The Breastfeeding Lounge
The more women I talk to, the more I realize our breastfeeding experiences are so different even though we are doing exactly the same thing. Whether you're sitting at home with your friend chatting, texting an old classmate or at church in the mother's lounge, I have received some great insights on breastfeeding from chatting with other moms.
Some things you learn as you go, but taking a breastfeeding class before you give birth is a must if you’re new to breastfeeding. After the class, it’s helpful to have a reference guide to breastfeeding on your nightstand or coffee table for those first few weeks. I received a breastfeeding book called “The Everything Breastfeeding Book,” from my sister-in-law and really appreciated it when I started breastfeeding. During school I learned about breastfeeding but only stored the knowledge long enough to pass the class midterm and then dumped the info into long-term storage. So now here I am several years later retrieving all the information and relearning it through first hand experience.
Plugged (clogged) Milk Ducts
I knew that clogged (or plugged) ducts lead to mastitis and I had heard some horror stories about that. So, when I got my first clogged duct, sirens were going off in my head to get the plugged duct fixed ASAP. I put everything on hold and did nothing else except fix the plugged duct. Textbooks say that underwire bras are a common cause of clogged ducts but I think its more a poorly fitted bra that’s too tight anywhere and underwire bras are just more known for that than other bras.
HERE COMES SOME TMI…
With my first baby I had a plugged duct 3 different times. I tried so many different tricks to get relief such as:
- Changing breastfeeding positions. My baby probably wondered what I was doing breastfeeding upside down.
- Warm compresses with massage. Did someone say milk steamer?
- Vibration from an electric toothbrush = MILKSHAKE, YUM!!!!
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I even tried to convince my husband to aid in the removal but he surprisingly rejected the idea, vehemently. Then I took a hot bath in our sorry excuse for a bathtub in our tiny apartment and hand expressed the plug right out. Milk started spraying everywhere and I felt instant relief. I told my husband that he was lucky one of my tricks worked because he was up next in my frantic search for relief.
I would compare a plugged duct to riding in an airplane with a sinus infection. The pressure builds up and gets worse with time. You sit there and try to pop your ears over and over again until a miracle happens and your ears pop. It’s like the most exciting and pain relieving moment in your entire life. Same with clogged ducts.
Finding a Nursing Bra
Women come in all shapes and sizes and so do their breasts. This truth is even more accentuated while breastfeeding. Depending on the time of day, age of your baby, frequency of the baby’s eating, and other things, your breasts change size. One thing I didn’t realize is that mine would change sizes drastically between baby one and two. I kept all my nursing bras from before and started wearing them with my second baby. The week after baby 2 was born, I got some new nursing bras to add to my collection and thought I was set for the next year of breastfeeding. There is a little fact of advice that I found out a little too late.
Fact: You shouldn’t get fitted for a nursing bra until 3 weeks after your baby is born.
WHAT?!?! So am I supposed to just walk around without a bra for 3 weeks? Well I ended up doing that for 2 days once my milk came in and I got a clogged duct because my bras were too small.
I’m a well-endowed woman and as such, have never enjoyed being braless. The best solution to get a clogged duct out besides frequently feeding on the affected side, is to go without a bra. I couldn’t even wear my old sleeping bras that are just knit fabric because everything was so painful. I definitely paid the price for my negligence. During those 2 braless pajama days I searched high and low for the right size bra. On the second day I ventured out of the house in a bra. I convinced myself that it would only be an hour and that it would be worth the sacrifice. I went to Motherhood maternity and tried on a dozen bras, while the sales clerk repeatedly asked me if I needed help. I kept refusing help, knowing what my size was from previous measurements and personal observation of my breasts getting bigger, seemingly by the hour. Finally, after trying on several ill fitted bras I broke down and asked for help. She measured me. Guess what? I did know my size. Come to find out they don’t carry my size in the store, or online. At their store my bra size doesn’t exist. What size am I, you may ask? 36G. Have you even heard of that size before??? Well I definitely hadn’t heard of it and the sales clerk (who had previously worked at Lane Bryant: Plus size clothing store) hadn’t heard of it either. Mind you, the cup size exists and the band size exists but they didn’t exist together. My husband called at that moment to inform me that our child was hungry and to hurry home. AWESOME!!! NOT!!!
She was the reason I was in this mess in the first place. Didn’t she realize I was making this sacrifice for her? Couldn’t she wait another hour till I found a bra, so I could be a happy mom and a happy breast feeder? I didn’t even get to go on my morning walk because of these blasted boobs. Ok, so it’s not her fault, but I was a feeling hopeless and thought I’d never be able to leave the house again until I found a bra in my size (if they even existed). If motherhood maternity doesn’t have my bra who does? I thought they were the golden ticket when it came to pregnancy and breastfeeding. Don’t get me wrong, I love the store and I have bought most of my pregnancy clothes from them. I just felt like I was at the end of the road and didn’t know of other options.
What do you do when you have no options and no answers??? Turn to the internet, of course!!!
After a little searching I found the bra I needed at Nordstrom. Did you know that you can find out if your local Nordstrom has the product you want and have it put on hold? I couldn't just sit and wait for it to get delivered to my house a few days later, I NEEDED IT NOW. I called the Nordstrom 40 minutes away and they had my size. I repeat, they had my size! The lady I was talking to had it in her hand, and not just one, but two bras. TWO BRAS in my size. She was holding it in her hand and wrote MY NAME on it. AMAZING!!!! I couldn’t believe it. I raced to the store and nearly kissed the feet of the lady who held the bra for me. I ended up staying in the fitting room with my baby for 30-40 minutes trying on the bras, feeding the baby, trying on the other bra, burping the baby. The clerk was so nice and just left me alone after checking on me once and heard me say I was doing GREAT. I should have known Nordstrom would come through for me. They have always delivered excellent quality when it comes to the bra department. I can’t get away with a $20 bra from Walmart. Instead, I pay top dollar ($70 a piece) for heaven on earth in bra world. I’m all about saving a penny here and there, but when it comes to a bra, I pay whatever it takes to get the right fit. My back and boobs thank me every day for my financial sacrifice.
I can’t even comprehend that other ladies, in “The Lounge," use regular bras and just lift them up and don’t need a special nursing bra. WOW! It just goes to show you that everyone is different. There is no right or wrong way. With breastfeeding you just have to figure out what works best for you and your baby. That's why talking to other ladies in the "The Lounge" is so helpful in providing perspective and getting helpful little tips.
- What are some things you have learned as you breastfed?
- What complications have you had while breastfeeding?
- Is there one piece of advice you always give to new moms who breastfeed?
I would love to hear your comments.