In the months after your child is born, much of your days (and nights!) will revolve around feeding that sweet little angel. No single activity, except perhaps diapering, will take up as much of your time.
Luckily, nursing is a sweet, snuggly activity that will provide precious bonding time with your baby. Here are some practical tips for getting set up so you can enjoy it even more!
Most of the advice below is relevant to breastfeeding, since that’s what we did with our little Monkey. If you have additional tips for bottle-feeding, please leave them in the comments!
1. Find a comfortable spot. Since you will be spending so much of your time in your nursing spot, make it a comfortable one. Step one is to find a good place to sit. There is, of course, the traditional rocking chair, which is relaxing for mama and baby. We were afraid of little fingers and hands getting caught under the rockers once baby starting crawling, however, so we opted for a bouncy chair from IKEA: simple yet very comfortable. Some friends who are expecting a baby soon just purchased a glider, a modern take on the rocking chair. I had the chance to try it out, and trust me, once you sit down in it you won’t want to get up!
Because we were living in a multi-level condo when our little Monkey was born, I actually set up two nursing spots, one on each of the main floors. My other nursing spot was the corner of our couch. It was also very comfortable, so no need to go out and buy a new chair if you’re looking to save a little cash.
Also keep in mind that if you are co-sleeping you can nurse in bed at night. This is a wonderful way to put you both back to sleep and promotes lots of snuggling. I waited until my little Monkey was a few months old to start this – partly because it took me a while for us to get the hang of it, and partly because in the very beginning it is important to make sure your little one feeds on both sides (and you will probably need to change a diaper), so I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall back to sleep too soon! Eventually, though, this was the only way I nursed at night. Here is a nice overview of nursing positions from La Leche League.
2.Have your gear handy. Make sure to have close at hand everything you will need to nurse. For me this meant having my Boppy nursing pillow and some burp cloths by my chair. Speaking of burp cloths, here’s a tip: at the beginning I found that I leaked quite a bit when nursing. Inevitably after my little Monkey was finished, I would find that the bottom of my bra would be soaked. This problem goes away eventually, as your baby becomes a more efficient feeder and your body adjusts to producing just the amount of milk s/he needs. The solution in the meantime? I just tucked a burp cloth over the bottom of my bra, just under his head. The burp cloth absorbed the milk, and it provided a nice little cushion for him.
3. Take care of yourself as well. With all the changes taking place in your household, it can be easy to forget how many changes you are going through. Even once you recover from childbirth, your body is still adjusting to breastfeeding and childcare. Especially in the months before your child starts solids (most experts recommend waiting until six months), you need to make sure you are well-fed and well-hydrated. Providing nourishment for another human being, no matter how small, takes a lot of energy, so make sure to take care of yourself, too.
One tip I learned was to always keep a water bottle next to my nursing chair. Let each nursing session be a natural reminder for you to have something to drink. Also, I tended to keep a snack next to my nursing chair. With a new baby, you tend to be always on the go, so often you don’t realize you need something to eat until you have a moment to stop and sit. But of course, once you start the nursing session, you can’t just hop up and head to the fridge, so keep something to snack on close at hand. Nuts or trail mix is great for this.
Note: If you use something like crackers, be sure to put them in a new container that is easy to open. Not only will this be easier for you to open one-handed, but, especially if your nursing spot is in the bedroom, your partner will appreciate not hearing that crinkle-crinkle of the plastic bag at night. (I learned this the hard way – sorry, hubby! )
4. Keep yourself entertained. Let’s be real: As much as you love snuggling with your infant, after a while of gazing down at that precious little face and playing with those sweet little toes, your mind will start to drift. Nursing time is also downtime for mama, so take advantage of it! It can be a great time to relax and enjoy those things you haven’t had much time to do since your baby was born. I don’t think I have ever spent as much time on Facebook as I did in the first months of my little Monkey’s life. I also cleaned out my email inbox, caught up on reading books that had been sitting on my shelf for ages, and actually watched the Winter Olympics!
The great thing about the early months is that your baby is not very distractable, so you can easily read, play on the computer, or watch TV while you nurse. (For TV watching at night, most TVs have a closed captioning option, so you can watch with the sound off). We set up a small folding table (like a TV tray) next to my chair, where I kept my laptop, a book, the remote, my water bottle, and a snack.
Another great source of entertainment, especially at night, when you want to keep the lights low, is an mp3 player. You can listen to some relaxing music or some favorite podcasts. Your mp3 player will also come in very handy during daytime stroller walks, so take some time to upload things you really enjoy listening to.
For those with older children, nursing your infant will be more complicated. I’ll have to let you know how this goes for us once Baby Monkey is born! One idea that I have read, though, is to keep a basket of books or activities for your toddler next to your chair, so you can read or play with him while you nurse. While this is definitely a juggling act, it can provide some quiet time with your older child and help cut down on jealousy toward the new little one.
Did you have a special nursing spot? How did you set it up?