How to Breastfeed Like a Boss (And Overcome a Bunch of TOTALLY NORMAL Obstacles)
Updated: Jul 3
I like to make disclaimers for any blogs about healthcare practices: I'm not a doctor. Always consult a physician if you have any questions. Don't consult Google.
When your baby is firstborn, you’ll produce colostrum. The American Pregnancy Association explains the importance of breastfeeding as such:
“Helps your baby build a strong immune system (contains antibodies and white blood cells), creates a tough coating on your baby’s stomach & intestines to keep germs from causing illness, acts as a laxative to help your baby pass meconium (the dark first poop), helps prevent jaundice and gets rid of harmful waste products (learn more about breastfeeding and jaundice), gives your baby’s brain, eyes, and heart the right blend of nutrients to grow, contain high levels of protein, salts, fats, and vitamins for complete nutrition, complete nutrition that your baby’s stomach can easily digest. It’s the perfect food for your newborn, helps to prevent low blood sugar in newborns.”
But after a few days of producing colostrum, your milk should come in. Mine came in on day #2. And boy oh boy, did it come in.
For some reason, I produce a lot of milk. And I mean a lot, so my son was eating like a king. And my husband finally had a wife with boobs like Barbie.
But then on day #3, I woke up with a golfball-sized lump in my armpit. I had engorged. My breasts were rock hard and sore.
The lactation consultant had to come in and help me get rid of the lump and use the hospital grade pump to drain my breasts as best she could. Blood was coming from my right nipple ("Rusty Pipe Syndrome", she called it).
It was incredibly painful. I had just had a c section and was already in pain, but my aching breasts were pushing me to an extreme amount of pain.
Everyone told me it was okay to use formula and I tried it once. My son got about one ounce of formula when he was two days old because my nipples hurt so badly, and after that, I swore I’d stick to the “breast is best” mantra.
As my little guy sucked away on the formula, I looked at my swollen breasts, heavy with the milk I knew he needed and deserved, took back the bottle with formula, clenched my teeth, and sucked it the hell up, knowing breastfeeding was the best thing I could do for my baby.
It wasn’t about me. It was about doing what was best for my son.
Why Breastfeeding is Essential
And until our babies are old enough to be fully vaccinated, breastmilk provides antibodies to let our innocent little newborns stand a fighting chance should they be exposed to these highly infectious diseases.
I had a lot of issues with breastfeeding for about the first 6-8 weeks. I found it incredibly painful.
My son has a very strong latch, and there were times when the edge of my nipples was so cracked and sore that I thought the nipple itself might fall off.
I bled. I cried. My husband had to rub my back before every feeding and try to distract me as my son latched.
But I never gave up. I knew breastmilk was the best thing for him, so I sucked it up. And eventually, the pain went away.
My once sore, cracked, and bleeding nipples now look like shoe leather. I no longer have to mentally prepare for breastfeeding sessions. I can stick my kid on my boob while vacuuming, standing on one leg, singing the Gettysburg Address to the tune of Old MacDonald.
So to the mom who wants to give up: don’t. It gets better. I promise.
What To Eat
There are a slew of super-foods supposed to help with milk production, one of them being oatmeal. I tend to eat it regularly because I enjoy it, but if you struggle with milk production, it’s worth a try.
Some studies say garlic helps with milk production, but it can apparently change the taste of your breastmilk, and I don’t know about you, but garlic-flavored milk seems like a real turn-off to me.
Carrots, yams, and dark leafy greens are supposed to help as well, and not for nothing, but you are what you eat. The food you eat affects you AND your baby. They’re getting their nourishment from you, so eat smart for mom and baby.
Remember these tips and tricks for a healthy, happy breastfeeding experience for mom and baby:
-Eat smart! A balanced diet does mom and baby good.
-Drink LOTS of water! Being a glorified dairy cow can be seriously dehydrating.
-Sleep when you can (baaaaaahahahaha).
-Eat oatmeal, carrots yams, and dark leafy greens.
-AVOID PEPPERMINT LIKE IT’S THE PLAGUE (Yup! It can hurt your milk supply majorly).
-Power through the pain, knowing that breastfeeding gets so easy you can eventually whip those boobies out without giving it a second thought).
-Warm compresses help the milk to come in and help with pain.
Remember that it is a once in a lifetime experience, and the most amazing opportunity to bond with your child. In my opinion, if you can breastfeed, go for it. If you can’t, that’s okay, too!
*This post was written when my son was only a few months old. He just turned 22 months old and I'm still breastfeeding. It doesn't hurt in the slightest and it's the best decision I ever made, next to becoming a parent. We both love the bonding and quality time. I hope all mommas give it a try <3