How to Be a Happy Breastfeeder
The secrets to breastfeeding bliss
Nursing is the most natural thing in the world, right? Sure, until it’s the middle of the night and you are sorry you were ever born with boobs. No need to cry over a little spilled milk, though—these veteran moms are letting rookies in on the secrets to breastfeeding bliss.
The bummer: “Help, my breasts are leaking so much I think I need a plumber!”
The fix: Lara Coffee, a Burke, Virginia, first-time mom, couldn’t believe how often she found herself with a wet shirt. “I leaked all the time!” she says. “I should have bought stock in breast pads.” Those trusty pads do double duty: along with protecting your nipples, they keep your dry-cleaning budget in check. “I started wearing them two weeks before I delivered and wore them for 8 1/2 months after I delivered,” confides Coffee, who blogs at The Style. She recommends a disposable brand. “I liked the disposables; the reusable ones were way too much for a tired working mom.” She also recommends applying a chafing cream to your breasts before putting the pads on.
The bummer: “I didn’t even know milk ducts could clog! Ugh. Now what do I do?”
The fix: Stay calm! “When I was breastfeeding my first baby I would totally panic at the first sign of a clogged duct, and that made it so much worse,” recalls Wilhelm. Try warming your breasts with a washcloth, massaging them a bit, and then doing a feeding. “I found that the baby was much better at unclogging me than my breast pump did,” says Wilhelm. If it doesn’t do the trick, try a hot shower and manually expressing some milk. As she says, “That almost always leads to improvement!”
The bummer: “My nipples are so sore I feel like crying like a baby.”
The fix: “My son was such an aggressive eater that my nipples took a beating, but I learned how to deal,” says Emma Wilhelm, a Minneapolis mom of two who blogs at Emmasota. “I tried a lot of different positions, and kept them dry—which prevents cracking—by patting them with a burp cloth after feedings and changing my bra pads often.” A soothing balm can also work wonders; if you’re still uncomfortable, check with your doctor as there may be an underlying problem, like a yeast infection.
The bummer: “I feel like a dairy truck but I’m still not making enough milk.”
The fix: “When my son was a newborn and he was so fussy, it was hard to tell if I was making enough milk for him, my midwife told me to drink two to three cups of Mother’s Milk tea a day,” says Holly Klaassen, a mom of two in Vancouver who blogs at The Fussy Baby Site. “It tasted awful, but I could tell I was finally producing enough milk. It was such a relief!” Other common milk-boosting remedies include breast compression and the herb fenugreek. For Coffee, happy hour got her milk flowing; as she explains it, “The one tip that worked the best for me, and was immediately effective, was drinking one wheat beer a day.” Check with your doctor first, of course.
The bummer: “Ohhhh … thrush isn’t just a kind of bird.”
The fix: The best way to combat the common nursing ailment of thrush—a yeast infection of the lining of your baby’s mouth or her tongue that spreads to your nipples—is to know the signs. “I kept thinking that the white spots on the inside of my baby’s mouth were just milk,” says Wilhelm. “But it turned out to be a yeast infection, and by the time I realized it, my nipples were infected, too.” Another indicator of thrush, besides those telltale spots: a burning sensation when you nurse. While babies’ symptoms usually clear up within a couple of weeks, your doctor might treat you with a prescription topical cream.
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