In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I wanted to do a special blog post about breastfeeding. I am a proud mom who has been exclusively breastfeeding for four months and counting. It is something every mom should be incredibly proud to say no matter how long she has breastfed her children. Here is a list compiled from myself, close friends and family who have breastfed, as well as information from bloggers, web boards, La Leche League International, Women Infants and Children office, Alpha Parent blog Timeline of a Breastfed Baby, Best for Babes Foundation, as well as the books, Breastfeeding Made Simple by Mohrbacher, Kendall-Tuckett and Newman, Nursing Mother's Companion by Huggins, and The American Academy of Pediatrics New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding by Meek M.D and Yu. Please note every child and breastfeeding experience is different these are merely suggestions of things that can help soon to be or nursing mothers. Enjoy and leave your tips at the end!
When you think about breastfeeding most women assume they have everything they will ever need. Our wonderful breasts. Although they are the main thing that you need, now for our Next Generation Moms, we need a lot more then just that. We do not get the support we need, nor the leisure to just be able to have our baby attached to us with nothing else to do. A big issue with breastfeeding is adapting it to our society today. I have found these things extremely helpful for breast feeding moms. I highly recommend them all and recommend getting them preferably before the baby is born so they are ready in the weeks after birth which is when you will need the most help. Remember that breastfeeding although totally natural is not totally easy, it is like everything else something you must put effort into, and these items make your effort a lot less work.
Items For Breastfeeding, every mom should get
- A Double Electric Breastpump - Don't skimp. Ladies this goes on your boobs sometimes more then your baby and it is the difference between a good breastfeeding experience and a tough one. Get a good pump, with electricity, batteries and comes with a manual adjustment. I HIGHLY recommend the Ameda Purely Yours. Unlike Medela it has less to clean, no tubing that needs to be cleaned, and it is much cheaper only around $200. Yes, it is an investment, but cheaper than formula. Check with your health insurance many cover breast pumps or give you money to get some, you can also rent from a hospital or doctor. Purchased breastpumps are tax deductible. Also, consider buying a used one from a friend and get all new parts. They last forever and many manufacturers will replace it for free if you have a problem. The double electric drains your boobs in half the time of a single, important with a newborn, plus it is very simple to how baby suckles at your breast. You want battery and manual attachments because you will surprise yourself where you will be when you may need to pump. I know the Ameda Purely yours comes with electric cord, car adapter, batteries and a manual single hand pump, plus a cooler to bring bottles back and forth. Buy your pump before your baby is born, you will need it right away. Learn how to use it ahead of time. Did I mention this will be on you more then a baby at first? Not the area to skimp ladies!
- Avent Breastmilk storage cups- These have been incredible for breastmilk storage. They hold about 6 oz. and they can go in the fridge or freezer. They do not leak in coolers, and when you are done breastfeeding they make great snack cups for toddlers. I use these more then the storage bags, because the storage bags are kind of wasteful if you are not always freezing all your milk. These you can reuse over and over. I use them for fresh milk and put freezer milk in the storage bags.
- Soothies gel pads. Get these for your first two months of breastfeeding. They really help your nipples feel good and you will thank yourself for getting them.
- Nursing bras-Get two sleep bras and two nice bras. You may think it's not too necessary but believe it or not most of your discomfort will be from things that do not fit your now expanded chest as much. Wait a couple weeks after starting nursing and get some. The sleep bras are necessary you are usually not comfortable without any bra on and the sleep bra helps keep you comfortable and the nice ones should make you look nice under clothing.
- Giant water bottle-You will be very thirsty all the time when you are nursing. Get a nice big bottle or cup to take with you and keep in your nursing areas.
- Nursing Cover - Most people and places will excuse you for nursing if you have a cover they are very inexpensive and necessary. Also, when baby gets older, they like to look around the cover helps baby stay focused on feeding. You can even get free covers online uddercovers.com
- Baby Wrap - These are great whether you nurse or not, but add an extra bonus if you nurse your baby. They have a ton of fabric for you to cover and nurse and some positions can even let you walk around and nurse your baby. They work from newborn to 30 lbs. and you will get tons of use out of it. My favorite is the Moby Wrap. www.mobywrap.com
- The book Breastfeeding Made Simple by Mohrbacher, Kendall-Tackett and Neuman - It is about $12 on Amazon and it is definitely worth it. Read it before you have the baby and then keep it by your pump or nursing spot to check in as issues arise.
