Evidently, being large-chested bears no correlation to how much breast-milk a mother will produce or to nursing easily and comfortably.
Not only did I have a hard time producing milk, I also had no clue how to maneuver my newly sized G’s (formerly size D’s) into a tiny mouth without suffocating my infant.
This was no small task. Literally.
I bought every contraption available from the nursing pillows to a sling—not for the baby—but to hold up my swelling breast! To make matters worse—as if a crying hungry baby were not enough—my nipples were killing me, bleeding, AND I felt like a fat cow.
Where was the proverbial image of the radiant mother and child sitting close, cooing, and bonding, while the infant suckled happily at his mother’s breast?
Apparently, this was not going to be my experience. I had to figure out coping skills the hard way with each of my five children. With some, the circumstances got better. With others, I got breast infections. Yet I muddled on, completely determined that mother’s milk was the best nutrition for them.
And it is. (See related articles below for a list of wonderful resources. Please feel free to add more in the comments.)
So here are the tips I learned that got me through the rough spots, so that I could enjoy breastfeeding my beautiful babies. It was truly worth every second.
Don’t Try This Alone
You know the voice that comes out of the television screen when you’re watching something that you shouldn’t try at home unsupervised? Well, I am now that voice.
Please don’t do this by yourself. Find a certified lactation consultant to guide you through any rough patches. This can make or break a nursing experience and turn around a challenging start.
Get support from other mothers. Having a baby can make some women feel isolated and alone. You may feel like you are trapped forever and that you lost your freedom. Don’t worry! Your life is far from over. You have now embarked on a new leg of this life journey that is rich, frightening, and can feel overwhelming. Relax. You are NOT alone!
If you find yourself extremely depressed, please seek help. While pregnant, make sure your prenatal supplements contain quality B vitamins and keep exercising—as much as your doctor says is safe. Both help mood levels. From what I’ve read, sub-lingual B-12 taken as methylcobalamin is the best form to take of that vital nutrient to ward off depression.
For Easier Lactation
- Drink Traditional Medicinals Mother’s Milk Tea or Wishgarden Herbs Lactation Tea, if you’re having trouble producing milk.
- Drink lots of water—and even more if you are exercising. How much water? Click here to find out. Some people say non-alcoholic malt beer with hops might help. It didn’t work for me, but I enjoyed the variation from water and tea sometimes. Fruit infusions are a nice and nutritious option too.
- Take Wishgarden Herbs lactation tinctures. The Goat’s Rue and Rich Milk worked like the magic porridge pot in the classic children’s story. “And the milk flowed happily ever after…The End.”
- Use the Wishgarden Herbs New Mother’s salve for sore nipples. It is the ONLY sore nipple balm that cured me (and I tried all the biggies). The balm can also be used to soothe a sore perineum (I hope nobody is reading this who doesn’t have a baby, otherwise this post will act like birth control!)
- Eat a healthy diet. Don’t starve and don’t indulge.
- Continue taking high-quality prenatal supplements that are best absorbed by the body.
- Find time for yourself to rest, unwind, and relax. Take a warm bath with candles. Nap. Sleep deprival and stress affect the body’s ability to produce milk.
For the Well-Endowed Woman
- Buy a comfortable nursing pillow and props to support you, your baby, and your breast.
- Rather than squeezing into your old bras, get yourself sized for a suitable nursing bra. You will enjoy fitting into something that also has a release hatch. Trust me. Plus it is important to have a bra that is slightly loose that won’t cut off the milk ducts (see below).
- I loved my cotton nursing shawl. My mom who nursed my sisters and me in the ’70s used a nursing cape everywhere she went. No one feels uncomfortable. And there are no unnecessary displays of flesh to scare the living daylights out of passing children during latch-on and latch-off moments. More styles here.
To Treat an Infection
Generally, pain in the breast comes from a plugged duct stemming from a tight bra or not draining the breast fully. An infection can also come through a crack in the nipple.
It hurts a lot and can feel as though you’ve got the flu. It usually means you need to get more rest (when is that not true for a mom?), and you need to drain the breast. Rarely, if ever, are antibiotics needed to treat this condition, as long as you are boosting your immune system with vitamin C and taking measures to heal at early onset.
If symptoms do persist, please see a medical professional whom you trust. Those that I trust take the prescription route as the very last resort when all else fails. This is better for your system and doesn’t expose your infant to unnecessary medications.
I had mastitis and successfully healed myself with some guidance from professionals over the phone and on the internet.
Since latching on is usually way too painful (scream-worthy), this is a good time to pull out the breast pump that you’ve been storing for a happy occasion. Even if latching onto the pump makes you want to pull your hair out, keep going. The pain eases in time. Massage the breast while pumping to stimulate flow.
Take warm showers and continue massaging the breast from under the arms out towards the nipple to get things circulating.
Look into homeopathic remedies that help relieve breast infections. At times, Phytolacca and Belladonna helped me, but there are others (please see the third article below).
It sounds hard to believe but wrapping my breast in cabbage reduced milk supply and is very cooling to the inflamed breast. Feeling like a salad pales in comparison to the relief it brings. I was told that creating a potato poultice made from grated raw potato helps too, but I never went the potato salad route. Cole slaw is where I drew the line.
Thanks to these indispensable remedies, tinctures, tips, and support, I successfully nursed all five of my children until they themselves were no longer interested.
Despite the pain, it did turn out to be a warm and loving experience between my child and myself. If I had to do it all over, I would. Without a pregnant pause.
- Breast Really IS Best (dailymail.co.uk)
- Comparison of Human Milk vs. Formula (askdrsears.com)
- Breast Infection Begone (thehealthyhomeeconomist.com)
- Blocked Ducts and Mastitis (the nbci.ca)
- Breastfeeding Problems/Mastitis (breastfeeding-problems.com)
Disclaimer: This post is not designed to diagnose or treat any of the situations related in it. I am merely relating my experience and what worked for me. Every woman is different and must make individual decisions that are best for her and her child, including the decision to breastfeed.