Dash of Darling | Breastfeeding Essentials for the New Mom
Dash of Darling | Breastfeeding Essentials for the New Mom

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Dash of Darling | Breastfeeding Essentials for the New Mom
Dash of Darling | Breastfeeding Essentials for the New Mom

When you have a new baby your whole world gets turned upside down. Not only are you in (total sleep deprived) newborn heaven, but you are also having to learn so much, so quickly. How to change a diaper (if it's your first), how to swaddle, how to care for this sweet little life, how to distinguish your baby's cries, how (and when) to introduce a pacifier... (the list goes on)... and on top of it all... how to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding is a mountain in-and-of itself. And the nurses at the hospital weren't really much help in this department for us, sadly.

I remember when Luna came out and entered the world I was in a sea of emotions and just loving on bonding with her. When it came time to nurse her for the very first time, our delivery nurse told me to 'smash [my] nipple like a hamburger and shove it in her mouth.' And that's precisely what I did. And at first, it was like, 'ok this isn't so bad.' It hurt, but that was to be expected. But by the third time, it was really starting to kill. Fast forward 24-hours later and I was in agonizing cringe-inducing pain. Like, gripping Ben's hand, tears streaming down my face, blisters and purple bruises developing on my nipples pain. But I wanted to stick with it, so I was determined to figure it out.

Three days later we visited a lactation consultant who, thankfully, was able to fix Luna's latch, teach me some tricks and help us start down the road to happy nursing boobs. But sadly, the damage was done. From nursing Luna with the wrong latch those three days I literally had a crack so big in my right nipple that it created a hole. Yes, an actual hole.

There were honestly moments when I was ready to give up. A lot of them. Times where when Luna would latch I would physically shutter as tears welled and for fifteen agonizing minutes I had to just hang in there while she nursed. And I am not sharing this to scare all you soon-to-be moms. But it really truly isn't easy. But I promise you, it's sooooo worth it if you can just hang in there. Because it got better. Much, much better. And now, I actually enjoy nursing Luna.

So I wanted to take a moment to share how and what got me through (and literally saved my nipples).

Dash of Darling | Breastfeeding Essentials for the New Mom

Breastfeeding Essentials, Tips + Tricks

Step No. 1 - See a Lactation Consultant

Hands down, the best thing I did for my boobs (and Luna) was to see a lactation consultant. But I will say that not all are created equal, unfortunately. When we were in the hospital I had a lactation consultant come to our room to fix our latch on day one, but she suggested a football hold and a way that wasn't very easy to use when you have hard, engorged boobs once your milk comes in. And like I said, three days later and I was still in agonizing pain. So we went to visit another lactation consultant who came highly recommended by friends and was IBCLC (an international board-certified lactation consultant): Stephanie Nguyen of Modern Milk. Not only did she fix Luna's latch, but she also gave me some very helpful tips. And thankfully, with our adjusted latch and her wonderful tips, three weeks later and we were living that 'happy boob' life. So no, I can't recommend her enough.

Step No. 2 - Repair Nipples with Breastmilk + a good Nipple Balm

When you have dry, cracked, sore, blistering nipples, nursing your little will continue to hurt until they are healed, unfortunately. The first step in repairing your gals is 1) rubbing a little of your own breastmilk on your nipples after nursing each time and 2) a good nipple balm. Stephanie actually called in a prescription balm for me, but we also had this one and I loved it. I had tried a few including The Honest Brand nipple butter, but I found Luna hated the taste of it and I had to wipe it off before she nursed each time (which can get tedious in the middle of the night when you're exhausted).

Step No. 3 - Nipple Shields

After applying my nipple balm after each nursing session, I would then put on these nipple shells to allow the nipple balm to saturate and allow my nipples to breathe and heal. I would wear these in my nursing bra around the house, but if I was heading out, I would switch to using these silicone nursing pads to keep the balm from rubbing off on my bra and protect my sore, sensitive and tender nipples from rubbing against my clothes.

