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I don't pretend to know a whole lot about breastfeeding. My own experience is severely limited. However, I do read up on it a lot, and I recently joined my local La Leche League Chapter and loyaly attend meetings in anticipation of my second little one being born.
One thing I've learned from all the experienced mamas out there is that you have to take care of yourself! It's not just about the baby being fed, it's also about the supplier (that's mom!) being properly taken care of.
Some of the tips I've personally learned from previous experience:
1. Stay hydrated! And eat a healthy, well balanced diet. If you aren't getting the nutritional supply you need, your child won't be getting their needed nutritional supply either. Hydration was a big issue for me, I felt like a fish, constantly chugging water, juice, milk, tea, decaf coffee... anything and everything hydration.
2. The best way to keep your nipple and skin condition healthy is to express a little milk onto your nipple and spread it around with your fingers. Then, if possible, air dry! Walk around the house for 5 minutes without a top if you need to. If you're NIP-ing, keep baby close to your chest after unlatching for a minute so you have a little drying time before putting your breast away. Air drying is less irritating and it allows the milk you've expressed to 'settle' into the skin instead of being rubbed off.
Some of the tips I wish I had known about when I was BFing toddler:
1. To avoid cracked and dry nipples, you need a good latch. It's not about using a Lanolin product or washing with any specific soaps. Shallow latches are the main cause of cracked nipples and often, slippery products make it more difficult for baby to get a strong deep latch.
2. Don't use lotions or soaps on your chest! Wash with water. Easy to remember and easy to do.
3. Warm heating pads help with soreness, as does a great ice pack. Try both to see what works best for you.
4. Make sure you invest in a great nursing bra (or 3)! Supportive, comfortable and easy to use are the three criteria I was told most matter. And wear it all the time, even overnights (although I'd suggest a wireless bra for nights, but that's just me).
Readers, do you have any more suggestions for me? I'm really nervous about establishing a good BFing relationship with my daughter when she's born!