Becoming a mother was one of the biggest transitions of my life. I was excited and scared about everything. I knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby from the beginning because my mom had, and I knew about all of the health benefits for baby. Beyond that though, I didn’t know too much. So I did what any type A person would do: I researched and read everything I could get my hands on, and even went to a La Leche League meeting before I gave birth.
Armed with knowledge I was confident that I was going to be great at breastfeeding. Like any mom before she gives birth, I knew it all. Of course, as they say, having a baby changes everything. It has been a crazy journey with ups and downs, but we have made it six months now exclusively breastfeeding, and I couldn’t be happier or more proud.
In celebration of six months, I’m going to share six things I couldn’t have done without on this breastfeeding journey:
1. Nursing tank tops
These have been a lifesaver for my wardrobe. I find nursing bras to be uncomfortable, and it’s difficult to get the right size. The tank tops are stretchy, and offer enough support for someone who is small like me. They are also great to layer with t-shirts, and then you can discretely nurse in public!
2. Nursing infinity scarf
I personally hate nursing covers. They look like unattractive aprons. So when I saw an infinity scarf that doubled as a nursing cover, I was sold. I could look stylish and nurse modestly in public? Sign me up! Now I don’t always use it, because baby boy doesn’t like it when it’s too hot, but I love having the option, and because I can wear it, it doesn’t take up precious space in the diaper bag.
Don’t skip out on lanolin thinking that you will see how things go and buy it only if you need it like I did. You will need it. Even with a good latch and no problems you will still be sore.
The women and volunteers involved with this organization have been lifesavers. No question was ever too dumb, and they were available all hours through Facebook for support. Living rurally I wasn’t able to attend meetings, but I never felt alone. They helped me get through it when baby and I got thrush (twice!) and when I had mastitis the leader of the Anchorage group checked up on me and got me in contact with an IBCLC who talked me through everything on the phone, and encouraged me even after I developed an abscess and ended up in the ER. With their help I was able to keep nursing even after I dried up on one side because of the abscess. I would have quit after one month without their support and knowledge, when the ER doctor gave me bad advice.
I was lucky to be able to deliver at one of the nation’s top hospitals. Providence Alaska Medical Center was amazing, and really focused on helping you form a strong breastfeeding relationship from the start. Skin to skin immediately, lactation consultants on staff to help even after you left the hospital, and nurses who were knowledgeable about breastfeeding as well. Baby roomed in with us, and nurses made sure I had everything I needed- including filling up my huge water bottle at all hours so I could stay hydrated.
The hospital you choose and their policies are really important in the crucial early days of establishing breastfeeding.
6. Support of friends and family
The most important thing I found though, was having the support of my friends and family. When I wanted to give up my husband would remind me that I wasn’t to quit on a bad day. I could quit, but not in the middle of the night just because I was tired. He knew I could get through it, and I just needed him to tell me I could. Breastfeeding can be very lonely and polarizing if you don’t surround yourself with people who share your goals. Once baby and I established a good nursing relationship I never felt like I had to leave the room or seclude myself to feed him because my friends and family supported me however I wanted to feed my baby. There was no judgement and nothing but love- something I really can’t be thankful enough for.
Looking back on those early days, when everything hurt and leaked and both baby and I shed our fair share of tears, I’m so happy I kept at it. Now we have a rhythm and a great nursing relationship that is especially awesome when traveling. Baby boy is happy and healthy and in the end that is really all that matters.
Here’s to six more months!
What essentials do you swear by for nursing? Have a breastfeeding story you want to share? Let me know in the comments below!