Breastfeeding is hard.
When friends asked me how I was doing after giving birth my honest answer was, "I am not even thinking about it because my boobs hurt so bad." It is absolutely the most challenging thing I've ever done and also one of the most rewarding.
The night I came home from the hospital my cousin came over to meet Murphy. She asked me if my milk had come in yet and I said that I wasn't sure. She responded with, "Oh, you will know!", and BOY was she right. The next day I woke up looking like I had gotten a botched boob job and feeling like I had a migraine in my chest.
Murphy had some issues with her latch that caused me to have nipple pain for about the first three months. We pushed through and she is still a nursing champ at 6 months old.
Thankfully I haven't had too many struggles with my supply, but I have learned that my body responds dramatically to what and how much I eat and drink. I have heard that it doesn't really make a difference and I am here to say that although that may be the case for some people, for others it will be so important.
Here are a few things I have learned and suggestions I would give to a new momma (only if asked for it because we're all getting WAY too much unsolicited advice, amiright????) ♡
1. Have People There to Support You
You will be overwhelmed, scared, exhausted, frustrated and many other emotions. I called my mom to the hospital at 2:30am the night after Murphy was born because she wouldn't latch, the nurses were all trying to help, and I was so tired that I couldn't see straight. I needed help and I needed to sleep so my mom was the one for the job. Don't try to do it all on your own. If you have women in you circle who know your desire to breastfeed, great! If you don't, hire a lactation consultant. In fact, hire a lactation consultant even if you do have a great support system - they are worth every penny!
Here are a couple of recommendations:
Amey with AZ Breastfed Babies
This is who I used. She is awesome at what she does and has an amazing energy! She offers consults in her office or in your home.
Modern Milk has locations in Scottsdale and Gilbert and have SO many resources for new moms. They offer lactation consults in their space and will also come to you.
2. Stock Your Fridge, Fill Your Water Bottle and Find What Supplements Work For You
When Murphy was about two months old she started showing signs of an allergy. I am still not quite sure what was causing it, but cutting dairy and soy did the trick so I went with it. I am mostly vegetarian so cutting these things out was very difficult. Its been a struggle to eat enough because sometimes there just aren't a lot of options that don't require thinking ahead or food prep. Throughout the last six months I have come across a few supplements that really help me and make an almost immediate difference in my supply.
Mommy's Milk Tea
This tea is from the cutest little store in Pine, AZ called The Herb Stop. They sell all of their products online, but if you are craving some mountain air its a great little town :) It does contain peppermint which is known to reduce milk supply. For me it was never a problem since it was such a small amount.
Milkful Lactation Bars
One of my friends gave me a box of these because she was allergic to one of the ingredients. I am hooked! They are so tasty and really work.
Majka Lactation Protein Powder
Not only does this support my milk supply, it is the best tasting protein powder I have ever tried. It is a greener taste, but I like that. I purchased this recently and wish I would have tried it sooner.
3. Research Different Pumping Options and Don't Feel Pressured to do More Than What You Need
I don't have an electric pump and every time someone finds that out their response is, "You know insurance will pay for it, right?" Yes, I do. I don't need an electric pump and to be honest I am intimidated by them. I stay home with Murphy for the most part, so I have kept up just fine with a manual breast pump and a silicone pump. Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand, so once you start pumping you have to continue pumping and I don't need another thing to squeeze into my daily routine. Obviously pumps are amazing and so many people benefit from them and need them. I just think there may be people who get them because they think they need it when there may be a more fitting option for their lifestyle.
Here are the two pumps that have been awesome for me:
Phillips Avent Manual Breast Pump
I love how simple this pump is. Its easy to put together and easy to clean. I use this when I need to get a bottle quick or when I get engorged. It was a lifesaver in the first few days after my milk came in.
Silicone Breast Pump
My lactation consultant, Amey, gave me one of these and it changed my life!! I get bottles of milk just from putting this on the opposite side of Murphy. I barely even have to use my manual pump.
4. Invest in Items That Make You Feel Good
It is hard to do things for yourself after having a baby. For me, something as simple as having a good nursing bra can make a big difference in how I feel. Here are a few simple things that helped me feel a little bit prettier while smelling like sour milk:
Lively Nursing Bra
These bras are THE BEST. They are comfy and cute. I'm all about bralettes so I was stoked to find these. If I could go back I would just buy more of these instead of other cheap ones. I wish they made more colors!
Blanqi Pull-Down Postpartum + Nursing Support Tank Top
I loved having this top around for the same reason I liked their postpartum leggings - it makes you feel put together without making you uncomfortable. The only feedback I would give is that it may not be the best for smaller chested people. Once my boobs adjusted and weren't so engorged, it was difficult to get the top to stay down and not ride up while Murphy was eating. I still love it though!
This may not matter in the beginning because we all know our hair is going to be in a messy bun for at least a month after having a baby.... but once you want to get the curling iron out of the archives, these are great to have around. Maybe I am behind on this but I was amazed to learn that you can put your hair up without creasing it. Genius!
Also... any dress with buttons!
Phew, that was long! I hope you enjoyed the recommendations. Let me know if you have any questions about anything. Congratulations to all of you mommas-to-be and new mommas figuring all of this out. You are doing great and there is light at the end of the painful nipple tunnel - I promise!