21 Things I Wish I’d Known About Breastfeeding

21 Things I Wish I’d Known About Breastfeeding

Kindred Bravely Lucille Nightgown  |  Kindred Bravely Sublime Nursing Bra  |  Kindred Bravely Sublime Nursing Tank  |  Kindred Bravely Bamboo Nursing Pads

If you listen to Hello Baby, then you know this week Matt and I covered our breastfeeding journey.  Because this was such a highly requested topic, I thought I’d write a post about all the things I wish I’d known before breastfeeding.  I just want to share all the things that surprised me about nursing for my mamas-to-be.

Don’t miss this podcast episode, because you get to hear not only my account of the experience, but also a man’s perspective on the topic.

21 Things I Wish I’d Known About Breastfeeding

  • Breastfeeding classes will come in handy.  I took a breastfeeding class that was a part of my childbirth course and we learned so much.  It was taught by a lactation consultant and she gave us so many tips and great real-life advice that came in handy these past few months.
  • It hurts.  Sure, I’ve heard women say that their nipples hurt.  Still, I didn’t realize how raw my nipples would be those early days.
  • You’ll bleed.  Maybe this doesn’t happen to everyone, but by day two with our new bundle of joy, my poor nips were cracked and bleeding.  I only really bled that one day, thanks to my nurse giving me gel soothies.
  • The pain doesn’t last forever.  Those first few days of pain are just that, only a few days.  Once your skin gets used to this new thing your body is doing, the pain dissipates.
  • Nipple cream didn’t work for me.  I know that many mothers swear by lanolin cream, but I’m not one of those moms.  I tried multiple brands and found them all to be underwhelmingGel soothies to the rescue!  I stored mine in the refrigerator to keep them cold which was so soothing.
  • There are different positions.  We all know the cradle hold, but there are other ways to hold your baby while nursing that may be more comfortable for you.
  • Nursing-friendly clothes make life so much easier.  I was a naive pregnant girl who thought that nursing would be easy in regular tops.  Wrong.  When you’re out in public, nursing-friendly tops make nursing while still being modest so much easier.  And those middle of the night feedings?  Such a nightmare if you’re wearing a nightshirt that doesn’t open easily.  I remember waking up to feed her on a chilly night and realizing that I had to take my nightgown off completely because there was no easy access.  So I sat there, nursing her and freezing my butt off, too tired to get up and look for a robe.  My Kindred Bravely nursing nightgown makes life so much easier.  I can easily nurse while still feeling pretty in this feminine, lacy gown.  It’s perfect for summertime and the fabric is super soft.
  • Nursing bras are the only bra option.  I tried one time to go out in public with MacKenlee while wearing a regular bra.  That one time, I ended up completely topless in the backseat of my car nursing with baby blankets draped over the windows in a very public parking lot.  I knew my days of normal bras had come to a screeching halt until further notice.  I quickly realized that nursing bras are not only more convenient, but very comfortable.  This full coverage bra has soft cups, a seamless design and wears so nicely under tops.
  • Regular tops/bras vs. nursing tops/bras?  I honestly didn’t know what the difference was until I went shopping for my first nursing bra and saw that the cups snapped on.  You can easily snap them down or up when nursing.  The snaps aren’t bulky so there’s no way to know that you’re wearing a nursing bra under your clothes.
  • Nursing pads are necessary.  Even six months in, I’m still wearing pads around the clock.  You can use disposable or reusable, depending on what you prefer.  But you will definitely need them, especially in those first few months of breastfeeding.
  • A Boppy pillow will become your breast friend.  See what I did there?!  LOL.  No, but really, a nursing pillow is the easiest way to support your baby and give your arms and upper back a break.  My pillow was in my hospital bag and it’s a must-pack in my opinion.  I still use it every feeding at home.
  • Use an app.  There are so many great apps out there for babies.  Finding the right app makes tracking things like nursing times and which side you last nursed on so much easier.
  • Your supply will fluctuate.  Some days I have way more milk than others.  At first, it would freak me out when I saw my supply drop on a given day.  Now I know that this is normal for me.  So many factors go into your breastmilk production.  For me, if I’m not drinking enough water or my calorie or carb intake is low, my supply drops.  Once I recognize what the problem is, I can fix it and my milk will be back normal usually the very next day.
  • There are things you can do to increase your milk supply.  There are plenty of natural supplements out there that will help boost your supply.  I prefer to increase my water intake and eat things like steel cut oats and lactation cookies.  These are my favorite lactation cookies, but stick with the salted caramel flavor, they’re by far the best!
  • Build up your breastmilk supply.  I have a full supply of breastmilk in the freezer.  I’ve gotten into a good pumping routine to consistently keep breastmilk available for a bottle for bedtime.  I also always have a bottle on hand in case she gets hungry while I’m running an errand.
  • Pump after your first feeding of the day.  Your milk supply is at it’s highest first thing in the morning, so try pumping immediately after your first nursing session to fully empty your breasts and have some extra milk.  Leave a comment below if you’d like me to write a blog post about all of my pumping tips and tricks.
  • Watch what you eat.  Not for your weight, but for baby.  Sometimes baby fussiness is from a food intolerance coming from mama’s diet.  For my baby girl, when I eat curry, it really hurts her little belly.  I know a common intolerance is dairy, so keep track of what you eat on those days when baby is super irritable.
  • Cluster feeding is a real thing.  There will be times when your baby just wants to nurse constantly, welcome to the wonderful world of cluster feedings.  Cluster feeding is essentially when a newborn lumps several nursing sessions into a short amount of time.  Just know, this is just a phase and it won’t last forever.
  • It’s tough.  Listen, breastfeeding doesn’t come natural to every woman.  There will be bumps along the way, but if you stick with it, you will be so glad you did.  Of course, there are women that can’t breastfeed, and that’s OK!  They are no less of a good mom than one who can or chooses to breastfeed.  Whichever category you fall into, just know that a fed baby is best.
  • There is no magic number.  I’m six months in, and I intend to continue breastfeeding until either baby girl or I decide it’s time to stop.  I have friends who have nursed for two years and friends who nursed for two weeks.  Every baby is different.  Every mother is different.  And every situation is different.  Don’t feel pressured to pick a cut-off date, instead, just enjoy the season that you’re in.
  • Your period may come back.  Again with the naiveté…  I thought that as long as I was breastfeeding, I wouldn’t have a period.  WRONG.  Baby girl has been sleeping through the night since she was 6 weeks old, so I pump in the evenings and at my bedtime to empty my breasts.  Once solids were introduced, my period came back, even though she was still nursing regularly throughout the day.  Talk about disappointment.  Some of my girlfriends started theirs way earlier than I did, and others went much longer without it.  Hopefully you’ll fall into that second category.  I think it’s really unfair to be lactating AND have your stupid period, lol.

