mom and little sister AND from several family friends that have breastfed, I’ve seen how much it can hurt. Nursing moms literally have a tiny human person, sometimes with teeth, sucking for their lives on one of the most sensitive parts of the female body. And it’s not supposed to hurt? Yeah, OK. Especially in the days after birth, the nipples can be dry, cracked, and sore as the body adjusts to nursing. One breastfeeding mama from Montana shares what worked for her: “At first, I used the cream they give you at the hospital for sore nipples… noticing nothing was healing, I started expressing a little milk after feedings, rubbing it around (my skin) and letting it air dry.” Classic make-the-problem-fix-itself situation. Turns out the natural nutrients from the breast milk can aid healing and provide antibacterial protection. Some mamas even swear by their milk for diaper rash! Note: if you are one of those lucky moms who never experienced pain breastfeeding, just know the universe has blessed you and carry on.
4) Two words: Nursing necklaces.
This is one of the most consistent suggestions I’ve come across to keep your baby nursing for longer stretches. Whether your baby is a scratcher, a biter, or any other sort of distracted nurser, a nursing necklace can work wonders. The bright colors and different textures on a good nursing necklace can distract your LO for up to twice as long as he or she might nurse without one. Plus, you won’t have to deal with painful head-turning distractions or the yanking of your hair, clothes, or skin. Additionally, grabbing and feeling the necklace can develop your baby’s experience of the the world and heighten his sensory perception. Yay, learning!
We love these beautiful handmade teething necklaces from The Vintage Honey Shop in Nashville, TN!
5) Remember: your journey is your own.
Lastly and most importantly, as my dear friend Elsa would sing, “LET IT GO, LET IT GO!” In the end, breastfeeding is an experience you have between yourself and your little one. If you are able to nurse, embrace it. There are millions of women out there who aren’t able to, and would give the world to have the opportunity. Spending your time worrying about a little side boob showing or what a stranger thinks about you takes away precious moments focused on your baby.
This is a guest post by Soren Chargois, a rising junior at Duke University and current Mamachic Intern. During the school year, she produces content for Duke Student Broadcasting, watches collegiate football, and tries new recipes. At home in Montana, she has helped raise her youngest sister, and in the process started following several mom blogs and parenting websites, and is even in her local “babywearers” Facebook group in order to stay up-to-date on the latest parenting trends and information.