Podcaster, personality, and mother, Miss Lissa, is opening up in our new column “The MILF Manual” about motherhood as an entrepreneur, fitness journey, and learning how to balance career and self-care.
Because I spent so much time helping to care for children in my adolescence, I thought I had motherhood in the bag. That is, until I decided to breastfeed, which became such a struggle I almost gave up. Even after I overcame those mental hurdles, I’m still dealing with the changes it caused my breasts.
I knew to be mindful of the “soft spot” on the crown of a newborn’s head and to support the baby’s neck. I could change diapers, put babies down for naps and make bottles. I even read “What To Expect When You’re Expecting.’ I constantly thought about the kind of mom I wanted to be. I considered myself a professional. The only thing I was unsure about was breastfeeding.
Initially, I planned to nurse my daughter in the immediate weeks after labor so she could benefit from colostrum, which contains antibodies that help protect them against long-term illnesses and diseases (CDC). I already hated the shape of my breasts and after conversations with other mothers, I knew breastfeeding could potentially cause my boobs to become misshapen. After consulting with a local nurse at my doctor’s office, who became my breastfeeding role model, I decided to commit.
I’m Going To Breastfeed
The anticipation of breastfeeding became an inspiration to improve my eating habits. After giving birth, I attempted to nurse my newborn. It was painful, but I persisted with assistance. I wound up pumping so my daughter could still drink my breastmilk instead of formula. Then, I faced another challenge: my body wasn’t producing as much milk as needed. I had to reevaluate what I thought the breastfeeding experience would be and take a new approach to breastfeed. I contact my nurse friend, who persuaded my breastfeeding journey.
She was able to get my daughter to latch and when she wasn’t around I tightly folded a receiving blanket and propped it under my boob. It was a tremendous help. My breastfeeding journey ended when my daughter was almost 11 months old. Never would I have expected to make it that far. I could have kept going, but she began to bite my nipples when she didn’t want any more milk, and you don’t bite the boob that feeds you!
Tips For a Breastfeeding M.I.L.F.:
Sit Back and Relax – “I don’t usually recommend nursing pillows”, says Barbara Cohen, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. “I like for nursing parents to get comfortable leaning back and becoming a recliner for their baby, the baby’s nesting space. Nursing pillows require nursing parents to sit upright which is not conducive to natural and comfortable breastfeeding. They also don’t allow for optimal breast-to-baby’s mouth line up.”
Barbara says positions that cause a nursing mother to lean back and relax with baby on her belly work best. Because it allows the baby to drive the latching process rather than the mom intervening. “Sometimes a nursing parent with larger breast will use a pillow and she’ll have to lift her breast to the baby which is not ideal. Or sometimes a nursing parent with small breasts will be using a pillow but will need to lean over for her baby to attach which is far from ideal”.
Approaching breastfeeding like this is so much more comfortable for both the parent and baby, according to Barbara. “Mind you these are newborns and they can do this from birth. No mammal takes their baby by the head and jams them onto the breast which is what typically happens when nursing pillows are used.”
Angles like this encourage babies to utilize their primitive breastfeeding reflexes as nature intends.
Products That Help
With all the nursing I was doing my nipples and areola became extremely dry and cracked at times. Lanolin is great at keeping them soft and moisturized it is safe for the baby to nurse while it’s on your skin. I would also put a little bit on my baby’s lips to keep them smooth as well.
When I asked our lactation expert Barbara Cohen about using lanolin, she suggested using it sparingly. “Lanolin/nipple butter can be soothing to tender, sore nipples but if you find yourself needing to use it for more than a few days it’s just a bandaid and you should seek lactation support to find the root cause of your nipple soreness”.
An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, like Barbara Cohen, IBCLC can help you to figure out if it’s just a simple positioning issue or something more impactful like a tongue tie or tension in the baby’s body that is causing the nipple discomfort/pain.
Nursing covers are heaven-sent for discreet breastfeeding! It’s a covering made of breathable cotton and it has an opening at the neckline, so you can see the baby and they can get some air.
Our lactation expert, Barbara Cohen says “you can use a lovely scarf if you are modest about breastfeeding in public. However, I encourage all parents who feel comfortable nursing in public to do so proudly, to normalize breastfeeding.”
Mrs. Cohen feels very strongly about public breastfeeding. “We should never feel that we must hide feeding our babies from others but if a nursing parent is uncomfortable then a scarf can do the job nicely. Wearing clothing that makes breastfeeding more accessible without exposing the breast can be hugely helpful too.”
Always decide what’s best for you!
I had a couple of nursing bras but those were not as necessary as nursing pads. Any breastfeeding mama will tell you about a time or another she leaked through her bra because her breasts were engorged. These pads are necessary. I never got crazy about what company I purchased. I love shopping on a budget, so when it came to nursing pads, I went for value over brand name.
“Cotton washable pads are better than disposable, for nipples and the planet! Not all moms need them but prolific leakers are grateful they exist,” says Cohen.
The most important accessory is patience. Allow yourself to make mistakes so you can learn and evolve. According to Cohen, breastfeeding actually aids in stress relief. “Fortunately prolactin and oxytocin-the hormones that are responsible for milk production and release, are also known to increase patience and feelings of love and wellbeing.”