Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
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6 essential breastfeeding tips: why I'm doing so much better the second time around

Lucy is just over 3 weeks old now and I know from last time with Otto that the first 3 weeks of breastfeeding were the hardest. Thankfully this time it has been so, so much easier—part of that is due to experience but I hugely credit a few products and tips I’ve been using this time around. I really wish I’d done these the first time!

Thanks to Silverette for partnering with me for this post!

Breastfeeding was important to me with Otto and I achieved my goals in some ways; he was healthy and grew just fine while being exclusively breastfed, and I nursed him until he was 19 months old (when I found out I was pregnant with Lucy). (Other good breastfeeding posts I’ve done: getting our room ready for a newborn and breastfeeding, my nursing/pumping setup, plus the easiest way to get your free breast pump through insurance, 4 tricks for making pumping at work easier, ultimate baby registry essentials.)

However there were some big stresses, too: in the beginning I had a lot of pain, cracking, and bleeding early on and nothing (creams, silicon circles, etc.) really helped other than walking around topless and waiting it out. Plus, my supply seemed adequate while I was home with Otto but once I went back to work I quickly found I made just barely enough and always had anxiety about if I’d pumped as much as the babysitters had fed Otto while I was gone. I didn’t pump enough, I now know (it’s so hard to take enough breaks at work!), and probably didn’t feed or pump enough early on to establish good supply.

6 essential breastfeeding tips & tools

It’s incredible how much better my breastfeeding experience has been so far, and I credit these 4 simple tools and tips. I have had NO cracking or bleeding, and very little pain (just for the first few seconds after she latches each time, which our lactation consultant said is normal at first). My milk came in quickly and my supply has been way higher already! (I can tell based on how my boobs feel, how I leak from one side while feeding on the other sometimes, and OMG, Lucy gained her birth weight back so quickly and then gained an entire pound between our 1-week and 2-week doctor appointments!)

Here are the tips anyone can use, first-time mom and beyond!

1. Silverette cups

I think I first heard about these in this postpartum essentials post. I couldn’t believe the rave review—“breastfeeding never hurt”?! After my painful first few weeks feeding Otto. I had a bit of anxiety about experiencing that again with baby #2 so I wanted to do whatever I could to make it better. Silverette cups are small, super lightweight nipple cups that you put directly on your skin after/between feedings. No creams or anything else needed or recommends with them; they use the natural healing properties of silver (also antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial, and can also be anti-inflammatory) to soothe and prevent damage.

I’ve heard about silver’s ability to reduce inflammation and odors before, but wasn’t sure how it could work so well... but now I’ve tried the first few weeks of breastfeeding with and without Silverette cups and I can safely say, WOW, somehow they totally work!!!! 

I brought mine to the hospital and haven’t taken them off except to feed Lucy and shower (she’s 3 weeks old). Friction is no longer painful so I think I may be ready to stop wearing them in the next few days or week. They are completely worth the cost, in my opinion!! Great way to start breastfeeding on a calm, pain-free foot! (Update: I stopped wearing these about 3.5 weeks in and haven't had any pain, cracking, bleeding, etc. since. Got through the tough beginning part thanks to these!)

Lucy actually has a little bit of a tongue tie that Otto didn’t (pediatrician says it’s not big enough to do a procedure on), and I have STILL had less pain and better milk supply this time around—I definitely credit the Silverette cups with the increase in comfort!

They are so lightweight and comfortable themselves!

2. Nursing tank tops

I didn’t buy any of these last time and just used standard shelf bra tanks. I upgraded this time and bought a few of these—what an improvement!! Because both straps stay up, you can wear a hoodie over without having to half-disrobe to nurse (especially with baby on one side and the Haakaa milk catcher on the other), and you feel a little bit more dressed if feeding around extended family etc. It’s still warm here and we don’t cool our house too much so most of the find I wear a nursing cami and loose nylon running shorts around the house and am so comfy!

3. Haakaa milk catcher/manual breast pump

I’d heard of milk catchers before but didn’t hear much about the Haakaa manual breast pump until after Otto was done breastfeeding all the time. The Haakaa is a genius invention that suctions onto boob 2 while baby is eating from boob 1 and collects milk without any work on your part. 

