Before I gave birth to E one of the things I was most concerned about was breastfeeding. I was even more worried about it than labor. However, I have been blessed with friends who have been through/are going through the whole breastfeeding experience and many of them offered tons of helpful advice and encouragement. If you do plan to breastfeed your baby, the best advice I can give you is to hang around and get to know other moms who also breastfeed. It is important to encourage each other during this period as one’s breastfeeding journey has many ups and downs. Also, if you can, find a good lactation consultant to help you. They are an invaluable resource.
Here are a couple of things that have helped me along in my journey thus far:
1. Breast Pump (manual and electric): A breast pump is not 100% essential, especially if you are able to feed directly all of the time. However, it can be helpful to have one on hand in the beginning if your nipples are too sore for baby to latch on. Also, if you are returning back to work or are not around for any reason and need to feed baby via bottle or other device, then you would need to express milk (unless you are planning to use formula). Hand expression can be tedious so a pump would come in handy.
For electric pumps, I use the Spectra S2. Spectra is a relatively new brand in the US but has been around for some time. It is pretty popular in Australia and the U.K. I have been happy with the pump but can’t say much on its effectiveness compared to say the Medela Pump-In-Style Advance. However, based on Amazon.com reviews, many people have said the Spectra is much better than the Medela PISA. Also, it is much cheaper. I got mine free through insurance though, so for residents in the US, check if your insurance provider offers the Spectra S2.
For manual pumps, I have the Medela Harmony. I love, love my manual pump and find it much more convenient than my electric one (weird, right?). It is also much easier to wash. That being said, the manual pump is very handy for traveling and also for relieving engorged breasts.
2. Simple Wishes Hands-Free Breast Pump Bra: This is pretty handy if you are using an electric pump and want to pump two breasts at a time. Holding two bottles to your breasts for 15 minutes is quite a feat so this bra makes it “possible”. There are many brands that make this type of bra but Simple Wishes is the one I have.
3. Quick-Clean Micro-Steam Bags: These bags are handy for sterilizing bottles, breast pump parts and anything else that might need sterilizing. I have used both the Munchkin and Medela brands and found the Medela ones superior in terms of bag quality.
4. Motherlove Nipple Cream: This nipple cream came highly recommended. It uses all natural ingredients, is easy to apply and soothes sore nipples well. It might seem expensive for one small jar but it lasts a long time. E is almost 6 months old and I am only halfway through the jar.
5. Medela Soft Shells: These are not really essential but they helped me in the initial stages of breastfeeding when my nipples were super sore and needed time to heal. It wasn’t possible for me to walk around topless all the time so I had to wear a top and these shells helped protect my nipples and promoted healing.
6. Soothie Gel Pads for Sore Nipples: My best friends who had gone through the beginning stages of breastfeeding recommended that I have a couple of these on hand to help soothe sore nipples. They were helpful.
7. Washable Nursing Pads: Nursing pads are essential for leaky breasts. I very much prefer the washable pads as they are much more comfortable and less “scratchy” compared to the disposable ones. Bamboobies is a good brand but can be pretty pricey. Some Etsy stores have pretty good and cheaper alternatives. I bought some pads from this store and have been happy with the quality and price.
8. Boob-Ease: These were helpful to ease sore/engorged breasts. The downside to them is that they aren’t washable so you have to be careful not to get them dirty or wet. However, you can purchase washable alternatives like this one from Lansinoh.
9. Nursing pillow: The Boppy is a popular choice. However, you can also just use a normal pillow (many of them) and/or folded up blankets. There are also many other nursing pillow brands like My Breast Friend, etc.