How to Survive Your First Week Breastfeeding

6 Things I Miss.jpg

… Because I’ve been there.

The loooong nights, raw nipples, and failed attempts at the “perfect latch”, no matter what position you try. You are certainly not alone! I’m 14 months into this whole breastfeeding thing and, I assure you, it does get easier. A lot easier.

And the good news is…. there are definitely “mom hacks” to get through that first week. which I know can be excruciating when combined with no sleep, stitches, and getting over the fact that you somehow managed to push a baby out of you. Oh, and your mid section having absolutely zero muscle tone.

It all gets better. I promise.

Here are my favorite items for the first week of breastfeeding… I swore by them! And keep in mind that if I could do it (along with billions of other women), you can do it too. It won’t be easy at first, and does take some getting used to, but it’s 100% doable if you want it badly enough. Good luck!


Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 8.46.28 PM

The My Brest Friend nursing pillow is an amazing tool to tackle the first week of breastfeeding. Unlike other boppy pillows on the market, this one ties around your waist for extra comfort and support. I also loved that the surface was flat, making it easier to position Liam at my breast. You might not need a breastfeeding pillow for a very long time (you do become an expert eventually!), but it’s super useful to get started.


Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 8.58.28 PMI swore by the Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Milkmaid Tea during my first year breastfeeding. If I happened to have less milk than usual, got sick, or stressed because of work, it helped give me the extra boost I needed. I personally think it’s delicious, too! I drank 1-3 cups a day, depending on my milk supply.

Ingredients:  Organic Fenugreek Seed,  Organic Fennel Seed, Organic Red Raspberry Leaf, Organic Stinging Nettle Leaf, Organic Milk Thistle Seed, Organic Orange Peel, Organic Anise Seed, Organic Caraway Seed, Organic Alfalfa Leaf.


Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 8.49.49 PM

The best thing you can do as you embark on your breastfeeding journey is jot everything down. Write down feed start times, of course, but also end times (as newborns can nurse for 45 minutes to an hour sometimes!) The countdown to the next feed begins from the moment your baby unlatches from the breast, so be aware how long you nursed for.

I  also found it interesting to see a pattern in my notes in terms of schedule and shorter feeds. As Liam grew and matured, he became more predictable and I loved that I saw it happen before my eyes.


Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 10.12.44 AMScreen Shot 2016-08-26 at 8.48.04 PM

These gel pads are life savers the first week. My lactation consultant recommended that I dab a little bit of breastmilk on my nipples and place these gel pads on them, preferably right out of the fridge for extra relief. They helped so much! Once I recovered, it was a home run from then on (I still have a few packs of gel pads in the fridge, just in case I have any takers!)

I didn’t use this nipple butter a whole lot after the first week, but it was a life saver at first. Although I got the hang of breastfeeding rather quickly after the hospital, I did get a few “booboos” at the hospital from bad latches.

This butter offered relief and I love that it’s baby-friendly in terms of ingredients. An smells yummy, too! I used it in combination with the gel pads for optimal relief.



Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 8.59.59 PMAll breastfeeding moms have experienced “the leak” at an unfortunate moment at least
in their lives… if not numerous times!

These disposable nursing pads are great for the few occasions you will step out of the house during the first month. They will not only save you the embarrassment in public, but also save your nursing bras from stubborn milk stains.


Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 9.00.27 PMI’ve always made it clear I’m not a fan of pumping, but hey, if it can let you sleep an extra two hours I’m all for it. Take advantage of your enormous and unrelenting milk supply and pump a whole lot as soon as your milk comes in. That way hubby can take over at least one night feed once in a while. Or you can finally get that deep tissue massage you’ve been dreaming of since you were eight months pregnant 🙂

Posted by

Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s