Monday, December 17, 2012

My Breastfeeding Essentials

We had a boring low key day at home today so I thought i'd put together another list for you!

Ayden hanging out with his furry buddy.
I always knew I would breastfeed. I come from a family of breastfeeders and for us it has always just been what you do. I knew I'd do it, knew I'd love it and I am so very glad that it all worked out the way I wanted it to! It hasn't been 100% smooth sailing. I've had mastitis twice, milk blisters, bites and more than my fair share of plugged ducts but I always adopted the attitude of, "It just comes with the territory. It is all temporary and once I make it through, we'll still be breastfeeding." I also often thought, "What would a cavewoman have done?" And that helped keep things in perspective. My goal was to breastfeed for at least a year and Ayden is still going strong so I have no doubt we'll make it. After that, it is up to him but since we do not plan on giving him cow's milk, I am hoping he'll continue for another year.

I suppose all you really NEED for breastfeeding is your milk-filled breasts and a baby but here is a detailed list of my top 10 breastfeeding "essentials":

1) Support. I honestly believe that support is the key to being successful at breastfeeding, or anything for that matter. Between my mom, sisters, midwife and David, I was surrounded by encouraging people who all believed it was the right thing to do. I never ended up having a moment when I wanted to quit but if I did I know I'd have encouragement to push through coming from all directions. It is not easy and you'll need someone who understands that will listen to you vent, validate your feelings, then encourage you to continue.

2) Comfortable nursing bra. I LOVE the Bravado Allure Nursing Bra.

This is an underwire bra designed specifically for nursing. You have to be careful because under wires can cause plugged ducts, but I personally felt so self conscious with the mediocre support of standard nursing bras. I am slightly larger chested and really enjoy the support and shape that an underwire can provide and this bra fit the bill! The underwire is bigger, avoiding any milk-producing tissue and, though I am prone to plugged ducts, this bra has never caused one. The only con is that they are pricey so I only have one. That being said, it has held up nicely so it shows that you are paying for quality. I'll buy another with our next baby and then I'll have two! I should also add that all Bravado products have great reputations.

3) Reusable breast pads. Just like with diapers, disposable breast pads can really add up. My advice is to invest in some high quality reusable breast pads. My favorite have been my Bamboobies.

 Since they contain hemp, they are MUCH thinner yet more absorbent than standard reusable pads. They are a bit pricey but with how discreet they are it is worth it. Even with their price tag you could purchase 2 sets and still save a ton of money that would be thrown in the trash with disposables. Disposable breast pads are also filled with chemicals that aren't the best thing to put in your baby's mouth or to put against your sensitive breast tissue. Who knows what all might cause breast cancer down the road...

3) Nursing Pillows - plural. I have both a Boppy

and the My Brest Friend.

I found that My Brest Friend has ended up being my favorite for nursing. It clips on so I could walk around and nurse, has built in lumbar support, has a pocket where I always kept a couple of burp cloths or my cell phone, and is overall more structured than the Boppy. I still liked having both. I kept My Brest Friend in the nursery where I did most of my nursing and kept the Boppy downstairs where David could use it for holding Ayden. Though the My Brest Friend was my favorite of the two, I actually preferred the Boppy for night feedings in bed because I could just slip it right into place. The one time I attempted to use My Brest Friend pillow in bed in the wee hours I bopped David in the head while trying to get it buckled around my waist. Like I said, I would recommend having both because they are both great for different reasons.

4) Breast pump with hands free bustier. This one is pretty self explanatory. I originally thought I'd pump a lot so that I could donate milk. If you know you'll be pumping a lot it is important to invest in a high quality breast pump. I have the Madela Pump In Style Advanced with the shoulder bag and it has been perfect.


 I actually purchased it used at a consignment event when I was pregnant and just got new tubing, flanges and bottles. I didn't end up pumping as much as I thought I would because I kind of hate it but I have still gotten good use out of it and don't regret having it. The hands free bustier is nice because it allows you to multi task or tend to your baby while pumping. You can totally make one yourself out of an old sports bra or shelf bra tank. I also have the Madela manual pump and it has come in handy when I need to pump a little off without hooking up and strapping on the big electric pump.

5) Milkies Milk Saver.

This came in SUPER handy for me because I suffered from extreme over supply for the first 3 or 4 months. Not only did it catch what dripped out of the other side during feedings (don't let a breast pad soak up that liquid gold!) but it also really helped anytime I was uncomfortable and had to hand express a bit. A manual pump would come in handy here too but I didn't get mine until later.

6) Lanolin Cream or any kind of nipple relieving ointment. Your nipples get SORE at first. If they crack or bleed it is a latch problem that lanolin won't fix but even if your baby has a perfect latch you will be sore for the first week or so while that sensitive skin toughens up and adjusts to its new expectations. Slather plenty of lanolin, olive oil, coconut oil, etc. before and after every feeding and it will help a lot! I used both Lansinoh and Madela brands and found I preferred Madela's formula. For me, tt was softer and much easier to get out of the tube and spread. Have a few tubes and keep them at every nursing station and in the diaper bag.

7) Lecithin. If you have an over supply or are prone to plugged ducts, this natural supplement will be a life saver! It is what helped me battle mastitis without antibiotics (twice!) and has helped me clear numerous plunged ducts. Definity worth having on hand

8) Block Feeding. This is when you feed on one side for as many times as your baby wants to nurse for a set amount of time. For example, if you choose 4 hour blocks, no matter how many times your baby wants to nurse within that four hours you feed from the same side every time. Once the 4 hours is up you switch. I did this until my milk regulated which wasn't until Ayden was between 4 and 5 months old. Since I had a crazy over supply, it caused a terrible hind milk/fore milk imbalance for Ayden. His poop was green, his belly was rumbly and his mood was terribly fussy for weeks. Block feeding + reclined nursing was our saving grace! I wished I had known about it sooner!

9) Undercover Mama Tanks.

These tanks are wonderful! They turn any nursing bra into a tank. I have two and wish I had a few more. I cannot convey how much I love these tanks. I don't like "nursing" tops and with these tanks I was able to turn my pre-pregnancy wardrobe into my nursing wardrobe without having double clasps or having my back/belly hang out while I nurse. I just pull up my top shirt, undo the ONE clip from my bra and nurse away. I saw a tutorial on how to make one yourself but honestly, with the money you'll save by not having to purchase a THIRD wardrobe (pre-pregnancy, pregnancy AND nursing? No thank you!) spend your precious free time doing something else and just buy a couple of these.

10) Entertainment. You will spend HOURS nursing. Especially in the early, newborn days. I would always go through my checklist before settling in to nurse. Support pillow, water (nursing makes you THIRSTY!), burp cloth and iPhone.


I used my phone to keep track of feedings and keep my mind occupied while I nursed. It helped turn each nursing session into "me time" and I really enjoyed HAVING to sit down every 2-3 hours to cuddle my baby and watch some YouTube or browse Facebook. Not too shabby if you ask me! Now I tend to put my phone aside more often so I can focus on Ayden and cherish our nursing sessions because 1) who knows how much longer he'll nurse and 2) he is super efficient these days and a full nursing session can take as little as 10 minutes.

Breastfeeding essential *BONUS!*: is the BEST breastfeeding resource out there. Use it!!

Any favorites I didn't mention? Please share below. Happy breastfeeding!!


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