Wednesday, 26 September 2018

BREASTFEEDING: What are the essentials?

BREASTFEEDING: What are the essentials?
Over the past three and a half years I have spent two and a half of those years breastfeeding, so I think it's fair to say it has been a big part of my life recently. I always hoped to breastfeed my daughters, but was fully aware of the struggle that may lie ahead each time. You can read more about my breastfeeding experience with my first daughter here and with my second daughter here, but in a nutshell I've been very lucky. Both times they latched on very quickly after birth and aside from the usual uncomfortable roller-coaster that is breastfeeding I didn't come across any of the big struggles I know a lot of mothers can face. We decided with both Isabella and Poppy to combination feed them, so we introduced a bottle or two a day from around six weeks. This balance between breast and bottle feeding worked perfectly for us as a family and it means that I have experience of both the bottle and breast feeding worlds. 

When it came to breastfeeding Poppy it was my second journey and I felt so much more empowered by knowledge, experience and guidance. That's the joy of being a second-time parent, experience is your secret weapon that makes so much of parenthood that bit easier. So, whether you are about to start your breastfeeding journey for the first time or are currently breastfeeding your fourth child, I thought I'd share the things I found were essential while on my breastfeeding journey in the hope it might help you.

Muslin Cloths - I found that having piles of muslin cloths in every room of our house was the only way I could garentee there would be one when I needed it. You never know when your little bundle of joy will decide to projectile vomit, admittedly the milky sick of those earlier months isn't half as bad as what's to come, but it still not ideal to be covered in it! Muslin cloths are one of the most versatile baby products we've owned, whether it be to wipe up sick, use as a nursing cover-up, as a play mat on-the-go, to create shade during the summer months or to protect harder to wash items like the bouncer. If you're about to become a parent then they'll become your most worn accessory in no time.
Breast Pump - This was an essential for me, but isn't for everyone. As I mentioned, we decided to combination feed so I used to express then freeze it ready for another day. However, this is time consuming and we found it was more manageable to switch to formula after a month or so. Having said that, I did also find the breast pump really useful for building up my milk supply and relieving engorged breasts. If you have the budget then I'd highly recommend getting an electric pump because after trying both electric and manual I personally found the electric so much easier to use. It is also quicker and not such hard work; personally anything that makes those early newborn days easier is a winner with me. 

Breast Milk Storage Bags - All that precious breast milk collected by the breast pump needs to be stored somewhere, which is where breast milk storage bags come into play. If you're planning on using the milk the same day then it is probably easier to keep it in a sterilised bottle, but if not then carefully (nothing like spilling breastmilk to make you cry!) pouring it into storage bags and popping it in the freezer is the safest way of storing it.

Nursing Friendly Clothes - This has been an ongoing struggle for me because after having Isabella I was swollen, had gained a lot of weight, very uncomfortable and was new to breastfeeding in public. I simply couldn't find clothes that were both nursing friendly and suited my new figure, so second time around I was prepared. I made sure I had plenty of nursing vests (perfect under jumpers/tops) and nursing-friendly dresses, so that I didn't have the same stresses again and it was so much better. Also, in the past four years so many more stores and online shops are doing breastfeeding friendly clothes, which is just what us mummies needed. Some of my favourite places to shop for nursing clothes are ASOS, Frugi, JoJo Maman Bebe and H&M.
Lanolin Cream - This is probably my biggest essential from the whole list because I honestly don't think I would have continued breastfeeding without it. I've always used the Lanolin Cream from Lansinoh and it works wonders on cracked, sore nipples. I really like that it doesn't need to be wiped off before feeding your baby too. 

Phone/Book - Anything that will keep you entertained, especially in those early weeks of non-stop feeding. Before sitting down to feed always try and make sure you have a drink, entertainment, tv remote, a snack and a muslin cloth. That was my checklist before starting because I quickly learnt that babies feed for a long time, so passing the time, keeping yourself hydrated and fed is important too. During the long night feeds I used to watch YouTube videos on my iPad with headphones (or online shop), so that I didn't disturb my husband, which made them a lot more manageable. 

Breast Pads - You can get reusable or disposable breast pads that stick inside your bra ready to catch any milk that may leak throughout the day. Our bodies are incredible and when our baby cries it will start to produce milk, but unless there is a baby there to drink it you may be faced with a wet bra very quickly without breast pads. I really liked the ones from Lansinoh or from Boots for a slightly more affordable option. 