Step No. 4 - Save Your Neck by Using a Nursing Pillow

When you're nursing (and waking up) every three hours with your newborn round the clock, your arms (and neck) can get rather tired. At one point, my neck got so bad I could barely move it. They call it, 'look down at my cute baby' neck. And for good reason. I can't help but stare down at my beautiful baby girl in awe while she nurses. So that's when having a good nursing pillow comes in handy. Stephanie, our lactation consultant, recommended this one. The firm surface provides a soft, stable platform for baby to nurse while giving her an easier latch while facing you easily. I also liked being able to use the belt in the middle of the night so I could be completely hands-free. I actually don't even use it at all anymore but it really was a lifesaver those first two and a half months before she got bigger and I figured out how to hold her. Before then, there's just too many moving parts to be able to hold your baby, support her head, use your other hand to help her latch all while fumbling to input her feeding into your app.

Step No. 5 - Use A Feed Tracking App

Mom brain is real you guys. It's so hard to keep track of when your baby last fed, and off of which boob. That's why I use an app to help me keep track of everything. We use and love Baby Feed Timer App. It tracks everything from breastfeeding to bottles to diapers.

Step No. 6 - Introduce Your Pump (and a bottle)

Even though I work from home, I knew I would need a pump to give myself the freedom to leave when needed for events, meetings, appointments and more. I chose to introduce the bottle at week three (we used these ones until she was three months old and then swtiched to these ones that are a faster flow). I use this electric breast pump, which has been great. I also got this handheld pump that I keep by my bedside to relieve any engorgement in the night or right before nursing Luna so as not to drown her (also, a softer nipple allows for a better, less painful latch). I also use it for travel.

Step No. 7 - Make Your Life Easy

When you're having to wake up every three hours to nurse, the last thing you want to do is have to get up to turn on the light (and wake hubby - even though I secretly hated him for being able to sleep through the night). I liked to keep a nightlight next to my bed that I could just roll over and switch on. You also want to keep your room dark at night so as not to confuse your baby on the time of day. I wanted to keep the room as dark as I could while waking and nursing her so she (and I) could more easily go back to sleep.

Step No. 8 - Wear Easy-Access Clothes

So, daytime clothes are a whole other topic that I will be sharing at a later time, but for when you're at home, clothes that give easy access to your tata's are a must. I love this cute nursing chemise (that I also wore while pregnant).

Step No. 9 - Choose The Right Bras

For a while, I started out wearing those thick, grandma looking nursing bras and I honestly felt like a gross cow. Literally. Not only that, I found that they were digging into my neck and putting a strain on me. At the end of the day, I felt like I needed a 14-hour neck massage just to function. Ugh. But I finally found a formula, if you will, that works for me and doesn't make me feel like an ugly milk machine.

First, I like to sleep with Calvin Klein's soft and stretchy racerback bralettes. They're lightweight, don't pull on my neck and are stretchy enough to pull down and easily nurse Luna.

Next, I love wearing a sexier lace nursing bralette, like this one and this one (only $19). They look cute with everything, aren't too thick / doesn't show and I still feel good about myself while wearing them.

And lastly, you're going to definitely want a hands-free pumping bra. That way, you can pump while answering emails at home, scrolling through Instagram or even driving. Yes, driving (that's why I got this car adapter).

Step No. 10 - Learn How to Nurse In Public

This was a scary task for me, but one I was determined to figure out. Step one was figuring out how to hold her while nursing. For me, the cross-cradle hold works best. Her head rests in the crook of my arm closest to the boob she's nursing on while that same hand reaches around to hold her bum. With my opposite hand, I use that to help her latch. Then, when I can let go, I have a free hand to eat, use my phone, etc. And next, was figuring out how to work in a nursing cover while doing all that. At first, I was using this apron-style one because it was soooooo much easier for me to see what was going on when I needed to help Luna get latched. It's a little nerdier, but can just look down to see what was going on because the neckline stays open.

Once Luna got a little older and was able to latch properly on her own without my help, I switched to this nursing cover. It can also be used as a car seat cover or shopping cart cover (we're not there yet with the independent sitting up but someday soon I am sure). It's also just easy to throw into my diaper bag.

Dash of Darling | Breastfeeding Essentials for the New Mom
Dash of Darling | Breastfeeding Essentials for the New Mom
Dash of Darling | Breastfeeding Essentials for the New Mom

Anyway, that's it for my breastfeeding essentials, tips and tricks. What has worked for you guys?

I hope you new mom's or soon-to-be-mom's found this post helpful.

Let me know in the comments below if there is anything else you'd like me to share.

Dash of Darling | Breastfeeding Essentials for the New Mom
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