My best piece of advice for a new mother who wants to breastfeed is to have a reliable resource at her finger tips. Trying to Google while in the hospital with a screaming baby and sleep deprived daddy will be hard to juggle, trust me. Plus, how to weed out the non-reliable sources? There's too much filtering with that, and not enough patience and brain power with a newborn to make those judgement calls.
Cue my TOP 2 breastfeeding mommy-must have's! and in enters this amazing book:
1. Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers
This book really does stick to it's title. It's an easy read with the information spread out in a very easy-to-navigate layout. I luckily scored this book for FREE (!!!) by attending my local lactation consultant Baby & Me group (a group for breastfeeding support with local mother's). Nancy Mohrbacher, a coauthor of this book, is the leader of this group, hence the free book. But before I had my baby, and knew anything about the breastfeeding realm, I received this book only a few weeks before I was due. I gave it a shot, and didn't need anything else! I felt confident after reading this book because she explained some of the mechanics of why our bodies do certain things. It just made sense to me. This is a fantastic resource that you can keep with you at the hospital. It's easy to tag, highlight, dogear the pages if you'd like etc.
Not only is Mohrbacher a worldwide leader and speaker in breastfeeding, she is also an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). Here's a snipet from her about page, linked above:
"In 2008 the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) officially recognized Nancy’s contributions to the field of breastfeeding by awarding her the designation FILCA, Fellow of the International Lactation Consultant Association. Nancy was one of the first group of 16 to be recognized for their lifetime achievements in breastfeeding."It's no surprise that this book is packed with accurate information from a woman who has both first hand experience, but has also studied mothers and their breastfeeding relationships for decades, globally. Reliable? Check!
I recommend having this book, which was my life line in the hospital, because of it's human milk storage charts, feeding positions (including a position that you don't really see any where else that WORKS), science on how our body makes milk and how to keep it flowing, plus SO much more. The strategies, techniques and topics are all so carefully and easily explained, such as how to keep your milk supply up. Many mothers sadly don't understand how to accomplish this. Educate yourself by seeking information from the field, for example reading books, blogs, articles etc. authored by lactation consultants, like the book above. Many generalized sites like The Bump, Baby Center etc. might offer helpful advice but I've noticed that the advice they offer is more times than not, advice that is biased, incomplete, or simply not correct.
*Easiest tip to keep milk supply up: you CANNOT skip a nursing session!!! If you have to be away, as we all do at times, then pump when baby would nurse. Removing the breast milk will send the signal to the brain that it is indeed still being used, and will make more. If not, then your body believes the milk is not being used, and it will decrease.
Mohrbacher also gives the new mother reader a manageable goal: give yourself at least 4 weeks of exclusive breastfeeding to see how easy it really can be. This is to allow yourself and the baby to really get the hang of your unique breastfeeding relationship before giving up. Since there are many variables in a breastfeeding relationship (learning yourself how to breastfeed, learning how your baby will breastfeed and their habits, how to manage your milk, deal with engorgement etc.), the learning curve must be given some time before giving up.
This brought peace of mind for me! When ever I caught myself thinking "I'm not doing this right," "why is ____ happening?" "how am I suppose to do ___?" I remembered that I'm NOT SUPPOSE to have it all figured out in a week or even two or three! Especially being a new mom, you are figuring out how to be just that, a mom, to a baby that you have to learn everything about, plus how they want and are willing to be fed. That's when I'd pick up this book and solve what ever issue I was having, plus using the next resource if I needed a real quick answer.
Mohrbacher also has a new book out for working moms! Working and Breastfeeding Made Simple.
If the book above didn't answer questions I had, which it doesn't cover everything (such as when and how to start solids while nursing), then I'd turn to this website. The author, Kelly, is also a mother and an IBCLC. She provides TONS of information on everything breastfeeding related: forceful let downs, engorgement, medications that are compatible with breastfeeding, growth charts for the breast fed baby etc.
I found that the quickest way to navigate this site is to use the search bar!
Some favorite links that I've saved from this site include:
Great newborn links:
-Milk calculator: how much milk does my baby really need?
