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Breastfeeding: Top 10

I've had several requests for another post about breastfeeding.  So, here it is!

Before having a baby, I thought that breastfeeding was going to be easy.  After all, it's an innate practice of all mammals.  How hard can it really be?  Now, after seven months of breastfeeding, I can tell you that it is not easy.  BUT, the good news is, it gets easier!  

As I've mentioned in previous blogs, I had a horrible time beginning with breastfeeding.  It was extremely painful and I dreaded nursing times.  I felt like a horrible mom.  I didn't want to feed my child because I knew the pain that I was going to have to endure.  There are moments - through pure exhaustion - when I couldn't control myself and screamed.  Thankfully, I had a husband who was supportive and continued to encourage me and provide all of the support that he could in the form of talking to me, rubbing my back and shoulders, and assuring me that things would get better.

We all know that breastmilk is the absolute best nutrition that we can offer to our infants.  If you've read anything about formula, you'll see that it is constantly changing.  New additions are being added every year to try to add that one more ingredient that will make it just as good as the real deal.  But, year after year, they find out that it still isn't close.  There is just something about our bodies that knows how to properly nurture our baby.

Thankfully, more and more milk bank locations are opening around the U.S. to help out women who are unable to nurse their babies.  These milk banks also accept donations from anyone who has been pre-screened and has over 100 ounces of milk to donate.  If you're unable to nurse, it may be something you check into.

For those who are able and wanting to nurse, but are having difficulties, here are my top 10 suggestions:

1. Relax!
2. Find help - either in the form of an encouraging doctor, nurse, lactation specialist, or friend.
3. Realize that there is no science to nursing.  It's an art, so it's not the same for every woman or baby.  Find your own groove!
4. Don't be afraid to ask for second opinions.  The more you know, the more you can adjust your own style.
5. Talk to other moms - you'll realize you're not alone!
6. Do it in the shower!  Now, the "it" I'm referring to is nursing.  My shower has a seat in it where I was able to sit and relax.  The steam helped the milk let down and my baby was calmed by the warmth of the shower and being skin to skin with me.
7. Use nipple creams or your own breastmilk to heal your nipples.
8. If it becomes too painful, go to your doctor to verify you don't have an infection or other problem.
9. Try different positions.
10. If you must go to bottle feeding, don't feel bad.  Nursing does not make you a great mom; the fact you're trying everything to make sure your baby gets the best is what makes you already a great mom!


  1. I solely formula feed my daughter because I was not able to produce milk, even after investing in a $200 Medela electric breast pump. I knew about breast milk banks but there is something really creepy about them. I understand blood banks because that is basically life or death if you need blood. I would rather feed my daughter commercial formula then someone else’s breast milk. In Canada there were people who received blood contaminated with HIV and Hepatitis. Who’s to say that can’t happen at a breast milk bank? Not that the TV show, The Doctors is the end all of medical information but it was not too long ago that they featured a mom whose baby ended up in the NICU because she passed an illness on to her baby through breast milk. I’d probably feed her someone else’s breast milk if we lived in a time before formula was available but now that formula is available, I’m perfectly content with her being a formula fed baby. I was supplemented with formula and my little brother soley on formula in the 80's and we turned out pretty good. Formula has come a long way since then.

  2. That's an excellent reassurance for formula-feeding moms! I truly don't believe there's anything wrong with using formula - it's a VERY personal preference for every mom. The technology behind formula has grown leaps and bounds from the '50s when it was introduced and scientists knew nothing about micronutrients.

    But, for the moms who are determined to breastfeed, I hope they know that there is life beyond those first few weeks!

    Also, something for everyone to check out is if your insurance company covers the breast pump. More and more companies are covering these every year - you just have to ask. My doc had to write a note for it.

  3. Hi Katie, great list! I wish I had read it before my first baby was born - all the books I read didn't really talk about how hard nursing can be in the beginning... Can I add a few thoughts?

    2, 3 and 4. All those people you ask for help will probably tell you slightly different things - and that's okay! Take all their advice, then figure out what works best for you.

    7. Bring nipple cream to the hospital with you and start using it as soon as you start nursing (rather than waiting until your poor nipples are sore and bleeding).

    9. Once you and your baby have mastered latching on in a football or cross cradle hold, try nursing laying down. It is so much more restful for you, especially in the middle of the night!

    11. Nursing can bring on painful post-partum contractions in the first week, especially with second babies. Don't be afraid to ask for painkillers (and take them BEFORE you start nursing so that they have time to kick in).

    12. Generally the first two or three weeks are the worst, and then all of a sudden, everything clicks and it becomes painless and easy and beautiful - just like you imagined it would be from the beginning. Try to give yourself that much time to get used to it. And it takes less time with the second baby!

  4. @Marcie, I almost forgot about the contractions! YES, ask for pain medicine! I only used them for the first couple of days, but with all the other swelling happening in and around your body, I was able to get a little relief.

    Another thought with #7 is to try out the nipple creams before Baby comes. No one told me to do this, but it's a lot nicer to get an idea about the different creams before you have to use them. Some of the creams feel more like Vasoline. Find what you feel comfortable with. I like Medela's the best, but it may not be right for others.

  5. Katie, I'm in awe of, and proud of, you & other moms who were able to make breast-feeding work for you and your little one(s). And, as a mommy who couldn't make it work for her and her adorable son, I want to say thanks for #10! It was very hard for me to deal with my "failure" at breast-feeding, and some people did not make it easier. Mommies should support other mommies; we are all just trying to do our best. You keep rockin' the boob...and the blog! :)


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