Planning on breastfeeding but not sure what to expect? We asked breastfeeding mamas who've been there to share their best tips, pointers, and words of wisdom for soon-to-be moms. Here's what they had to say:
1. Don't be surprised if it hurts (at first)
"Breastfeeding HURTS in the beginning. Your nipples are cracked and raw, your boobs are sore, and letdowns can be painful." — carrotcake06
"The first two weeks are the hardest. I remember standing in the shower wondering if it was going to hurt to shower for the next year until I weaned her. Now (after 10 months) it's not nearly as painful as it was those first weeks." — MermaidNM
2. Practice makes perfect
"The answer to most nursing problems? More nursing! And get support — online, in person, professional, other nursing mamas — whatever it takes to get you through the tough spots." — Nurselorie
3. Invest in some comfy nursing tanks and bras (you'll be living in them soon)
"Stock up on nursing tanks. They are so easy and you don't have to pull up your shirt. You can layer them under a zip-up, hoodie, or cardigan." — jkfranklin
4. Don't be afraid of nipple shields
"I wish someone had told me that nipple shields are not the devil and will not kill your supply. When it is the only way that your newborn will latch, it is okay to use them — and you can wean off of them if you choose." — Novem06
4. Moisturize those nips!
"Lanolin cream: buy it now. It also works as an excellent lip gloss!" — Kelly M.
"If you want to save on nipple cream, try using olive oil and your own breast milk for healing those chapped, painful nipples!" — LindsayQ
5. Create a breastfeeding station
"Set up a breastfeeding station and know that you could spend up to 10 hours a day there in the beginning. I have a radio, iPod, a large bottle of water, a notebook to track feedings, and wet/dirty diapers a remote control fan in front of us, breast pads, and pillows — I even placed my chair so I can see our TV." — rohrs55
6. Don't over-pump right away
"Don't pump a stash until your supply is established — you'll create an oversupply that way." — carrotcake06
7. Don't be afraid to breastfeed in public
"The best thing my baby did to me was force me to nurse in public. Once I had, it didn't feel like that big a deal and was very freeing to feel like I could go anywhere with him and not worry about it." — Elfgirl
"Breastfeed in public however you're most comfortable doing it (with a cover, blanket, etc.). If you're always having to change plans or sit alone, it will feel like much more of a chore." — tralfmadorian
Remember that breastfeeding — even in public — is a beautiful thing, so don't be embarrassed. And that BFing on a Walmart toilet is not as fun as doing it on the bench outside the bathroom!" — Rachel S.
8. Look into lactation consultants — before baby comes
"Get the number for a lactation consultatnt with a good reputation or the number for your local La Leche League before you have your baby. By the time you're having issues, you may be too upset/tired/frustrated to look up numbers." — JoyousJulia
"We paid $150 for a great LC to come to our house and I don't think we would have been successful breastfeeding without her. It sounds pricey, but compared to the cost of formula, it's so worth it!" — Mainer-in-Texas
9. Don't forget to eat!
"I got woozy after nursing sessions during the first few weeks and it was because I wasn't consuming enough calories. Baby will get all the nutrients he needs, but it will leave you with nothing. Make good choices about what you're eating — lots of veggies and healthy proteins. I keep snacks and water in my pump bag because I always get hungry or thirsty when I nurse or pump." — BottomStar
"It's so easy in the beginning to be consumed with everything baby and forget to take care of yourself. The problem is, if you forget to eat and drink, you aren't helping your supply to increase at all. You need those extra calories and fluids." — Marc's Mrs.
10. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate...
"It's super-imperative to drink plenty of water. I got lazy with this early on and almost lost all my milk." — MWoodside