As I rounded the corner of Target this morning I spotted a new mom juggling to quiet what sounded like a newborn baby boy. (You know that precious mousey squeak that absolutely melts all mamas’ hearts? That was it.) She was trying to operate one of those nightmare nursing covers while shushing him sweetly and bouncing him and trying to get him to latch. I gave her a sincere smile and a silent “you’re doing great, mama” nod.
As I walked away with my two toddlers rambunctiously running in every which direction I was NOT going, I thought of my nursing days. I was blessed to be able to nurse both of my children. My firstborn nursed until she was 22 months old. My second-born lasted 10 months. I am by NO means an expert on matters of breastfeeding, but I remember how difficult it was at times.
If you are in the throes of trying to establish your nursing game, allow me to help ease your mind with some tips and tricks that I found helpful!
While NURSING is Natural, it Takes Work!
We all see the Pinterest and Instagram images where the beautiful, somehow already thin mama holds her perfect baby close to her bosom wrapped in white fluffy muslin blankets and smiles down at her creation. We automatically assume this is what nursing should be like, right? UM … NO. Let me ease your mind. It’s difficult. Every baby is different. Every woman and the amount of milk that she generates is different. There are some fabulous online resources (Kelly Mom was my personal go-to) and some incredible lactation cookie recipes; but FIRST and foremost, give yourself grace to try, FAIL, and re-try.
Both of my children latched within minutes of birth. My daughter continued to nurse beautifully. On my son’s first official day in the hospital, I looked at the nurse desperately and tearfully and said “This is killing me, please help.” I was referred to a lactation specialist who helped me find a hold that worked (the football hold) and showed me how to squeeze my nipple for my son to latch on correctly. A LOT of effort for the little booger.
Find Your Zen
Everyone knows that stress impacts a woman. And STRESS takes a massive toll on a nursing woman. I was very particular with where I nursed my first baby. I had to be seated. I needed to be alone. I needed quiet. I found myself in the car a lot when I was trying to run errands. But that WAS OK. While it may sound odd or awkward to someone else, this is what I needed to make it happen. Maybe it’s essential oils or a mantra, or a certain station on Pandora playing. Whatever it may be, find something that paves the way for you to take a deep breath and feed your baby.
Use Those Shields – For JUST a Bit!
I had to turn to nipple shields with my son just to be able to sit through an entire nursing session. I am convinced that I clung on to them for longer than necessary simply because I was afraid of the pain that would ensue without them. Here is where I SHOULD have turned back to a lactation specialist with my concerns instead of thinking I knew better. It was on a day that I could not find any of them and my son was starting to become hysterical that I simply popped him on the boob and realized that he was nursing without a shield! And I wasn’t in insurmountable pain! Hurray! So use them if you have to, but please don’t become reliant on them.
Forgo the Awkward Nursing Cover!
If you are out in public and are struggling to nurse your baby, please don’t stress yourself out trying to piece together one of those piped neck nursing covers. I tried one and they are THE WORST for me! If you want to cover up, use a blanket (the muslin ones are lightweight enough to not suffocate you or the baby) or try one of these from Covered Goods (my personal favorite). They are super soft and multi-functional. I used them every day with my son. But also, if you are a new mom and still trying to get the hang of nursing, I encourage you to not worry so much about the people around you. If they are fellow moms, they will applaud you. And if they are uptight hoity-toity people then they have the right to LOOK away. You do you, mama.
If it Works – GREAT. If it Doesn’t – GREAT.
It got to the point with my son that I believed neither one of us was enjoying our nursing sessions any longer. (Or maybe he enjoyed the torturing me aspect … haha). I gave it my best and when it was time to let it go, I Elsa-d that role of my life. The morning that my husband – armed with a bottle of formula – went in to our son’s room to do an early morning feeding while I slept was probably the best morning ever. It took the pressure off of me as sole-provider of the baby’s nutrition and while everyone has their opinions, I knew it was best for us. So whether that be a day, a week, a month or three years – embrace what YOUR body and YOUR baby do.
That’s simply all that matters in the end.