I talk about nipples a lot in this post. You're welcome.
My Tips (in no particular order):
1. Watch these videos on latch by Dr. Jack Newman. I watched them while I was pregnant, but I had to watch them again once I had Jax and was starting to get sore. Latch is especially important in the beginning!
2. If you get sore nipples, express some milk immediately after each nursing. Rub it on the nipple, then let them air dry! This was singlehandedly the best tip I was given.
3. Surround yourself with support. Hopefully this means your partner, your mom, your friends and your health care professionals. I also think it's helpful to tell those close to you that you're planning to nurse ahead of time - this can save you some awkward conversations later on.
4. I also think it's handy to link up with a few pro-breastfeeding social media sites. They are constantly posting helpful articles and funny epithets about nursing and it's benefits and challenges. You can also learn quite a few veteran tips from the comments on Facebook. I follow KellyMom, The Leaky Boob and Best For Babes on Facebook and Twitter, and I also follow the Facebook pages "Breastfeeding" and "If breastfeeding offends you, put a blanket over YOUR head". I've learned SO much just by following these pages! KellyMom is my favorite, though.
5. Don't keep formula in the house. I know some will disagree with me here, but unless your doctor tells you you need to supplement, just don't tempt yourself (or others). If, like me, you get a million free samples you can donate them to a food pantry.
6. On that note - read this post, this post and this post about common breastfeeding myths (that some underinformed doctors/midwives still perpetuate). And here are some myths about breastfeeding past one year of age. Don't be afraid to do a little of your own research.
7. Stay skin to skin with your baby after s/he's born for an hour, and "room in". This is a very common tip, but I have a few friends whose hospitals still took the (perfectly healthy) baby away for testing, bathing and to allow mom time to "rest" right after delivery.
8. Don't soap your boobs - water is fine. Let them air dry and expose them to air whenever you can (especially when they're sore!).
9. If you have to take antibiotics for some reason (mastitis, Group B strep), take probiotics (I took Florajen) to avoid thrush.
10. Prioritize breastfeeding over visitors. The most awkward visitors for me were Nate's friends - some of them didn't seem to mind, but a few of them were downright uncomfortable when I said I needed to nurse the baby. Oh well. The dude had to eat. This can be especially tough in the first few days when you're still getting the hang of it though. Baby (and your boobs) > chit chat.
11. Cover up when you nurse in public. Or don't. Whatever works for you - but don't let anyone else tell you that you need to do either one.
12. Make sure your doctor uses the WHO growth charts that are based off of breastfed babies. Many doctors still use outdated charts that were based on formula fed babies growth patterns. Also - don't let your doctor convince you to start solids before 6 months - current AAP guidelines say that babes should only have formula or breast milk. This post has more info on both of these issues.
13. Read this: Timeline of a Breastfed Baby
14. When you google things (and you will) make sure to get your info from a reliable source - I LOVE KellyMom and La Leche League. Stay away from the message boards on Baby Center and The Bump. Those drama-fests are ridden with bad advice.
15. Rest. And don't do too much too soon. This is the stupidest advice ever because new moms are exhausted (I still feel like a zombie), but it is important. Lots of problems are made worse by overdoing it.
16. If you can, find a support group - I just joined La Leche League and it is AWESOME. Having a group of other breastfeeding moms to talk to is reassuring and can help remind you that you are not alone!
17. Don't stress about your supply unless you start having issues. This was a mistake that I made, and regretted. I was so worried about my supply being too low once I returned to work that I started pumping once or twice a day at three weeks. I ended up with a terrible oversupply, a fussy baby and stretch marks. I also think my oversupply (and trying to go for a run at 5 weeks post partum - see number 15) led to mastitis - on both sides. It was not fun.
18. That said - don't wait too long to introduce bottles! Give yourself a few weeks to ease into the transition.
19. Don't expect super-rapid weight loss. Yes, breastfeeding burns calories, but I have a few friends who were disappointed when they didn't immediately snap back to their prepregnancy size. I think this benefit might be overhyped. I'm still barely buttoning my pre-baby pants - most mamas have told me that it still takes awhile!
20. Don't give up! There can definitely be a few tough times, but I promise that it gets easier, and that it's worth it.
A Few Thoughts on some Boob-Related Products:
1. Early on, have some lanolin handy. I also liked Motherlove Nipple Cream.
2. Personally, I am not a fan of Lily Padz. I found that they trapped milk against me and it would sometimes leak down my shirt. I've also heard that they're linked to thrush.
3. Have a lot of reusable breast pads. You guys...I thought that I had too many of these before I had the baby, and yet somehow I am always out of them. Your situation might be different (I have a ridiculously strong let down) but I soak several of those things a day. I had a free sample of disposable pads, but I thought they were terribly uncomfortable - plus with the rate I go through them I would be about broke by now.
4. If you're returning to work, don't skimp on your pump - you two are going to be intimately acquainted. I have an Ameda Purely Yours and I use Lanisoh bags.
5. When I use a nursing cover, I use an Aden+Anais muslin blanket. Honestly though, a lot of times I feel like I nurse more discreetly without a blanket or cover. People stare at you when half your body is covered in a baby blanket..
6. I love Undercover Mama tanks. They turn any nursing bra into a nursing tank so you don't need to expose your belly to the world. Nursing tanks in general make nursing in public WAY easier.
7. My favorite nursing bras are the Stella brand from Target - they're just a light, stretch material - no cups. I've yet to find a soft cup bra that I like. If you have one that you like, PLEASE let me now.
That's all I can think of for now, but I may update this post if I think of anything else!
And for the mom's who've been there and done that....any other tips? And any tips for older babies? I hear the upper teeth can be a b!tch...