It's been one week and three days since Nicole was born... one week and three days since I attempted breastfeeding... nearly one week after my emotional breakdown at 3 AM from the pain of a recovering episiotomy, painful nipples, and the frustration at not being able to get the breastfeeding right. Talk about pain that curls your toes... sore nipples... pain that just wouldn't go away. I came so close to feeding my baby formula full time, but after much encouragement and research, I kept at it, and so far we're doing beautifully.
The La Leche League website was one that I visited to find some advice on breastfeeding, as well as Googled many others. I also emailed girlfriends for how they were able to do it, and I received plenty of practical hints. Here therefore is an amalgamation of what I've gathered from them.
1. RELAX. You don't want to be anxious or tense beforehand. Close your eyes, take deep breaths, put your feet up... if you need to, transport yourself to a more zen place. Nursing or pumping will be much, much easier. Keep all distractions at bay (turn off the TV, play some relaxing music), as it may affect your milk flow.
2. BE PATIENT. Latching on or learning how to pump doesn't come easily, as natural as it's supposed to be. The techniques take much patience (I learned this the hard way). It's very easy to go head first into frustration and disappointment, but I was told to hang on. So I did. Now it's almost funny whenever Nicole latches on (she has as much to learn as I do, and she's a quick learner). It gets easier with each time. And she nurses 8-12 times a day (and I pump a few times in between nursings).
3. OPEN WIDE. I mean the baby! If she sucks on only the nipple, you're in for monumental, toe-curling, non-stop cursing at the world pain. Not discomfort... PAIN!!! She has to open her mouth wide, allowing much of the aureole to be suckled on. Her chin should be pressed against the breast, the lower lip not pursed, but out. It's not supposed to hurt.
4. DRINK LOTS OF FLUIDS. Have a big glass of water on standby to sip on as you're nursing. You need fluids to make fluids. One friend advised me to drink something warm every time I nurse to make the milk flow freely. Another recommended a half bottle a day of Cerveza Negra. A universal recommendation: malunggay pills. I swear by them, as well as malunggay leaves in tinola or munggo.
5. TUMMY TO TUMMY! Learn how to properly position the baby in relation to your body... let's say she'll nurse on your right breast. Her left arm should embrace you, under your right arm. Support her body with your left hand and arm, and present the breast with your right. Bring the baby to the breast, not the breast to the baby. Right now, it's hilarious over here trying to get the timing right. Nicole is one squirmy little mogwai, her arms flailing everywhere. But she does know how to latch on now, her mouth open wide, ready to receive. And boy, she is a vacuum.
6. LANOLIN. This has been my boobie-saver. After each nursing or pumping, wash your hands well. Hand express a little breast milk and rub all over the nipple and aureole. Allow to air dry. Afterwards, apply a little lanolin ointment. It keeps me soft and protects me from cracking and soreness.
7. HOLD THE SOAP! When cleaning the breasts, soap isn't necessary, as well as lotions and creams. Soap can dry the skin, and you wanna keep those aureoles moisturized.
That's all I can think of right now... I wonder what would happen if 'Day decided to breastfeed... Caramel Macchiatto, anyone?