Breast Friends Forever
Breastfeeding. What is meant to be something that is natural, can become so much more than that. It can feel unnatural to some, really hard to others, complicated, painful, incredible, and so many other things. For me, it started out natural. I went into pregnancy and then childbirth with what I thought was "no plan" for breastfeeding. I told myself and others that I'd give it a try but that I wasn't going to put pressure on myself and would see what happened. I'm very flat chested normally and had this fixation that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed easily because of that (which, I know, means nothing and many flat chested women are able to breastfeed). I also have had a track record of not trusting my body to do what may come naturally to others, for instance, get pregnant naturally, go into labor naturally, etc. So I just tried not to make a game plan with breastfeeding, or that's what I told myself. If you read my post on my delivery, it turns out that I cared a lot more than I thought about breastfeeding. The moment Tess was born and they told me she had to be taken into the NICU for at least 48 hours, my first reply was "how will I breastfeed?" Despite being on a ton of medication and just having had surgery, my husband and I were surprised at my lucid and specific response about breastfeeding. I hadn't even discussed it with him or myself really. It's definitely something to consider and potentially discuss ahead of time because its a HUGE commitment that I wasn't necessarily prepared for (but that I'm loving nonetheless). Anyway, that's when I knew that breastfeeding was important to me. I have many friends who didn't even attempt to breastfeed and some that did for a whole year. It's such a personal experience and I want to make sure to mention that this was only my experience and that maybe some stuff in here will help prepare another mom who is going into the process wanting to give it a shot...
Even though I told myself not to place too much emphasis on it, probably because I didn't want to disappoint myself in case there were issues, I did prepare for it "just in case." I'm coming from a non "lactation specialist" perspective when I write this, so please keep in mind I'm using layman's terms and advice when listing these products. Just some things I would have wanted someone to tell me beforehand.
1. I got a breast pump through insurance. This is really easy, you can do it through a place that rents breast pumps, such as Yummy Mummy on the Upper East Side of NYC, or you can do it online through a breast pump service, such as Edgepark. Even easier, you can also go to this link on mom loves best for a detailed play by play on how to go through insurance. Yummy Mummy didn't take my insurance, so I used Edgepark. It's really straightforward and easy. They only allow you to process the rental about a month prior to your due date. So this isn't something you can do months in advance, or, if you do, don't expect it to go through until a month before. The pump will arrive, you'll get overwhelmed, and you'll want to just put it away until you need it, that's what I did. You can learn about how to use it at the hospital without needing to bring it with you. So once you get it, about a month before you're due, when you're already overwhelmed, nesting and want to rip your hair out, just put it away, don't worry about it for the time being. If you don't have insurance, this is the exact pump I got and you can purchase here:
2. I rented a hospital grade breast pump. The reason people do this is because a hospital grade pump is the most efficient and I believe the "strongest." Some people rent it for several months or for the duration of their breastfeeding. They use this one and then have the smaller insurance one for traveling (the hospital grade pump is larger and not as mobile). It's entirely personal if you rent one, its about $90 a month, and I did it through Yummy Mummy. I went in person about a week before I was due, filled out the paperwork, got sized for shields and had them hold onto everything until I gave birth. After I gave birth, I had it delivered to my apartment. If you don't want to think about it then, just have it picked up before you give birth. I was fine waiting until after and was superstitious about getting too much beforehand.
BOTH PUMPS COME WITH ALL THE NECESSARY PARTS, YOU DON'T NEED TO GET ADDITIONAL PARTS UNTIL YOU START THE PROCESS AND SEE WHAT YOU NEED. (For example, I ended up needing bigger shields than what I originally measured for because my nipples swelled, so I'm glad I waited on getting spare parts)
3. I got my BREST FRIEND, click on photo of product below. One of my friends told me to get this and I wasn't sure if it was necessary as, no matter what, you'll have a boppy pillow on your registry and this looks almost identical. Except, it isn't. This pillow is almost like a shelf for your baby. It enables you to hold your baby while breastfeeding without hunching over. It clips around your waist and sits securely as high or as low as you want. I even walked around my apartment with it when I had a hard time getting Tess to focus and latch on. You can't do any of that with a regular boppy pillow. Also, it has compartments for holding things, I'll usually have a pacifier in there and chapstick. I brought it to the hospital but didn't end up using it for the first week because of my c section, it was too uncomfortable to put anything around my waist. Once I healed a little, I've used it every day. I also had the leacho body pillow (see below) that I used throughout my pregnancy, which came in handy during breastfeeding because it supports your back and you can wrap it around you to also support your baby while you're sitting. I also had purchased the nook boppy pillow beforehand (also below) which I use interchangeably with the Brest friend pillow. You really only need one or the other though.
