July 4, 2011

Top 5 Picks for Breastfeeding Moms

While breastfeeding is natural, free, and so easy once mom and baby gets the hang of it, the first few weeks can be extremely frustrating for new moms. I read the books and even went to a breastfeeding class so I thought I was prepared. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

A wise mom once told me, if you can breastfeed for 2 weeks, you can breastfeed for 2 years. I think its absolutely true, the first couple weeks were really rough. Although moms and babies are naturally equipped with everything they need to successfully breastfeed, these few items that really helped me cope during those early days and beyond.

1. Medela Hand Pump
After my milk came in a couple days after birth, my boobs were so engorged I thought they were going to explode. My doula told me that it wouldn't be helpful to pump because pumping would increase my milk supply and make me even more engorged. She recommended cold compresses between feedings to help calm the engorgement and hot compresses right before and during feedings to encourage the milk to flow. Also hand expressing with hot compresses was helpful. 

However, after the first 2 weeks past, I was so glad to have this hand pump because I still had an over supply of milk though not really engorged anymore. It was really nice to have an option to pump and store if baby was not hungry and I was very full, such as early mornings. The suction cup on this Medela pump is really soft, it's so much more comfortable than the Avent one I got for free from the hospital. Also it has a "let down" button on top of the lever which imitates baby's small sucks to encourage "let down". Once "let down" starts, I use the larger lever to pump milk more efficiently, (this imitates baby's longer sucking strokes as well).

Now Micah is 4 months old and I'm going back to work part time tomorrow! I figure I will be pumping once during my 4 hour working shift. Although I have a electrical pump (also from Medela), I intend to use this hand pump because A. It's comfortable, B. I know how to use it, and C. It's easy to carry and store, no electrical plug required. The bottles for the pump come with lids so its easy to cap and store in the fridge if I'm not going to freeze it. Also the fixture fits Dr. Brown glass bottles so I can pump directly and use the same bottle to feed baby when I'm not home. Less bottle washing, yay! Overall this hand pump is a great purchase and must have for breastfeeding moms even those who are not planning to return to work. Hey, how about that trip to the mall or spa visit without the baby? It's nice to be able to pump some milk and leave it for baby and ask daddy to feed for a change.

A nice comfortable nursing bra means no plugged ducts, all around support, and being to wear semi-normal clothes for a change. My breasts grew 3 cup sizes over the first week postpartum, needless to say, all my old bras wouldn't fit. Even the chest circumference was way off. But then it really didn't matter too much because I was in pajamas and nursing every hour, so who needs a bra for that? After I was ready to started going out and wearing real clothes, the Bravado bra was a lifesaver.

I love the seamless body silk version shown here for several reasons. First, it clasps in the back, so it was easy to put on and take off. The Bravado! original version fits over the head, while its comfortable once on, it was a pain to put on and take off with my baby carrying stiff arms. The nursing clasp is easy to use once you practice a few times, this part is the same as the original. The fabric is soft and breathable (88% nylon, 12% spandex), although its not 100% cotton like the original version. The cups also have pockets wear nursing pads or soft cup pads (included) can be inserted. Of course there are now wires or pinch points which could cause plugged ducts. This has become my default bra for everyday outings. Some women's breasts expand even during pregnancy, it didn't happen to me, but I would imagine this would be a great bra for pregnant mamas too. See chart below to find your size. My recommendation is to get one size bigger than you think you need. The clasps in the back have four levels, you can always tighten it if the fit is too loose.

Use this handy guide to find your size:
32
34
36
38
40
42
44
46
B
S
S
S
M
M
L
L
L
C
S
S
M
M
M
L
L
XL
D
S
M
M
M
L
L
L
XL
DD (E)
S
M
L
L
L
XL
XL
XL
DDD (F)
M
M
L
L
L
XL
XL
XL
For more details on this and other great Bravado! bras, visit their website.

