Nursing my five babies has been one of my greatest joys. It has not been the easiest journey, so in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I’m sharing some breastfeeding tips and advice and a little bit about my experience in spending nearly five years, out of the last seven, nursing my babies.
Before becoming a mother, like many women, I was quick to assume and quick to judge. Nothing like motherhood to help me realize that the world doesn’t revolve around me, it’s best to assume that we’re all just doing the best we can, and the world could use a little more grace.
I had seen mothers nursing in public and thought they should be nursing in private, and my young friends and I would discuss this matter with great authority. Goodness, we had a whole lot to learn!! But sadly, it took nursing my fourth baby, to finally be completely comfortable nursing (even while covered) in public. Breastfeeding is such an act of nature. God designed a woman’s body to nourish a baby, and the power of breast milk is truly miraculous! As women, we can all work together to normalize breastfeeding and be supportive and non-judgmental regarding whether or not we could or couldn’t nurse, or how, when or where to feed our baby.
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If you are reading this and you couldn’t breastfeed or decided it wasn’t for you, please know that I fully support you and your job in making the best decisions on behalf of you and your baby. We live in a world where one can so easily be shamed, mocked, or made to feel unworthy, please know there’s no room for any of that here. There’s only room for love on this blog!! With that said, as I continue I’ll be sharing my personal breastfeeding tips and advice regarding what worked for me and my family.
When my first child was born, I found breastfeeding to be hard and I really had to work at it! I can remember wanting to give up at the 3-week marker but I’m thankful I kept working at it because week 4 was a huge turning point and things got so much easier. So if you’re a new Mama, and you think it’s too hard, or that you and your baby will never get your groove, I encourage you to keep trying. With the proper guidance and time under your belt, it does get easier! With all of my babies, I pretty much nursed on demand around the clock, and it feels like a lot, or that it will stay that way forever. But as they grow out of the newborn stage and start sleeping more, their feedings will be more spaced out.
After nursing for the first time, I was sore from the first latch and thankfully a lactation consultant at the hospital gave me a Nursing Shield that helped protect me from further injury but allowed for us to continue nursing. Lactation Consultants were readily available for each one of my births and I requested them to visit each day I was in the hospital to help remind me best practices for latching a baby. It’s funny how you can forget those details each time. One of our local hospitals offers private breastfeeding consultation and I wish I would’ve sought help with my first because I could never get him latched properly so we used the breast shield for the entire 11.5 months that I nursed. Although it worked, and it allowed me to feed him, I wouldn’t recommend it. It was a long 11.5 month of cleaning that shield 6-8 times a day! My last three babies all had a small frenulum (lip) tie which made nursing in the hospital incredibly uncomfortable. Again, the shield saved me until I could get their lips clipped and worked on getting my latch down. My best advice is to seek help from the professionals if you are having trouble latching, getting your milk to come in, or any other issue.
I got pregnant with my second child when my first was just 7 months. That was a time that I barely remember because I was SO tired from both breastfeeding and being in the early stages of pregnancy. My doctor approved me to continue breastfeeding but my supply started dwindling slowly. I tried a lot of different herbal remedies and I would even double pump daily to try to keep it going. At 11 months I started supplementing with formula, and by 11.5 months my supply was completely dried up. I remember standing in my kitchen crying, knowing that our breastfeeding relationship was over. I felt like a failure that I couldn’t finish and I wasn’t ready for it to end. My heart goes out to all mama’s who want to nurse but for whatever reason can’t.
With each subsequent child, different challenges came and went, but overall it got easier. It’s hard to describe just how special it is, and even more so as they grow older. The coo’s, the special smiles, the way they play with your hair or hold on to your hand, the closeness you feel. It’s all so amazingly special, and I love that I get that time with just the baby. It’s an excuse to stop the busyness of the day and spend one on one-time bonding with your child. I also love sharing this journey with my kids. As they’ve all gotten older it’s been so fun to teach them about God’s design for a woman and how a mother can nourish her child in this way. It’s been especially fun this fifth time to watch my older daughter, four years old, be so inquisitive. She’s always wanting to sit with me, and she’ll talk sweetly to her sister and kiss her head. I’ve loved seeing that side of my daughter and hope she’ll remember getting to watch mommy nurse “her” baby.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few of the more embarrassing, but honestly hilarious moments of my breastfeeding journey. After all, I’ve both nursed and pumped in some of the weirdest places…an airport bathroom stall was probably the worst. While pumping in the private restroom of my workplace, I forgot to lock the door and our office administrator walked in on me. I’m lucky that she is both the sweetest person and that she’s a she, because had it been the one man who worked in my office I honestly would have to quit my job. There’s something VERY humbling about someone seeing you hooked up to a machine in a very private, tender moment. But you know what’s almost worse? I never spoke a word about the awkwardness to this sweet woman. I just acted like it didn’t happen…geez, I can act like a child sometimes. LOL!
Another fun memory is the first time I attempted to nurse in public while watching my child play in a public play area. I was such an amateur! I put my nursing pad in my pocket and this particular day this play area was bustling with parents and kids alike. Unbeknownst to me, the nursing pad had fallen out in the middle of the play area and a mom tapped me on the shoulder to let me know. I’m not sure why it embarrassed me so much in that moment, maybe it was that the bright white nursing pad seemed to be glowing like a beam of light sitting there all by it’s lonesome in the middle of the play area. Ah, the things we do for our children. And another favorite embarrassing moment is when I had a fresh baby and was freshly engorged as well. I was nursing that baby in the back room of my in-law’s house and my brother-in-law walked in. Again, it’s one of those moments that I would just like to keep to myself. Ha! So my journey has not been without a few funny moments, but I guess that’s just life in general, right?
One valuable resource that I continue to use for breastfeeding tips and advice is a website (Kelly Mom) authored by a Board Certified Lactation Consultant. You can find so much information there from what to eat, to how much your child should be eating, to what medications you can or can’t take, and increasing your supply. With my last two babies, I have taken a probiotic, a multivitamin, and a chromium supplement that was dramatically increased and enhanced my milk supply. I wish I would have known about these supplements with my other three babies!
There are some things that have made my breastfeeding journey so much easier, and I don’t go without these things now. After several pregnancies, I finally invested in a really good nursing bra, and I wish I hadn’t waited so long. I’ve linked the exact bra I use and LOVE. It’s comfortable, high quality (the cheaper versions have fallen apart quickly) and makes nursing easier. I also use a nursing sleep bra at night for the first month while my breast milk is still leveling out, I’ve found it helps ease the discomfort a little. I have always used a Boppy Pillow to nurse and have carried mine while we’ve traveled too. It definitely helps the comfort level of both mom and baby, and there are so many fun slipcovers to choose from! Having a nursing cover helps with privacy, and as my babies have aged a cover can help keep them focused on nursing instead of getting distracted.
Here is a full list of the essentials that have made my breastfeeding experience easier:
Chantelle Nursing Bra
Nursing Sleep Bra
Boppy Pillow Slipcover
Lanolin Soothies Pads
Disposable Nursing Pads
Hands-Free Pump Bra
Breastmilk Storage Bags
Medela Breast Pump
I hope this in some way helped encourage you along in your journey. One thing that always helps me is learning from others, and I love what my friend Beth Newcomb shares about her breastfeeding journey.
Feel free to email me if you have questions about my breastfeeding tips and advice, and pin the below so you have it for later! I would love for you to leave any tips or favorite products you have in the comments below, and share with your mama friends!