Reverse WFMW: Breastfeeding Tips for Sis

What a perfect week for a BACKWARDS Works For Me Wednesday!

In my last post, “free baby holding“, I shared my previous experiences as nursing mom and a little about my sister’s current experiences as she learns how to nurse her new baby. I remembered quite a bit and was able to give her some tips that have really made things easier, but my knowledge base is tiny compared to what my fellow bloggers can offer.

So here’s my plea:

Moms out there – if you nursed or are nursing your babies – what are some favorite, tried and true tips and tricks you employed to make your breastfeeding experience better and easier? Everything from products to techniques, clothing and gadgets, cleaning and storing milk – any suggestions you might have would be VERY much appreciated!

Here are three tips that really made a difference yesterday. TMI ALERT: (click away to avoid a candid discussion of logistics)

1. If you have a scab on your nipple, take a very warm washcloth and hold it to your nipple until the scab softens. The scab will fall off and latching will be much less painful. There will be hardly – if any – blood. Doing this also speeds up healing because the scab isn’t being pulled off every time the baby nurses. My nephew was a week old yesterday and my sister’s nipples are almost completely healed.

2. When you are expressing milk, RELAX. Yesterday, my sister was trying to express and she was getting NOTHING. I told her to stop looking at the pump. To drop her shoulders. Close her eyes. Get comfortable. Breath deep. Consciously slow her heartbeat and relax her muscles. Then I told her to look up. I was holding the baby and he was looking around. He yawned. He sneezed. My sister laughed and started talking about him. We discussed how cute he was. After about 2 minutes, I told my sister to look at the pump. She looked down and then she jerked her head back up and said, “HOLY COW, I can’t believe this crap really works!!!” Having trouble expressing? It’s not all mechanics. RELAX. Think about the baby. When I expressed at work, I looked at pictures of my babies.

3. DRINK LOTS OF WATER!!! My sister keeps forgetting to get some water before she sits down to nurse. I suggested that she leave water bottles near all the different places she nurses.

Get more great tips and ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday hosted by Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.

22 thoughts on “Reverse WFMW: Breastfeeding Tips for Sis

  1. For me, the only gadget type thing that was ever any use was a nipple shield. That thing was a lifesaver for a baby that couldn’t figure out how to latch on, and gave my nipples a chance to heal as well. But in my experience most gadgets out there are money pits.

    The biggest thing for me was learning to trust myself. In the beginning people were throwing books at me, bossing me around, telling me I was holding the baby wrong, etc. In the end I learned to trust myself to know what was best, everything else was worthless and frustrating.

    Memarie Lane – I agree about trusting yourself. I prefaced my advice to my sister by telling her that while these things had worked for me, she needed to trust her own judgment and figure out what would work for her and LittleHoudini. Nipple shield. bummer. I wish I had asked this question a week ago. (by JSM)

  2. I think that NOONE ever told me how hard it was going to be with my first son and because of that I GAVE up early on! This time around I asked lots of questions! I too use a nipple shield and it made me feel more confident in nursing an otherwise sleepy little boy! 🙂 I think one great thing that I use is the Medela steam bags and wipes to sterilize my pump parts, passys and nipples to bottles. The easy wipes are wonderful for when I am at work and need assurance that I have cleaned my pump off correctly!
    AND lastly…..WATER WATER WATER!!!! Not only does that help those extra baby pounds come off…but remember: what goes out…MUST come in!!!!! Love the blog

    W and Js Mommy – Steam bags. I had to look them up. Very cool! Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags So glad you like the blog! Hope you come back to visit sometime. (by JSM)

  3. The nipple shield saved me! My baby had a very shallow latch at first and he was KILLING me. I wondered how ANYONE could breastfeed. The nipple shield helped him get a better latch, protected my poor nipple from excessive pain, and after a while I didn’t need it any more. His mouth was just small and my breast… not so much.

    I’d also say, don’t be afraid to pay for a private lactation consultant. I used one for one session and it helped immensely with my confidence and ability. These women know what they are talking about. My oldest sister who has twelve (almost 13) kids has used a lactation consultant for various different problems with the last several of her kids. What a relief to find out that even a mom who’s done it all (basically) still needs assistance!

    So know it will be hard. Know that even experienced moms can have trouble at first with nursing newborns. And drink lots of water. 😉 Stay away from caffeine, at least until you can try it during the day to see how it affects your little guy! Some babies are very sensitive!

  4. I’m glad your sister is getting some relief in the sore nipple department. Oh man, I remember those days. The best advice I ever got for sore nipples was to express a little breast milk after feeding, rub it over my nipples and let it air dry. There are healing properties in breast milk and this worked SO MUCH better than Lansinol or anything else.

    Amy – That’s a good one – she’s definitely been doing that! (by JSM)

  5. Hang in there…it gets better!! and easier!! My little guy took better than 4 wks to get ahold of, well you know, and he was not interested even then.

    Breastfeeding is a great thing for you child! It’s a great way to bond (once it gets easier) and the best nutrition for you child. There is nothing out there like it.

