In a weeks time I will have earned my “bronze boobies” for breastfeeding Indy for a whole three months! It’s a milestone I honestly never thought I’d hit after the difficult breastfeeding journey Busby and I experienced, and I’m so proud I’ve made it this far.
There have been ten things that I would consider essentials, that have seriously helped my breastfeeding journey progress and continue, and I thought I’d share them:
1. A decent, supportive, well-fitted nursing bra. This is so SO important to prevent mastitis and to keep your enlarged breasts captive! My favourite nursing bra has to be the Bravado bra I reviewed when I was pregnant (you can find the post here) – it’s seen me through 6 months of pregnancy and now 3 months of breastfeeding, and it’s still going strong. It’s incredibly comfortable, and the silky fabric is heaven against engorged boobs and sore nipples.
3. Nipple shields. So many breastfeeding gurus advise you not to use these, but there’s absolutely no way I would have persevered with breastfeeding if I hadn’t used these during the crucial early days when your nipples feel like they’ve been extremely abused in a not-so orgasmic 50 Shades of Grey manner. I only used them occasionally – usually at night – but gosh, they helped so much.
4. Good quality breast pads. This is so important. While I was pregnant I bought some cheap breast pads from a high street chemist and then I was gifted some Medela pads as part of the Medela Mum Ambassadorship. The difference between them is very noticeable – the Medela pads feel comfy and soak up an leakage well. The other pads are scratchy and feel like I’ve shoved cheap loo roll to pad up my bra, circa 2001 school dayz.
5. Breathable nursing clothes. So, here’s something they don’t tell you about breastfeeding – it may make you sweaty. I get very hot and sweaty when I feed (yup, I know, giving off the sexy vibes with my boob out, squirting breast milk everywhere with a red face… FIT) and therefore have discovered that cheap fabrics such as polyester are quite possibly the worst thing you can feed in! Cottons are fantastic, and if you can feed in something made of organic cotton or with a bamboo mix, then that’s perfect. Also, layers. Love me some layers.
6. Flapjacks. Flapjacks are my breastfeeding life source. And tea. Obvs. There’s something about the magical oats that increases milk production. Plus they taste amazing too. Muesli is also wonderful.
7. Hot bath. There’s something about having a hot bath that makes my breasts regenerate and fill with milk. Perhaps it’s the relaxation after a tiring day (and night)? I would prescribe a daily hot bath to every Mama – you deserve it!
8. Stress-free environment. I’ve discovered that my milk supply is often lower if I’m stressed. Get into bed, give the Toddler the iPad, and try and relax with your beautiful bundle of baby. Let the tension seep out of your shoulders, and you should find that your baby fusses less on the boob and milk a-flows.
9. An electric breast pump. I’m not a big pumper; for some reason my breasts don’t enjoy being stimulated by a pump like a prize dairy heifer, so I’m not able to express very much milk. However, if you’re in the market for a breast pump, then an electric breast pump is a far better investment than a manual pump. Our Medela Swing pump is fantastic – I used it lots in the early days of feeding Indy to try and increase my supply, and I occasionally use it now if I’m feeling engorged. A full review will be on the blog in the next couple of weeks.
10. Sleep. Hahahaha! But seriously, you need sleep to be able to produce milk. My breasts are always fuller after two hours of sleep, compared to two hours of Indy in the sling snoozing on me. Sleep helps your body regenerate in so many different ways, and is so important… if your baby won’t let you ask your partner to take the baby for a few hours, or a kind friend or relative during the day. Make the most of the bed to yourself by starfishing!
Although breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, in a lot of cases, it is very difficult to establish. I think we need to be more honest about this:
- Yes it hurts to begin with.
- Yes it takes time – it’s not an instantaneous success.
- Yes you will spend the first month of your baby’s life in pyjamas with your breasts hanging out.