I’ve been nursing/breastfeeding my son for 6 months now and it’s been both a challenge and a joy. A challenge because an injury at birth meant it was physically difficult but a joy because of the special bonding that nursing creates. Here are some of the things I did and products I used that have helped me and my transition to becoming a nursing mommy!
I didn’t express any milk until baby was 2 months old, because it’s not recommended to do so until your supply has regulated. This is because it can cause a big oversupply that is difficult to rectify later. Normally you will read that this will happen between 6-8 weeks but I’ve heard about some mamas that did not regulate until 4 months post partum! I didn’t regulate until somewhere between 2 and 3 months, so be patient with yourself until you stop leaking! Some reusable nursing pads would be a good idea to invest in, even if it is just a couple of them. I used the Eco by Naty nursing pads and probably about half of the box.
When I did express some milk, I loved using the Nature’s Bond pump. This is akin to the Hakaa that a lot of mamas in America use. The pump uses your natural let down reflex, and is very useful when baby is nursing on the other side to catch extra milk. It’s also brilliant for using in the car and discreetly on transport – it makes no noise and needs no electricity. If you’re returning to work and need to pump on a daily basis when you are away from baby for long periods you may need an electric pump, as the Nature’s bond won’t pump as much milk as quickly. Even so, I found this a must have for expressing small amounts, and I think it will be very useful for expressing a bit of milk into a cup for baby as he grows!
Above: a good haul with my favourite manual pump
For storing milk, I got some unused zip-lock bags at a couple of flea markets. Make sure if you do this that you wrap an extra bag around the zip lock bags to prevent freezer burn. Kelly Mom has more advice on storing breast milk. I have a small stash in the freezer for when I return to work in case I can’t keep up with baby, or there is an emergency some day. You can store your milk in glass, which would be a preferable long term solution, as it is more environmentally friendly.
I had read that you really don’t need to buy any fancy products to help with breastfeeding, that all you need is boobs, and that’s also what we were told in our antenatal classes. So I didn’t buy much before baby was born, except for some nursing clothes, which also doubled as maternity clothes. It’s true that it’s somewhat of a luxury, but there are a few things I’m really glad I have that have made nursing more comfortable for both me and baby.
My favourite is the Boppy cushion, and I bought a second hand one on eBay. I take this everywhere even though it is pretty bulky (it manages to fit under the pram okay). Baby loves to nurse lying down on it and will then fall asleep in my lap and right now he is asleep on the Boppy as I type this! You’re not supposed to let baby sleep on the Boppy though, so be careful of leaving baby unattended with the Boppy (I did hear a story of one parent whose baby stopped breathing when asleep on one). I find the Boppy really helps my back when nursing, as I’ve already had a few appointments with an osteopath to help with the posture problems due to nursing so much! Baby can use the Boppy when awake to sit in when over 2 months of age.
Above: After a good nurse on the Boppy
When baby was younger than 2 months I found the My Brest Friend pillow to be very easy to use. I’ve heard this pillow is also great for moms who have had C-sections. It straps around your waist and I thought it was great when you’re a first time mom and feel like you have no idea what you’re doing because it makes it easier to position the baby.
I also two cushions I used during pregnancy that baby uses sometimes. One is a sausage pillow that is easy for baby to snuggle inside/prop him up with. You can get these type of pillows everywhere. The other is a small pillow I used for going underneath my bump during pregnancy. It’s one with a bean bag effect so it’s very soft and it was the perfect size for baby when he was born. I also liked using it during the daytime when he napped to prop him up on and help with his reflux.
Above: Sleeping on the baby bump pillow on the train
Last but not least is nursing wear. You don’t need this but you can get some cool stuff. My mum had a couple of nursing dresses made for me that make it very comfortable and discreet. I wrote a separate blog about it here! I found slings to be useful in the first couple of months for nursing in and moving around the house a bit. My favourite is a ring sling or just a basic organic cotton one. I also love a teething necklace I got on Etsy made of organic cotton and wood. Baby loves playing with it when nursing and it stops him fussing and pinching!
Above: Fun with teething necklace
Nursing in public and on the go
You don’t need to have a special nursing shawl, but I had ordered a pretty cool one made of modal from Mothers En Vogue that was very useful to cover baby but also peek down at him while nursing. You’ll find any scarf or shawl will do, but again as a first time mom this particular shawl was helpful as I got used to nursing in public and gained more confidence.
Finding the right place to sit while nursing on the go has been crucial for me. I always go for a padded seat, especially as baby gets heavier. I’m quite slight and having an 8kg weight on my pelvis after birth is quite the strain so having a comfy seat is important! I found that if we were on the go and I needed to nurse we would try and find a nice hotel and just get a tea there. Hotel’s tend to have comfortable sofas, soft jazz music (baby loves it!) and normally bar snacks that cater for people with food intolerances (important if baby can’t have dairy like mine!).
I usually had no problems nursing in public, and no one has ever complained. I did get a few snide looks in the beginning from some people, but I just ignored them. We’ve also already taken a trip with baby on the plane, and it went pretty smoothly. Infants under 2 normally sit on a parents lap with their own seat belt attached to yours. I found it easy to nurse this way. It’s advisable to nurse baby on the way up and the way down so that they avoid any ear discomfort. I did this and baby slept the whole flight! Fingers crossed this is a good omen for future travel!
Above: Snoozing soundly on the plane
Most of the above information I learned from La Leche League and KellyMom. La Leche League run local meetings and it’s really helpful even if you don’t go to one, to try and connect with other local nursing mums. I highly recommend the LLL book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. They have a group on Facebook too which is a trove of support from other mamas. Keep it light hearted too, and follow Breastfeeding Mama Talk for fun breastfeeding related memes. Remember that nursing is only a temporary situation. Some mamas are very frustrated with how frequently babies are nursing at the beginning. Rest assured this is because babies have tiny tummies so can only hold a little milk at the beginning! Babies are trying to double their weight in a few months at the beginning so they need to eat very frequently (it will feel like every 20 minutes)! After the first three months (known as the “fourth trimester”) babies are a lot bigger and after four months are nursing less (this does not mean less in quantity, just less in time as they become more efficient at it and explore the world).
Above: Fun nursing on the Iron throne as Danerys and her baby dragon