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Getting Started Tips! ~ Hindsight is 20/20!
~ A Message Board Archive

The following compilation is the result of a recent Breastfeeding Support Forum contest in which our members were asked to share their tips . . .

Offer a QUICK TIP . . . something you feel is essential to getting off to a good start!

Or tell, WHAT you would have done differently or what do you wish you'd known before nursing your baby . . .

Or for the 'expectant' moms, have you learned anything helpful from other nursing mom's hindsight that may help you when the time comes? . . . or do you have a QUESTION that another mom might can answer to help you prepare for nursing your baby?

storkOne thing I learned from nursing my son for 16 months is that even though sometimes I felt like throwing in the towel, (at 6 weeks and again at 6 months and again at 12 months) it was well worth my time and effort. He is only a baby once and I'm so glad I stuck it out and gave him the best possible start in life. I look forward to nursing my second baby on the way! ~ Acheryl

storkMy best hindsight advice that I can give is to not supplement with bottles if at all possible. Nursing was painful at first, but Lansinoh is incredible and definitely a must have. I started supplementing my daughter with bottles at four months because sometimes it was just more convenient. But, after two bottles, she wouldn't go back to breast. She would rather starve than work that hard I guess. We skipped three feedings before I decided that I would give in and give her a bottle. She never went back to breast. ~ mom. of. an. angel

storkWith #1 I was convinced that I was an inferior mother because I had a very hard time breastfeeding. Little did I know then that it isn't a natural talent that women have. I gave up thinking I'm the worst mother on the planet. Now with #2 due in 12/99, I have a wonderful midwife and support system in place to help me in my breastfeeding which WILL be successful this time. ~ Alexa1

storkI think my hindsight wisdom would be that breastfeeding is a learned skill for both mom and baby. And like other learned skills (walking, riding a bike, etc) there will be a few boo boos along the way - sore nipples, sleep deprivation, engorgement, crying frustrated baby (or mom), etc. But it is a skill that almost every mom and baby can learn. And it is the most rewarding thing you will ever learn to do. ~ GregJrsMom

storkSleep with your baby. This gives the baby the security of the womb and you can nurse him/her without having to fully awaken. ~ born2birth

storkI thought I had to hold my (rather large) breast, kind of squeezing it up and out of the way of baby's nose. Well I found out that all this does is make for an improper latch and extremely painful nipples! When I called to get help from a lactation consultant, one of the first things she asked was if I was holding it away from baby's nose! As soon as I stopped (after her reassurance baby wouldn't smother) my nipples healed and I was back on track. So there are two tips here . . . one being don't feel you have to hold it away from baby's nose, they'll move if they need to and two, CALL THE LACTATION CONSULTANT when you have a problem!!! I suffered far too long before calling! ~ Leigh

storkNo matter how tired you may feel in those early weeks, don't give in to dh's well-intentioned offer to give the baby a bottle of expressed breast milk for one of those 4 AM feedings. Keep nursing! And keep the baby in bed with you when you do. Also, bring a nursing bra to the hospital. Our baby was early, so I hadn't bought one yet, and I had a lot of trouble trying to hold the baby up and my new, big breasts as well. The bra really helps to keep things in place so you can focus on that brand new little baby. Finally, go to LLL meetings. While I love the support on this board, there's nothing like seeing real live mothers going through the same things you are. ~ Kath

storkBuy a set of tiny earplugs. It helps drown out the unsupportive, unwanted advice people give. Tell people upfront if they don't have anything supportive/encouraging to say - don't say it. Also . . . put a note on your door and message machine that says you are unavailable for those people who barge in anyway . . . stay in your PJs or half naked . . . people stay less if they are uncomfortable about your attire! ~ Tammi