At first I didn't think I needed a nursing pillow. After all, didn't millions of women throughout the centuries nurse without fancy gadgets? But after about a few days of nursing every hour, my arms, back, shoulders were sore from holding the baby. Although I did learn about the different nursing positions and about using pillows to support baby, when the baby started crying, all the learning went out the window. I would rush the baby to the breast to calm him as fast as possible, then find myself in an awkward position and have to stay there for at least 15 minutes, and hope we don't lose the good latch. That's a long time to be in one position! Also, most of the time, I was supporting the baby's body weight with my arms and hands. Just try holding even 6 lbs. in one position for 15 minutes, nonetheless do that every hour for 2 weeks straight!

The BrestFriend worked really well for the first month because it supports the baby's weight so that all I have to do is to position the baby's head. I never tried the Boppy pillow, but that's certainly another option. If you are deciding between the two, try using the pillow with a doll or teddy bear and see which one you like. One reason I like the BrestFriend is that it latches around my waist securely and supports my lower back at the same time which helps me sit straight up. My favorite position is to sit cross legged on a flat surface, such as the bed with a pillow or two behind me, and the BrestFriend buckled firmly.

After baby was 2 months old, I found that I no longer needed the BrestFriend because he was big enough to just sit in my lap and breastfeed. I don't have to worry about supporting his weight now because he can just sit there and reach the breast. Of course this depends on the size or your baby and the level of his/her head control. I would highly recommend the BrestFriend for feeding newborns, even if you only use it for the first few weeks, you can always give it to a friend or sell it later. Oh, and be sure to get an extra cover since babies can get messy, especially during meal times.
Lansinoh Lanolin for Breastfeeding Mothers 2 oz (56 g)

4. Lansinoh Lanolin for Breastfeeding Moms
Even with a good latch, feeding every hour for for the first couple weeks can take its toll on tender nipples. For us, we stumbled our way during the first couple days and one of my nipples was on the sore side from a couple mediocre latches. I applied lanolin pretty much after every feeding and I really noticed a big difference. First, I got instant relief from minor soreness, the lanolin also helped me heal. Plus, the high purity version is completely safe for consumption, so no need to wipe off before feeding baby. At about 6 weeks postpartum, I stopped using lanolin altogether because I didn't feel like I needed it anymore. The bonus is that I use the same tube for Micah's diaper rash! It's the same principle, lanolin forms a moisture barrier to allow injured skin to heal. For more details on lanolin, see my post on lanolin on my natural beauty blog.

If you are allergic to lanolin or just prefer an organic product, try: Earth Mama Angel Baby's Natural Nipple Butter or Mother's Love Herbal Nipple Cream
Apple iPhone 3GS 16GB Black Unlocked Without contract
I know, I know... we're supposed to look into baby's beautiful eyes while breastfeeding to take advantage of that valuable bonding time. Gazing at the TV or playing with your phone is a sign of negligence... sure. I don't know about other babies, but Micah is incredibly skilled at sleep eating (a.k.a. sleating). Sometimes I breastfeed him lying down, and once he's almost full, he sucks 2-3 times, rests for 30 seconds, then sucks 2-3 times again, for up to 20 minutes in addition to his regular feeding length. If I pull him away, he will wake up for sure, but as long as he's nibbling, he seems sound asleep, sometime he even has a cute angelic snore. 

What's a mom to do during these "down times" when baby is clearly not in need of attention other than being complete occupied with the joy of breastfeeding? With my iPhone, I can check email, check the weather, look up some recipes, phone a friend, jot down some notes, and even take a picture of my sweet baby while he eats. With iTunes, I even started to pick up French with Radio Lingua's Coffee Break French. These lessons are fun, free, and 15 minutes each, perfect for breastfeeding sessions.

If baby's awake, by all means smile and look into his/her eyes. But when baby is happy just chugging the best stuff on earth, moms can ward off boredom and even learn something new with modern day technology.

I hope these suggestions help you in your breastfeeding journey. Please leave a comment if you have more suggestions!

You may also be interested in the following post: 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...