Let’s face it — breastfeeding can be hard. Even though it is something that is supposed to come so naturally to us, nearly every mother struggles with breastfeeding in at least some way during their nursing journey, however short or long that time might be. If you’re determined to breastfeed your baby for as long as possible, you’ve probably heard stories of how painfully exhausting it can be, but you’ve probably also heard stories about how rewarding it is.
Whether you’re a first-time mom or preparing for your next baby, you deserve to be as comfortable as possible while breastfeeding your baby. To help get you started, we’ve put together a list of ways to take some of the stress out of nursing so you can relax and bond with your baby.
1. Give your breasts some breathing room.
When you first begin breastfeeding your baby, it might seem like your breasts are too large and you’re constantly readjusting your bra to get comfortable or give your baby easier access while they nurse. Instead of a typically structured bra, consider wearing bralettes, at least while you are home if you aren’t comfortable doing so in public. These bras are cuter than your average sports bra, but still typically made to fit more loosely, which will do wonders if you find yourself swelling when your baby isn’t quite ready to eat yet. They are also more breathable and lack that pesky underwire, and many come in convenient snap styles to make nursing a breeze. Also consider nurse bras and pump bras — these bras are made specifically to be more comfortable than a regular bra while you breast feed. Pump bras will also allow your pump session to be hands free pumping, which will be far more comfortable than pumping otherwise.
2. Familiarize yourself with your pump.
If you’re not used to using a breast pump, it can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful to pump. If you’ve got a nursing consultant at your local hospital or a breastfeeding advocacy group in your community, ask for guidance when it comes to your pump. Breast pumps come in many different sizes and shapes, and you might find that your body reacts better to one that it does to another. If you plan on pumping exclusively or even pumping while you work, investing in a few different pumping bras will make your life so much easier. As we mentioned above, they even allow you to pump hands-free!
3. Find a position that works for both of you.
Some babies will only nurse from one breast in if they are being held in one particular position and that position only, but will gladly nurse in any position that gives them access to the other breast. Others might have digestive issues that are only soothed by nursing laying down or in a completely upright position. Learn the different nursing holds and techniques and find what works best for your comfort and your baby’s. As they grow, you might notice that different positions become more comfortable, and as you become more accustomed to nursing in public, how you hold them then might change too.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
During those first few weeks, it might feel like your sole purpose in life is to produce milk. And in a way, it kind of is. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by breastfeeding or you feel like you and your baby just can’t seem to get it together, talk to your baby’s pediatrician or a lactation consultant and see if they can offer any advice. Sometimes it can be as simple as adjusting your hold, or you might find that it’s easier to nurse with a nipple shield. Reaching out for guidance can help you and your baby tremendously.
When you’re at home and nursing, don’t be afraid to use this to your benefit now and then. If you can’t quite reach your phone, or you’re craving a snack but any movement will definitely wake the baby, ask your partner for help, and continue sitting comfortably — because your little one will be mobile before you know it.
Nursing can be tough. But there are ways to make it less tough, and sometimes what works for one person might not work for another. There is a lot of trying new things and tweaking your routine involved with getting the hang of breastfeeding. As long as your baby is fed and happy, and you’re comfortable in the process, that’s all that matters.
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