    My hubby tried to get me to pump and serve for lack of better words, but I was stubborn and stuck it out. Glad I did.. would’ve made for a lot more work when he got older and was getting into things while I had to pump.

    If at all counts it’s not working I would suggest the pump and serve idea for the nutritional benefits and potentially try breast feeding again as the child gets a little older and mom has a chance to heal a little.

  6. I’ve been breastfeeding for almost six years now! (Five kids) I think one important thing to remember is that you don’t need all the stuff that’s sold out there. I was given a Boppy and my kids use it, but I always found it uncomfortable and awkward.

    Also, try laying down! Lay the baby beside you and both of you lay on your sides. It’s easier to be relaxed that way. 🙂

    Above all else, stick with it. My oldest son and I had a hard time learning, so he was more than six weeks old before it stopped hurting and I stopped crying! But it was so worth it when he started getting all chubby and cute. 🙂 I also have a preemie daughter who I pumped for for more than two months. It’s the best thing you can do for your baby.

  7. I second using breast milk for sore nipples – it works better than anything else!

    Sleep in a t-shirt bra during those first months when you have to wear a bra 24/7. They are so much more comfortable than a regular nursing bra, & way cheaper than a nursing sleep bra.

  8. Always carry a few spare nursing pads….i used cloth ones so I could just toss them in the laundry (and they were MUCH more comfy than the disposables). But you never know when you’ll have an uber-letdown and need a fresh one!

    Find a local LaLecheLeague and go to a few meetings! That was an awesome help to me, and I didnt’ even really have problems!

    Visit it is full of helpful advice, from increasing milk supply to different nursing positions to dealing with food allergies. 🙂

  9. There are these things called Breast therapy patchs by Gerber. They are expensive but worth every penny like $10-12 dollars for 8 patches. I only use them when I can’t take the pain, if only one breast hurts then I only used one. It is like putting a nice cool medicine on and you leave them on until you nurse again. They work wonders.

  10. Ohhh, I agree I was glad I knew it was normal for it to hurt and be uncomfortable – it certainly didn’t feel great (or natural for that matter) for a week or two – but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. I LOVED nursing. I definitely think that the Lansinoh cream worked great to help heal. And this sounds silly, but remember to let your nipples air dry before putting your bra back on – if my sore nipples dried on the nursing pad it was painful to peel them off (TMI – sorry).

  11. One thing I’ve heard really good things about lately from our lactation specialist in the Neonatal ICU are Lily Padz. They are gel nipple shields that protect sore nipples and help them heal and you never leak. One more tip- fish oil. The DHA and ARA in prepared formula can’t get in your breast milk if you don’t put them there. The only complete omega 3’s are in fish oil and they are proven to help with the development of Baby’s developing brain.

    I wish I could give breastfeeding help because of personal experience, but we only knew about our adopted son two days before he came :).

  12. Bed pads. Those big quilted hospital pads. They wash easy and can be put under the sheet or on top of it. Then you can sleep without a bra or anything, and so what if you leak or the baby spits up while you’re sleep-nursing it. Or if the baby blows a diaper while he’s in your bed… all covered 😉

    My other favorite tip is the site It helped me immeasurably with nursing problems.

  13. I am a true believer in Lansinoh! It helped so much and I wish I would’ve had it from day one… otherwise I wouldn’t have cracked or bled when I first started. Just tell her to put it on thick and don’t worry about wiping it off, since it’s medical grade lanolin, and therefore, clean.

    Invest in some good nursing bras, because it just makes it so much easier… and error on the side of too big for one or two to use until your milk supply settles… at about 3 months. Nursing tops really weren’t necessary for me, because I just used the “Hooter Hider” when friends visited or we went out. Look it up online… friends got it as a gift and it was a better investment than buying a bunch of nursing tops!

    I’d also say just to follow the baby’s instincts. Too many people say to do it so long, both breasts, so many hours apart… ridiculous. Growing babies sometimes need food every hour or can sometimes go four hours (if your lucky, this will be at night!) and they’ll get through that growth spurt and won’t be so demanding.

    My best advice, though, is to be focused on your own body. If you notice any lumps, massage them to unclog the duct while the baby feeds. You can also put wet cabbage leaves over lumps and it’s supposed to help. If you still notice the lump or clogged duct after a day or two, call the Dr. right away so you can get checked for mastitus. I was really in tune to myself and caught it early. It wasn’t nearly as bad as it can be, because I started meds. right away. And, of course, with clogged ducts, or mastitis, keep feeding… it helps with the pain and the milk won’t hurt the baby.

  14. Oh, we also had a chart (from some nursing book) above our changing table with a pencil. You could mark off three things: 8 – 12 nursing sessions a day, the 6 (or more) wet diapers per day (make sure it’s clear, not yellow), and then you could also mark off the 3 + dirty diapers per day. This ensures they are getting enough to eat. If you have any doubts you can take them to the pediatrician to be weighed, but this helps reassure new parents a lot!

  15. 1. Don’t listen to what everyone else says. People will try to tell you your milk isn’t good or filling enough, etc. Not true!

