Breastfeeding Essentials

breastfeeding

With 11 weeks left until my due date ::eeks!:: I am going to do a few posts on newborn essentials and some of the things I couldn’t have lived without the first time around. And I hope with sharing these, some first time moms will find helpful as well.

Kelly Mom.com : One of the best websites for breastfeeding mamas. This is my go to place for any concerns from low supply, to what I can take when I have a cold, and how to store breastmilk safely.

Playtex Drop-In Bottles & Liners : These bottles were a life saver. Now you do have to invest in buying new liners for the bottles (though we did wash and re-use some of the liners too) but it was also easy to just throw away a used liner and not have to worry about washing another bottle. With the liners, you can squeeze the air out and you have essentially a semi-vaccum sealed bag with no air bubbles and these worked great for us. Playtex also sells pump parts that fit the bottles and liners perfectly and they attached right onto my Medela pump which made pumping and storing easy.

The Nursing Mother’s Companion : This book is filled with great information and a great resource for any nursing related questions and concerns.

Lansinoh Milk Storage Bags : These were perfect to store extra breastmilk to freeze. Lay then flat in your freezer and I just kept them in tubs labeled with the date. Lansinoh also makes a lot of other great products like nursing pads that I also liked too.

Medela Hospital Grade Pump : The mother of all pumps. I rented this for about 4 months to help with my supply and this pump was amazing. The hospital provided me with my own tubes and cups to use and this pump sure did it’s job. After I returned the pump, I purchased the Medela Pump in Style to use when I returned back to work. The retail version worked great too and I never had a problem with mine, but you can’t beat the power of the hospital grade one. Local places like Walgreens or nursing boutiques also have these available to rent.

Things not pictured that I also couldn’t live without: Apno (All Purpose Nipple Ointment) – I got a tube of this while at the hospital and it was the saving grace for those first few weeks when my nipples were soo tender and sore.

 

Restaurant of Mom

The Restaurant of Mom – aka breastfeeding. I’ve had my ups and downs, triumphs and struggles with breastfeeding. With all of the preparation for his birth and getting the nursery ready, I was not prepared to take on the challenge of breastfeeding. For some reason, I just assumed it would come naturally since a women’s body, err… a mother’s body is designed for it, much like it is designed to grow and birth a baby. But now at this vantage point and looking back, I can see that breastfeeding is something that has to be taught, learned and worked on. I had a hard time at the hospital with him latching on – it was toe curling painful!  Now keeping in mind that the entire labor, birth and recovery was done all natural without the assistance of any drugs but with breastfeeding those first few days, if there was such a thing as an epidural for my boobs, I would have told the nurses to give it to me! I can’t describe the feeling and how painful it was. It wasn’t under after a lacation consultant came in and told me that baby had tore my nipple and his suck was very powerful did I realize that we weren’t doing it right. So after a few days of rest while I pumped and let my poor nipples heal, did it somewhat get better at home. My supply was low and poor baby was getting more and more frustrated at the boob that we decided to continue to supplement him with mother’s donor milk. Thankfully in our community that such a service existed and was available to us so we did not have to use formula. Even though I am thankful for the service, it was very expensive.

I can’t express the feeling of guilt and feeling so inadequate to non-mothers out there about breastfeeding. You feel this sense of obligation and responsibility to be able to produce food and nutrients to your baby and for one reason or another, you can’t. You hear all of the reports and news about how good breastfeeding is and how it is the perfect food for your baby to grow but you rarely hear the struggles that moms go through. From the sore, torn nipples to how painful it can be when they first latch on to the problems that you may face with your milk supply. Nothing is more stressful and heart wrenching than to see your baby get frustrated at the boob when there is nothing coming out and they are hungry and just want to be fed. So I went and got a lacation appointment and I tried everything to get my supply up. And I mean everything. I read books, visited websites, read other blogs, reviews of products, if it worked for some mom out there, then I tried it. In the end this is what worked for me:

1. Oatmeal – I have this almost every morning for breakfast. For one thing, it is very convenient and it is easy to make.

2. Fenugreek Pills – An herbal supplement that helps to improve your supply. I started to take this almost 2 weeks ago and I think it is working. It does have an odd side effect – it makes your pee smell like maple syrup.

3. Food – I know this one sounds funny, but I swear that the more I eat during the day, the more milk I am able to produce. Looking back, the first few weeks home with our newborn was a haze of feedings and changes and naps in-between. I think some of those days, I ended up just eating one meal a day and that just did not help my supply.

4. Pump, Pump and Pump some more. This last weekend, the hubs took Friday off so starting on Thursday I decided I would dedicate the weekend to breastfeeding and increasing my supply. I committed myself to pump every 2 hours and after every time I nursed. I pumped, cleaned bottles, and then pumped again.

Now at the end of week 4 – I have to say that I feel a lot better than 2 weeks ago. I’ve been able to keep up with my baby in feedings and be able to produce enough milk and not having to fall back on the donor milk that is in my deep freezer. We still have about 8 bottles left, and we may or may not ever use them. But knowing that they are there gives me a peace of mind.

I have slowly started to build up a reserve of my own and being able to freeze what extra I get during the day. I am hopeful that I can build up a stash by the end of my 12 week maternity leave so I have back-up for when I return to work and baby bird is in daycare.