- Breast feeding prep often involves getting a fancy cover so you can feed your baby in public without people ogling your breasts or freaking out. I really liked my Hooter Hider.
- If you're going back to work at some point, or if you ever want to go anywhere without your baby in tow, you want to get a breast pump. I successfully used this double pump from Philips Avent. I also got this Milkies milk saver, which catches any leaking breast milk from the other breast while you're feeding your baby.
- You probably want to get a nursing bra. I didn't really use one though, I liked my Coobie bra for before, during and after nursing.
- I also made sure got some nursing pads to put in my bra at all times so you don't get milk all down your shirt when your boobs decide to "let down" because some other baby is crying or your baby is crying for a reason besides being hungry. I always used this disposable sticker kind but there are a ton of other options. My friend got me some of these reusable Lilypadz that were her favorite, but I didn't particularly care for them because I was a leaker (it doesn't absorb anything) and she wasn't. There are also some that are washable and made from organic cotton. Decisions decisions!
- I had to make sure I had some nursing friendly shirts. Stretchy and low cut or button up. I wore a lot of tank tops, even if it was just under my "unfriendly nursing shirt", so that when I lifted it up to nurse my stomach wasn't exposed.
Anyway, all these things were things I was prepared for, if not with my first child at least with my second! What I wasn't prepared for, with either one, was milk supply drama! I don't think anyone even expects it. I don't think you can really prepare for it. So, I'm just going to share my story with you, and give you some things that can help and hurt milk supply, and you can go from there prepared for either way.
When I had my first child, Logan, I knew I wanted to try to nurse, but I wasn't really sure what that entailed. The first day I had him a lactation consultant came in to make sure that we had our latch correct. This involved totally grabbing my boob without asking and moving it all around to show me exactly how far in it was supposed to be and where his chin was and how his lip were, etc. There is no dignity in giving birth. You're basically just naked and everyone is all up in your business. When my milk came it in was nuts. My boobs were rock hard and they hurt! After they "figured out" how much milk little man needed throughout the day they chilled out and we had a solid thing going. No milk supply drama. They provided enough, he latched on just fine. Everything was good.
Milk supply drama #1: there was too much of it. Every time I let down milk was spraying EVERYWHERE. For real. It straight up shot across the room and all over Lucas' face and all over the sheets and blankets. I had to make sure to have a baby blanket under me when I was nursing so that I didn't have to wash the sheets every day. Then little guy would basically have to drown in breast milk a little bit. It went something like this: gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, cry a little because it's too much, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, okay it's better now, finish eating, burp, spit up a bunch of milk, let's repeat on the other side.
Milk supply drama #2: Did you know that everything you eat/drink goes into your breast milk? You probably did because of the whole "no alcohol while nursing" thing. But did you know that this can also include food that your baby can't tolerate? Have fun figuring out that one. For me it ended up being milk and citrus. I suspected it was milk, but didn't want to admit it. After eating a huge slice of cheesecake and then being up for three hours at 2am, I decided it was time to cut it out for real. After cutting out all milk and cheese products, except butter, Lucas' baby acne, cradle cap, and the rashes on his cheeks went away. So did the 2am screaming sessions. Throughout the rest of the year those red rashy cheeks would be the sign to me that either I ate or he ate something he couldn't tolerate.
I learned that when you have an over supply of milk you want to make sure that you are not eating oatmeal, this can cause your milk supply to increase. You also want to make sure you stay away from fennel, which also can cause your supply to increase. Some people recommended that once you let down, you want to wait to nurse until the spraying part has stopped. And just feed from one breast a feeding to make sure that they're getting the fatty hind milk and to encourage your supply to diminish a bit. I also didn't worry about using peppermint oil (which can dry up your supply) because I knew that my supply could stand to be reduced. Eventually my supply chilled out and we both figured out a way for him to eat better. DiGize and Melrose were my lifesavers during this time. When his stomach was bothering him I would put DiGize, diluted with coconut or olive oil in a circular motion on his tummy and then hold his knees up to his stomach to help him to pass gas. I would use highly diluted Melrose on any of his skin problems to help keep it moist. He only got diaper rash a couple of times, but a mixture of plain olive oil and coconut oil would be the only thing that wouldn't burn him and show a quick improvement. We had several kinds of diaper rash ointment and he would scream with all of them. The mixture of plain olive oil and coconut oil, plus those diapers with the lines that turned blue whenever they had used the bathroom and he was better by the next day, in both cases!
On the other side, is the milk supply drama of not producing enough milk or having a hard time with latching. This seems to be much more heart breaking and sad for moms to deal with if they have their heart set on nursing. I have heard amazing things drinking fennel oil! Heads up, it tastes like black licorice. I've heard that drinking beer, fenugreek, blessed thistle, Mother Love's goat rue, Mother Love's More Milk, Mother's Milk tea, eating oatmeal, B12, and lactation cookies are all options to try to increase milk supply. The book Gentle Babies also recommends the oil blend Joy for inhalation "to help calm and soothe as stress may have a negative interference with lactation" (61). If you have flat nipples a nipple shield may be helpful for latching. You want to make sure and stay away from peppermint, any kind of sage, and raw cabbage.
If you feel like you can no longer nurse, but don't want to do traditional formula, raw goat's milk is supposed to be the closest to human milk. We can get goats milk at our local co-op, check out Local Harvest to find farmers near you and join this homemade raw milk formula support group on Facebook to find out more about recipes, etc.
Good luck and I hope that your journey through breast feeding your kids will cause you as little drama as possible and will be rewarding for you and your little one. Whatever you end up doing, don't beat yourself up about it. Have peace that you tried your best and your little one will be just fine. Have any other advice for nursing mamas? Post in the comments! Until next time,