If you’re a pregnant mama, I really encourage you to give breastfeeding a try.  I have found it to be an incredible bonding experience and I wouldn’t trade those sweet moments for the world.

Mamas, what do you wish you’d known before breastfeeding?  Leave a comment below and let me know!

Thank you to Kindred Bravely for partnering with me to create this post.  Use code LANTER20 at checkout to save 20% off your purchase from KindredBravely.com

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  • Susan S Dobbs

    Did you ever see the episode on The Office when Pam has a male lactation consultant? That happened to me… seriously I am NOT making this up. I was engorged and miserable when my milk came in. And I got a guy helping me! No, just no… you have no idea what this is like… please go away. Ha ha!!! Thanks for sharing your sweet baby with us! She’s just precious!

  • Would love a pumping post – due in Nov and have no idea what to do!

  • Stephanie

    Gel soothies are the best! Used them with both my babies! That and Earth mama rice packs.

  • I’m due in November, so this is super helpful. Love the podcast as well, and it’s helped me prepare for what’s ahead. A pumping post would be great! Thanks for being so real.

    • Angela Lanter

      First off, congrats, mama! Secondly, I’m so happy you’re enjoying the podcast!!

  • Kassandra

    Thank you so much! So I’m not producing enough! The pumping schedule make my supply worse?? How is that possible? Any thoughts on that??

    • Angela Lanter

      Have you checked with a lactation consultant? Mine helped me so much!

  • I agree! Please do a pumping post – Due in September and can use all of your advice!
    Ps love love love the podcast ?

  • When I was shopping for maternity clothes I asked the sales lady about clothes for nursing and I’m so glad I did. So many things to buy it was overwhelming at first. I had been wearing pads in my bra since I had been 6 months pregnant and I asked my Lamaze nurse about what to do.

  • Pumping post please! I’m going back to work soon and only have about 13 bottles worth in the freezer ?

    • Angela Lanter

      Have you tried lactation cookies or supplements to up your supply?

  • Nipple blebs, mastitis, and breast abscess surgery oh my! I wish someone woulda told me about these forreal!! With my FIRST KID, I was told that I didn’t have enough of a supply and I needed to pump around the clock and supplement with fenugreek. At the same time, my son wasn’t latching correctly (and he was the only one that could empty me). We went to a lactation specialist, and paid $100 an HOUR for her to tell us that our son was “stressed” and gave us these hokey things to do to him. i.e. pull his hair and his earlobes (rolling my eyes) Turned out I actually had an OVERSUPPLY, and a nipple bleb turned into mastitis which then turned into a severe burn on my breast from a heating pad and emergency surgery for an abscess removal. Ughhh. My kid was only 2-MONTHS then, and didn’t have his Mommy! We didn’t know our hospital offered FREE lactation advice and finally took him to her. All she did was push. His. Chin. Down!! And tada, he was nursing perfect; then nursed for a whole year and a half after that! Hoping this story can help someone (not scare them), cuz these things are very real!

    • Angela Lanter

      Girlfriend! You had it ALL! Man, I feel for you. Love that you fought through it all and became a nursing success story!

