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Favorite Breastfeeding Aides and Accessories
The Joy of Breastfeeding
So, you've decided to breastfeed. What should you expect, and how can you prepare?
I was unsure what to expect when carrying our first child. I knew breastfeeding provided the best immune boosters and nutrition for my baby, especially because breastmilk changes to meet babies' developmental needs. Words cannot adequately describe the joy of nourishing your child with food your body provides. The tender bond between a mother and suckling infant has moved me to tears at times. Indescribable, really, the emotions that grow each time I place a baby on my breast to feed.
Realistically, breastfeeding is quite demanding, especially the first few weeks of life. The newborn can feed as often as every hour and a half, depriving the mother of sleep. Mother's diet should be designed for milk production demands in addition to the mother's body's needs. Increase of fluids, vitamins, minerals, etc., as well as even more water consumption is recommended.
As beautiful as breastfeeding is - it is not easy. It's simple, but not easy. I hope my experience can help nursing moms prepare for a successful breastfeeding experience.
Nutritious, Tasty Snacks
Breastfeeding requires extra calories and nutrition. In my hub, Breastfeeding Readiness: Nutrition & Exercise, there is a link to a calorie calculator that includes factors such as age, weight, height, activity level. I also discuss the need for nutrient-rich, easy snacks.
While pregnant, go ahead and build a supply of organic, stimulant-free protein bars, nuts and dried fruits, home made granola or trail mix. You can prepare and freeze nutrient rich breads, like banana or pumpkin bread. Be sure to slice, wrap individual slices, and place in freezer bag.
One of the last things I felt like doing while caring for a newborn was having to take time to prepare snacks. Having ready-made healthy snacks is a stress reliever and helps ensure you don't consume empty calories.
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Day and Night Nursing Bras
Mothers of newborns may be tired, but still want to look and feel their best. A supportive, attractive nursing bra is a must in my opinion. There are many options available - and most decent bras are a small investment of $50 plus. However, I found a bra at Target that is both attractive and supportive. I bought three.
Nighttime nursing bras are divinely inspired as well. They hold much needed nursing pads (see next section!) in place to ensure both mom and baby stay dry. The soft body is more comfortable for a sleep than the day bras. I found affordable ones at Target as well - 2 for $18, I think. They're great. I've made the mistake of going to bed without nursing pads - and, let's face it, ladies - our bodies are scheduled for milk let-down round the clock. Please learn from my experience, waking up with wet, cold pajamas and sheets is not fun -- nor is having another mess to clean! The extra money spent to purchase night time nursing bras is well worth it. Their design allows for easy-breast access that mere sports bras do not.
If you are an avid exerciser, you'll be glad to know comfortable nursing sports bras are available as well.
Lansinoh Nursing Pads
Nursing pads are an absolute necessity for clean breastfeeding, as well as for discretion.
Let me share a story of a time I forgot to slip them into my bra. I was sitting across a desk at an appointment when my milk let down. I had on a chambray top, which darkens into a starkly contrasting almost black shade of blue when wet. You probably already guessed what happened. My milk "let down" -- ugh oh. There I sat, across from a gentleman, with two sand dollar size wet spots across my breasts. Thankfully, he had moments earlier shared that he and his wife were expecting their first child, which provided comic relief for me. I quipped, "See what your wife has to look forward to?"
You may have noticed I included a brand name for nursing pads. Not all nursing pads are alike. If you don't have a quality brand, you may as well go without protection at all. I've tried several brands, as well as the re-usable kind. In my experience, in addition to being bulky, re-usable pads do not absorb quickly, allowing milk to dribble and be absorbed by your bra, and sometimes making it to your clothing.
Other brands looked like they would be more discrete, but were not. I have not been able to find a brand that compares with absorbency either. Be sure to include Lansinoh nursing pads on your gift registry! Do not waste your money on any other brand. A lower price may be luring, but the time and resources you use laundering soiled clothes and linens is not worth it.
Lansinoh also offers a salve for sore breasts. Made of lanolin, the cream helps heal and prevent cracked nipples as well. I used it with my firstborn, but thankfully did not have any soreness with my other children. I found the Lansinoh lanolin also treats diaper rash effectively.
A Quality Nursing Pump & Accessories
If you do not plan to supplement your milk with formula, yet desire to share feeding time with your husband or baby's grandparents, or need to leave your baby with a care giver, then a quality breast pump will be your best friend.
From personal experience, I recommend Medela Duel Breast Electric Pump. Yes, it is an investment and pricier than others - but its suction is comfortable and effective. Other brands I tried hurt because of an ineffective suction. Medela's pump is easy to assemble and clean.
I used Lansinoh storage bags as well as freezer-safe bottles made by a formula company, which I received from my obstetrician's office.
Baby Sleeping on Lap with Support Pillow
Nursing Support Pillow
Nursing support pillows prevent a mother's arms, back and neck from fatiguing while feeding her baby. The only brand I have used is Boppy, however, there are other brands offering support pillows. Brands available are *My Brest Friend (not a typo, that's the way the brand is spelled, without an "a" in breast), Viva, and Natural Boost.
In addition to helping the mother feed her baby, a good support pillow will aid in older siblings being able to hold their baby brother or sister safely. Look for a pillow that has a removable, washable cover. Boppy offers covers that are neutral or gender specific, in an array of patterns certain to match anyone's style.
*For a description on each pillow, please visit this link after you read my hub.
Nursing discreetly and publicly
Wearing clothing that allows easy access to your breasts is considerably helpful in having a successful breastfeeding experience. Clothing does not necessarily need to be labeled as "nursing", and I have found it much more economical to buy "regular" clothes with either a button front, wrap front, or crossover front. Nursing tanks prove wonderful as a layer under button up blouses, or even looser fitting tops. I often nurse publicly, without exposing my "skin" by wearing layers. I find this does not draw the attention that a nursing cover does. In my opinion, the nursing cover screams "look at me! I am nursing!" I am not ashamed to nurse, nor do I want to make any one uncomfortable by full exposure of a breast while feeding my baby. Layering tops provides a happy medium to nurse comfortably, without unnecessary exposure, allowing me to nurse comfortably on a bench while at a mall, for example, where once I was only comfortable tucked in a restroom or dressing room.
Another accessory is the baby-wearing wrap. A well-designed wrap will evenly distribute baby's weight while freeing a parent's hands. The Sasha Wrap in particular, allows for discreet breastfeeding.
That's a Wrap
Breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience. I hope sharing my experience and knowledge gained through breastfeeding six children helps you to have a beautiful, successful nursing experience.