Men, feel free to stop reading right here. Unless you are doing web searches to try to help your wife out…
When I became pregnant with BP I received oodles and noodles of advice on everything, and I mean everything – except breastfeeding. Yep the only one to give me advice on that was some old guy… Creepy if you ask me!
So here is my unprofessional/un-medical advice in the order of things I had to encounter/learn.
1. Nipple shields
While they do work and they do protect your nipples from getting chewed up – they are a hassle to use. AND they might decrease your milk supply. I used one because BP couldn’t seem to latch on. We both got attached to it. But it was not so much fun in the middle of the night when she was screaming to be fed and I was too tired to find it/put it on/work with it. On top of that I had to feed her formula too. So my day (and night) went like this: Nurse this side = 40 minutes, nurse that side = 40 minutes, feed bottle = 30 minutes, pump = 25 minutes, break from feeding = 45 minutes (in which time I washed all the bottle and pump stuff – and feed myself), and start all over again.
Here’s where the problem came in. BP was intolerant to dairy (and eggs, and soy, and gluten (and I was allergic to peanuts/tree nuts) – but that is a post all in itself). So when I nursed her – she spit everything up. When I gave her formula – she spit everything up. So, BP was hungry all of the time. I was covered in spit up all of the time (and at the time I had no idea why).
Once I finally figured out what was wrong I cut ‘everything’ out of our diet. HP and I lost a ton of weight, but BP started keeping food down.
THEN someone mentioned the nipple shield might be hindering my milk supply. So we stopped using it. And my milk supply went up. And we stopped using formula. And we all lived happily ever after.
** I wish someone would have told me: nipple shields may decrease your milk supply. That could have saved us a TON of heartache
2.) Blocked milk duct
One morning I woke up and my breast was sore. VERY sore. But I figured I was just adjusting to nursing. So I plodded on. I kind of avoided nursing on that side as much as possible. The next morning, I had a hard pie shaped lump on my breast. WOW, did that scare me real fast. After doing a lot of research I finally guessed it was a blocked milk duct. The advice – have BP nurse often on it and then pump afterward to finish draining the milk.
I added in the advice of massaging it and taking a warm shower as frequently as possible. While it did hurt (a lot) following those 4 steps unblocked the duct and the next time I got one it was unblocked within few hours (instead of a few days).
**I wish someone would have told me what a blocked milk duct was and how to handle it right away. I could have avoided a ton of pain that way.
3.) Nursing pads
I knew I needed nursing pads, but how bad could it be, right? Let me tell you: you will leak all over the place, all of the time. It you don’t have a nursing pad you will leak. *Bounty (the quicker picker upper) does work well. Please, please, please pick up some nursing pads so you don’t leak everywhere and forever stain your favorite shirts.
**I wish someone would have told me I would leak all-of-the-time.
I planned on weaning BP at 12 months – exactly. She is 13 1/2 months and not yet weaned. If you plan on being DONE nursing at a certain time, start wellllllll before that certain time. I tried to wean cold turkey once. And I begged BP to nurse again (which she very willingly did), just so I could get out of pain.
Because I couldn’t find a ‘plan’ on how to wean, and my doctor’s advice was ‘cold turkey’, I thought I’d give you a game plan. Here is what I am doing. It may work for you, it may not, but at least you will have seen at least one plan of action so you get an idea of how to do this.
BP was nursing 4 times a day, and before every nap (which she took on me). So in one week I weaned her off of nap nursing (and on me napping). 1 simple step for this process: I snuggled her with her favorite blanket in her room. I sang 2 songs to her. I counted out loud to 60. And then I placed her in her crib. And she cried. The first day was for about 20 minutes (and it broke my heart). The second day was for about 10 minutes. The third day for about 3. And now she cries till I get back downstairs and then goofs off till she wants to go to sleep.
That left 4 nursing times. I kept the morning one and the bedtime one. To eliminate the other two, I only nursed on one side. Then I fed her a meal of solid food. I did that for a couple of days and then I switched it. I fed her a meal and then waited to see if she asked to nurse. Most days she did not. Every once in a while she will ask for an extra nurse time. Sometimes I oblige, sometimes I don’t.
I have no idea how to wean her off of her last two nurse times.
**I wish someone would have told me how to wean BP.
5.) Nipple Blister
The other morning I woke up with a sore breast (again). I checked, it wasn’t a blocked milk duct. All I knew was my nipple hurt, and to have BP nurse on me hurt even more! I let BP nurse but mostly on the other side. I knew that wasn’t the right thing to do, but wowzers, it sure did hurt to have her nursing on my sore nipple. After about 2 days, I woke up and had a white dot on my nipple. What in the world is that? Yep, you can get blisters on your nipples. Who on earth knows how? (I know, I know – I do have someone sucking on it, so I am lucky I didn’t get more.)
From what I can tell, the best way to heal from a nipple blister is to take a warm shower (warm showers seem to solve all problems 🙂 ). Massage the blister (if you can handle the pain), and dry well. Do not pick at it, do not try to pop it, do not freak out – it will be okay. Next have BP nurse. I know, I know it hurts like you wouldn’t believe. But you have to do it. My blister went away approximately 3 days after I started ‘treating’ it. The ‘scab’ took a few more days to fall off.
**I wish someone had told me what a nipple blister was, how to avoid it (which I still don’t know or I would have told you), and how to treat it.
These 5 things are not all you need to know about nursing, but it was what I wished I didn’t have to learn the hard way. I hope this helps someone out there. Feel free to ask questions – I only have one BP so I might not have an answer, but I’ll listen and try to help if I can.