  • I would love a post on pumping. I am expecting right now and just saved this post to my phone notes. Thank you so much!

  • Lara-Jill

    A pumping post would be amazing!!

  • I didnt use an app and I read on pinterest to put a hair elastic on the wrist of the side you need to start with at your next session. I switched it before I started the session before I forgot. 🙂

  • I would love a post about pumping! This list is awesome, thank you!!

  • I just want to thank you for saying it is OK if you can’t breastfeed. I have a 2 month old and I tried but I just couldn’t handle it.

    • Angela Lanter

      Girl, it’s totally ok. It’s not for everyone! Fed is best. 🙂

  • A pumping post would be great! Currently 1 month in, and haven’t figured out the whole pumping and nursing thing. Going back to work at 12 weeks, and I would love to have this figured out.

    • Angela Lanter

      I hope you’ve gotten a bit of a handle on it. I’ll try to get a pumping post together soon!

  • Would love to see a pumping post! My babe has finally started sleeping through the night but I’m still waking up engorged with no choice but to pump. Really hoping my body gets the message soon but wondering if maybe I should be emptying out before bed? So scared the engorgement will lead to mastitis if I’m not careful! Love the podcast, thanks for sharing your journey into motherhood!

    • Angela Lanter

      I went through that too. I was able to eventually wean myself off the middle of the night pump sessions, but it did take time. 🙂

  • Adi Wong

    I’m about to give birth to my 2nd but it’s always good to read about other mama’s experience cause it gives you more knowledge. Would love your breastpumping go to as well. Love From Fiji. ❤️

    • Angela Lanter

      Fiji?! So cool! I’ve always wanted to visit there! Looks like such a dream. 🙂
      Congrats, mama!!

  • Pumping post please!! I’m due with #2 in November and pumping did not go well with #1. I’m a little nervous going into it this time.

    • Angela Lanter

      What were your struggles/issues? Would love to have this feedback so I know exactly what to address in the post. 🙂

  • Thank you for this! I’m due in October and have been looking for solid, real breastfeeding advice. These tips are extremely helpful. Thanks for helping me avoid a backseat peep show! 🙂

  • I’d love to know more about your pumping tips. I’m two weeks in with my little babe and need to have backup available! Thanks ☺️

    • Angela Lanter

      Start now! Pump after that early morning feeding, mama!

  • Great post from all that you experienced, would just like to add about something that I faced and I hope no one ever does… But many moms do… MASTITIS, blocked ducts, not once not twice but 5 times and even while I was traveling alone, 14 hrs in a flight with my 8 month old I had a blocked duct bcs my kid slept on my chest, pressing my breast. But by the 5th blocked duct I was a pro in handling it before it could become infected. Yes mamas, you’ll can control it by few of these tips. (1) position, make the baby’s chin on the blocked duct area cos that’s where the suction is more. (2) feed with on all fours like a cow.. Lol it works like a magic because gravity is a thing. I nursed him at the airport mom’s room (luckily we were alone) and saved myself the pain for my rest of the journey. Take use of your partners help or lay the baby in the opposite direction on the floor. (3) nurse… Nurse and nurse from that breast and nurse frequently. (4) hot shower and try to empty it out, it will hurt like hell but it’s better to hurt earlier before it turns into mastitis. (5) Pump.
    If you choose to breastfeed it’s all worth it.

    • Angela Lanter

      Oh you poor thing! That is MISERABLE! Love your tips! Thank you for sharing from your experience!

  • yes! love this post! my son is 5 weeks old and breastfeeding definitely was not an easy thing to learn. baby boy’s latch was shallow and it hurt so much each nursing session. i was about to throw in the towel and exclusively pump. i researches how to improve his latch and its been 100x better since then. i woulf love a pumping post as i have been pumping as my supply has increased and i build up my backup in the freezer! how do you use a hands free bra and get a good suction that you dont spill/leak milk? also how did you get mackenlee to sleep through the night?? i would love that!

    • Angela Lanter

      Thanks, Stacy! Do you listen to Hello Baby? We have a full episode all about sleep training!

  • Due in November and am LOVING your podcast!! I haven’t gotten to the breastfeeding episode yet (still playing catch up) so I apologize if this was answered already but what breastfeeding app did you use?

    • Angela Lanter

      Yay! I love hearing that, Lexi! Congrats, I’m so excited for you!
      I use the Hatch app that goes along with our changing table. 🙂

  • Yes I would love a pumping post! I’m 2 weeks in with my baby girl and I’m dying for a bit of reprieve from feedings, but I haven’t quite gotten a pumping schedule that works. Would love to hear what worked for you!

    • Angela Lanter

      Congrats, mama! Have you listened to our podcast? I talk about pumping a lot in it. 🙂

  • Mehfooz Roy

    I’d love to win this pillow because it’s so versatile! It’s great for feeding, tummy time, propping up my little one, etc. Also, so many mom’s have told me what an essential item this is

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