Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tricks of the Trade: Breastfeeding

I really enjoyed breastfeeding Jessica. We both took to it like ducks to water, and to me it seemed like less of a hassle than bottle feeding. While I believe in the benefits of breastfeeding, I also believe that everyone needs the opportunity to choose what will work best for their family. There are some people who have medical reasons they cannot breastfeed. There are also people who must take medications that are not safe while breastfeeding. There are people who must go back to work and just can't seem to get the whole pumping thing to work for them. There are people who have trouble getting a rhythm started: the child has trouble latching on, the mom has inverted nipples, and just plain old stress!! However, if you do choose to breastfeed, there are some tricks of the trade I have picked up along the way.

Amazingly, I think this is the only picture I have of me feeding Jessica since I fed her just about everywhere we went!

1) Whatever you do, DO NOT eat broccoli or onions (raw, cooked, minced, powder, etc) period. These foods can be the culprits for causing tummy problems for little ones, which can make breastfeeding incredibly challenging in the beginning. After breastfeeding is well established, you might try something with a little onion powder in it. If that goes well after a few tries, then a week or so later you might want to try some dried minced onion. If that goes well after a few tries, then a week a or so later you might want to try cooking with chopped onions. Once you can eat cooked onions without the baby getting upset a couple hours after eating, then you can try raw onions. You could also try a little cooked broccoli at some point but wait until breastfeeding is well established! Jessica did fine with broccoli, but we had some trouble with onions in the beginning!

2) If you get a hard knot on your breast (a clogged milk duct), boil an egg, wrap it in a wet rag, and stick it in your bra. It is way more effective than hot showers and hot compresses, and it allows you to move about the house doing other things! If it doesn't completely go away push on it going towards the nipple while taking a hot shower. That should take care of any that remains.

3) If you get some red bumps that looks and feels like a pimple on your nipples (clogged wax ducts), boil and egg, wrap it in a wet rag, and stick it in your bra. It works wonders!!!

4) If you get sore, dry, or cracked nipples, try rubbing some colostrum (pre-breastmilk) or breastmilk (whichever you are producing currently) on them. I found it to be more effective than the creams; however, there are creams available if that doesn't work.

5) I was also told during a class at the hospital that they used to recommend that husbands "prepare" their wive's nipples for breastfeeding by sucking on them. Apparently, it is not something they recommend anymore, but it seems like it might be helpful in the case of inverted nipples since once a baby starts nursing they eventually become much less inverted. I'm no expert.....just thinking.

6) They also have several products to help with nursing. If you need them, I hear they can work wonders. However, if you don't need them, then I wouldn't bother because the less stuff you have to get together to feed your infant the better!!

7) This is probably the best tip I ever got, and it was from someone who never breastfed but got tired of always having to go get her sister stuff! Put things you might want while nursing in a basket: bottle of water, books, paper, pen, tv remotes, laptop, knitting, cell phone, etc. When you get the baby to nurse also get the basket! That way you won't get bored or feel like you aren't getting anything accomplished. I also found that if I used a boppy while sitting on the couch crosslegged, that I could rest Jessica in my elbow and have both hands free!

8) I felt very comfortable breastfeeding Jessica no matter where we were. This probably came from living in Mississippi. I can't tell you how many moms on a given Sunday nursed their babies straight through the sermon! During winter months I wore a large sweatshirt with an old t-shirt underneath that I had cut holes in. Then all I had to do was lift the sweatshirt a bit and let Jessica eat. Most people thought she was sleeping. During the summer I wore an old tank top with holes cut in it under t-shirts. I also had a couple nursing shirts that I enjoyed right after Jessica was born because they were a little roomier than my regular clothes. Nursing covers can be nice, but it's also like a big announcement "I am nursing my baby!" (Well, and I had to actually remember the cover!!!

I think the three things I enjoyed most about breastfeeding Jessica were 1) I had time each day where I was the only one who could make it all better. 2) It was one of the few times she sat still long enough for me to cuddle her once she got mobile! and 3) There was almost no prep work or clean up involved, and I never had to worry about having a little cooler with me to keep the milk cold, etc. There are also the health benefits: her getting my immunity through the milk, her getting exposure to all kinds of flavors through my milk, and the fat content is so good for little brains! Overall it was a very enjoyable experience, and I hope some of these tricks of the trade will help to make someone else's experience just as enjoyable! Feel free to post your experiences with breastfeeding, other tricks of the trade you have learned, etc.


  1. Huh... the egg idea is fascinating to me! I had no idea. Good to know for next time around - whenever that'll be.

  2. That was actually suggested by my pediatrician! He was waaayyyy better than any lactation consultant!!!