- Internet - Unlike other cultures and times it is rare to find too many moms that breastfeed and are willing to sit down and answer your tons of questions you may have. A great source of information is at your fingertips with the internet. Simply go to google and type in your breastfeeding question. You will be surprised all the message boards, mom boards, breastfeeding websites help and support you will find. It is your friend when you need it most and you don't even have to worry about showering before asking a question!
- A friend who is or did breastfeed - If possible a friend is a great gift when you are breastfeeding. Sometimes just knowing someone else who did or is doing it successfully is all you need. There are lots of negative people out there, and there are lots of people who can tell you things but if they have not done it don't know how you feel. That friend who is breastfeeding or did will be a great support to you, even if it is merely the sake of knowing you are not alone.
- Boppy Pillow - This is a miracle invention. A simple pillow that snuggles around you puts baby directly on your breast. It has covers you can wash and change. Yes, you can breastfeed with out it, but for the cost it is well worth the investment. Plus, it helps baby to sit up and do tummy time as well. I will say to be careful for generic forms of the boppy pillow. I have found that some generic boppy pillows do not have different washable covers ( a must ) also they are not the same width all the way around the pillow, which is what you need. Baby may usually be on the side of the pillow and having it the same width is important.
- A Pacifier - I know I can hear the "gasps". Everything you read and get information will say "Do not use a pacifier if you are nursing". This is a personal choice. I have included it in this list, because first I believe it's a tool to have in your back pocket as a "just in case" and for the cost of pacifiers why not have every tool possible? Secondly, many mommies I have talked to have used it. When you get to know your baby you will realize your baby sucks at your breast for two reasons, to eat and for comfort. Unless you plan on being stuck with your boob in baby's mouth almost 18 hours a day you may consider a pacifier for soothing comfort for baby. It is a personal choice. I am simply telling mom's not to rule it out so quickly.
- Fenugreek - This herb is a little cheat that many breastfeeding moms know about. It works really well if you use it during the first 6 weeks, while you still have your pregnancy hormones you need to get you milk up to it's optimum level. It's the easiest to do then. Take 3 capsules three times a day for as long as needed. You can also use this when you need to bump up your supply later. It usually takes a week for full effect. Also, there are really no side effects from this herb. A few moms report smelling like maple syrup from it. Check it out it can be a life saver.
- A soft portable cooler - You will be transporting expressed breastmilk in containers, bags and/or bottles. This is usually the best way to transport. Just stick in an ice pack and you are good to go all day.
- A pump bra - Many women forget about this. They buy the breast pump but forget the pump bra. Unless you get the pump bra you have to hold the breast pump to both of your breasts in order for it to pump. At first if you need to pump a lot that can be for 20 minutes every 3 hours. It's a lifesaver to use the pump bra. Some women make one out of old sports bras. Whatever works, but if you want to make it through pumping you will need to have your hands free.
- Prep ahead of time. Buy your breast pump, practice using it, set it up, get your nursing spot ready, sterilize bottles and breast pump parts, read the books about breastfeeding and take a class. You will be sleep deprived, sore and emotional when baby arrives. Be as prepared as you can be to make your life a little easier when you know it will be stressful.
- Pump, pump, pump away. When baby comes as soon as possible, PUMP! Yes, you can feed baby from your breast, but if you pump as well, your milk supply will not solely depend on you and your baby figuring out latching, your breasts will not engorge as bad and you will be less stressed. If all you have to focus on is getting baby to latch you will both relax. You know you will have plenty of milk for baby. For the first 8 weeks you should pump for 15-20 minutes every 3 hours. Try to keep it on schedule as much as you can, but never go longer than 5 hours without pumping and no sooner then 1 hour apart. For instance if you need to pump at 1 pm and 4 pm and you miss the 1pm so you pump at 3pm instead, still do your normal pump at 4pm. This is in ADDITION to feeding baby. Yes, it's a lot but it's to help you so that you are not worried or upset when only feeding baby. Many moms need baby to latch in order for milk supply to come in and/or be good. They also are engorged or have infections because they are not getting enough milk out. Pumping helps with that. It is only for 8 weeks, then it's a dramatic cut back. Always remember breastfeeding is extremely difficult at first and extremely easy later. You just have to make it through the first 8 weeks.
