**TITLE IMAGE BY ANNA HARDY PHOTOGRAPHY**
Since having our baby boy almost 9 weeks ago, I’ve been reminded of all the bits that become essentials as a new-mum. It’s amazing how I’d forgotten since having our daughter nearly 3 years ago, just what is needed on a day-to-day basis. I’ve built some amazing relationships on my instagram and there is a wonderful community of supportive mums and mums-to-be on there that have offered advice along the way. I’ve also had lots of DMs asking me about my personal experiences and preferences, so I thought it’d make sense to pop some of it down on the blog. So I’ll start with a biggy…my breastfeeding essentials…
Fed is best
I’m not going to go into the breast vs. bottle debate that shamefully seems to still be such a prevalent thing for new mums to get their heads round (as if there isn’t already enough?!). All I will say is, that whatever you decide or have to do, it has to be right for you, as well as your baby. It’s important for you to feel physically and mentally strong when it comes to parenting a new baby, so please know that there is a lot of support out there for both options. As long as your baby is getting the nutrition it needs to grow and thrive…fed is best!
How do I feed my babies?
As a bit of background and as I think it’s important you know, if I’m telling you my personal experiences and recommendations around feeding a newborn…
Our Daughter – I exclusively breastfed our daughter for about 7-8 months, expressing one bottle per day so that daddy could do the bedtime feed (and I had a couple of hours break!). Once she was weaning happily, we moved to ready-made bottles of Aptamil for that evening feed, as it seemed the simpler option and easier all round. Expressing wasn’t easy for me either! At 10 months old, be began the steps to drop feeds from the breast, as I didn’t want to rush that process and gave myself 2-3 months to do it. I was also bridesmaid for my best friend, so wanted to be able to enjoy the day, so dropped the afternoon feed. Then at a year old, as per recommendations, we started to introduce cow’s milk as her main drink and I continued dropping feeds from the breast until she was fully weaned at about 14 months old.
I’ll be honest, this was longer than I ever intended and thought I would breastfeed! Particularly in those first few months, I didn’t think I’d make it past 6 months!
Our son – So he’s nearly 9 weeks old and I exclusively breastfed him for 8 weeks. It was then, that for a number of reasons (which I’ll talk about in a separate post soon), we introduced a bottle of Goats milk formula for his 7pm feed. The plan is to continue with breastfeeding for the majority of the time and having formula of an evening and then reassess when he begins weaning onto solids at 6 months.
So back to the subject title…
My Breastfeeding Essentials
I’ll get straight into my breastfeeding essentials – the things that make the whole process easier, more comfortable and pleasant. As, if you can get settled into it and if all the elements come together, breastfeeding can be an amazing experience to share with your baby. I’ve linked the products below* to make it easier for you to find them, but there’s lots of amazing things out there on the market, these are just the ones that I’ve found have worked for me…
First things first, to be able to successfully breastfeed comfortably, you need to look after your poor nipples, which will be going through something they’ve never been through before! Hands down, the best advice I ever received was to start using Lanolin Nipple Cream immediately! Even before you think you need to. It’s easy to apply, doesn’t interfere with feeding, is safe for the baby and helps keep your nipples moisturised and soften. Just lather it on ladies!
There’s no doubting that at some point, you will experience the joys of leaky boobs! Leaking through your bras, your tops, onto your bedsheets…amazing! Some women produce more milk than others, me being one of them! This is great in some ways, but actually really tough in others. When I feed my baby with one nipple, the other often leaks, I often wake up with damp PJs and I definitely rely on the breastfeeding essentials of breast-pads! With my daughter, I experimented a lot with different brands and styles of breast-pad and for me (36GG boobs and lots of milk!), I’ve found that the Lansinoh Disposable Breast Pads work best for me. They’re slim, stick to the inside of your bra and hold in place and absorb milk well. I find some of the other brands are thicker and you can see them through your top…you can’t with these.
Now down to the physicality of breastfeeding. There’s no denying, it’s not a comfortable thing at first and there are a number of things that’ll effect your successful breastfeeding position: latch, size of baby, size of your boobs, flow of your milk, your back, your c-section scar and lots of other things! So it’ll take a bit of trial and error and eventually you’ll be a pro, doing it anywhere (even standing!). But in those first weeks, the main thing is to be comfortable! Here’s my essentials for getting comfortable when breastfeeding…
A good pillow (or two)
With my first, I bought a purpose-designed Breastfeeding cushion like this one and used it a lot in those first couple of months. This time round, I had my eye on this gorgeous whale-feeding cushion from Acorn and Pip, but didn’t get round to buying it. So instead, I just stacked two of my squidgier, softer Ikea sofa cushions under my elbow/arms on whichever side I’m feeding and that works well for me. In bed, I have about 5 pillows around me to support my back, arms and even legs whilst I’m feeding.
Snacks, snacks and more snacks!
Breastfeeding burns calories! It’s definitely a perk! And if you’re feeding on demand, to a hungry newborn, you can be feeding almost constantly in those early weeks. Which means it’s easy to skip meals and you’ll be burning calories without even realising it…so you’ll be hungry!
You therefore need to keep eating! Easy, small, energy-releasing snacks should be to-hand at all times. I’m no health-food aficionado and I won’t lie, my go-to-snacks when breastfeeding are high-carb, sugary or salty. A biscuit or two, slices of toast or a bag of salty crisps. This is what I craved and what worked for me. You can be healthier, but I’d say, whatever gets you through and gives you energy!
Following on from my point above, keep drinking water! You need to replenish all that liquid you’re giving your beautiful baby. Again, you might not realise it, but it’s super easy to become dehydrated and thirsty – so keep a bottle of water nearby at all times.
An excuse to eat brownies!
Not a problem for me, but lots of my friends have struggled with their milk-production in those early days and some clever mamas out there have tackled that issue and combined it with the joys of chocolate brownies and cookies!
There’s lots out there, but I received a lovely box of brownies, sent by my friend and insta mama Not Just a Tit from Mother Love Cookies. They’re made with natural ingredients that help promote lactation. So definitely worth giving them a try if you’re struggling!
if you’d like to use your breastmilk exclusively, then “pumping” or “expressing” is a great option.
Time to pump!
You might decide, like me, that you’d like to or need to combination feed (that means giving your baby a mix of breast and bottle). You might want to introduce a bottle to give yourself a break, because you need to go back to work, or so you can give your partner the joy and bond that comes from feeding your baby (or like me, all of the above!).
You may opt to introduce formula, but if you’d like to use your breastmilk exclusively, then “pumping” or “expressing” is a great option. I have expressed with both my babies and this time used the Lansinoh Single Electric Breast Pump which I can highly recommend for ease of use and efficiency. I really love the brand Lansinoh, as feel they understand the experience of breastfeeding and have created a suite of products that really work! There are a number of other brands on the market too and even double-breast pumps, so you can express from both breasts at once.
The final thing that I want to touch on now in this post about my breastfeeding essentials is, easy access to the boobs when you’re out and about. I will write a whole separate post on breastfeeding fashion (yes, you can still be stylish, I promise!), but a great starter-for-ten is the awesome B-Shirt. It’s a breast-feeding vest-top and it’s hands-down the simplest thing I’ve found available for comfortable breastfeeding when you’re out and about, that doesn’t show your tummy, or leave you feel like your boobs are on show to the world. And if you’ve got big boobs like me, then regardless of your confidence and how comfortable you are with the act of breastfeeding, you might still prefer to cover the breast as much as possible when feeding for your self. I find that the B-Shirt is great for this! I’ve got two and am probably going to buy more so I have all colours.