Breastfeeding – feeding baby the old fashioned way…
I didn’t say “the natural way” for good reason. For some mothers, its anything but. Noone tells you how hard breastfeeding can be. With the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.
1. Nipple Shields
You may not need these but if your nipples don’t happen to be willing breast feeding participants you’re going to wish you had. Breastfeeding isn’t easy. First the baby has to latch, and then once it has, your nipples need to be up to task to withstand ferocious sucking the likes of which you’ve never felt before. You may not have any trouble with your baby latching, in which case, you may not need one of these. Well not initially anyway. However, when you’re crying from cracked or bleeding nipples, and particularly when you’re dreading the next feed, you might want to pop one of these on for relief.
Favourite Brand: Medela Contact Nipple Shields
Pros: Where do I start? I was able to breast feed all my three babies thanks to these beauties. They come in small, medium, large and extra large sizes in their own handy storage case. They are also relatively cheap at about £8 for a 2 pack. Baby has something to latch on to if you have flat, inverted, or even small nipples and because your nipple is effectively shielded, you feel no pain. I also find baby gets less wind because they’re not slipping off. Finally, baby transitions easily to a bottle because its used to a teat. Its a win-win all around.
Cons: Cleaning these suckers in the middle of the night is a drag to say the least. And that’s if you can find them! I’ve lost count of how many I’ve lost… They also make breast feeding in public virtually impossible, certainly not discrete. Let’s just say you have positioning difficulties. Finally, some midwives say they affect milk supply. Thats why they don’t usually whip these out at the hospital if you’re having trouble breastfeeding – you literally have to be bleeding! The shields didn’t affect my supply at all. Its much better to risk reduced milk supply than not to breastfeed at all so make sure you have some of these in your hospital bag.
2. Breastfeeding Pillow
This is a must have unless you are a die hard weights fan who doesn’t need to eat. Babies may seem light to start off with but they don’t stay that way. Give it a few minutes and you’ll be wishing you had one of these.
Favourite brand: Tetra nursing wedge
Pros: Baby latches more easily because the wedge puts their head at the right level and you can essentially breastfeed with both hands free so you can eat, read and even write a blog! Unfortunately, you can only buy the Tetra nursing wedge in Australia but I’m sure a nursing pillow would do the trick.
Cons: Mmm… I can’t think of any apart from the fact that it will unfortunately become a permanent fixture in your living room, or your bedroom, wherever you happen to be feeding!
3. A Breastfeeding Chair
If you’re breast feeding you’ll be spending an awful lot of time sitting. You need to be comfortable. If you have an armchair or lounge where you can sit upright with your feet on the floor and have a breastfeeding pillow there’s no need to fork out a whole lot of money on a special breastfeeding chair.
Pros: Breastfeeding chairs put you in the right position to feed and some even recline so you can catch up on some much needed zs.
Cons: Breastfeeding chairs are expensive and take up space which will probably be at a premium if you’re already making room for a little one.
4. Muslin wraps
These are essential. So many uses… The first use that comes to mind is as a wrap, but I also use these when I’m breastfeeding in public as a cover.
Favourite brand: Aden & Anais
Pros: They are light and thin so baby can breathe easily while feeding and you can tuck the sides into your clothes. They are also much cheaper than breastfeeding covers. Make sure you get the 120cm x 120cm wraps. The Aden & Anais wraps aren’t cheap at about £47 for a 4 pack but they are great quality and you’ll definitely get the use out of them to justify the cost! Most other wraps come in 70cm x 70cm or 100cm x 100cm and they are just too short to do anything with. If you live in Australia, grab the Weegoamigo wraps from Target.
Cons: They can slip off quite easily and you won’t exactly look like a fashionista.
5. Breastfeeding Tops
On the subject of fashion, breastfeeding can be limiting. When you’re out and you need to breastfeed discretely, you need a top that you can either pull down easily or pull up without exposing the rest of you! I don’t know about you, but my stomach was not in a great condition for baring after I gave birth. You can go out and buy special breastfeeding tops from maternitywear shops, but you really don’t need to. So long as you have a top with buttons that you can undo, or a top that has enough elasticity in it to pull down to feed comfortably, you’ll be fine.
Favourite brand: any top with buttons or any top with a singlet top underneath
Pros: Wear an elastic singlet top underneath any top and you can pull up the top and pull down the singlet top and breastfeed without baring anything at all!
Cons: Steer away from specialised breastfeeding tops – you will generally pay more for them and you’ll only be able to use them for a limited time.
6. Breast Pads
Breast pads are a must have. You don’t want to “let down” without one. Too often I’ve forgotten to put these in and it can be quite embarrassing…
Favourite brand: Boots Ultra Slim Breast Pads
Pros: I love the Boots brand of breast pads. They are the closest to the Pigeon brand of breast pads I used to wear in Australia. As well as being super absorbent, they are thin so not even noticeable under tops and they are also very comfortable. They come individually wrapped so you can pop them in your handbag in case you need an extra pair when you’re out. What seals the deal for me is that they’re only £2.59 for a pack of 36!
Cons: These pads are a necessity so I can’t really think of any. Of course, if you want to be environmentally friendly you may want to consider washables. Or not.
7. Breastfeeding Pump
I know many mothers who weren’t able to breastfeed their babies but still managed to give them breastmilk through pumping. Even if you can breastfeed your baby, if you want to be able to go out or get some sleep while your partner does the night feed, then you will definitely want to invest in one of these.
Favourite brand: Medela Swing
Pros: I made the mistake of using a manual pump with my first two girls. Such a mistake! Pumping was such a chore. Often, my manual pump wouldn’t work so I would end up trying to express by hand. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll end up with RSI. The Medela swing is easy to assemble and it even comes with batteries so you’re not stuck in the one place pumping. You just hold it in place and away it goes. Make sure you pump in the morning – it will take you less time to get the milk you need than any other time of day!
Cons: The Medela swing isn’t cheap at about £130. It can also get messy, especially if you have a lot of milk. You need to make sure that it doesn’t go back up the valve into the machine as its not easy to clean. You will also feel like a cow and get strange looks from your older kids. Don’t worry, as with all things in motherhood, you’ll get used to it 🙂
If you pump milk, then you’re going to need to bottle feed! To find out my essential buys for bottle feeding, stay tuned for my next instalment.