Guest Post: The Girl in the Red Shoes

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Hi friends! My name is Julie and I blog about life as a new mama over at The Girl in the Red Shoes. My son, Hudson, will turn one in September and I can't believe how fast this first year has gone! I have been breastfeeding Hudson since day one and it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I started a series on my blog called The Breastfeeding Diaries in which each week I feature a different mom's breastfeeding journey. This series has been such a blessing to me as well as hundreds of new mamas out there! So, if you are a mom, or soon-to-be mom, I encourage you to check it out. Breastfeeding can be hard and it is so wonderful to know that you are not alone.
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When I was pregnant with Hudson I had a lot of worries and anxiety about breastfeeding. Would it work? How would I know if he was getting enough? Would it hurt? How often would I have to feed him? The list went on and on. Part of my anxiety was due to the fact that it seemed like everywhere I went new moms were telling me how hard it was to breastfeed. And how tired they were. And how they gave up because it was too much work. 
So, I was scared.
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I wish I could go back in time and tell my pregnant self to stop worrying. Yes, breastfeeding can be hard when you are first learning, but it gets easier. Yes, it's a huge responsibility. And yes, at first it hurt (just a little!). But I can say with 100% confidence that 
it is worth it. 
I know firsthand how confusing and emotional breastfeeding can be. New-mom emotions and exhaustion make everything ten times harder. It is ridiculously hard to keep your baby fed and (mostly) happy if you breastfeed or not! I believe that every mom is doing the best that she can for her baby. And in the end, that's all that really matters.
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My number one recommendation for moms who know they want to breastfeed is to do your research. First, attend a breastfeeding class. Most hospitals offer a birthing class, which is great, but they usually spend very little time on breastfeeding. The hospital we used also offered a separate breastfeeding class that I attended with my mom (my poor husband was traumatized from the birthing class, so we let him skip this one....however, if I had it to do all over again I would have skipped the birthing class and just attended the breastfeeding class. It's important for husbands to attend this class because they are most likely going to be your breastfeeding support system. They will be with you when you are struggling or upset and it is helpful for them to have some background knowledge about the benefits of breastfeeding so that they can encourage you when you are feeling overwhelmed. My husband did some research and also read part of my breastfeeding book to make up for not attending the class! And don't worry husbands, the breastfeeding class is totally fine for men to attend.)
Second, start thinking about a support system. Most hospitals or even some pediatric offices offer a breastfeeding support group. Find out where there is one by you and write down the meeting times. Hudson's doctor's office has a lactation consultant on site to meet one-on-one or in groups with nursing moms. Take advantage of this service! I attended a support group meeting with the lactation consultant and it was wonderful! The lactation consultant will weigh your baby, watch you feed him/her, assist with your latch, and answer any questions you have. After you finish feeding they will weigh your baby again, which is great for new moms who wonder if their baby is getting enough....the lactation consultant will be able to tell you pretty accurately how many ounces baby is getting (and if that's enough for him/her). It really is encouraging to hear you are doing it right! Okay, now for the breastfeeding supplies I recommend for every new mom. Did you know that breastfeeding supplies are tax deductible? So keep your receipts ladies!
Breastfeeding: Getting Started
1. The Nursing Mother's Companion is a great book to read when you are pregnant. This book is very comprehensive but it helped me mentally prepare and understand the importance of putting your baby to the breast frequently during those first few days. By frequently I mean you should make 10-12 attempts (or more!) at feeding within a 24 hour period. (And yes, that seems like a TON, but it was accurate!). I'll talk more about my first few days of breastfeeding in part 2 of this series next week. 2. A breastfeeding pillow is a must! You'll need something to help you support your baby, especially when you are first learning to breastfeed or if you had a c-section like me! I use the Boppy but I know some people prefer My Breast Friend. Test them out at the store to see which one you like better. I chose the Boppy because it was simple to use and could be used later to prop up the baby or help him sit. Plus, sometimes my husband uses the Boppy while he feeds Hudson...and there is no way he would have used something called the "breast friend." But to each their own! 3. Comfortable nursing bras. For those first few weeks you'll want a nursing bra that doesn't have padding or underwire. You'll be wearing them a lot so be sure to invest in something that is comfortable! I really like these by Gillian & O'Malley at Target. 4. Nursing Pads. You'll leak all over the place the first few weeks....and months. Trust me on this one. These are great because you can throw them away. They were a little bulky on me so sometimes I cut them in half! I think the next time I have a baby I'll ask my mom to make me some washable ones out of flannel. 5. Soothies Gel Pads are like heaven on your sore nips. Buy just a few won't need them after the first fact I think I only used two pairs. 6. You'll also need some nursing tank tops. I bought these Gillian & O'Malley at Target  tanks in several colors. They are great to wear by themselves or under a sweater for discrete nursing sessions. I found that after a few weeks of constantly wearing a bra or nursing tank top my skin was getting irritated. I'm not sure if this happens to everyone but I have super sensitive skin. I ended up wearing my regular Old Navy tank tops at night. They are stretchy and just tight enough to provide a little support  without any elastic digging in to my skin. 7. Lansinoh Lanolin cream is a must have! I used this for the first 4 weeks and it helped me avoid chapped and cracked nips! And it feels awesome. 
8. A nursing cover. This one isn't something everyone must have, but it does come in handy when you need to nurse the baby and have visitors. Or if you have to nurse your baby in the car (like I have!). 
9. And finally you need a good double breastpump. The Medela Pump in Style Advanced seems to be the most popular pump...and for a good reason! It comes in a tote bag so it's easy to take to work. Plus, once you learn what you are doing it is easy to use. You'll want to at least familiarize yourself with your pump before you have your baby just in case something happens and you are not able to nurse him/her right away. I didn't bust out my pump until Hudson was 4 weeks old because I figured I would forget how to use it....but that's just me. Please feel free to stop by my blog if you have any questions!
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