- Patience and relaxing gets your milk flowing.
- As a mom you have many choices to make. Feeding is one of the most important and difficult decisions to make. Be sure to know all the facts. One thing many moms do not realize is FORMULA IS NOT AS GOOD AS BREASTMILK! Breast milk is a thousand times better. Breast milk has live antibodies to protect your baby from infections. Scientists do not even know all the components of breast milk let alone be able to copy them to put into formula. No matter how bad your diet is, breast milk is still superior to formula. Any amount of breast milk is better than none. If you can only breast feed for a little while that is still better then none at all.
- Breast feeding benefits you as much as your baby. It helps you loose weight, and protects you against certain diseases. As well as helps your body heal faster from childbirth and it helps relax you and even out
- When you have problems breast feeding with baby the best thing to do is a lot of skin to skin with baby. Skin to skin is a very primal thing for you and your baby. By doing it frequently it connects you to your baby and your breast feeding problems will usually dissipate because your baby will instinctively start feeding off of you again.
- Always keep in mind that your baby's latch will improve as your baby grows. If you have a difficult time, always adjust it but remember you will not have to always adjust it baby will improve as he grows.
- Many moms stop at the three month mark, thinking they no longer have a newborn and it is not necessary. Pediatricians and the World Health Organization recommend breastfeeding for the first year at least. At three months babies need your breast milk more then ever. It has the calories your baby needs to grow. Formula at that age does not have as much calories which is why many moms start food early. The best for your baby is exclusive breast milk for six months then introducing foods along with breast milk.
- Breastfed babies should go six months until trying other foods. No cereals, water, juice,etc. just exclusively breast milk to get their stomachs on optimum running potential.
- Breastfed babies do not get constipated or diarrhea. They poop less often and it usually does not smell.
- Try to also pump after feeding your babies to drain your breasts. The more you drain your breasts the more milk you will produce.
- To tell if your baby is feeding well count the poop and pee diapers. This is extremely important when baby is first born.
- Keep in mind that your milk can take time to come in if you have any medical interventions, such as drugs, anesthesia, and blood transfusions. Make sure to pump every three hours to help it come in faster. You may need to supplement if it takes too long. Put baby on breast first, then give a bottle of anything you pumped, then a little formula if it was not enough, then pump until you get your milk.
- All babies are different each breastfeeding experience is unique.
- Keep your breastfeeding books by your pumps or in your nursing spot to refer to it when you have problems.
- Fresh pumped breast milk is best, but always remember freezing is a great option. Many moms pump enough for the entire year and deep freeze it. Frozen breast milk is still much better then formula.
- Remember that a year of breastfeeding is not really that long in the grand scheme of things. You are setting your child up for the best possible health. Isn't that worth a little hard work on your end for a year?
- Have a system with pumping, storing and bottling along with breastfeeding. It will makes things much easier on yourself. Be organized with it and be proactive, do your prep work ahead of time.
- Remember your main job right now is feeding your baby.
- Breast milk is more durable then formula. Sterilizing is not necessary to do as often if you are filling bottles with breast milk. You don't have to worry about contaminants or bad water with breast milk. You can prepare a lot of bottles ahead of time. It lasts for 8 days in the fridge. You can leave a bottle of fresh breast milk out for 10 hours. (Frozen is for 1 hour).
- Remember to eat and drink regularly and drink lots of water. You should consume an extra 500 calories a day if you are breastfeeding.
- It's always better to start off breastfeeding and switch to formula if you need to then to start with formula. You can always go to formula, but it is much harder to breastfeed once you have stopped.
- The Alpha Parent Timeline of a Breastfed baby
- Best for Babes Foundation
- La Leche League International