“How do you prepare for breastfeeding?” And Weekend Links

nina January 19, 2013

Image by christyscherrer

A few weeks ago, we introduced a new feature to the website. Each weekend, in addition to sharing all the awesome links and news from around our network, we also share and answer a reader’s question.  This week we’re talking about preparing for breastfeeding!

This Week’s Question

I’ve  been thinking about the pain I suffered the first 2 weeks with my first baby 10 years ago when I was so sore that I cried every time I had to breast feed. Does anyone knows a way to help prevent the breakage, bleeding and soreness of the beginning of breastfeeding?

There’s a myth that goes like this: ” breastfeeding is natural, so it should be easy.” As the mama of four kids who was only able to successfully breastfeed two of them, I can say that that statement is not true.

Unless, of course, you prepare for breastfeeding:

Get Informed

Read as much as you can on breastfeeding. Watch help videos. Ask your midwife or doula for advice. Visit La Leche League’s website and Jack Newman’s website and glean as much helpful information as you can from them. My biggest mistake with my first two babies was not knowing what to expect from breastfeeding. 

Get a doula

Doulas are wonderful women. They’re knowledgable and supportive and make birth and new life with baby so much easier. In addition to a birth doula, I highly recommend having a doula to help you postpartum. Both will help you if have any breastfeeding questions, but the latter will provide a lot more support after the baby is born. I had a postpartum doula with my last child and it was a wonderful experience.

Find a lactation specialist

I can’t tell you just how helpful it is to have a knowledgable lactation consultant to help you with breastfeeding. When my oldest was born, he was so out of it from my epidural (and from being induced so early) that he had a hard time latching on. Before I knew it, I was told that I’d need a nipple shield to nurse him and was finally sent home with a baby who was mostly eating from a bottle. I was so frustrated and only nursed him for a few weeks (we never got the latch right).

The story was similar with my first daughter. The hospital’s lactation consultant told me that my breasts were too “firm and perky” to breastfeed properly. No joke.

When I had my next child, I was determined to breastfeed, so I made sure to talk about it beforehand with my midwife and also called her when I was having trouble. I followed her advice, stuck it out and nursed Ella and then Isaiah, for one year each (it would have been longer, but I could not get them to stop biting).

I had also talked to a wonderful lactation consultant at a different hospital who gave me brochures, websites to look up and even offered to attend my birth and help me with breastfeeding. Start researching now to find out what resources are available in your area. You can check La Leche League’s website to find local support.

Prepare your space

Create a space in your home that’s comfortable and relaxing for you. It’s a lot harder to nurse your baby if you’re tense and uncomfortable. If you plan on feeding your baby in many parts of your house (I know I did), set up a cozy spot before you settle in for a feeding.

Remove temptation

I got several free cans of formula in the mail and as I struggled to breastfeed my newborn in the middle of the night, they were all I could think about. Formula is like junk food – if it’s in the house, you’ll probably use it. Get rid of the temptation. If you’re really struggling, you can express your breastmilk and finger feed your baby.

Check the latch

Soreness, cracked nipples and bleeding is most often caused by poor positioning or proper latch. You really don’t need to prepare your nipples before hand – common advice used to be to “rough up” your nipples. Instead, you can do gentle breast massage, to make you more comfortable with handling your breasts, if you’d like. It could help in the future if you need to express milk.

Otherwise, getting information and support with positioning your baby and making sure he latches properly is the best preparation.


Are you using elderberries too much?

Weekend Links

Visit Modern Alternative Mama, where Kate explains Why “Organic” Doesn’t Mean Much to Me.

Kate also had a great post this week about elderberry and why it might not be as safe as most make it out to be. While you’re at Modern Alternative Mama, check out Monday Health & Wellness: Is Elderberry Really the Safest Flu Remedy? 

Looking for a natural remedy for congestion? Head to Modern Alternative Health for a great DIY Herbal Vapor Rub.

Having trouble figuring out which snacks are healthy for your family? Modern Alternative Kitchen shares some great options and shares a recipe for homemade graham cracker bites in Yes, You Can Make Your Own Snacks!

MAP contributor, Malissa, shares some simple tips for coping with sciatica. Visit her blog to read Hello Sciatica – I Haven’t Missed You.

This week, I shared about overcoming my struggle with depression. Visit Shalom Mama to read My Story of Natural Healing From Depression.

Finally, there’s only a little bit of time left to get January’s featured book, Wholesome Comfort, for just $5. Get your copy now.

Have a great weekend!

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  1. I am pregnant with my first child and plan on breastfeeding. Do you have any suggestions as far as good books or sources to read regarding breastfeeding? I would love to hear them!


  2. A suggestion I give to every pregnant friend, is to buy lanolin and apply it daily to your breasts at least during the third trimester. I was terrified before I had my first baby because I had seen my sister-in-law in agony nursing a baby (and it was her fourth!). I know *they* say you don’t need to prep your breasts (and I’m not even sure I would count this as prep the way some talk about pumping while pregnant…ouch!) But someone suggested this to me and I never had that early pain (or the dry/cracked/bleeding nipples) that so many people talk about. Everyone I know who has tried this hasn’t struggled with it either. Coincidence, maybe… but I’m pregnant with number 4 and you can bet buying more lanolin ranks high on my to-do list! Granted, there are still struggles sometimes; I’ve dealt with thrush, bad latch, nursing strikes, ect. but I believe anything that can make the initial few weeks easier will greatly improve the chances of long term success.


  3. I think I mistakenly believed that all lactation consultants are created equal. Not so! I found that the most highly trained, professional LC’s were helpful for weighing my son and validating that he was receiving milk even when I thought he wasn’t. However it was a less-trained, cheaper, local LC who came to my home and talked to me on the phone with her calm, loving, patience that made the biggest impact! (And then there were others who were wholly unhelpful…)


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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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