4. I got a pumping bra. I'm so glad I got this because I used it at the hospital to pump collostrum. I don't think the hospital would provide you with this so I can't imagine how you pump without it, I guess you hold the pumps in place? no idea, but GET THIS.
Some things I got after I started breastfeeding that I wish I had right away!
1. Lanisoh gel pads. Use these for the first few days. For the first week or two, your nipples will hurt, like badly. I used these gel pads the entire day while they lasted (I believe each one lasts 48 hours, I only got one set). When I would breastfeed, I'd obviously take them off my nipples and I would put them in a small Tupperware in the freezer. This way, when I was done breastfeeding each time, I had soothing cold gel pads to put back on my nipples. They were heaven, especially during those days before your nipples toughen up.
**Some pointers on saving your nipples are - don't let them rub against the sides of the shields when you're pumping, make sure they are placed in the middle of the shield so they can just chill freely. Breastmilk is the best healer for your nipples. Instead of getting gels and lotions for your nipples, which could clog your pores or become slippery for your baby to latch, I was told that taking some of the excess breastmilk from the pump or squeezing your breast a little after feeding, and putting some of the milk on your nipple, is the best soother and healer. Let your nipples airdry when you do this. I'm telling you, it worked for me, and it costs nothing! Last "save the nipple" point I need to mention is that you NEVER need to turn on your pump past the 3rd increment of speed. Anything higher than that is for a gorilla nipple or something that should not exist (sorry if this is offending anyone I just cannot fathom a nipple surviving any of the higher speeds on a pump and I have heard its not necessary anyway. I apologize if I am making an inaccurate statement but point being, AVOID THE HIGH SPEEDS IF POSSIBLE)
2. Lily Padz nipple covers. I originally got organic cloth washable covers because friends told me they were softer on your nipple than the disposable ones. They were right, they were definitely softer but they didn't have any adhesive so they didn't stay in place, and having to put them in the laundry and wait for them to dry was annoying. I found out about Lily Padz and I don't think there's a better invention out there. They're silicone nipple covers. They stick to your boob, leak proof (unlike cloth covers) and they're easy to wash (they come with a special soap). Also, I have my sister's bachelorette party next week in Mexico and I am so happy I have these covers which are waterproof and won't fall out of my bathing suits. Best. Invention. Ever.
3. This stretch cream. I LIVED for this cream during pregnancy, I have tried every belly cream there is: Mamma Mio, Bio-oil, Zoe organics belly oil and I didn't love any of them because of either texture or scent. This cream is literally incredible and has amazing texture and scent. Also, I didn't realize, but you need it for after baby because your boobs GET HUGE (even me, who had mosquito bites). Get as much of this as you can for pregnancy and breastfeeding stretch mark avoidant purposes. I can't recommend something more.
4. Nursing tanks. Just like my hesitation with buying maternity clothes, I really didn't want to buy breastfeeding clothes. But, I have to say that it got annoying having my shirts falling and getting in the way. Especially because my daughter is so picky that if the cloth of my shirt was in the way, she'd get annoyed. So I got a few of these tanks (with built in bras) to wear every day under sweaters and sweatshirts and for easy access during breastfeeding. When I'm not wearing these I'm wearing my favorite bras I wore throughout pregnancy too that also happen to be breastfeeding bras.
5. This sweatshirt. Ok, not entirely necessary but its so damn cool. My best friend got it for me and I love wearing it because I feel like a chic, trendy, rockstar breastfeeding mom when I do. It also makes a great gift for a new mommy whose breastfeeding. I want to do an entire post on this clothing line Tea and Cosset because its killer. Will get to it soon.
6. Screening Strips. Let's be real. We are all waiting for that glass of wine after 9-10 months of abstaining from alcohol. At least I was, and then the craving just gets even more intense when you're hormonal, overwhelmed and stressed out of your mind. The fact that you're breastfeeding makes it hard to just drink freely but these testing strips (which some people say not to get because they'll drive you crazy) actually help me feel ok to pump or feed after a glass of wine.
K I think that covers just about everything. Tried to keep this as concise as I could but include all the things I was so glad I had once I realized I was going to breast feed. Hope it helps! Happy breast feeding :)