I’ve been exclusively breastfeeding my daughter for a little over 10 months. Not gonna sugar coat but breastfeeding is harddddd. I’m honestly surprised/proud of myself for lasting this long . This is huge feat for me especially because when I started breastfeeding, it was the absolute worst experience. I wanted to quit every second of it. It was awful. I was exhausted and in so much pain. On top of being sleep deprived, every time I nursed it felt like razor blades on my nipples. I cried, I winced, I screamed, and cried some more. I thought I would never see the light at the end of the tunnel. As I come close to my yearly milestone, I wanted to share the things that really made this easier for me.
Before breastfeeding, I thought it would just come naturally for me. I mean just have baby suck on my nipples right, NBD? WRONG. My body had to drastically adjust and get with this breastfeeding program. Just imagine having to feed every 45 minutes to an hour. You spend majority of your time hunched over feeding your precious little bub. I was already in so much pain from literally giving birth (perineal tear, uterus contraction from breastfeeding, and nipple soreness) that I would hunch over and wince when I breastfed. I was given this pillow, It’s called My Breast Friend. This allows your body to sit in the proper breastfeeding posture, both for you and baby. Truth me the last thing I wanted to do was carry my baby while I breastfed. What I loved about it too was that it has a little side pocket where I kept nipple cream and pads!
#2| Nursing Bra.
Oh so necessary! I didn’t realize before giving birth how annoying it would be to nurse with a regular bra. I thought, “No big deal, I’ll just take it off or walk around topless”. Negative. With sore nipples, leaky and tender breasts that was the last thing I wanted to do. My wonderful boyfriend purchased these for me and I love them!
#3| NIPPLE SHIELDS.
In CAPS because I cannot stress how amazing these things were for me. HOLY. Although my daughter seemingly latched on to my nipple fine and was producing wet and dirty diapers. I was still in a lot of pain. In case you wondering what it felt like, imagine razor blades on your nipples, or if your baby was a parana, also imagine if someone vigorously rubbing sandpaper on your nipples until you bled. Yep, that was my life. The nipple shield created a barrier between my baby’s mouth and my nipples. It gave them the opportunity to heal and definitely made the pain a lot easier to manage!
I remember the exact moment when I discovered this video. I was sitting in my rocking chair crying my eyes out dreading feeding my child, despite how much I overwhelmingly loved her. I had already seen 2 lactation consultants and none really gave me the help I needed. They mentioned that as long as my baby was producing wet/dirty diapers everything was ok, but not for my nipples. In a moment of desperation, I went on YouTube and found the video that saved my life. Come to find out, my baby wasn’t latching DEEP enough! After watching this, I cried in relief. I breastfeed without the nipple shield and for the first time ENJOYED it. Thank you YouTube.
#5| Nipple Cream
Ok I’ll be honest here, nipple cream was a hit or miss for me. Some days I felt it was a waste and other days it was heaven-sent. This did not help with my pain whatsoever, but it helped heal my nipples faster! It kept my blistering and bleeding nipples moisturized.
#6| Gel Pads.
Man, I would place these bad boys in the freezer and onto my nipples. So cold but felt soooo damn good. This is more of a temporary relief but so worth it.
#7| Water Bottle:
Those first few weeks when your milk supply is coming in. You are thirsty AF. Oh man. I was instantly dehydrated when I breastfed. This water bottle kept my water cold and it held 25 oz (which I easily chugged. Trust me).
#8| This Breast Pump
God bless the hospital I gave birth in. At Mount Sinai Hospital, I was able to instantly rent this pump for just $30 a month. My nipples needed a break and I wanted my partner to take over feedings from time to time. Over time I got into the habit of pumping and breastfeeding. Whatever milk was left over I stored. Eventually I worked up a milk storage that gave me the freedom to step out for a few hours while my partner stayed home with my baby.
#9| My Amazing Boyfriend.
This is a shout-out to my man! Those first few weeks were rough for the both of us. He cooked, cleaned, did laundry, grocery shopping, fed me (while I breastfed), gave me massages, changed as many diapers, and kept me company during feedings. I’m sure he was in just as much emotional pain as I was physical pain. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive partner during this process. During this time he was my number 1 supporter and I don’t know if I would’ve survived without him.
#10| Mom blogs. Mom forums. Google. Whatever.
Love La leche League and Kelly Mom for really putting my nerves at ease whenever I had any doubts. I’m a young mom no one around me was having babies and definitely not breastfeeding. Even the women in my own family placed pressure on me to stop ‘suffering’ and switch to formula. I’m thankful for these resources because it made me feel that everything that I was going through was a part of the process and even if I didn’t believe it. What motivated me was the amazing and strong mamas on the internet and my extensive research on the benefits of breastfeeding!