My Breastfeeding Essentials
My breastfeeding goal was twelve months. I'm at almost six months, going so strong, and can now see going beyond twelve months. When I started, I could hardly see going past that current feeding... here's some essentials that helped me through the hard moments!
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This is, by far, one of my top favorite products. I believe it's the best breastfeeding pillow out there: it's thin, relatively portable, and buckles around the mother's waist so she can put the pillow on, then pick up her baby. This is definitely a must for anyone using a nipple shield, which is slippery and the pillow provides extra support for both mama and baby. You can find it here.
A Lactation Consultant
I cannot stress how helpful and amazing my lactation consultant was for me. I definitely would have quit breastfeeding if I hadn't gone in to see her. I did a google search in my area and found one at my local hospital. My appointment was about an hour long, during which she weighed my baby with and without a diaper, watched me feed, taught and corrected various techniques, showed me the cues that my baby was becoming satisfied and not hungry anymore, prescribed me a nipple shield, weighed my baby again after she had fed to see if she was nursing effectively, and gave me a ton of materials about what I should be eating and how to increase my milk supply. Lactation consultants can be very busy, so I will definitely be researching where I would like to go for my next baby, (since I'm in a new area), and making an appointment with them as soon as he or she is born. I did see a lactation consultant in the hospital right after Jo was born, but I found it much more helpful to go in after my milk had come in and I had had a few days to figure out what my issues were. I found it more difficult to communicate my issues right after the birth because there was just so much going on and I hardly knew what my issues even were.
After a very rocky start to breastfeeding and several days of not feeding at all when my milk came in, I needed to increase my supply. I found this recipe online, ate a whole batch in about 24 hours, and my supply increased dramatically. I try to eat oats every day now and drink lots of water. You can find the recipe I used here. I will be posting the gluten-free/sugar-free version I made soon!
I found these bras from one of the mama Facebook groups I'm in and got them when I was still pregnant. They have been incredible! I'm pretty picky about my bras and was afraid they wouldn't give enough support (and look weird under shirts). They give just the right amount of support, but are still so comfortable; and I can wear them under just a t-shirt, no problem. The pads do shift around a bit but you can move them around and actually remove them if you wish!
I was actually able to receive a free pump through my insurance, but I procrastinated on ordering it because I didn't think I'd need it. Wow, was I so wrong! Jo went on a nursing strike when she was three days old and refused to latch. My milk came in that day or the day after and I was incredibly engorged and uncomfortable. I didn't know how easy it was to hand express and thought I could only use a pump. I tried to get a hand pump but it really didn't work very well. I was able to rent an electric pump from a nearby hospital and my own pump came eventually but everything would have been so easier if I had had it ahead of time! You just never know what might happen, even if you think you're going to exclusively breastfeed! You can find the one I got here but Medela and Spectra are also great.
This product is absolutely magical and I so wish I had gotten one sooner! I joined some breastfeeding Facebook groups and started to see them talked about there, and then one of my best friends raved about hers! It's a silicone suction cup that you latch on to the breast you're not feeding from and it will catch up to several ounces of natural letdown! I use it in the morning when I'm fuller and I got an ounce in around five minutes. This works great for me, because I'm a stay-at-home mom who doesn't need ounces and ounces available - I just want to build up a supply for emergencies and the occasional times someone else is babysitting. There are several different brands - I opted for this one!
If you're planning on exclusively breastfeeding, you may think you're not going to need any bottles. I had some on hand juuuuust in case and I'm so glad I did! Jo needed formula until my milk came in and then, as I mentioned earlier, she was on a nursing strike when my milk came in. I was also in so much pain before I saw the lactation consultant, that it was very difficult to nurse. We used Dr. Brown's bottles when she was a newborn, then she went a month or two without having a bottle and refused Dr. Brown's when she was about three months old. We tried the Tommee Tippee bottle and she finally latched! She has continued to accept Tommee Tippee, even from me, but only if the milk is warm enough. I try to avoid feeding Jo a bottle myself, since I don't want her to associate the bottle with me. We really only use the bottle when I'm away from her, because I don't want her to get used to the quick flow of the bottle and start refusing the breast. She hasn't struggled too much with nipple confusion, other than the time she was three days old and decided she liked the pacifier more than me!