Breastfeeding advice: The good, the bad, the ugly

Things you should know about breastfeeding. We've officially made it almost 6 months of Isabella breastfeeding/pumping....So I started kind of thinking about breastfeeding and the things I knew going into it from from working and thought wow this could be SO much more overwhelming had I not known some of the things I do...I did a whole rotation on lactation consulting while in nursing school and assisted lots off mommies with breastfeeding while working as a nurse. I've had quite a few friends and bloggy friends with questions so I  thought I would put down some things I know and have learned: some funny, some serious, some great and not so great things that I learned from my experience of breastfeeding.

We'll start with the funny comic relief:

1) Not a good idea to sit on the couch right out of the shower, ahem, unclothed the first month of having a baby...things start leaking from everywhere...TMI, I thought so, but take my advice put some clothes on first, whatever it is can wait.

2) If you want to avoid spraying your hubby in the face whilst ya know showing him some love....put on a bra. You're welcome!

3) If you decide to go get a spray tan whilst still breastfeeding, might be a good idea to pump/breastfeed before to avoid drips....dripping results in streaking of untanned areas, if  ya know what I mean (You can thank one of my BFs for this comic relief and lesson learned)

4) If you don't already feel like a cow while pumping the honk, honk, honk sound of the breast pump sure will make you feel like one. (PS if you talk to someone on the phone while pumping they will probably ask you what that sound is, they can hear it...consider yourself prewarned;)

5) Whatever you do, don't lean over while attached to your milk suckers (i.e. pump machine) it will result in spilling and most definitely all over your work clothes of course, it can't just land on the floor.

6) There may be lots of cussing as you try to pour your milk from the fancy freezer bags into the bottles for the day....there always seems to be one dang ice clump that decides to stay resulting in your precious liquid gold not making it into the bottle....even if its one drop it results in cussing for me:) I worked hard for that stuff.

7) Don't put more in the bottle than your baby will eat this results in more cussing and some tears as you have to pour that wasted liquid gold down the sink.

8) When your sweet hubby is trying to offer your screaming child a bottle while holding her 10 feet from his body GENTLY remind him she is used to being cuddled and loved on while nursing...treat her like a football...tuck her up close and under your arm...didn't your coaches teach you something! And put the whole bottle nipple in his/her mouth, you won't choke them, if you try to just put in the tip s/he will revolt.

9) When, not if, you get engorged you will look like you just got a boob job 1000x too big for your chest and you will yell at anyone who attempts to come close and touch...ahem, hubbies look don't touch!

10) When your nipples crack and bleed, they say nurse through it...You nurse through it!...I'd like to see my husband try that one out. I told him if men had to nurse they'd quit before they even started.

11) When you are blistered and sore and holding back cuss words while your baby nurses....remember it gets better!!

12) Back to engorgement....yes they will look and feel like ginormous rocks!! Embrace them...I promise it doesn't last long. I didn't think it was possible for boobs to get so huge and hard!

13) Walking around topless because your nipples are too sore to wear your bra...Normal...completely normal!

14) When you feel like a child carrying in your breast pump backpack to work everyday..embrace it everyone knows noone knows its a breast pump. (Definitely not one of the doctors you work with, who asks "Hey is that a breastpump? Looks familiar, think my wife used that one." Awkward:)

and because a post isn't a post without a sweet milk drunk baby

Ok, now onto the serious stuff since I have had several friends and bloggy friends request some more advice I thought I'd answer their questions here:

1) Skin to skin and initiate breastfeeding right after delivery. To help establish a good milk supply and latch make sure the nurses are aware that you want to do skin-to-skin and breastfeed immediately. This is huge, right after my c-section the nurse gave me the option of having visitors come back immediately or much as I was excited for everyone to meet Isabella I knew breastfeeding was so important so we did just that.

