Monday, January 16, 2012

Breastfeeding Must haves

My friend is pregnant with her first baby and is planning on breastfeeding. Every time I think if something she needs to get (and soon!), I text her. I decided to write about breastfeeding must haves especially if it's your first time.

1. Breastfeeding pillow - I used a Boppy, but I've heard great things about the My Breast Friend Pillow. I suggest that you take your pillow with you to the hospital. If you are going to use it (and you will), you may as well start out with it on day 1.

2. Nipple Shield – This one is somewhat controversial in the breastfeeding world only because it can be hard to get a baby to transfer to nurse on the breast only once they get used to or attached to using a nipple shield. I don’t think I would have been able to breastfeed if I hadn’t used one though. I ended up using it with both my children because I had issues getting them to latch on when first starting. I had no clue what I was doing when I started breastfeeding my daughter, so I’m glad I had something to get us started. Otherwise I don’t know I would have been able to breastfeed successfully. I think my biggest problem was/is inverted nipples, so this definitely helped. It took longer to get my son to nurse without one, but it was just the one side. He preferred my right side and wouldn’t nurse the other without the shield. I remember spending 45min (on/off) one night getting him to latch on without the shield. It was very frustrating, but we did it. With my daughter, I had her nursing without it before we left the hospital, but did use it several times when we were having issues and I was getting frustrated. Actually, we both were, so it really was a lifesaver. I see that Medela has a new style of nipple shield which is open on one side allowing the baby to have skin contact while using the shield. It looks like the new one even comes with a carrying case. Oh and be careful googling nipple shield. Yikes.

3. Nipple Former and Breastshells – The nipple former helps bring out the nipple making it easier for the baby to latch on. It may eliminate the need for the nipple shield. The breastshells is for sore nipples. When they are sore it’s recommend that you let them air dry to allow them to heal. Plus if it’s bad enough you don’t want anything touching them especially clothes or a bra. It can get quite messy running around without a shirt with all the leaking especially early on. In many cases it’s not possible or appropriate (and against the law in public…unless the baby is currently nursing) to walk around shirtless. The shells are placed over the nipple to keep clothes from touching them and allow for circulation. It looks like they have also been redesigned. Medela says they are a soft and flexible silicone. Mine are a hard plastic and are two parts. They both use the same rounded part (with the holes), but the nipple part is interchangeable for the former and shell.

4. Breast Pump - If you are not planning on going to work, a hand pump may be all that you need. I was given a hand pump when I had my daughter. I was told to use it to help bring out my nipples which would help with my latch issues. Also, it was to help stimulate my body to start making milk since my daughter wasn’t latching well. I also used one when my son was born because he decided he just wanted to sleep for hours and hours after birth. Nothing I did would wake him and make him nurse. He had a rough delivery and just wanted to sleep. After 6 hrs of not nursing they were ready to give him formula per hospital policy. I pumped as much colostrum as I could and we fed it to him with a syringe and was able to count that as his feed, so they’d let up on pushing formula. The colostrum is what he needed…not formula.

If you are going back to work and plan to continue to breastfeed, you need a good double pump. I used Medela (they have GREAT costumer service), but there are many types to choose from. Do your
research when purchasing your pump. Most pumps use an open system which means microscopic milk particles can travel through the machine parts. They are meant for one person to use and not to share because of the possibility of spreading a virus from particles left into the machine. I believe Ameda brand is one of the few that you can purchase that use a closed system. The Hospital Rentals use a closed system which is why they can rent to various people.

5. Nursing Bra and Nursing Pads - This is pretty obvious, but definitely make sure you have some before you have the baby. The best nursing bra I found for the cheapest price was at Walmart of all places. I found them in my store for $12. I don’t know if they carry them in all stores, but they do still have them online and now they are $14 shipped. They were the most comfortable for me, but I know everyone has their own preference. I spent $25 for a different one and it was awful. I just couldn’t spend $30-60 on any others not knowing if I’d even like them.

6. Nursing PJ’s or Front Zippered PJ’s – I didn’t have the money to buy fancy nursing pj’s, but I did find pajamas that had a zipper up the front. These worked great for nursing. I got them from Walmart before my babies were born and they were less than $20. I wore them in the hospital instead of a hospital gown. They weren’t very expensive and they weren’t maternity/nursing either, so I don’t feel weird wearing them when I’m not nursing. If you prefer a shirt and shorts/pants for pajamas, then you probably don’t need anything different for nursing. I did wear my pjs in the hospital instead of the hospital gown. There are fancy hospital gowns you can buy. Check out the Hot Mama Gowns. I love the idea, but way too expensive for me.

7. Nipple Cream aka Lanolin – Have it ready before you need it. I’d even suggest using it before you think you need it. Lanolin is safe for the baby so you don’t have to wash it off before nursing and can be used on your baby. Think of it like diaper rash cream for your nipples…sort of. :P It does help soothe sore nipples. I’m actually using mine on my 20 mos old’s chapped face. He’s been getting a rash on his face from his pacifier and constantly sticking his tongue out and licking around his lips.

