Essential items to help you successfully breastfeed your infant and baby
I'm happy to report that I'm exclusively breastfeeding (EBF) Otto and it's going swimmingly. By this point with Henry, I was already introducing formula and cursing breast feeding's name! I chalk most of my success up to being an experienced mom who was prepared this time around for a) how challenging breastfeeding actually is b) the sacrifices you need to make as a mom to breastfeed and c) how time consuming it really is.
Despite all that, I'm actually enjoying it! Yes I miss coffee and dairy (read below) but EBF'ing is far easier than washing all those dang bottles and getting the formula un-stuck from the tip of the nipple. Bad memories trying to get that gunk out, friends. Anyway, I've rounded up my 5 most essential breastfeeding items to adequately prepare yourself for the challenges ahead. First time moms and soon to be moms, this one's for you!
Here are my 5 breastfeeding essentials *affiliate links used*:
My Brest Friend nursing pillow: This thing has been a lifesaver! I never found a breastfeeding pillow I liked with Henry (I had a Boppy but it was too big/over-stuffed for how short-waisted I am and the baby would roll all over the place because it's round. It was great for when Henry started sitting up, however! Just not a good breastfeeding pillow for a woman of my build) Not only is there back support with this pillow (which after popping out a baby, you WILL need) but there's molded foam to keep the baby positioned at your breast correctly. The pillow is flat so he won't roll all over the place while you're feeding. There are pockets for things like nipple cream or other necessities. The cover comes off and is washable. I could go on and on about how great this thing is - I honestly use it every single time I nurse Otto.
Bamboobies breast/nursing pads: I wear these every day. They're super soft bamboo so they won't irritate your skin. They protect your clothes from "grease" stains while you're applying nipple cream in those beginning weeks. You can use them to wipe up after yourself if you're pumping (all my pumping mamas know what I'm talking about here - you pull the pump away and end up with a lap full of milk-dribbles!) I've even used them to wipe Otto's mouth after a feed. And best yet - they're washable! No excessive waste here.
Peet's Coffee decaf house blend: Here's the thing about breastfeeding: What you eat, your little one eats too. Infants, especially those first three months, are notorious for having aversions to various foods, but caffeine is a huge offender. Whenever you hear about a "colicky baby" odds are it's nothing more than a reaction the baby is having to what the mom is feeding him or her, resulting is gas, stomach upset, acid reflux, and other issues. To minimize any issues (Henry was extremely gassy and fussy - I learned this lesson from him) I decided to go caffeine free from the moment Otto was born. But I love the tradition of morning coffee, so decaf it is! After the three month mark, I'll try incorporating good old regular coffee back into my diet to see how Otto does, but in the meantime I'll take my peaceful and calm baby over a cup of Joe. But oh, I can't wait for the glorious return of caffeine!
Wireless nursing bras: Yes, wireless, kinda like the training bras you wore back in the day... Amirite?! In the beginning when your milk is coming in, you definitely want a wireless nursing bra. First, you have no idea what size you'll end up being. I can tell you I'm about four cup sizes bigger than normal! The stretch of the fabric and flexibility of not having a wire is essential. Second, wires rub on your milk ducts and contribute to the cause of Mastitis. Mastitis is a clogged and infected milk duct, and while I've never had one, I've heard horror stories about it. It makes the mom insanely ill and makes breastfeeding extremely painful and challenging, then you have to go on medication that reduces your milk supply. So while you're getting used to nursing, just stick with the wireless bras for a bit to curb any infected-duct potential and to keep your size flexible. I know they're not as cute as other bras. Get over it. Channel your inner Jr. High school self and get comfy.
Almond milk: Remember what I said about caffeine? An even bigger offender to the delicate tummy of a newborn is dairy. If you have an extremely fussy baby, try omitting dairy for a week and see what happens. I bet he or she calms down! There's a protein in milk that crosses into the breast milk that's extremely challenging for newborns to digest. It's the protein, not the lactose, so even lactose-free milk won't help you! I went ahead and went dairy-free for Otto to avoid all colicky situations. Just like with coffee, I'll introduce it back in in a few months to see how he takes it. But for now, despite my deep love for cheese and milk, I'd much rather have a calm and happy baby and I highly suggest all other nursing mamas give it a try, too!
Breastfeeding is a challenging, time consuming job. But if you have the essential items to help you, it can also be really rewarding and dare I say it... Fun! I'm really enjoying breastfeeding Otto. I mean, I'm also enjoying not washing bottles every time he feeds and not changing formula diapers, but breastfeeding has turned out to be a great bonding experience. I hope the same for you if you decide to nurse. Just remember these 5 breastfeeding essentials!