Breastfeeding: Top Ten Tips, Tricks and everything in between.

As I type this, I have been nursing for a combined total of 37 months. Judah weaned while I was pregnant with Maple so I had about a five month break. I'm thankful for that, while I think tandem nursing is pretty badass, I don't know if I was up for the challenge.

For all the body image issues that I have struggled with in my life, I have never had any disdain for my breasts. They were perky, well-proportioned and had cute pink nipples, maybe they could have been a smidge smaller but I made do. Shaq even checked them out once! My breasts look a bit different these days but I've never been more proud of them. I've nursed two babies passed a year, through one bad latch and a case of mastitis.

Here are my top tips (in no particular order) that I've picked up along the way, and please ask any questions that you have in the comments. I promise to answer them all!

1. Utilize those lactation consultants. I will forever be thankful to the nurse/lactation consultant who hooked me up with a nipple shield when my little guy was struggling to latch. I had to use that thing for a few weeks and I hated it but also thank it for helping me get through those first weeks because they are rough. So rough. But if you can make it through them, you will have established not only the foundation of a successful nursing journey but also an amazing bond with your baby. And if you stop nursing, that bond will always be there.

2. Speaking of those lactation consultants, if your hospital offers a nursing group or a new moms group: check it out. I wouldn't have gotten through Judah's first snow-filled winter if it hadn't been for the New Moms group at our hospital. It forced me to get out despite the weather and I made some lasting friendships. This is where you could potentially find your tribe. You'll also find a bunch of judgmental sanctimommies, you probably don't want them in your tribe.

3. Once you get into the groove, its time to start pumping. It aint fun. But if you have to go back to work, its necessary. Build up a stash. I pumped every morning while I had my coffee. A super trick is to store your pump parts in the fridge. Rinse them and store in a gallon ziplock back, you can get away with doing this for a few days between cleanings. I also recommend a good pumping bra like this one that I loved. I also had a strict "no work while pumping" rule. I made a point to look at photos of my kiddos on my phone or catch up on instagram while I pumped. It's so much easier to have a productive pumping session when you are relaxed.

4. Don't be afraid to whip the girls out when your baby is hungry. Much easier said than done. And if you're not comfortable for your own reasons, then do whatever is comfortable for you. It wasn't until towards the end of my nursing relationship with Judah that I stopped worrying about covering up. I am huge advocate of normalizing breastfeeding and I love how confident I feel about nursing in public now.

5. When Judah was about five months old, I felt pretty confident. I was back to work, part time and pumping. It was right around my birthday and I think I didn't drink enough water and had a cocktail or two and I ended up with mastitis. It was possibly the sickest that I have ever been, easily fixed with antibiotics (which I wasn't thrilled about introducing to my baby's precious newborn gut) but painful, and awful with really bad chills. I guess I'm not really giving any advice here, but as a preventative measure: drink all the water. And then drink some more!  I do have one tip, I remember my friend Christine advising me to massage the clogged duct and suggesting that I use something that vibrates. wink wink

6. Speaking of that wink wink. Don't be afraid to have your nipples be part of the fun with your partner! If you're into that, they can still feel good.

7. There are plenty of things that can help you boost your supply: lactation cookies, fenugreek, brewer's yeast or oats. What worked for me in the beginning wasu oatmeal every day. I would make a huge batch every few days because for some reason I couldn't manage making it every day with just one newborn baby. (Oh how I wish one-child Jenny could have known just how easy she had it...) My other trick to boost supply was Gatorade. Particularly the grape G2 (less sugar). Gatorade kind of goes against how healthy and crap-free I attain to be. But when I worked, I would drink a big 32 ounce bottle of G2 a day to help with pumping. I still chug one when I feel like I need an extra boost.

8. There are so many words for breast. And I highly recommend that you refer to nursing your baby by something that you are comfortable with that baby saying out loud in public. I didn't even realize that I called nursing "boob" until Maple started saying it. In conversation, I always say nursing. And I definitely referred to it as "nursies", too. But boob won out. And girlfriend has no problem, squealing BOOB anytime, any place.

9. You will notice, when you pump or from your baby's preference, that one side may produce more milk than the other. I used to pump with a friend at work and we both made jokes about our "underachiever." Most women have one breast that produces more than the other. With my second baby, my underachiever became my overachiever. Our bodies are so fascinating.

10. The haters gonna hate. Don't let them. Shut them down. And if they keep it up, shut them out. Your nursing relationship is between you and your baby. It should last as long as you or your baby want it to. No one else. Not even your pediatrician should tell you when to stop nursing. Or force formula on you. And if they do, get a new doctor. The end.

Breastfeeding is magic. Its so amazing to me what our bodies can do. I swear, I don't get sick as much because my body immediately creates antibodies for my babies and thus protects me from all the gross stuff we come into contact with. There is nothing more cozy and sweet then snuggling up a nursing baby and watching them fall asleep. I tell people that I'll see where we're at when Maple is two, but I've been changing it to three lately. I am in no rush to end this beautiful thing we have going.

Some resources for breastfeeding:

Badass Breastfeeder Podcast
Kelly Mom
The Milk Meg

Here are some photos of me and my girl and my girls.

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