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When I found out I was pregnant, the one thing I knew for sure was that if my body could, I was going to breastfeed! I had watched Brandon’s cousin Anisha through her breastfeeding journey and loved the bond she and her son had. I hadn’t known a lot of people who breastfed before her, so I tried to learn as much as possible and when I found out I was pregnant, I definitely turned to Anisha a lot. When I was five months pregnant, to my surprise I had begun leaking colostrum. I knew from then on that my body would be able to produce milk for Rylee and I couldn’t wait! I registered for a pump and nursing bras, but really had no idea of the other essentials I needed to help me through my journey. Here are my 8 breastfeeding must haves that helped me be successful.
- A breast pump. Three days postpartum, my supply came in and I had an overabundance of milk. I was so engorged that it hurt, but what really upset me was when Rylee would eat, she would begin to choke and cough because of the excess milk. My mom bought me the Medela Freestyle Breast Pump. It is absolutely amazing. It is an electrical double pump. It comes in a sweet shoulder bag with all the parts, four 5 ounce bottles and a storage bag with ice pack for on the go. The first time I pumped, I was able to pump two 4 ounce bottles in 6 minutes. Cleaning is easy with a bottle and nipple brush. If this isn’t the pump for you do some research, there are so many amazing pumps to choose from that make it so easy and so much fun. Pumping allows me to stash up for later use and eases the swelling.
- Nursing bras. These are a must, and mom’s don’t be like me. I thought “eh, one should be enough”. NO! You are leaking, sweating and constantly on the move. I thought I would be good with one and switch to my old bras, but that just didn’t work. Luckily Brandon bought me another of the Medela Ultra-soft Cotton Nursing Bra. My mentor/friend Anne sent me a care package which included a butt load more of nursing bras soon after. The nursing bras make it so easy to feed baby with a convenient nursing clip and they are the most comfortable things. I know eventually I’ll have to go back to regular bras with wiring and designs, but I will enjoy these till then.
- Nursing pillows. SAVE YOUR NECK AND BACK! Before I mastered the side laying breastfeeding position, Rylee and I were pretty much doing the cradle position. When we first bought her home, I tried supporting her with the regular pillows I had in the house. The problem with that is they aren’t supportive to either baby or mommy. She was either to low or to high and I still had to hold her neck and head. I still was hunched over her straining my back and my neck. After purchasing the My Brest Friend Deluxe Nursing Pillow in Light Green, I was saved. My nursing pillow has an adjustable strap that allows you to place the pillow right below your breast so baby can latch without you having to hunch your back. It also has two small mounds on either end to prompt your baby’s head on which again helps them latch and supports the baby. Because the pillow wrapped all the way around it helped me sit straighter and helped me strain my neck and back less. My nursing pillow also allowed me to move if I had to without disturbing Rylee.
- Breast/nursing pads. Again because I had so much milk, I flew through breast pads until the engorgement went down and still needed them until recently. I tried a few different brands until we found Medela Disposable Nursing Bra Pads, 120 Count.I liked their size. They were big enough to soak up a lot of milk, so I didn’t have to change them every hour. They also stuck to my bras really well, so I didn’t have to worry about them moving or falling out while feeding Rylee. I did see that there are some nifty washable nursing pads that I wish I would have looked into to save some money.
- Storage bottles/bags. For the mommies that are going back to work, bottle feeding, or having a date night, storage bottles and or bags are a must! Even though Rylee refuses to take the bottle (still working on that), storing your breast milk is the easiest way to make sure your sweetie pie can still drink your milk when you aren’t with them, or even when you just want to use the bottle. I use two different storage options. When she was a newborn I used the Medela Breastmilk Freezing & Storage Containers. They are the perfect size, storing 2.7 ounces. These bottles were also great for me because they are compatible with my pump, so I was able to pump straight into them and store! As Rylee got bigger and was eating more, I switched over to the Dr. Brown’s Breastmilk Storage Bags 25 count. These hold 6 ounces and are pre-sterilized, which of course I loved. One less thing to worry about. How I store my milk is I mark each bag or bottle with the date and put them in the freezer (Rylee has her own shelf) with the most recent dates stored in the back. I always use the oldest dated milk. Because we have been trying to get Rylee to switch to the bottle, we go through my stash pretty quickly.
- A drying rack. This was something Brandon didn’t think we needed, but when you are constantly pumping and washing all these parts all day, a drying rack comes in handy. I wanted her stuff separate from ours and a place to put all those parts all the time. I felt a lot better when we bought the Munchkin Fold Bottle Drying Rack because I was wasting paper towel laying all of the breast pump parts and her bottles on each time I pumped. I love this one because when it’s not being used, I can close it up and put it away. It has shorter straws in the front that are perfect for the breast pump parts and nipples.
- Nipple cream. I know, SHEESH nipple cream? Well yes… they are in need of some attention too. I needed the nipple cream more so before I gave birth and right up until my milk supply came in. Before I gave birth, they really started to get chapped and soar. We bought Lansinoh HPA Lanolin for Breastfeeding Mothers, 40 Grams. I liked that it’s safe for the baby and is hypoallergenic. After birth when it’s only colostrum, Rylee was eating for longer periods of time trying to consume as much as possible. That caused me to be sore and the girls started to crack. The Lansinoh cream really helped ease the soreness and reduced the chapped cracks. After my supply came in, my milk did all the moisturizing I needed to prevent them from cracking, but I have used the cream for other uses. When Rylee started teething, she salivated a lot which caused her cheeks to get really red, so I would rub some of the cream on her cheeks to help keep the moisture off. It’s thick enough that I only needed to apply a tiny amount to cover her cheeks.
- Tank tops. Now this may not be a must-have for others, but for me and my comfort the tank tops came in handy. Just like the nursing bras, there are tank tops sold with nursing clips for easy access for breastfeeding. I just wore regular spaghetti strap tank tops. For me, they provided a nice coverage for when I breastfed outside. I was able to lift my shirt up and the tank tops under would still cover my stomach and all I needed to do was pull down the top of the tank to feed Rylee. As a new mom and a new stomach to get use to, I rather keep it to myself for a little longer. Working out here I come!
Breastfeeding has been so rewarding not for only me but for Rylee and Brandon. I love how involved he became at the hospital asking all the right questions to the breastfeeding coach and reading all the books. Breastfeeding has given me the most incredible bond with Rylee. I never thought I would make it this far and I am so proud that I have. It’s not easy, some days you’re sore and just want a tiny break, but you fight through just to see this little human indulging in something made just for them. I am so unbelievably blessed to be able to experience breastfeeding and will continue to see it through until Rylee turns the big ONE. <3
Thanks for catching up with me, until next time…