Breast-feeding: Must-Have Items to Make it Easier
Breast-feeding was very difficult for my daughter and I. About that time, a dear friend of mine was trying to get pregnant, and I kept thinking about her and other new moms and wanted to put together a list of items and suggestions that I could give her some day that might help her with the experience. Then I thought "maybe there are other women out there who might benefit from my experience" so here we are.
If you are looking for information or help with breast pumps, pumping, breast milk storage and all that, you'll have to look elsewhere, sorry.
Items You Buy at the Store
- Nursing Bras: Apparently there are two types of bras. The ones that clip off and on are the more common ones that I saw. The ones I have in the photo on the right are sometimes categorized for night wear but I ended up wearing them all the time. In fact, they are so comfortable that I still wear them long after I stopped nursing. I found them at JC Penny but I wouldn't be surprised if they could be found elsewhere. I highly recommend them as they provide a good amount of support but are much easier to get "on and off" for nursing. The ones with the clips I wasn't able to use until I got much more comfortable with nursing - probably about 8 weeks postpartum. Seriously, who designed those?
- Lanolin: I was afraid to use Lanolin at first - afraid of how it might affect the process of breast-feeding. However, it got to the point that I was in so much pain that I would do nearly anything for some relief. A must have! It isn't cheap but I only used one tube, maybe a little bit into a second one.
- Breast Pads: There are two kinds of breast pads, disposable and washable. I liked the idea of the washable because I would rather help the environment if possible, plus it is a more cost effective option. However, it wasn't long before I went disposable. The pros to disposable are that they have the sticky option to stick to your bra so they don't move around. Also, I found myself running out of the washable ones before I had time to wash them.
- Soothies: Soothies are like breast pads but with soothing gel stuff. MUST HAVE! Sadly, ridiculously expensive. For $10 you get a pair. How long they last is up for debate. They say they are reusable but how many times do you really want to reuse them? However, I don't know how I would have made it without these. I made the error of going without lanolin and then wearing my bra without padding at the very beginning of nursing. My nipples got very chaffed very quickly. Without the soothies, I don't know how I would have made it through those first few days. If they were not so expensive I would have used them more often.
- Breast Therapy Pads: I just discovered these as I was shopping for my friend/new mom-to-be. Apparently, they are basically those reheat-able and re-freezable packs that can be placed on the breast during engorgement when the milk comes in. I used socks I had filled with rice but I sure wouldn't have minded something a little more convenient, something I could even wear in my bra. I was very worried about plugged ducts and mastitis (for no other reason than they sounded scary) so I used my home made therapy pads in addition to pumping and nursing like crazy when I first got engorged. Perhaps there are even other uses for these as well. Would love to hear from anyone who has actually used them.
Your 2am Friend
About 5 weeks postpartum I expressed that I was having trouble to my mother-in-law. She happened to know a woman who is part of the Le Leche League and she suggested I contact her. I was so desperate at this point that I would apparently email complete strangers if I thought it would help. We started emailing and then it was easier to communicate by texting or calling.
She was the one who challenged me to just go 100% breast-feeding (up until this point I was doing formula 50% breast-feeding 50% which started when my daughter was in the NICU). I feel like that was truly the positive turning point for me and my daughter. She also told me to call her day or night if I was having issues and needed someone to talk to. I only ever texted her at night (I felt bad calling her) but I extended this same offer to my best friend and sister-in-law who are soon to be first time moms.
Even if it isn't 2am, it is still good to have someone you can go to with questions. It was for me, especially when it seemed like all the other new mothers were finding it much easier than me.
Le Leche League
The hospital I gave birth at advertises that every nurse is trained to assist with breast-feeding and that a breast-feeding specialist is practically on call during your stay at the hospital. Despite this, I still had trouble finding reliable information. One nurse was telling me that I was doing it right when I felt like I wasn't and I just figured the pain I was feeling was part of the process of adjusting. Now I understand that there will be pain but maybe not as much as I was feeling.
I went to a Le Leche League meeting out of desperation. I had this stereotype in my head of liberal hippy women (yikes, am I a jerk or what?). The first meeting, I walked in with my stroller, and diaper bag, and boppy, and who knows what else. I fumbled with my nursing cover and watched as a women on her third child, who was a week old, just easily put her daughter to her breast and started nursing. How desperately I wanted that! I don't want to go into to many details, which you can probably learn at your local La Leche League meeting, but it was there that I learned how to nurse without a boppy (which came so much more naturally!). It was also there that I learned that babies will learn how to latch, on their own, and how to turn their bottom lip out without needing a third arm. Gosh I hope I don't forget all these things by the time I'll need to for round 2!
I was only able to go twice because I went back to work, but I would highly recommend the meetings.
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