2) When to introduce a bottle to a breastfed baby: This is a fine line most lactation consultants recommend waiting about 6 weeks or until breastfeeding is well established. With that said we tried Isabella's first bottle at 4 weeks old...I felt that breastfeeding was super well established and wasn't concerned about nipple confusion. I'm glad we did because she hated the bottle at first and it took us a while to convince her to take them.
            Recommendations for convincing a breastfed baby to like the bottle:
                    -Have dad or someone other than mom offer the first bottle
                    -Try to pick a slow flow nipple to start with...too much, too fast can overwhelm
                      some they get bigger and if they act frustrated that it is too slow
                      then advance to a faster flow
                    -it may take trial and error to find the bottle your baby took us 4

2) Find a position of hold is excellent for newborn babies and new moms because  you can see baby's latch much easier...once baby is bigger and breastfeeding is well established side lying is a life saver. These are also both great positions for after a c-section when your stomach is sore as well.

3) Managing engorgment....heat, breastfeed, ice repeat!!! Thankfully this phase only lasts a day or 2 but managing it is crucial.  Put warm wash cloths on your breasts or take a warm shower right before feeding to help the milk let down easier. Use ice for about 10 min AFTER feeding. It's important to use heat before, ice after! Heat helps milk let down and ice can cause it to slow down. If your breasts are too firm for baby to latch, pump briefly before feeding just to soften a little or hand express if able. The first night your baby decides to sleep through the night you might get this engorged feeling but to a lesser treatment, feed that baby:) If you aren't able to yet, pumping definitely will relieve the fullness. If you feel firm, tender spots liked clogged ducts massage them while nursing, pumping or in the shower it helps the milk to flow out of that duct.

4) Sore I've said several times this cream has been our favorite!! And these
gel pads...Uh mazing! The MOST important thing to prevent sore nipples is to establish a good latch. It may be tender when they latch at first but if it hurts take baby off and try is my advice to getting a good latch....
                  -First, get in a good comfortable position
                  -Align baby so that you are body to body, you do not want baby to have to
                    crane/turn their neck to reach your breast
                  -You should always bring baby to you not lean in towards baby.
                  -Make sure baby opens very wide for a sounds strange but tickle your
                    babys lip or side of the cheek right by their lips to coercse them to open.
                    Do not try to shove your breast into a closed mouth.
                   -Once baby opens wide bring them towards your breast.
                   -You should not hear any smacking or clicking but some audible swallows.

    If I can recommend anything at all this is the most imporant part. Make sure you have a lactation
    consultant confirm your latch is good before you leave the hospital if you are unsure. 1 bad latch can
    equal very painful breasts and unsuccessful breastfeeding.

5) Sore nipples and pumping....Pumping is honestly more uncomfortable for me than breastfeeding is now. If you are having nipple soreness when pumping use some of your nipple cream to help lubricate the phalanges of the pump, works wonders.

6) Water, water, water.....I have always been one to drink tons of water...I carried around my water bottle religiously while pregnant and it has become an absolute necessity for me while breastfeeding and pumping. I swear as soon as I start nursing I will be dying of thirst....I still use and carry around my liter pitcher from the hospital, if I don't have that then I am in love with my Tervis cup.

7) Eat, eat, eat. A sweet friend of mine who breastfed twins, yes you heard that right, twins, she is a rockstar reminded me when she visited to make sure to eat.  She said she didn't realize she wasn't eating enough until one day she got light headed and sure enough one day I was just running around like crazy, like mommy's of newborn babies do and didn't eat lunch until after 2 and I got so lightheaded and sick. So remember to eat, your body is working hard to produce that liquid goal. You need about 400 extra calories a day to sufficiently pump/breastfeed. I honestly have felt more hungry while nursing than I ever did while pregnant. I think while pregnant there just wasn't much room for food. With that said just like during your pregnancy don't use that as an excuse to overindulge yourself be reasonable and make healthy choices. I have had an incredibly horrible sweet tooth while nursing so I don't feel guilty if I want to grab a chocolate chip cookie or a small piece of candy but I don't let my self overindulge. I don't want to be fighting baby weight forever;) Most breastfeeding moms need 1800-2200 calories per day, limiting your calories to less than 1500-1800 can severely decrease your milk supply. During baby's growth spurts it is normal to feel hungrier and need a few extra calories...remember supply meets demand and during growth spurts that sweet baby is demanding more of your body. I know I am always starving when Isabella goes through one. Most important thing listen to your body and eat when you are hungry. Great resouce here.

