Essentials for breast feeding
My breastfeeding essentials
If you have read my previous posts here then you will know that I'm still breastfeeding my 22 month old. I have learned quite a few things along the way that have helped me to be more comfortable and that have also saved me money. I want to share with you which items I have found to be essential in making my breastfeeding journey successful.
Lanolin cream - I was first given a sample sachet of Lansinoh from a midwife when I was in hospital. I had been in a few days and I was struggling with very sore nipples. In the first few weeks breastfeeding was excruciating, my nipples where bloody ,blistered, dry and raw. It doesn't happen to everyone so I hear but this cream saved my sanity! I initially wanted to give up breastfeeding just two weeks in because of the pain. Lanolin helped my nipples to heal fast and therefore feeding wasn't as painful. It stood apart from all the other creams because this one doesn't have to be washed off before a feed, you can just put a tiny amount on after a feed and it will do its magic. I was probably in pain due to my daughter not latching correctly but the lanolin helped my wounds to heal quicker so i could continue to feed, I honestly see this cream as the holy grail for breastfeeding mothers. I've also since heard that pure coconut oil is very good as well but I haven't tried it.
Nursing bra - This is so important and I unfortunately learned this the hard way. I had bought a non wired/non padded bra in early pregnancy as I couldn't stand to wear a regular wired one as it would feel tight around me and make me feel more sick. As pregnancy went on and my breasts got larger I outgrew this bra from early pregnancy. So when I had my daughter in hospital I had no nursing bra. When my milk came in my breasts where full and painful to touch I found that I wanted to wear a tight lightly padded bra to keep them in place. I actually slept in my old wired padded bra from pre pregnancy as it was more comfortable than none but it wasn't suitable. The problem was that it wasn't a nursing bra and the midwives moaned at me. The truth was that I couldn't afford a new bra at that time so I was managing with an old one. I've since learned that it is important to save some of your baby budget to buy a new bra for yourself if you are planning to nurse as it will make you a lot more comfortable and save embarrassment. During my 5 day hospital stay (due to pre-eclampsia) I would have to pull the curtain around me and strip my top half off to feed, this was something that the midwives found odd and they kept opening my curtain exposing me to the whole ward.
Re-usable breast pads - At first I was spending about £15-£20 per month on disposable breast pads. I had tried many different brands but i still found them uncomfortable. They where loud to unwrap (not good if your LO is asleep) and made so much waste as you have the cardboard box, the pad and the individually wrapped packet. I looked online and found that you can buy re-usable breast pads, they have a waterproof layer so they don't leak. They are so comfortable to wear against your skin compared to disposables and they felt amazing. I'm totally converted, they are so soft and they can hold more milk. I love the Ana Wiz ones which currently cost £5.95 for 6. I've had these ones for over a year and they are still going strong. I've bought a few different brands as it's good to have at least 10 breast pads on rotation if you are doing it full-time, ideally about 20 so you don't run out. I know that it has saved me a lot of money using reusable pads, I estimate to have saved around £310.00 in the 20 months that I've been using them. I bought a bra bag on eBay (designed for washing your bra in for £1) I put them all in this zip bag which keeps them all together in the machine, I just put them in with a regular was and then I lay them out on my radiators to dry.
Breastfeeding app or a notepad and pen - In the early days my midwife told me to write down the start and end time of each feed and also make a note of which breast the feed was on. This was to help keep track of feeding and to know which breast to offer at the next one. She told me to offer the same breast if it was less than 20 minutes since the last feed or if it was over then offer the other breast. Now you can get special apps to track breastfeeding which would make it easier if you have your phone close to you at all times. I only did this for the first week or so until breastfeeding was established but it helped a lot.
Breastfeeding vest - During the first 6 month's I wore the same few nursing tops, I felt frumpy after a while as they had room for a bump and I no longer had one. They where very unflattering and i got sick of wearing the same tops over again. I then discovered the Breastvest, It's a nursing vest that starts under your boobs and fits everywhere else like a normal vest, the idea is to wear your regular top over it which you can then lift up to feed. The vest will keep your torso covered so no one can see anything and it's very comfortable to wear. Buying this vest was a turning point for me as I could now wear my regular clothes and I felt more like my old self again. It gained me back some of my identity and made me feel happy about myself. It's also very practical and I still wear one daily. I also have some H&M nursing vests which have clips on but sometimes undoing 2 lots of nursing clips can be a faff so I prefer the comfort and simplicity of the Breastvest.
Breastfeeding/teething necklace when my daughter was few months old and starting noticing things around her breastfeeding became more difficult, if we were out somewhere new with lots of noise, she would want to nosey around and look at everyone and her new surroundings. This was frustrating as she would be hungry, start to feed and then pop off unannounced leaving me to either flash people or spray milk everywhere. She was so easily distracted and I had a hard time getting her to feed out in public. This is where a breastfeeding necklace comes in, they have many uses but the idea is for your baby to reach and play with this colourful child friendly necklace that's around mums neck instead of constantly de-latching and looking around. Even now at nearly 2 my daughter has always been a twiddler, it's very annoying and it can be painful at times. Whilst feeding she will always insist that one hand is touching my other nipple and pinches and twiddles with it. I try to stop her but she gets angry and is persistent so i give up. If I had one of these necklaces I like to think that she would play with this instead of my other poor nipple. They cost around £15 and can look quite fashionable. They are usually made from high-grade silicone which are perfect for teething babies to chomp on as well.
Support from partner and family - The last and probably the most important essential is to have support from your partner and family. I understand that the dad and grandparents may feel like they are missing out by not being able to feed the baby a bottle. You can express breast milk and feed in a bottle if you wish but for me it didn't work. The manual pump hurt my nipple and caused a blister, my daughter refused to drink it out of a bottle even with us trying many different brands of bottle. The main thing is at first breastfeeding was mentally very hard and emotionally draining for me. I was glued to our couch for hours upon hours on end. It's a big weight to have on your shoulders that only you can feed your child and they want feeding every 2 hours. So yes support from my partner was essential, you both have to be on the same page to make it work as you need the mental support to go on from your partner. It's also great that your partner can bring you a drink or feed you your meal by hand if you are stuck on the couch with no hands free, teamwork makes everything easier. It also helps if your family are on the same page so they don't feel awkward if they come around to visit and they see a bit of your boob. For me it's also been great now that we are breastfeeding into toddler hood that they all support me and don't make remarks that 'oh you don't need that anymore, your too old now' when my daughter asks for milk like I've heard other people say. I know that a lot of people who don't have support from their loved ones do quit as it's very hard on them. I know that I'm very grateful for my support network.
Do you breastfeed and have a essential item that you couldn't be without? please leave a comment below - Jodie x