-The average weight gain for breast fed babies
-Average growth patterns for breast fed babies
-How to Bottle Feed the Breast Fed Baby
-Medicines approved by AAP for nursing mothers
-Cold and allergy medicines compatible with nursing
-My baby is gassy. Is this caused by something in my diet?
-How do you get started with solids
-After the first year
-Nutrition for breastfeeding toddlers
-Financial costs of NOT breastfeeding (...or cost benefits of breastfeeding)
-Tips for juggling a newborn and toddler
Ok, now that the top two absolute must-have's (in my opinion) are out of the way, on to the rest!
Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump with on the go Tote
This pump was great for when I was working full time. It worked really well, came with a little discrete cooler and ice pack among other things. It is not a closed system so sometimes moisture can get into the tubes that lead back to the machine. (Thankfully to help the motor not get moldy, you can leave the machine on and disconnect the bottle once you're finished, so just air is being pumped through the tubes. This will help dry it out and prevent mold.) When I started pumping less often, I'd use 8 oz. bottles and pump twice into them. I had to purchase these separately.
Medela Easy Expression Bustier
Fancy words for a hands free pumping bra! These are kinda pricy but worth it. You could also try a DIY, or a cheaper brand than Medela. It really does make pumping quicker, but it's also one more thing to "set up." I've seen where women will tie up string or ribbon from around one pump shield, up around their neck and down to the other shield to hold them up. Pretty nifty!
Medela Quick Clean Steam Bag
These were really nice to have to help sanitize bottles and breast pump parts. It only takes a few minutes and your stuff is ready to air dry. Medela also has cleaning wipes to help sanitize parts throughout your day, but I didn't like these because they left behind soapy looking bubbles and it was hard to get into small areas. I needed something quick and almost effortless.
Honeysuckle Milk Storage Bags
I really like these bags and I've only ever had one leak (compared to Lansinoh that leaked regularly when thawing).
Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads
I hated using disposable, but they really were the only thing that could guarantee me no leaks. That's what I needed for work and outings. Other than that I wore reusable cotton pads (from Uddercover). These were also very thin and you could not see them through shirts. The reusable ones were bulky and you could see exactly where my pads were. Lame. I also used the Medela brand disposable nursing pads. I varied by which ones were on sale.
The First Years Breastflow Milk Storage Organizer I really liked having this milk storage organizer while I was working. I was able to put my pumped milk bags into this organizer, and it would squeeze them flat while standing up right! After they were frozen, I could then switch them to ziploc freezer bags labeled with their expiration date. It took up less room in my small freezer and it helped keep things very organized! For only $14 it was a good investment.
Dr. Brown bottles
Luckily I got some of these as a hand me down, since I wasn't sure which ones Christian would like best. Even if we had to purchase these, I would have gotten these 8 oz bottles vs the smaller ones. Who wants to re-buy bottles because they've out grown the others? Most complaints about these bottles are that they have a lot of parts. That's not such a big deal when you have one of these dishwasher baskets. Easy peasy! (Dr. Brown also has their own brand of dishwasher baskets). Another accessory for bottles: a cooler like this one. I got one at a garage sale, but it does the same thing, holds 3 bottles standing upright, and zips. They are great for transporting bottles to daycare or other locations. Bottle tip: only purchase one bottle of various kinds. Babies are all different and they don't all like the same thing. Better yet, borrow a couple from friends first to see if any of those might work out. Then make your purchase. You don't want a gazillion bottles you'll never use.
I have one of these becuase I got it for free (I had to pay for shipping. They run these promos all the time!) What I don't like about it is that even though there is a nice bowing flexy neckline, someone behind you can see everything you do. Also, the stainless steel d-rings used on the adjustable neckline have a hard time staying in place. I'm currently looking into the possibility of those breastfeeding infinity scarves! I will update this part if I come to like those better!