    2. Don’t worry about constantly watching the clock. Feed your baby when he is hungry and until he’s full.

    3. We are using a nipple shield b/c my son has latch problems (2 months old now) which can create quite a mess. If your child is a messy eater, fold down the nursing bra side you’ll be feeding on and tuck the edge of a burp cloth into the rolled down cup to catch the leakage. This way you have a wet burp cloth, not a wet bra!

    4. Use washcloths! I use them in my bra at night and even during the day since both of my “girls” haven’t learned to wait when it’s not her turn to feed. So much easier than changing out 500 breast pads!

  16. I breastfed my twins until they were 18 months old. I had so many problems in the beginning but I stuck with it. I do not judge people who do not stick with it though because I know how hard it can be.

    I had mastitis every single time I dropped a feeding, which is the main reason we nursed until 18 months rather than stopping at 12 – 14 months. I encourage everyone to slowly drop feedings. Also, be familiar with the signs of mastitis. At first I thought I had strep throat because that is what it felt like (high fever, sore throat, achy muscles, etc.) the breast pain came later into it for me.

    I also had problems with milk supply initially. Finally my OB and Pediatrican told me to take Reglan, which is a prescription drug for reflux that has a side effect of increasing lactation. My twins had to come off the breast and be fed via bottle for awhile because they were burning more calories nursing than they were taking in. We had to weigh them before and after they nursed everytime. The medicine made a difference.

    Another issue I had was a yeast infection in my nipples. That was one of the most painful things ever. Every time they latched on, I would cry. Throughout the day my nipples would turn bright white rather than pink. (I know TMI but you asked). They burned and throbbed. It hurt to have the seat belt rub across my chest. Once I was diagnosed and treated with diflucam (or whatever it is called) things got so much better. It made pumping easier, my crying subsided, they enjoyed nursing more, etc. Everything was better.

    Those are my three tips. I wish her the best of luck!

  17. If you just want to give up because it hurts like the fire of a thousand suns, do what I did. I had severe nipple breakdown, and it just wasn’t going to happen I rented a commercial grade pump and attached the girls to it every two hours for 6 months. Wasn’t easy, wasn’t pretty, I cuddled often but in the end the baby got the good stuff.

  18. I did alot of pumping in between feedings in those first 6-8 weeks which established a great frozen milk supply. I also think this helped develop a good healthy supply for many months to come. I always wondered about the letdown reflex until I finally felt it at like 4 months along. I had always had a good supply before that but never had that under arm “stabbing” of the letdown. You might tell your sister not to expect that too early. I also liked the football hold early on to keep my ducts draining from all directions. Massage while feeding to keep everything flowing. My consultant offered that the ducts draining while a baby is feeding line up with their nose and their chin (where the tongue and roof would hit the nipple. If you are plugged up in a specific area of the nipple try to line up the baby to get a good draining.

  19. These are some great comments. I am currently nursing my fourth. It’s the greatest thing to be able to nourish and comfort my babies like no one else can. When starting out I would tell moms to remember that they are in charge. If the baby did not latch right don’t just continue on in pain. Stop and make them do it right. You can flip their lips out to the perfect flange if you need to, you can pull down on their little chins to get a bigger mouth when they latch on, you can take Advil for the pain 🙂 Remember the pain is temporary and don’t listen to people who say that it shouldn’t hurt at all. It hurts for a while – but it gets easier.
    Gadgets – I like the nursing cami that opens down just like a nursing bra. If you wear it under a t shirt or whatever then when you nurse and want to be covered that takes care of the belly that would normally be exposed. And the T shirt covers the rest. People usually don’t even realize I’m nursing. Practice in front of a mirror and then don’t be afraid of nursing in public. Everyone needs to get used to the best way to feed a baby again.
    Best wishes with the newborn and good luck with nursing.

  20. Wow – some scary stories! Please know that nursing DOESN’T have to hurt or be uncomfortable!

    I nursed both of my kids exclusively for 6 months, and nursed them both for 14 months each total. Nursing was never painful for me (except the one time I was bitten!). But I also had a natural nurser the first time who seemed to know what she was doing from the outset. It was more difficult the second time, but I had great nurse at the hospital who told me that if it hurt at first, the baby probably wasn’t latching on properly. “Fillingthequiver” is right to say that you can break the latch and relatch for comfort. Remember, you and the baby are BOTH learning!

    My best tip is the Medela Pump-in-Style. Yes, it’s $300+ dollars, but it is SO WORTH IT for the convenience of double pumping anywhere. It’s a top notch piecec of equipment. I bought the car adaptor and I could pump both sides dry in the car on a break in 5 minutes flat!

    By the way, when biting does become an issue later on, don’t pull AWAY from the bite, but instead, pull the baby CLOSER, essentially smothering the baby’s nose. Baby wants to breathe and baby won’t bite again if you pull baby closer. It worked like a charm for me and I was only ever bitten once.

  21. These are such excellent tips and really helped me! I’m the sister and I also wanted to wish JSM a great big Happy Birthday and thank her for posting this thread. I appreciate all of you responding to the topic because I know it helped more moms than just me.

    My little boy is doing much better and as someone said, it really takes your own inner confidence to succeed.


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