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One thing I have learned as a new mom is that nobody really prepares you for the difficulties and mess of breastfeeding. The internet and social media make it seem like you just instinctively know what to do and your baby will just automatically latch without a problem – but for many moms that is simply not the case! If you are a new mom, you and your baby are BOTH learning how to breastfeed and it can be stressful for both parties.
My breastfeeding journey with my little girl Ava ended when she was just a little over 10 months and I am SO proud of how far we made it. I originally set a “goal” of breastfeeding for 6 months and when 6 months came – we just continued! Through my journey I learned there are a few things that I could not live without and probably would have given up on our journey without these helpful products.
Boppy – This is the breastfeeding pillow I chose to use (this is the cover I used) and consistently used until Ava was about 7 months and was big enough that I did not feel the need to use a pillow. I loved this pillow because we also used it for tummy time for Ava as well as to help her sit up. With any product, there are a few cons such as: it does not have a strap to securely attach the pillow to your waist and some complain that the pillow is too soft and flattens easily. I personally loved it and will use it again in the future, but it is definitely worth testing out a few pillows!
My Brest Friend – I did not use the breastfeeding pillow but have heard nothing but fantastic reviews from my patients and friends regarding this pillow. It has a strap so you can secure it around your waist, it is more firm and it even has a pocket for a water bottle to keep you hydrated through breastfeeding! The only con I can see is that it is not as versatile in that you might not be able to use it for tummy time or supported sitting due to its structure. To each their own!
The Haaka manual breast pump is a GAME CHANGER! I personally did not start pumping until a few weeks before I returned to work and this suction pump allowed me to build a small freezer stash simply from collecting my letdown. The pump works to manually extract milk from your breast via suction. You can choose to keep it on only for the initial letdown or you can keep it on longer and collect more milk while you feed on the other side. I also found myself using it for quick relief from engorgement in the middle of the night. I truly believe every mama should have one of these!
During the first few weeks of breastfeeding while my daughter and I were both learning, my nipples received quite a bit of damage. I did not know she was not latching properly until the damage was done. Even if your baby does have a proper latch right out of the gates – the physical demands of nursing can be rough on your nipples, which is why I recommend having some form of nipple care on hand. I personally was over-prepared and used both a nipple cream and Silverettes, but you could probably get away with using just one or the other.
Anya Nipple Balm – If you have not heard of the company Anya you should definitely check them out ASAP. They have so many postpartum essentials to help YOU recover. I love their Nipple Balm!
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Earth Mama Nipple Butter – You cannot go wrong with Earth Mama for any of your skin care needs.
Silverettes – Silver has anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to protect against bacterial and fungal infections. To use the Silverettes simply place them over your nipples between feedings to protect and heal your nipples from any cracks or skin damage.
Washable breast pads – The first few weeks/months you will likely experience leakage between feeds as your supply regulates. Some women use silicone cups to collect any leakage so they can add it to their freezer supply, but I found them to look too bulky for me and always seemed to spill regardless of how secure they were in my bra. I opted for washable pads instead.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to find the right nursing bra! For the first 3 months you really do not want a bra that is tight or restrictive as it can lead to clogged ducts and potentially mastitis. Your nursing bra in the early months should be super stretchy to accommodate your fluctuating breast size and avoid restriction.
Bao Bei Bralette – This bralette is perfect for the early days/weeks as it is soft and stretchy to allow for easy pull-down access. I actually gave birth in this one!
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Bodily Do Anything Bra – This is my favorite nursing bra that also allows for hands-free pumping. It is a little more supportive so it is recommended to wear it after about 3 months of breastfeeding. Bodily actually has an entire line of nursing bras designed with an IBCLC for each stage of breastfeeding to provide just the right amount of support to reduce clogged ducts. You can check them all out here.
Larabars– Breastfeeding requires roughly 450-500 additional calories per day to maintain your supply and I can personally state that you will be HUNGRY. I recommend having a small snack or meal with each feeding to ensure you are consuming enough calories. When choosing a snack or meal, opt for a mix of protein, carbs and fats all in one sitting for optimal nutrition. I personally loved eating Larabars during my middle of the night feeds and would often split it into halves to snack on throughout my feedings.
Bodily Lactation Latte – If you follow me on Instagram then you know I drank a Bodily Lactation Latte at least once per day my entire breastfeeding journey! I loved mixing them into my morning coffee, oatmeal or post-workout smoothie. You cannot go wrong with either flavor.
Source: read the article here
Whether you are breastfeeding or not, hydration is key for maintaining proper hydration. However, breast milk is more than 80% water so it is even more crucial to stay hydrated to maintain your supply (in addition to frequency of feeds). Research recommends drinking about 2.5-3 L of water per day if you are breastfeeding. It can be difficult to measure and stay on top of your water intake, so an easy guideline is to drink a cup (roughly 8 ounces) of water with every meal and every feed.
Stanley Cup – I personally have not bought into the Stanley Cup trend yet simply because I have a water bottle that I use and love. But if my current water bottle ever breaks or gets lost then I might have to jump on the trend.
Simple Modern – This is the well known “dupe” of the Stanley Cup and it seems to work just as well for a more affordable price!
Takeya – This is the water bottle I have from Target and it has never failed me. Just make sure to wash it (and all of your water bottles) weekly with warm water (we add some salt to ours).
Source: read the article here
Whether you choose to breastfeed for 10 days, 10 months or not at all, you are doing your best and that is all that you can ask of yourself. For some women, breastfeeding can be a super special journey filled with bonding and memories of joy, but for others it can cause increased stress, anxiety and dread, so just remember that breastfeeding does not define you or your capabilities as a mom. Your baby will only remember your love and attention – not how they were fed.
You’ve got this mama!