8. Infant Scale – This isn’t a necessary purchase to breastfeed successfully, but it helps ease the mind while breastfeeding. A constant worry with a breastfeeding Mom is that the baby is getting enough milk because you can’t see what is going in. If they baby is nursing every 2-4 hours and you can the gulping and drinking sounds, then the baby is probably fine with intake. I still couldn’t help worrying. Many other Moms worry too and supplement with formula which can actually make breastfeeding harder. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand. If the baby is drinking it, you make more for the baby. If the baby is drinking formula, your body doesn’t know that your baby needs to make that amount of milk. I’m not against formula, but I’d hate to see someone that truly wants to breastfeed begin to have supply problems because of supplementing. I’ve also talked to many Moms that said their baby was just hungry for more and they had to supplement. In normal circumstances, you do not have to supplement while breastfeeding at all. The scale can help you to monitor your baby’s growth and ease your mind that the baby is eating. You can also weigh before and after a feed to get a pretty good estimate to how much your baby is taking in per feeding. Home scales aren’t usually as accurate as hospital and Dr. scales, but at least it gives an estimate and some piece of mind. I actually found one on clearance at Target for my 2nd baby. I didn’t have one for my first.
9. Receiving Blanket – I rarely used receiving blankets to wrap my baby in. I did a few times with my daughter, but they are so small that you can’t for long anyway. With my son, I discovered Aden + Anais swaddle blankets, so that was our go to swaddle blanket. I always had a receiving blanket handy while nursing. I used it for a burp cloth, wiping up leakage or spit up, and for breast support. I’m guessing not everyone needs “breast support” and maybe it would only be helpful for larger chested woman (or just me), but if I rolled it up and put it under my breast it helped with positioning better. I doubt it is just me though because I do remember seeing a breast pillow, but I’ve never tried one. I just always used a receiving blanket. I had tons from baby showers, so it was easy to keep them rotated and clean.

 I’d love to hear from anyone that has tried out the breast pillow.

10. Recliner. Many women get a glider/ottoman when they are pregnant. For me, they really aren’t that comfortable and the position is always a little off for me when breastfeeding. Is that the point? To keep you sitting straight up and just uncomfortable enough that you don’t fall asleep?

While pregnant with my second, I requested and got this for Mother’s Day.

Yes, it was probably expensive, but it’s now part of our living room furniture and used daily. Our original furniture did not come with any kind of recliner. The furniture was a “before kids” purchase and I had no idea how important a recliner is with kids. I rarely used my Boppy with this chair because it was the perfect arm support for breastfeeding. I spent a TON of time in that chair the first year breastfeeding, rocking, cuddling, and sleeping in that chair. Even now when one of the kids is sick and needs cuddling we use the recliner and sometimes sleep on it together. We still have the glider that was given to us as a gift and I do use it in my son’s room for some rocking before bed. It was/is still a great gift, but the recliner does get much more use. If you don’t already have a recliner and you can afford it, I recommend getting one.

11. Movies - Movies are not essential to breastfeeding success, but were helpful to me while nursing my son in those early days. You are up constantly throughout the day and night breastfeeding and taking care of the baby and it’s nice to have something to watch while everyone else is asleep. I’d watch a movie in 20-30 min parts each time I got up to feed my son. I would pause the DVD player, leave it on, and turn off the T.V. My movie was waiting for the next wake up period. I watched quite a few movies during that time. I got to watch a lot of chick flicks that my husband didn’t care to see. We used redbox, so it was only a $1 a movie for each day that we rented. Honestly, the movies were really to help me stay awake in my exhaustion.

12. The internet! - I can’t even count how many hours I spent researching breastfeeding, breastfeeding issues, and just reading breastfeeding stories online.;; Dr. Sears; Jack Newman; and even (I didn’t use youtube, but I can see – haha get it- how it would be helpful). I’ve even seen Moms on Twitter talking at all hours of the night because who else is up at that time, but nursing Moms. There is tons of information online for every problem you can think of. It’s great when you are up at insane hours and you don’t think it’s appropriate to call someone at 4am. Go online. Please don’t call me. ;)

There are many things that helped me to be successful in breastfeeding. Mainly it was patience, perseverance, and determination to get through the first 2-4 weeks. I thought it would be easy the 2nd time around. I mean I was a pro right? I nursed my daughter for 17/18 months, so it had to be like riding a bike. Right? Boy was I wrong.  The first 2 weeks are still hard. I knew what I had to do to breastfeed, but it was still hard. My son had a “rough” delivery and I wasn’t able to nurse right away due to several circumstances. I still had issues. We had to relearn together. It hurts the first two weeks. My nipples were sore just as if it was my first time ever. They, the experts, always say if the baby has a good latch then it won’t hurt. Most people I’ve talked to say it still hurts when first starting out. When you aren’t used to nursing a baby and your body (aka nipples) aren’t used to it, you will be sore. It will get better though. That’s what is different the 2nd time around. You know it will get easier and you just have to get through the first hurdle(s). Do not be afraid to ask for help from the lactation consultants in the hospital. My first one ever was not helpful at all. She was getting so frustrated at me while I was trying to feed my daughter. I didn’t know what I was doing. She was the expert and she was getting mad. That caused me to get frustrated and I was already hormonal, so that was not good. She just was not a great teacher. She gave me “stuff” to help which I guess was better than nothing. She (the hospital) gave me the nipple shield, the nipple former/shells, and the hand pump. Ask for them if you need them. They have them there and that’s what they are for. Thankfully, a different lactation consultant came in later and helped. She was able to help me latch my daughter on without the shield. She also invited me to come back to the hospital after a week home to check to see how we were doing.  She weighed my daughter, had me feed her, checked the latch, and re-weighed her to see what her official intake was. She was wonderful! I was able to nurse my daughter the 17/18mos with only 48hrs worth of formula (Dr. ordered for a whole different issue). My son nursed for 14 months without any formula. I’ve never bought a can and I’m thankful I was able to do it.

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