Whenever my pregnant friends ask me for tips about breastfeeding, I advise this: Before you sit down to nurse, make sure there's a tall glass of something wet within reach. I experienced an overwhelming thirst the second my son started to suckle, and grape juice was the only thing that quenched it. Other women have told me that instead of water, Gatorade and carrot juice quelled their insta-dehydration.
Sure, lactation consultants will teach you the fundamentals—the correct positioning and latch, for instance. But your girlfriends will tell you about the best nursing pillow, the perfect tip for heading off neck tension, the most effective remedy for sore breasts (hint: it's edible) and, perhaps most essential, give you sage and sympathetic counsel to keep you from throwing in the towel when times get tough. That's why we asked veteran breastfeeders for hints and pointers—the kind of info you'd seek from your girlfriends, if you only had the time to ask! Here goes.
Find Your Comfort Zone
Lessen the tension: While nursing, stretch your neck and hold your mouth in a slightly open 'o.' This will relax your body and head off soreness in your neck and shoulders.
—Victoria Clayton, Westlake Village, Calif.; mother of Nicolas, 2
Get horizontal: Nursing while lying on your side is a lifesaver. Even if you don't actually fall asleep with the baby, simply being able to relax your whole body gives you some much-needed physical rest. And if you do fall asleep, all the better!
—Sydney Stoyan, Toronto, Canada; mother of Jacob, 3
Try a nursing pillow: I used the Boppy for both my boys (I even kept one upstairs and one downstairs). Not only does it make your baby more comfortable, it also frees up both your hands to do other things: hold the phone, read mail, click the remote or eat.
—Robin Miller, Scottsdale, Ariz.; mother of Kyle, 4; and Luke, 2
Dress for success: You don't need to buy expensive 'nursing wear' I refuse to wear those layered smock tops that are specifically made for breastfeeding, so I opted for ballet-style cross-over tops and plain old stretchy bras instead. These types of tops have no fancy hooks or snaps, so I'd just pull mine discreetly to the side (right along with the bra) to nurse. Presto!
—JennaCoito, SantaBarbara, Calif.; MotherofSophieBella, 3; AndSashaLaurel, 1
Drape a shawl over exposed skin: Even in liberal Toronto, I felt shy about nursing in public. Finally, on my birthday, my husband and I went to our local pub, and I managed to nurse my baby under the pashmina--while eating supper!