Although I was unable to breastfeed very long with my son (story here), I've had a much better experience with my daughter. Things have been going really well. Before I sit down to feed my baby I go over the acronym TWEP to make sure each feeding goes well. I created this acronym to be able to easily remember the things I need before sitting down to feed her. TWEP stands for what I've found to be important to have or do before breastfeeding.
T- Toilet. It's really important to empty your bladder and make sure you're comfortable for the next 30 or so minutes. Even if your baby is crying, if you need to, use the bathroom first. Further, breastfeeding often causes postpartum bleeding up to 9 weeks after birth so it is good to make sure you have a pad just in case as well.
W- Water. There really is no thirst like the thirst I experience during milk-letdown. It is so inconvenient to sit down, position the baby, get a good latch, and then get a feeling of intense thirst that cannot be quenched because I forgot my water. Further, drinking water helps with the milk-letdown so I've found that drinking water when the baby first starts eating is helpful. Make sure to grab your water!
E- Entertainment. I find breastfeeding goes by much quicker if I've remembered to provide myself with entertainment. Usually my smart phone does the trick. I answer emails, surf the web, read on my Kindle app, look at social media, etc. My sister rents shows she likes from the library like 'I love Lucy' and watches an episode each time she would feed her baby. Other ideas are magazines, Netflix, books, Kindle, etc. Did you grab the remote? Is the volume up enough? I find it helpful to have entertainment while feeding.
Remembering TWEP and checking these four things off before you sit down to breastfeed makes each feeding go much smoother and more enjoyable!
Other breastfeeding comfort items?
I find using a neck pillow like this when I feed at night sitting up helps me hold my head up. Breastfeeding naturally makes the mom sleepy and as long as the baby is in a solid and safe position I don't mind dozing off for a bit. After a few times of feeding without a neck pillow I was constantly having kinks in my neck upon waking up. After using this neck pillow it solved the problem.
Nipple shields like these are amazing for sore, inverted, flat, or oddly shaped nipples. You wear them in your bra or tight spandex shirt and it creates a great latch shape for babies. They also allow your nipple to breath without any pressure or pad pressing on them. I find washing these often with soap (including the absorbent sponge) daily keeps them clean and smelling fresh.
If you find that the absorbent pad doesn't absorb all of your milk I suggest using a breast pad inside your bra towards the top of the shield so if you bend over the breast pad catches it and it doesn't come spilling out of the breathing holes in the tops of these shields. If you have this much let down you may also want to look into these Milkies breast milk saver shields that catch your let down so it doesn't all go to waste!
These nipple shields also assist many in getting their baby to latch on as well.
A recliner. My La-Z Boy recliner that I bought almost new at a garage sale (story here) has been such a help! It has been so helpful in breastfeeding because of the large comfy armrests that the baby can lay on when I have her in the clutch hold.
Trying different holds. With larger breasts the clutch or football hold is usually easiest, with babies who resist being maneuvered (my niece would not latch if there was a hand on her head, she'd push against it and scream) so for these types of babies laying down to breastfeed usually is the best, and for others its the traditional hold. Experiment with different holds if you are struggling to get both you and baby comfortable with feeding.
These are just some quick tips that have helped make breastfeeding more successful and comfortable for me. Remember TWEP Toilet-Water-Entertainment-Pillows and perhaps give a few of these other tips a try as well. What do you to make breastfeeding most comfortable?