Tips and Products to Survive Breastfeeding Challenges in the First Weeks Postpartum

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When I was pregnant with my son, I was planning on breastfeeding him once he was born. I decided if I was unable to or it just didn't work out, I would try formula feeding right away. Initially I didn't want to struggle to breastfeed him and get stressed out if for whatever reason, it didn't work out between us. I wasn't a huge advocate of breastfeeding at first since I believe a fed baby is best and however a parent chooses to feed his or her child is a personal choice and it should work well for everyone involved. I did come to find that breastfeeding worked very well for my son and I once he was born. The feelings I had initially about breastfeeding were not the same once he was born. My mama instincts definitely kicked in and I had this deep desire to breastfeed him no matter what. Of course this was my experience and I know there are many different experiences out there.

I will say at first, breastfeeding was a bit challenging for the first 7-10 days. My son was born with a lip tie and a tongue tie so it made things hard at first. After calling in a lactation consultant to my home, my husband and I were able to get him to a pediatric dentist immediately to get both the lip and tongue tie taken care of in the office with a painless and quick laser procedure. It was a lifesaver all around and improved breastfeeding immediately.  Aside from the challenges of him having a lip and a tongue tie, here are the things that helped me during those first weeks of breastfeeding to make it an all around great experience for both me and my baby:

Full Boobs/Engorgement Happens and Tips. (Also- It WILL Get Better!)

When my transitional milk started coming in (around day 5 postpartum for me), my boobs got huge. I remember my sister in law telling me that they will feel like porn star boobs and I definitely felt that way! What I didn't anticipate though, was the pain! The fullness made my upper body and upper back sore all around. Combine that with my entire body healing from delivering a baby, it was enough to make me feel overwhelmed and exhausted. I remember crying from all the pain, and cringing at the thought of when my son needed to eat again. We didn't get his lip and tongue tie fixed yet so his latch wasn't very good, therefore he wasn't getting the milk out very quickly, leading to very full boobs! Luckily this pain only lasted for about a day and a half. What helped me the most during this time period was hot showers! The hot water soothed me and alleviated the pain from my full boobs. When I wasn't in the shower, I put wet folded up paper towels in the microwave then put them in small plastic bags and put them around my boobs. It was an immediate relief! Of course I also found manual hand expression to help release some of the milk too. I kept it in these containers and froze the extra supply in these storage bags. I didn't have a ton of milk right away but it was good to save every drop.

You will leak milk. Here is the solution!

When I was nursing my son on one side in the beginning, the other side leaked milk. Sometimes it would drip, sometimes the milk would shoot out of my boob. It can be a lot to handle in the beginning so its nice to have a practical solution. I highly recommend purchasing yourself a Haaka . My lactation consultant told me about this and it was hands down one of the best purchases I made for my breastfeeding journey. Simply suction it on to the breast while you feed your baby on the other breast. The suction is so strong that it will pump out the milk passively. This helps a lot because I found the milk leaking out of my one breast while I was feeding my son on the other side. The suction will collect the milk so you can store it for later.  Just be careful it is suctioned on securely since it can easily fall off! Also when you're not nursing, be sure you line your bra with some of these nursing pads. They're a lifesaver when you're out in public! Also these cloth ones are super comfortable to wear and are washable. 

I will say initially breastfeeding can be challenging because you and your little one need to develop a rhythm first. Once that is established, it has been a beautiful journey for both my son and I. Its nice to know I am nourishing him while also bonding with him and not having the responsibility of cleaning and sanitizing bottles all the time. My advice for first time moms is to stick with it and give it at least two weeks. Breastfeeding of course isn't for everyone but it can be an awesome experience once it becomes established.

Do you have any comments or challenges to share on your breastfeeding journey? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!