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storkIf you don't bring the baby to bed in the beginning at least keep the baby next to the bed in a bassinet or crib so you can nurse as soon as he starts to crank rather than waiting for a cry. My son and I had a lot of problems learning to nurse together. He had a poor latch and sucking problems and I had flat/slightly inverted nipples. He was also a good sleeper so he would wake starving! Once he started crying we were doomed for a difficult nursing session. If I was able to respond to him while it was still a crank then we had better luck. ~ miche

storkGo to LLL meetings while your pregnant. This gets breastfeeding off to a great start and you'll have a built in support system already in place. ~ Cararocky

storkThree Hints: 1) Take a breastfeeding class. It is not as natural as everyone thinks. 2) When the nurse on the L&D floor says, "The baby isn't hungry, that's why he's not opening his mouth enough, so wait and feed him later," don't believe her. 3) When that poor little baby can't latch on because you are so engorged that it is like trying to latch onto a flat wall, express, express, express!!!! ~ pth88mgh

storkWhen you are still in hospital, listen to all the advice from the midwives and lactation consultants. You need not take it all but it pays to listen! Don't be afraid to push the buzzer and ask for help with every feeding if you are not confident. The more help you get when it is "on tap" the better. ~ Jack

storkPut cabbage leaves in your bra when your milk comes in (IT REALLY HELPS!!). Read "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding." Be firm about not giving supplementary bottles while in hospital, even if your baby is early (use a gavage tube for feeding). ~Vivianne

storkIf you plan to go back to work, begin pumping in the first few weeks after the baby is born to: a. Build up your freezer "stash" and b. Learn how to use the pump properly before you HAVE to pump. I went through a difficult week of pumping and now am looking at having to supplement with formula because I didn't have enough of a backup to get us over this hump. I wish I had taken advantage of that abundant milk supply in the beginning when my baby was eating just a little bit at each feeding and I had enough milk to fill a river! ~ Amber

storkI'm guess I'm in the expectant mommy group, but the some things that I have learned from hindsight: Believe in yourself! And don't be afraid to ask for help. And keep asking if you don't feel like you're getting the right answers. Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed and comfort our precious babies, but that doesn't mean it's automatic. As Elaine posted before, two big myths of breastfeeding are that 1) Breastfeeding is Easy and 2) Breastfeeding is Hard. ~ Mysta

stork#1. make sure your pediatrician is knowledgeable about and supportive of breastfeeding. My little one was slow to gain in the beginning and my first pediatrician really pushed supplementing. #2. go to a lactation consultant at the first sign of trouble. I also wish I had gotten a pump at the first sign of low supply as I never was able to get my supply up to what my baby needed. Also if you do have to supplement I suggest the SNS. My little guy needed supplementing and I used a bottle and eventually he refused to nurse except some early mornings when very calm and not very hungry. I still pump 3-4X/day and give him that via bottle and supplement with soy. ~ MrsDuffy

storkI'm due in December. The hints I've taken to heart are 1. Keep trying; it will get easier. 2. Drink LOTS of water. and 3. Keep reminding myself why I chose to breastfeed; the long range positive effects are worth the short term discomforts! ~ jjl

storkTwo words: NURSING PILLOW! I wish that I had one from the get go. Louison kept pulling on my nipples because she was not positioned correctly. After three weeks and some suggestions from this board, I got the boppy pillow (my favorite), and nursing became a breeze. ~BasiaS

storkTake advantage of those hospital walk throughs! It's the PERFECT opportunity to ask questions, see what their policies are regarding nursing - and also the perfect time to let them know you WILL BE NURSING and to bring you your little one as soon as it is possible! ~ Libramom

storkI was always careful not to use hand lotion the first few weeks of nursing (especially at night) in case of an improper latch on and my hands got really dry. I finally started using Lansinoh instead of hand cream and no longer had to worry about getting out of bed to wash my hands before feeding since I could put my finger in her mouth with no worry of chemicals (and a terrible taste for her!). Tip #2 is spend the money on a good breast pump to get you through. Even if you are not going back to work, a good pump -- PIS -- is so great to have. I had a breast infection and blister on the nipple (fell asleep nursing - ouch!) and it saved me. ~ JillM