I’m able to get 0.5-2+ ounces per feed this way (I mostly use it in the morning when milk production is higher anyway) and demand increases supply so I’m still feeding Lucy plenty! That might not sound like a lot but it really adds up—she’s only 3 weeks old (I started using the Haakaa around 1 week old after my milk was definitely in/established) and we already have quite a freezer stash of saved milk!! Such a relief to have that backup for now if Jason needs to feed her or just when I go back to work. I’ll keep using the Haakaa as long as it keeps being productive. 

The other popular option for getting a backup supply going, and making more milk, is to pump once/day after the first morning feeding. I had planned to do that this time, but the Haakaa is probably getting me about the same amount of milk for WAY, WAY less hassle (especially with a toddler around—would be way harder to be tied up on the couch for 20-30 mins feeding then another 15-20 pumping!!).

The Haakaa has several other uses, too; you can use it as a manual breast pump any time and pump to relieve engorgement, or even soothe clogged ducts by putting warm water and Epsom salts in it. I read some other good tips/hacks for using a Haakaa in this post.

4. Eating and drinking a lot!

I did this with Otto too, but not as much and not really enough. These days I’m consciously making sure I drink lots of water (keeping that big plastic hospital straw cup around!!) and eating lots of meals and snacks. As I shared here, I keep a selection of balanced snack foods on my nightstand and eat in the middle of the night if I’m hungry. I was shocked I needed to do that last time!!

This time around I’m trying to be better about eating real food including meat and vegetables for snacks throughout the day, and eating enough at meals. “Losing the baby weight” is not a top priority here and calorie restriction will NOT help my breastfeeding experience and making enough, nutrient-dense milk for Lucy, but I assume will come anyway naturally. (Update: it was harder the second time. That post here.) I’m prioritizing establishing a good milk supply now, which means eating a lot more than I’m used to (but not just junk food/empty calories).

5. Really really helpful nursing pillow

I LOVE the My Brest Friend nursing pillow. It clips on around your torso so you can position it before picking up baby, and can even do a diaper change with it on (just walking around the house with it on). I love the snug fit (very adjustable) and bring it to bed with me as well as on the couch during the day! (I think I’ll buy a second one when we move our bedroom upstairs—one for each floor!)

But possibly my favorite feature is the pocket on the outside that holds lip balm, a pacifier, a burp cloth, baby nail clippers (easiest to trim nails when baby is sleepy and distracted by eating!), and even my phone. So useful, and keeps these items out of Otto’s reach/radar.

I have two covers for mine (this extra one) but just ordered a third—they definitely get poop and spit up on them and you need backups.

I put another pillow underneath to raise the pillow and Lucy up to my boob level so I don't have to hunch over.

6. Baby tracking app

Take this one with a grain of salt, cause having all this data can make you more anxious and isn’t really 100% necessary if you’re going by your baby’s cues. But I’ve used an app (the one I use is called BabyTime) for tracking feedings and sleep for both babies and it’s been really helpful.

Lucy’s still sleeping most of the day so I don’t track her naps in it yet, but pretty much always feed her right when she wakes up so the first feed time reminds me about how long she’s been up. (Newborn wake windows are only 45-60 minutes usually, so I keep watch.)

I track the time I start breastfeeding her and on which side, so I can easily see how long I’ve been feeding and try to be somewhat balanced on both sides. In the middle of the night I generally only feed her on one side per feeding so it’s helpful to check the app and know I need to feed on the other side next (if it’s not obvious by how my boobs feel!). 

Especially before babies have a set/normal schedule, I find it really useful to track how long it’s been since I fed. I also like having the overnight data when I wake up in the morning to see how often and how far apart she woke up.

You can do it!

Overall I had a good experience breastfeeding Otto and I’m so happy and optimistic that it’s going even better with Lucy this time around, by preventing nipple pain and establishing good supply early on. No judgment at all to anyone who chooses not to breastfeed/for long but for me personally, I am so happy I’m able to feed my babies this way! I hope these tips are helpful! 

Thanks to Silverette for partnering with me for this post!

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