I love nursing necklaces! They are great little tools that are easy to use, wear and fun for baby. I have purchased two, a plain wooden beaded necklace (Christian's favorite) much like the one pictured above from MyLilMarket, and a crocheted wooden beaded necklace, much like this. I purchased mine on Etsy and were about $10-$12 each. My plain necklace also had wooden beads that had a little texture to it, to make it more interesting for baby. Before you purchase, make sure to check into the materials and bead finishes that are being used. If you aren't sure about something ask the seller!!
Purpose of a nursing necklace: it's great for teething, and gives baby a focal point. It's fun to play with for them and it's right there! These are better to use than toys, your hair, earrings etc. when nursing ;o) So much easier to keep track of too!
Glamourmom Nursing Bra Full Bust Long Top I love this tank top because it's a full coverage top, and it's long! There's nothing worse when you're nursing, and your breasts are already larger than normal, to be wearing a tank top that will show major cleavage. It's just wrong for anyone, including women with smaller chests. NO ONE needs to see side, or in between, boob. This top I do not mind wearing outside of the house and it's very comfortable. Since I'm larger breasted, I wanted something that I didn't need to wear a bra underneath. This top lets me do just that. It's supportive enough (I'm not going to be doing jumping jacks or anything) and I like that it has an adjustable band. They also sell these tanks on Amazon. The only downer is that if you purchase a white tank, the top fabric is just see through enough that you can tell there are holes cut out on the underneath layer. If you wear breast pads, they seem to help cover it pretty well. I also used the sizing chart on Glamourmom's site, and the fit is great.
Undercover Mama Nursing Tanks
These are great half tanks (no straps) that attach to your own nursing bra. You can wear a shirt over the top, so that when you lift your regular shirt up to nurse, you have a layer beneath that can clip down for easy access. These tanks are so clever and so easy to use! They sell these on Amazon too.
I did try out their new 360° Slimming Panel tank, but did not like it. It was very constricting and therefore started getting bunchy and rode up. :o(
A few other nursing items I love:
- a small minky blanket. It can help prop up a breast, clean up messes, or just be a comforting nursing partner for baby to snuggle.
-water jug! I purchased one at my local grocery store that had a handle, straw and held 75 oz. I was set for the day if I got one of those down (which I always did while working!)
If you have seen my Mommy Favorites post then you've heard of Bella Materna. But in case you haven't, then here is my low down on this brand:
Since I am larger chested, I couldn't just go to TJ Maxx, Target or even Motherhood Maternity to pick out a bra. I thought I could just get away with going up in band size which increased the cup size a little bit each time, but I was very wrong. I went a full 10 months wearing completely the wrong size. After 10 months, I threw in the towel and thought "Since I'm having more kids, I need a nursing bra that fits! I don't care how expensive they are!"
Bella Materna bras not only have my correct size (which after taking my own measurements, I had to go down a band size and up 2 cups sizes!), but they are also comfortable and come with some cool features. First, I love that although expensive, all of their bras come with bra extenders allowing you to wear them while pregnant and through nursing. After you are through with nursing, the bras come with little connecting rings to change your bra to a regular bra, if you choose. They come in underwire, wire free, night time use etc.
I was a little disappointed that I couldn't find my unicorn of a bra with this brand. (I swear I'm not looking for something that's unreasonable! I just want a bra that a) comes in my size with underwire b) has foam cups for modesty and c) has FULL coverage so there's no spillage)! Although I couldn't find this with Bella Materna, I did like some others that they had. My favorite bra from their entire collection is the Smooth Underwire Full Cup. It had almost everything I needed except for the foam lined cups. :o( I might just have to try a DIY nursing bra.
Larger sized bras (anything over a DD cup) are hard to find. Stores don't really carry them in stock, and shopping online is a HUGE pain because you can't try anything on before hand. But, Bella Materna's customer service was spectacular! They worked with me over the phone many times on how I could get bras shipped to me to try on and then shipped back free of charge. I must have tried on about 8 different bras! They really do put their customers first!
*If you see anything that comes even remotely close to my unicorn bra, let me know!!* :o)
What are some items that are breastfeeding favorites for you? I'd love to hear what others have found!