storkI have two tips. The first is to keep those first couple of difficult months in perspective. When you are exhausted, sore, and in great need of sleep, remind yourself this will not last forever and that is only a few weeks out of your life. Soon the baby will start to space out feedings and settle into a more hospitable nursing routine and the first exhausting days of motherhood will be a memory. Next, and most importantly I advise mothers who want to nurse to really educate their dh on breastfeeding. My dh was a great source of comfort and support. He learned to help get the baby latched on properly and was great about getting up and letting me doze during night feedings while he helped the baby nurse. This was especially helpful after my c-section. I don't know if I would have succeeded at breastfeeding if it wasn't for the support and encouragement of my wonderful dh. ~ mands

stork1) The best advice I ever read was that if you feel pain for more than a few seconds after the baby latches on (we're talking newborn, of course), then he is latched on incorrectly. Break the latch and try again. This prevented me from getting sore or cracked nipples. I bought nipple cream, but didn't even have to use it! 2) Don't feel that something is wrong if your newborn just wants to nurse all the time. I wish I had just stayed in bed with my baby for the first two weeks and did nothing but sleep and nurse. Practice nursing while lying on your side -- you'll both get lots more sleep! 3) Nurses are NOT lactation consultants, and even if they say they are qualified to help, don't believe them. Ask for a CERTIFIED lactation consultant. 4) Don't listen to anyone who suggests giving the baby formula. There are almost always ways around it. 5) Listen to your instincts and don't blindly believe whatever a doctor says -- do your research, too. Breastfeeding is the most difficult but most rewarding job I've ever had, but you have to be prepared to seek out solutions to your problems. I could go on and on, but most of my other suggestions have already been covered. ~ Dany

storkYou CAN breastfeed too. I never bought anything "breastfeeding related" while I was pregnant (i. e., books, nursing pillows, pump, LANSINOH, etc. ) because I was ignorant to the fact that almost all of us CAN breastfeed. I kept saying I am going to try to breastfeed. My Lamaze instructor told me that I WAS going to breastfeed and I kept that in my mind. Sometimes it may not be easy but with some perseverance and KNOWLEDGE, you can get passed all of the obstacles. So, I encourage pregnant women to nurse as soon after the birth as you can; join LLL if there is one in your area; pick up a copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding; get yourself a Breast Friend nursing pillow and believe in your motherly instincts and in your baby's instincts; keep nursing your baby; try to enlist the support of other breastfeeding moms--we are all here for you!! Most importantly BAN all unsupportive from your home!! ~ Daniela

storkTHROW OUT THE CLOCK! Don't worry about how long the baby nurses; just learn to follow the baby's cues and allow as much nursing as baby wants. It took me several months to quit timing feedings. I thought that I had to get her to nurse at least ten minutes on each side at every feeding, and I was rather stressed when she didn't until I just relaxed and went with the flow, so to speak. ~ mom2jazzygirl

storkSo many great tips! Most of my tips have been mentioned already. But, here goes: 1) Learn to nurse laying down right away; it makes middle of the night nursing sessions so much easier. 2) Practice nursing in a mirror before you venture out in public with baby the first time. It will give you more confidence. 3) After you get your baby latched on, (in public) look back up . . . staring down at baby draws attention. 4) Get a Maya wrap sling; it has a loose tail that works great to cover baby so you can nurse discreetly - even while walking! ~ Valeri

storkStock up on nursing pads! Boobs leak! ~ Alexandra

storkRegarding the excellent suggestion to purchase nursing pads because breast leak: I bought a large box of disposable pads initially, because I didn't realize I had any other option. The disposable pads looked icky under clothes and weren't very absorbent. Someone then suggested I buy some washable pads, and now the disposable sit gathering dust! The washable pads are fairly inexpensive, so I bought 10 pairs of them! That way, I don't spend my life washing nursing pads. And they're incredibly absorbent. I leak a lot, but I've never leaked through my pads. ~ Amber

