I have an eight month old?! When did this happen? It feels like the time is just whizzing by, but when I think back to those first couple weeks, it feels like a lifetime ago. That time was such a blur, with so many high and low emotions, so many sleepless nights when baby wouldn’t sleep anywhere except on me, and we can’t forget how excruciatingly painful the early days of breastfeeding were!
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During the first couple weeks, breastfeeding was the hardest part for me. And by far the most painful! I was so not prepared for that. I knew it wasn’t going to be pleasant and you always hear “breastfeeding isn’t supposed to hurt, if it hurts you’re doing something wrong.” Well that is true once you get used to it, but in the meantime, it hurts like hell, at least it did for me, until your body adjusts and you and baby both learn how to do it correctly.
I cried every time I had to feed baby because I knew the impending pain was coming. I cried during, when she would latch and unlatch, I cried in between, because a feeding would last for at least an hour, if not more, and then I would only have about 30 minutes in between to recover before she was hungry again and I was exhausted.
It was so important to me to breastfeed and I was determined not to give up! What kept me going was that so many women have been through this and they made it through, that I can’t deny my baby the best nutrition possible for her for at least the next year or so just because I can’t take a little temporary pain, and it won’t always be like this. I felt really bad for my husband because he could see how much pain I was in, but he was so supportive and helped with whatever he could. And like many times in these early days, put up well with my crazy. He went to the store for me almost everyday for the first week to get something breastfeeding related, sometimes more than once a day. The most helpful thing, to me, is to have someone support your breastfeeding journey. If you need support or are having problems, you can contact the La Leche League and they can help you find a lactation consultant or a support group in your area.
I’m sure this is not everyone’s experience, but in case it is yours, here are a few things I wished I had from the start.
Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads – These were a lifesaver. Most of the initial pain I experienced was from sore nipples. So it hurt to even wear a shirt. These are cooling gel pads you wear directly on your breasts. They gave me tremendous relief. They are reusable for up to 72 hours. If you’re going to breastfeed – you are going to want these.
Earth Mama Angel Baby Non GMO Natural Nipple Butter – This is an alternative to lanolin and is used to soothe sore chapped skin. This nipple butter is not sticky like lanolin and was much more enjoyable to use. It also smelled really great! It is made with all natural ingredients and doesn’t have to be washed off before nursing. You can also use it for other things like cradle cap and drool rashes.
Medela Contact Nipple Shield – In the hospital, Evelyn was having a bit of a hard time latching. A nurse recommended trying a nipple shield and I was against it because I really didn’t want her to get used to it and not be able to latch without it. And well, you know what, it really isn’t the end of the world and sometimes baby just needs a little help! I’m glad I used it too because it did provide a bit of a barrier when I was really sore in the beginning. It was a pain in the butt trying to get her weaned off the thing but eventually by 2 months or so she didn’t need it anymore. Sometimes babies only need to use it for a week or two until they get the hang of it.
The Vintage Honey Shop Nursing Necklace – This is my newest discovery and I absolutely love my nursing necklace from The Vintage Honey Shop! I didn’t even really know such a thing existed until recently. For the past couple of months Evelyn had been scratching me and pinching me and pulling my hair while nursing. So when I came across these necklaces, I bought one (or two!) right away! They are wonderful! And cute too! They have so many different color/pattern options as well as teething necklaces! These are great for all babies, not just those who are breastfed. They are awesome to use while baby wearing too to keep your little one busy! If you want to try one for yourself, The Vintage Honey Shop has provided a code for 15% off your order when you use the code VHSHARE at checkout!
Eight months later, I am happy to report, we are still going strong on our breastfeeding journey! It gets easier, it really does! And at times is even enjoyable. And while I am 100% for breastfeeding, I recognize it is not the best choice or even possible for everyone, no matter how hard they try. But if you choose to, I urge you not to give up without a fight!
Here are a few other of my breastfeeding essentials: