As I write this post, my son is a little over six months old and we have been breastfeeding since day one. I had no idea what an undertaking breastfeeding would be until I actually had Hewson. While I’m not an IBCLC (who you SHOULD go see if you’re having trouble) or even medical professional, I’ve basically breastfed for over one hundred million hours (approximately) and I would love to share some of my wisdom about the things that made my life easier/kept the milk coming. So here’s a list of what you need to make breastfeeding easier.
But first, I just want to say for the record that formula is awesome and I don’t want anyone reading this thinking that I’m anti-formula or shaming anyone for not breastfeeding. We have needed to supplement with formula at times and that’s okay! I was breastfed and formula fed when I was a baby, my mom was formula fed (we think?), lots of my beloved friends are doing exclusively formula. So we are pro-fed baby all the way no matter what. Agreed? Okay, let’s move on.
I’ve kind of had a love-hate relationship with breastfeeding.
Things I love about breastfeeding:
- I love being able to comfort my baby whenever he’s in distress
- I don’t worry about whether or not my baby is getting good nutrition
- It has helped us develop a very unique bond
- It’s relaxing (heeyy-oooo oxytocin)
- Breastfeeding helped me lose my baby weight
Things I hate about breastfeeding:
- Drinking 100-120 oz of water a day (Yes. One hundred and twenty ounces.)
- Sometimes worrying if baby is still hungry/concern about supply
- Pumping (a necessary evil)
- Worrying about/experiencing clogged ducts
- People being awkward about it. They’re boobs. Half the world has them, people. Relax.
- In the early days when my baby was cluster feeding I felt like I was chained to the couch
So I have to say, despite breastfeeding being one of the most natural things in the entire world, it’s also a lot harder than I thought it would be. Thankfully, there are a list of things that I have collected over the months that I feel have made it much, much easier for me.
How to Make Breastfeeding More Comfortable & Easier
It’s by La Leche League International (it’s okay, I laughed at the name the first time) and provides a TRUCK LOAD of really helpful information. READ THIS BEFORE YOUR CHILD IS BORN!
The Breastfeeding Book
Nipple cream – For all of the reasons you can imagine and more, you need this if you’re breastfeeding. Especially at first. I like this stuff because it doesn’t hurt baby and I didn’t end up needing the whole tube, so it doubles as diaper rash ointment. Albeit very expensive diaper rash ointment.
A few simple, supportive nursing bras – These were my favorite. Not sexy, but super easy and cheap.
Pads – So fun fact, sometimes your boobs leak… so that’s not awesome. I have friends who hardcore feel you need one type of pad over the other, but for me, I thought that the one-time use ones were best during the first 3 months (and at night) but once my supply kind of leveled off, I started using reusable ones that you just pop in the wash.
Alcohol Testing Strips – So after 9 long months, the good news is that it IS safe to drink while breastfeeding. One or two is not going to impact baby at all. However, if it’s a special occasion and you’re feeling unsure about whether or not the milk is okay for baby, use these strips. Bug DON’T throw out what you have! Save it for a milk bath or use it for cradle cap.
Boppy – Babies are surprisingly heavy and they will KILL your back and shoulders if you’re constantly holding them while breastfeeding. The Boppy is a great way to rest your arms while feeding and it also transitions to a safe “bumper” when your little one is learning to sit up! Totally up to you, but I’m SO glad we sprung the luxe version. It feels like a lot for a pillow at first, but when you get it, you’ll understand why.
My Brest Friend – A friend told me that this was her one must-have item and I must admit that I was skeptical… until I used it the first time. The Boppy is great for a lot of things, but My Brest Friend is kind of like a soft shelf for your baby and it clips around you. This gives you WAY MORE freedom for you. You can walk around and nurse (you do still have to hold on, but you can get one arm free). My son would nurse to sleep in my arms and when I used the Boppy he would ALWAYS wake up. However, I had a 100% success rate transferring him from the My Brest Friend to his bed without him waking up. That makes up for the ridiculous name in my book!
If you want to continue to breastfeed your child when you’re not there and out trying to get things done (you feel me, creative moms?)
I did a LOT of research when trying to find a pump and I found that the two most popular were the Medela Style in Advanced and the Spectra 3. Once it was all said and done, chose to get a Medela Pump in Style Advanced and I love it. It is bag that’s easy to carry and holds all of my stuff in it–clean bottles, pumping bra, ice box if needed. I also got a lot of accessories for “free” from the hospital, so if your hospital also uses Medela (most do) then you should consider it.
No matter what pump you buy, most of the time you can easily get a reimbursement from your insurance!
I thought I wouldn’t need a hand pump, but BOY was I wrong. It’s just nice to carry around if you’re out and away from baby too long and need to pump. It’s also nice if you can’t/don’t want to use your electric pump because it’s too loud or too much of a hassle to clean.
I use the Medela hand pump because it works well with all of my parts/bottles.
I’ve also heard great things about the Lansinoh hand pump as well!
Silicone pump – I was a skeptic, but I have found that when my baby is feeding on one side and the other side starts to let down, this suctions on and can catch valuable ounces that would otherwise be soaked into a breast pad! I save whatever it catches and add it to my freezer stash.
Lansinoh Milk Bags – The defacto best way to build up a milk stash in your freezer (aka freedom when you need it or when you go back to work) is to use dependable milk bags. These have a double seal, I’ve never had them leak, and it’s super easy to see how much is in there because the ounces are marked. PLUS, having in milk in these bags makes it super easy to defrost however much you need.
Pumping Bra – Need to pump hands free and get work done? You’re gonna need this. Don’t get one with straps– it makes your life so much harder than it needs to be. This works with any brand of pump.
If You Run Into Trouble with Breastfeeding
Nipple Shield – Baby having latching issues? The nipple shield (or tiny boob sombrero, as my husband calls it) is awesome. The worst thing in the world is having a starving newborn who just can’t latch. (Been there!) This will save you and at least get you to your next Lactation Consultant appointment where she can help you guys figure out how to latch properly. There are reasons why you don’t want to use it forever, but honestly, this thing saved my ability to nurse and I will forever champion it.
Mother’s Milk Tea – Having trouble producing enough milk? This tea is delicious and helpful in giving you a little boost in your supply. Lots of moms swear by it!
BIG Water Bottle -These were my favorite. You gotta get that 100 oz a day somehow!
Favorite water bottle:
Breastfeeding in Public
For the record, I hate that breastfeeding in public is a problem for anyone. Like, it makes me insane. If you want to feed your baby al fresco, then YOU GO GIRL. That said, I know some people feel uncomfortable so here’s what I found that I liked.
Shirts for Double Shirt Method – This is definitely the easiest way to nurse in public so that people don’t know you’re nursing (unless they’re crazy nosy. Call me, I’ll deal with them.) It looks like this. Just wear a normal (or maternity, no shame here!) shirt over one of these.
Cute Nursing Cover – So I will say that my son will NOT tolerate a nursing cover. My son gets hot and panic-y whenever I use the cover so I stopped using it. However, I have a few nursing covers I love and wouldn’t mind using in the future.
My fav that doubles as a scarf:
My other multipurpose fav:
Last thing: the one that nobody talks about: A long charging cable for your cellphone.
You’re going to get bored while breastfeeding. Believe me when I tell you that you need to be able to text friends, scroll through Facebook, watch your favorite Netflix shows, read on your kindle, or even get some work done! Oh, and when baby falls asleep on you, trust me, you do NOT want to move, but it’s not fun being stuck for hours with nothing to do!
Alright! That’s my list!
Anything I missed? What products did/do you love?
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