While breastfeeding can come easy to some mothers, many others including myself need extra help. Because despite having read and watched videos about breastfeeding, everything can still be different in real life. It can be difficult, tiring and frustrating. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge that we need help and support from a couple of breast-friends.
1.Lactation Consultant (or Nurse)
You can dislike people after childbirth but not your lactation consultant. They are professionals who specialize in supporting mothers and babies to develop a healthy nursing relationship whilst determining solutions to breastfeeding challenges including (but not limited to) latching issues, painful nursing, low milk production, and meeting breastfeeding goals for mothers returning to work.
At the hospital where I gave birth, they assign a lactation nurse to every mother at their care. The lactation nurse meets with the mother at least once to provide a comprehensive orientation on breastfeeding including milk storage. The session can last up to an hour, and if you have additional inquiries or encountered difficulties you are provided a direct line to reach them. You can continue to seek for their help even after being discharged.
My lactation nurse was heaven sent! She walked me through the highs and lows of breastfeeding, and easily became a confidant. I went through different attempts (and many tears) to get my baby to nurse but her patience and commitment to help me get through all those became my source of encouragement.
It is not an old wives’ tale. Lactation massage can help prevent breastfeeding issues like mastitis and increase your milk supply. It is similar to the practice of hand expression utilizing basic massage techniques, which enables breast milk to flow freely. It can also help you relax, reduce stress and tension, and relieve some postpartum body pain.
If you are not comfortable doing it yourself, you can always seek help from trained therapists (I can highly recommend MassageMNL).
For some breastfeeding mothers, nursing bras are considered optional or even a luxury. But I found it rather necessary, especially with breasts that change in size throughout the day as they produce milk. Regular bras aren’t always made to be flexible enough to adjust with this kind of transition.
Nursing bras are also designed to be more convenient, comfortable and supportive. You will be able to unfasten a clip to pull down the cup for nursing, which is also helpful when breastfeeding in public. They also keep breast pads in place, which isn’t always the case with the regular bras.
There are different kinds of nursing bras, but I think the most essential ones are the soft-cup and sleep nursing bras. The former help for breastfeeding and pumping, and the latter provide extra comfort at night, especially when you are using breast pads.
My breast-friend nursing bras are from Medela (Watsons |Medela Maternity and Nursing Bra, P1,875).
Breast pads are placed in your nursing bras to prevent leaking and to protect your clothes from stains. You will need them especially during the first weeks of breastfeeding when your milk comes in, when you are out doing errands or at work, and if you have an overabundant milk supply. It can also serve as a good cover for engorged nipple!
You will most likely experience sore and cracked nipples. Your breasts might also be in pain or itchy. During those days, breast shells are your breast-friends. They are made to protect your nipples from chafing while allowing your skin to recover. You can also use them in between breastfeeding or pumping as they collect excess milk.
6.Nipple Ointments and Creams
Simply dabbing some nipple ointments and/or creams to sore, cracked and dry nipples can help remedy some discomfort during the first weeks of breastfeeding. In fact, as soon as I spot signs of dryness in my breasts, I would immediately apply Lansinohto prevent further harm. It is an additional task but it is better done early than later.
If you are unable to nurse your baby because you have to return to work or do errands for prolonged hours, your best option is to express and store milk. Doing so will allow your baby to enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding even when you are not around. Therefore, breast pumps can also be considered as your breast-friends.
I’ve tried two of the best and widely advertised breast pumps, but I fell in love with the Spectra S2from the start. It is convenient, comfortable and easy to use. It has a massage feature, which almost mimics nursing and therefore encourages the flow of the milk without hurting your breasts. I also observed that I was able to pump considerably more milk with it in comparison to the other brands. And it looks good!
You might be surprised that milk bottles are included in this list. But if you have to express and store milk to feed your baby when you are not around, and nurse when you are home, you will need milk bottles that will not encourage nipple confusion or bottle rejection.
It sounds unreal! I agree, because I didn’t believe it either until I experienced it myself. During the first weeks, I was having difficulties nursing due to incorrect latching. My nipples were sore, cracked, they even bled. It became too painful that I almost gave up breastfeeding but my husband suggested for me to try expressing milk and using our Como tomomilk bottles (despite my fear of the possibility of nipple confusion) to let my breasts recover. The soft silicone and extra wide design of the bottles make them feel much more a real breast, reducing the chance for nipple confusion. A couple of days after, I tried to nurse again and my baby latched and fed without a fuss! To date, I still interchange between nursing and bottle-feeding expressed breast milk whenever my breasts are in pain or when I’m exhausted and unable to nurse without possibly falling asleep.
So, to the goddess who invented Como tomo, we can’t offer our babies but we thank you!
Although it is not considered necessary for some breastfeeding mothers, those that are challenged to increase their milk supply may opt to take supplements. There are several choices available in stores, but it is best to seek for your doctor’s recommendation as they are more knowledgeable about your current state of health.
My personal choice is Natalac (Watsons | P11.00), because it worked for me especially during the first weeks when I was struggling to nurse and express milk, while my baby was admitted at NICU. It is also known to be the first clinically proven effective lactation enhancer in the Philippines, and has been an advocate of the #FeelFreeToFeed campaign!
10.Hot and Cold Pack
Using hot compresses fifteen minutes before nursing can help the milk flow, while cold compresses when applied after feeding can reduce swelling and inflammation. Essentially, these are your home remedies for breastfeeding discomfort.
It is also recommended that you massage your breasts inward or towards your nipples to encourage the release of milk.