Breastfeeding is a very controversial topic between mothers. We are easy to judge each other and especially while living in France I have learnt how different nations handle and think about breastfeeding mothers very differently. What, you are still breastfeeding? You are not breastfeeding? You already stopped breastfeeding? etc…
I am not here to judge any mother, I simply want to give those mothers, who plan to breastfeed some tips, how to get through the first weeks, because those are the hardest and once you successfully pass them, breastfeeding becomes super easy, is great for your baby and is just as well super practical as your boobs are always with you and do not need warming up #lol. I also have some girlfriends for whom breastfeeding was super easy straight from the beginning, so I hope you do not even need my advice in the first place.
Before having Paul I was not really at ease with the idea of breastfeeding. I was never super comfortable about my chest area and the thought of getting my boobs out in front of others or having a baby constantly on them, was not a very positive one for me. I thought I will try to do it for about 3 months for the sake of my baby. Then 3 months became 4 and 4 became 5. In the end I breastfed Paul for around 9 months and Mathilda for about 10 months. I wish I had more support or information about breastfeeding before I started off, because it would have saved me some tears and lots of pain.
BE CAREFUL ABOUT PUMPING DURING THE FIRST WEEK
So after Paul was born, when we were still in hospital a nurse told me that he is not gaining weight fast enough and it would be great if I started pumping a bit, so we can feed him on top with a little syringe. Also it would be great for stimulating my milk production. Me as I did not know anything about breastfeeding started pumping like a champion and the nurses were amazed about all the milk, that I gave them. Then when the whole milk production started kicking in (this happens around day 2-4) and my breasts became bigger and more uncomfortable by the minute, I started pumping even more to empty my breasts and to get rid of that tight and sore feeling. Little did I know that with all this pumping I told my body that I am feeding 10 babies and that it should keep up the milk production.
So I can tell you during the first week after birth (and I always had a small A cup) I literally looked like PAMELA ANDERSON who had the worst plastic surgeon in the world. My boobs were huge and hard and it was super painful.
I am obviously not saying, do not pump, when a doctor or midwife tell you to do it, but the second time around I would have more specifically asked how many millilitres they think my baby needs or is able to drink, because in the beginning 30-50 ml are already a huge amount for a newborn. Like this you are not telling your body to produce for multiples.
HOW TO GET THE MILK OUT WHEN YOU LOOK LIKE PAMELA
Getting the milk out of your breasts, when you do not want to over stimulate production and your baby is just not capable in the beginning to drink a lot is one of the toughest things to accomplish. Even with Mathilda, my second baby, my boobs were enormous and I needed several times the help of this wonderful Irish midwife & lactation specialist (who was also great in lifting up my spirits – thanks again Diana). She told me back then, that with my filled up breasts ” I could feed the whole street”.
She also gave me a good tip. Take a glass (of water) let super hot water run through it for a while, so that it is heating up. Pour the water out and press it (or them if you do both sides at the same time) around your nipple. The hot air will open up the milk “lanes” and the milk will start running out.
A classic is of course taking a hot shower and press with your hands or a washcloth the milk out of your boobs. I never tried the tip with the cool cabbage leaves, but apparently putting refrigerated cabbage leaves on your breasts also soothes and calms down breast inflammations and engorgements.
PUT THE RIGHT GAGDETS IN YOUR HOSPITAL BAG
Many midwives and books tell you, that simply massaging your nipple after each feed with a drop of milk, will prevent it from getting sore, painful and bloody. I mean I would of course try this, if I was you, but this definitely did not work for me. After birth your nipples are constantly being used for drinking and are going through something they have never experienced before so preparing yourself with some little gadgets is the smart thing to do. I luckily never had a bloody nipple, however my skin was super sore and I was on the edge of giving up, because every feed had become super painful.
(I do not have collaborations with the following brands/products, they simply saved my life and I want to share them with you).
Buy the amazing cooling gel pads/compresses from MAM. You put them in your bra directly on your nipple (still put your nursing pads underneath to avoid any milk spilling). You can leave those compresses for many hours until your skin has absorbed the gel. It helps cooling and soothing and when you close back your bra after a feed and the gel touches again your skin, it feels a bit like heaven. For those desperate mamas, who are going through a lot of pain I am adding some quick links below so you can check them out better and maybe purchase them.
For the German mamas: Click here
For the French mamas: Click here
Buy as well some silicon nipple shields. Yes of course some doctors and midwives will not be great fan of them, but whatever helps you to keep going in the first weeks is I think welcome. Better than giving up, when you almost made it to “comfortable lane”. Those shields have little holes, so your baby gets the milk through the holes. Sterilize the silicon shields before usage and just put them on your nipple before the feed. If your skin is already sore, it will still hurt, BUT it will hurt wayyyy less and your skin can simply relax and recover.
Be reasonable with the usage. With my firstborn when my skin just hurt a lot I put them sometimes during the day, but not at night because at night you want quick solutions. Mathilda had a hidden tongue and lip tie which no one noticed until three weeks in and drinking with her was a nightmare since birth and she actually only managed to latch on with the silicon shields until we had the little operations to cut those ties. So with her this was unfortunately a day and night thing for a few weeks until we discovered the problem.
Those shields are not very expensive and they exist from many brands, I would put one box in your hospital bag to be prepared for the worst and if you never need them, YAY . You will not have wasted a lot of money and you can give them later to a girlfriend.
German mamas click here for some examples.
French mama click here for some examples.
Also pack a nipple cream which you can buy in every pharmacy or on amazon to prevent from the beginning that your skin even needs the shield-kinda-phase.
GET HELP FROM LACTATION SPECIALISTS
One mama asked me on Instagram, what changed the second time around with the breastfeeding. I unfortunately have to say, that I had the same problems, but at least I was prepared for them. Actually the second time everything was even worse, but this was due to Mathilda’s tongue tie. I sat sometimes for 30 mins trying to latch her on and it was so frustrating as she just did not manage to grasp the nipple. So my last and maybe most important advice is: GET HELP from LACTATION specialists, when something is not going smoothly.
They see immediately when something is going wrong. For example the way you hold your baby and the mothers posture can make a huge difference. They change one little grip and your baby and yourself are more comfortable. I remember during a pre-natal class for Paul one nurse told us: ” Even if you looooove champagne and you have a big cup in front of you, if you need to turn your neck in a very uncomfortable way, you will not drink anything”. You can apply this to your babies and finding the right position can make your life way easier and can also prevent you from getting back problems.
Good luck ladies- you can do it. I promise you, it will get super easy for you and your babies.
Greetings from Paris