storkI hated the disposable pads as well. I tried a few different brands and they all came apart and sometimes stuck to my nipples. The washable ones are much more absorbent and they don't show as much under clothes. I can't wear white though, but I can with the disposable with the flesh colored backs. I have a huge box of unopened disposable pads collecting dust. I also leak all the way through all pads. I think I have 6 pairs of the washable ones and I do a small load of baby clothes a day or every other day (he spits up on about 3-5 outfits plus tons of burp cloths, etc) and just throw in the pads and my bras and gentles with his clothes too. ~ miche

storkA few people have already stated this, but for me, the best thing to know was that it was okay to ask for help. With my son, it took me about two weeks before I realized we were having trouble and I finally got over feeling as though I was deficient in some way. We consulted a really good lactation consultant who got us going the right way and referred my son to other help when it was obvious he needed it. A second piece of advice is to give yourself time to get used to breastfeeding. It isn't always easy and it doesn't always feel natural, but don't give up right away. For some Moms--this isn't a 'copout'--the third piece of advice . . . if after consulting with a lactation consultant and your child's pediatrician, it is determined that you cannot provide all the sustenance your child needs, then do what is best for your child and don't feel guilty. So many people won't even try to breastfeed. The fact that you HAVE tried and done your best is what is important!!! ~ JksMom

storkFor cracked, dry and achy nipples, lay out (breasts exposed, of course) in the sun. If you are a bit too modest or afraid the neighbors would complain or you might be evicted, a sunny window will do. I have only been breastfeeding for 5 1/2 weeks. And it was so painful during the first couple of weeks, I would nurse from 1 side only for 2-3 times, pump the other, then switch. The Lansinoh helped while my baby nursed since it seemed to act as a lubricant, but a Brazilian friend of mine suggested the laying out and it helped speed up the healing process. I, of course, opted for the sunny window. I lived in a third floor apartment, so no one could see! ~ Nana & Malu's Mommy

stork1. Get a boppy nursing pillow. It's great for your back. The baby is brought up to you. 2. Just because the baby gets teeth doesn't mean she will bite and you have to quit nursing. It took one time for me to figure out when she's about to bite. ~ Tiffany

storkFor expectant moms I suggest breastpads. When I asked my ob/gyn what I could do for the saturated bras I had to wear when I was expecting #1, she laughed. No one told me there were things called nursing pads until I found them in the drug store. I won't go out with out them. My piece of hindsight comes from experience. NO two babies nurse the same! I never realized after nursing #1 that I would ever have breastfeeding problems with #2. I guess I thought it was like riding a bike-once you learn you always know how. But I forgot that for #2 it was a whole new experience! My advice is to re-educate yourself each time you have a child. You'll learn more things, get a different perspective, and remind yourself that it isn't always easy. My #1 loved to nurse lying down, #2 preferred the cradle hold, and #3 enjoys his "drive by nursings."

storkWell, I'm just two weeks into breastfeeding and really enjoying it so far. The best piece of advice was given to me by our pediatrician. He told me that adults go to the refrigerator for a snack (bite of cheese, sip of juice) or for an entire meal. He said babies and breastfeeding was the same thing. Sometimes they want a snack and sometimes a meal. That sure stopped me from worrying that some feedings were short and others were long. Now I just think about snacks and meals (and some of them seem to be several courses! LOL! ~ shimmer

storkThe single most useful thing was nursing shields. They enabled my nipples to air out and not to have fabric rub them the first few tender weeks. I am starting my eighth month of my second pregnancy and I was just remembering those first few days of nursing my son. I can't wait to bond with this child and to hold him. ~ Tica

storkMake sure that the first time you breastfeed - if possible right after birth - you do it in a room full of people. Why? Because if you get used to nursing in public right away, you'll have fewer problems with nursing in the presence of others later on. I have never been apologetic or indiscreet (that I know of) because I started when my inhibition levels were very low! I had just given birth - who was going to be upset by breastfeeding? Certainly not anyone in that room! ~ Bethany

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