Nursing Bra and Sleep Bra - Bravado Designs are the only nursing bras I've tried and the only ones I've needed; they are comfortable, easily accessible and last really well. After years of wired padded bras the world of nursing bras was a revelation! I also ordered a few sleep bras from amazon that were perfect for night feeds, again comfortable and easily accessible which is key.
Anenatal Classes - We attended NCT classes prior to having Isabella, which I'd highly recommend if they are within your budget, although they certainly aren't an essential. What was really helpful was having someone experienced talk through how to breastfeed, so finding a local breastfeeding café or antenatal class could be really useful for feeling prepared. Prior to starting breastfeeding I had no idea that you aim to have so much of your breast inside the babies mouth; I mean it makes sense now, after all it is called 'breastfeeding' and not 'nipple feeding', but all of the pictures I had seen previously looked like it was just the nipple. We also learnt all about how to align the nose to the nipple and then swiftly placing your baby on your breast when they open their mouth. It was helpful to have my husband attend those classes too, so that he was equipped with the knowledge and understanding to support me when I started breastfeeding. 

Breastfeeding Pillow - This will save your back, even if it is a bit of an effort to carry it around the house with you. I had one for downstairs and one for upstairs, they were that much of an essential to me! They help to bring your baby up to the right position for feeding, stop you stooping over and can be used to support your baby sitting up when they are a little bit older. I had one from Theraline and one from Love2Sleep, both of which I'd recommend.
Smart Cells also put together their nine essentials for new breastfeeding mums in honour of World Breastfeeding Week, which was back in August, if you're interested to see what they would recommend too.


Did you breastfeed or do you hope to? If you have done, what would your essential items be?


Feel free to leave a comment - I love reading every single one :)


Helen x

*Collaborative Post - with information provided in a press release by Smart Cells.
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19 comments

  1. when i was breast feeding muslin cloths were also my best friend , i also found beast pads dont seem to last and i used to "pack" them in when i go shopping - as least i wanted was 2 massive wet spots ;)

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  2. Great tips. I really struggled a lot and think I was unprepared how hard it would be. I just about managed third time round. I think it is brilliant that there seems to be more support and good products out there.

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  3. Great tips. Bravado were my go to brand when breastfeeding and Lansinoh cream literally saved my nipples time and time again!

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  4. I didn't breastfeed my babies for various reasons, but these seem like great essentials that will be useful for lots of mums. Kaz

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  5. I don't have have kids so have literally no idea on breastfeeding but I don't know what my thoughts are. I think I would try but not push myself if it wasn't for me x

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  7. I am always a bit nostalgic when I think about my breastfeeding period. The electric breast pump and the milk storage were essential for me as I used to pump at work and bring the milk back.
    But I also loved the pillow, so useful to rest a bit.

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  8. A friend of mine is pregnant and she intends to breastfeed, I shall send this to her. These are some great essentials

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  9. Great tips for any new mums! I always find it really useful to get tips from mums who have experienced these kind of things and have proper practical advice and can speak from experience! x

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  10. I couldn't breastfeed my 1st, but I still am with my second! I had a special breastfeeding apron that was my essential. I like muslins until she started thrashing about more. Then I found the larger apron gave me much more security from accidently exposing myself!

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  11. I am still breastfeeding my second and the the thing I miss is being able to watch box sets as there is a 4 year old to consider too.

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  12. I learnt a lot from this post. Fantastic read for new mums! :) x

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  13. Yes, yes and yes to all of these. I had all of these things when I was breastfeeding too, definitely could t have survived without the lanolin cream!xx

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  14. Yes, yes and yes! I only nursed my babies for four months, but pretty much needed everything on your list.

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  15. I only bottle fed my daughter and quite a few of the items here would be on my essentials for that too. Have to say I never realised how many things you need for breast feeding!

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  16. My friend is pregnant with her first and planning on breast feeding, I’ll have to share this with her - thanks for the tips x

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  17. I needed everything on this list! One additional thing was a supply of snacks and a bottle of water. I always got so thirsty whenever I breastfed!!

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  18. Lansinoh, breastpads and a drink and a snack for me

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