8) Boob preference:  If your baby prefers one boob over the other....normal...most women have one breast that their baby will prefer. Mine is my left..I think it flows faster, so my impatient child prefers that side, so to avoid frustration I will usually start on that side now it works better for us and then she happily nurses on the other. At the beginning she didn't have a preference and before my milk supply was good I made sure to alternate starting on each side but now this works for us. She also very early on only wanted to nurse on one side during the night feedings and was satisfied. As long as baby is gaining weight and your milk supply is good this is actually better so they get the foremilk (appetizer) and the hindmilk (dessert) how we explain it to patients, rather than switching early and forcing the 2nd side. Its a complex explanation so I will just send you to La Leche League's wonderful explanation here. 

9) Fussy/gassy baby...If you feel as though your baby is overly fussy or gassy without spitting up consider eliminating a few things from your diet....dairy is the usual guilty party....eliminate one thing at a time to decipher what it is. If it's not dairy eliminate gassy foods i.e broccolli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc. I swear Isabella was a different baby once I eliminated dairy from my diet, she wasn't gassy, fussy and her baby acne disappeared. I have yet to reintroduce it though I probably will soon. I'm guessing hopefully I can and her stomache will be more ready for it.

10) What ever amount you pump be proud of it! I am not one of those women who can pump a gallon. If you are one of those I'm envious but I am successfully able to pump the amount to replace what Isabella takes everyday and for that I am thankful. I usually pump anywhere from 10-15 ounces a day and Isabella is currently only taking two 5oz bottles while I am away. If you are one of those lucky moms who can pump an endless amount that you know you will not need you can definitely donate it, more info here, there are tons of babies in NICUs that are in desperate need of your milk.

11) If you can't pump enough and you have to supplement you are still a rockstar and give yourself some grace. As mommy's we want and feel pressure to do the best we can for our babies and if supplementing or all formula is what you have to do I promise your sweet baby is getting ALL they need and you are doing a phenomenal job.

Breastfeeding is hard work!! It has been an incredible experience for me but it is not for everyone. Miss Isabella was a champ breastfeeder from the get go and I had very little soreness and issues so for that I know I am blessed;) I'm already preparing myself for our next baby to not be so good! So do not give up on yourself or beat yourself down if it is not for you or it is too much!! You are still an INCREDIBLE mommy and your baby is just as loved:) Don't let anyone tell you differently. Breastfeeding does not make anyone a better mommy than anyone else.

Any BF mommies out there have anything to add? I'd love to hear your funny stories and any advice you have to give.


  1. Hello. I love this post! I'm a new mom to a three week old baby girl. I always wanted to breastfeed. The first day at the hospital was amazing I gave birth naturally she latched on and I kid you not a rainbow appeared outside my window lol. Then I got home and it was a nightmare she only wanted her Fav boob and pumping was horrible. I would sit there for an hour and only get two ounces altogether. It was frustrating. I changed some stuff in my diet started drinking a lot of water and now everything is going good. It hurts and it sucks at times but its so worth it. :) thanks for sharing this

    1. I am so glad you found this helpful. Babies always breastfeed great instinctively the first 24 hours then they digress. Don't worry about not pumping a lot at the beginning. You really probably won't get much more than you are doing a great job. I promise if you can get to the 4-6 week period you will see rainbows again and it will become very instinctual. Let me know if I can help in any other way.