Here are nursing insights from a mother of 5 including position, let down, and general logistics for breastfeeding mothers.
If you’ve had your babies close together, you know the drill. Times can be tough nursing, but these tips will help.
“Breastfeeding is so natural,” they said, “it’ll be easy.”
In a way, yes, “they” were right. In some other ways, no “they”‘ were not.
My firstborn was born in Scotland and the midwives there were very encouraging, helpful, and supportive about nursing in general. (See my opinion about the difference between midwives and doctors). I watched a helpful video about latching on and haven’t had an issue with 5 babies.
I even helped my Hospital Next Door Neighbor get Baby to latch. The baby was screaming for hours on end and the nurses kept telling her to put the baby on her chest and the baby would find the milk.
This is crazy to me since you (The Grown Up) already know where the milk is… so I showed her the latch technique and 3 Mississippis later… nursing baby.
That said, there are difficulties that crop up, particularly when you have babies close together in age. It can get tricky at times, but you can do it if you want to!
How to Nurse and Keep Sanity
Some people find nursing very difficult, but I don’t think it has to be. Or at least, we can alleviate some of the stressors to make it a pleasant and beneficial experience for mommy and baby.
Hormones are intense things. During one pregnancy I had perinatal anxiety. This went away immediately upon giving birth, but it was a difficult thing.
My anxiety counselor at the time told me, “Hormones don’t lie, but they do exaggerate.“
Meaning, hormones can make minuscule things feel bigger and big things seem huge.
With all 5 babies, I’ve experienced D-MER. This is a condition that occurs immediately before letdown when certain hormones are released in the brain that cause you to feel immensely sad, homesick, or “blah.”
When milk is released there’s a drop in dopamine levels resulting in this feeling. It passes after a few minutes each nursing session and is completely gone by around 3 months, but it’s disconcerting.
Enough about my bra, let’s talk about yours… while you may not experience this you should expect the first few months postpartum to be flooded with hormones. You’ll Feel All the Feels and then some.
This won’t necessarily lessen if you stop nursing, but it is something to be aware of.
Find a comfortable position
It’s important you find what positions work for you and not try to reinvent the wheel every time you need to nurse.
I have two “go to” positions to nurse. One is lying down. I started this with my oldest at night so I could sleep. Now, if no one else is around and it’s quiet, I’ll lie down to feed the baby. This doesn’t work with super gassy babies, but it is a good way to get in a quick nap.
My second preferred position is sitting up using a pillow, like the Boppy® Best Latch™ Breastfeeding Pillow below. I’ve owned two, if not 3, Boppy’s over the course of my Nursing Career and I love them.
In fact, I feel like the word Boppy is a household name amongst new mothers now. It helps prevent you from slumping, makes nursing more comfortable for you and baby, and has removable and washable pillowcases.
Occupy the other kids on purpose
One of the surest ways to feel stressed during nursing (which is not good for the baby nor your letdown) is when the other kids are running around screaming. Or hugging and wallowing all over you.
What I’ll often do when I know I need to feed a baby is to occupy the other kids.
This may be a few things:
- independent play time
- TV time
- outdoor play (in an enclosed area unless you are sitting with them)
- when they’re all down for a nap at the same time
Get appropriate clothing
I often end up having to feed in public restrooms because I don’t have a lot of nursing clothes. This isn’t really a good plan and though I do have a postpartum wardrobe, I am lacking in tons of nursing shirts.
Something you can do to easily prevent public exposure fiascos is to have a nursing cover. If you plan on doing a lot of nursing in public due to your routine, I’d suggest practicing using the nursing cover plenty of times before you give it a go in a crowded room.
Ask me how I know.
Get a bottle just in case
I’ve exclusively breastfed all 5 of my babies, but I do like to keep some formula and a breastfeeding friendly bottle on hand (Here’s how to get a breastfed baby to take a bottle).
If you happen to be gone longer than you’d planned, need to be away longer than 3 hours, or just want a break for a night feed, having a bottle and some formula will give you a bit of breathing room.
This is often a reason many nursing moms quit, because they feel smothered from a loss of freedom. This will be exacerbated by feelings of hormonal ups and downs and, if you’re experiencing any postpartum depression or anxiety, it can make life really difficult for you.
A little formula here and there will not compromise your desire to exclusively nurse.
My little guy waiting on a diaper change.