Have you made the decision to breastfeed and are knee deep in information and products that all claim to be vital to your success?
Take a deep breath. As an IBCLC Lactation consultant and a mom of two little boys, both of which I breastfed, I am here to help. With my first son, I purchased every gizmo and gadget out there in hopes it would increase my chances of breastfeeding success. Then when he was born and nursing was going as smoothly as I hoped, I continued to buy the latest and the greatest in hopes it could help.
What I really needed was a few key items AND support. It’s true that breastfeeding is natural, but unfair to send the message that it is always easy from the get go. The reality is that both you and your babe have to learn together on your breastfeeding journey. If you are struggling, reach out to a lactation consultant from the start and you will get the support you need to be successful.
Here are the few key items that make nursing easier, especially in those early days!
1. A nursing pillow. It is normal for a new mom to lean forward when trying to nurse her babe. This can cause a poor latch, sore nipples and a kinked neck. Before each feed it is important to think about your body mechanics. Get comfortable, settle in and lean back! I love The Baby Buddy Nursing pillow, its soooo soft and big enough it can support your baby and your elbows comfortably. If your elbows aren’t supported when nursing, your arms will tire and your baby will pull farther from your breast. The key is to keep your baby very close to your breast while nursing to facilitate a great latch.
2. A nursing tank. These were my go-to when I was nursing my boys for a couple of reasons. A tank top is so versatile. You can wear just your tank at home and easily nurse your babe without having your shirt up by your neck blocking your view of your latch. They can be your pyjama top and can layer under a sweater or a button up and you are good to nurse while out and about. They are perfect in the hospital for after baby is born and you will still be wearing them months later. I had a couple in each colour and were a KEY piece in my nursing wardrobe. My fav brand is The Dream nursing tank. I love that it’s hip length, so soft, not too clingy and allowed for easy skin to skin contact with my babe while nursing.
3. A quality pump. Lots of expectant moms say to me “I’m not sure I will need a pump, I don’t plan on giving my baby bottles right away”. I completely agree, breastfeeding should be established prior to introducing a bottle. But if you hit a speedbump with nursing right out the gates, and end up with sore nipples or your baby has a tongue tie that needs clipped (more about this is another post), you still need to bring your supply in and feed your baby. You don’t want setbacks to stall breastfeeding all together and a pump can prevent that. If you can pump and feed your baby the expressed breastmilk (by cup or syringe) while you overcome your issues you will have a great milk supply when you can successfully latch your baby. I recommend the Medela Pump in Style. It’s compact, quality and does a great job of imitating your baby’s suck. It has a setting which simulates how a baby nurses initially to bring on a let down. I find hand pumps are not adequate in building and maintaining your milk supply. This pump is great for assisting with initiating breastfeeding and for a mom who down the road wants to give her baby a bottle of breastmilk. A great age to introduce a bottle is six weeks if your baby is nursing great and you have no supply issues.
4. Breast pads. No women wants to think about buying more pads after a baby, but most women find breast pads necessary, especially in the first few months. Leaking is so common, and can be so embarrassing when you are out with your baby with two wet circles on your shirt! I initially used disposable breast pads, but they are uncomfortable and not very environmentally friendly. I found Bamboobies, a reusable breast pad. They are awesome because they don’t show through your shirt, are soft and comfortable. They also have ones made specifically for overnight, because it is so frustrating to wake up uncomfortable when your baby is asleep. You want to sleep when your baby does!
5. Confidence. Know you can do this! Like I mentioned before, breastfeeding is a journey and it can take time to establish and feel “natural”. Take one feed at a time. Don’t get ahead of yourself and wonder how this will ever work. Watch your baby’s cues, feed him often and don’t stress if each feed didn’t go as smoothly as you would like. If nursing hurts or you are concerned your baby isn’t getting enough, reach out for support. Find a lactation consultant willing to come to your home and help. Being an IBCLC, I look at the big picture. I will assess your baby and watch a nursing session, offer tips and solutions that will stop the pain and increase your confidence in feeding your baby. My Healthy Beginnings package includes a nursing assessment, my newborn guide, and I will show you how to put your baby to sleep to develop great sleep habits. You CAN breastfeed and have great sleep habits. I also provide one month of phone and email support for any newborn questions that come up!
Purchase these few key items, find support and trust you can do this. I am always here to answer questions so please reach out! Does anyone else have a breastfeeding product they couldn’t live without?
Carrie Bruno RN, IBCLC