I am by no means an expert, but I have been successfully breastfeeding Georgia for almost six months. She is exclusively breastfed, but I have no problems with formula. She's actually had it a handful of times and she didn't grow a second head or anything like that. Just letting y'all know so it's clear this isn't some breast vs. bottle my way is better debate!
But in case you are pregnant or a new mother who is curious about breastfeeding, here are a list of my breastfeeding must-haves. I've provided the Amazon links so you can see info about the product. They do typically have the best prices, but you can buy or register for these things pretty much anywhere.
A great breast pump - I used the Medela Pump In Style Advanced and I love it. It gets the job done, I can do a full pump (8-12 oz.) in less than fifteen minutes, including setup and washing the parts.
Some people hold off on buying a pump until they are sure breastfeeding is going to work for them. If I had done that, breastfeeding most likely wouldn't have worked for me. When Georgia was a week old, my milk still hadn't came in. The lactation nurse suggested a warm compress and massage, and pumping for two to five minutes every hour. That method worked, I was able to start feeding Georgia milk in less than 24 hours.
The microwave steam bags are a definite must! I bought the Medela brand because they were cheapest. I pump twice a day (during her morning nap and at bedtime while David gives her a bottle). I either steam clean my pump parts or put them in the dishwasher once a day, between pumping & cleaning I just store them in the fridge, but I always clean them once a day. It just takes a minute and a half in these bags, and you can also use them to clean bottles, nipples, and all that stuff so they are awesome to have when you travel.
I was going to put a photo of myself using a hands free pumping bra, but I thought that was a little too much! Just kidding, but isn't that photo hilarious? They even have a polka dot one on Amazon! When I first saw these bras I swore there was no way I would ever use one. Then I got incredibly sick of having my hands tied up while I pumped. Now I can eat, email, use the TV remote, and do lots of things while I sit and pump. My friends even joked that I could strap my pump on to my bike and ride down the street while pumping. But I can't do that, because I don't have a rechargeable batter for my pump.
Disposable nursing pads are a definite must. You really need them in the beginning, even if you are not planning on breastfeeding. I like the Lansinoh brand because I find them to be more absorbent. I have also tried both the Johnson's and Nuks brands, but I had some embarrassing problems with both of them. The Lansinohs do look quite lumpy while the other brands are thinner, smaller, and don't poke out of my bras.
I will say, though, that maybe I just have weird boobs. My friends all said that by six months I wouldn't need nursing pads, but I still do, sometimes in a really bad way if you know what I mean. Maybe if your boobs aren't such overachievers you can use the contoured pads. I'll just have to stroll around with my lumpy old boobs for now.
I did buy some Lily Padz reusable gel nursing pads and I didn't get much use from them. I love the concept but, again, my overachievers caused problems. They were nice for swimming though.
You will need some breast milk storage bags. I always just buy whatever is cheapest, and I've ended up using Lansinoh and Johnson's. I didn't have problems with either of them. An online friend did buy a cheapie brand and had problems with them leaking, but I can't remember which brand it was. Helpful of me, I know!
A supportive husband! Sorry ladies, he's not available on Amazon. I think it goes without saying that my chest region is kind of off limits for anyone besides Georgia. I want to wean Georgia when she's a year old, and he is so patient and on board with my plan. He also understands that, especially in the beginning, making milk for a baby is a lot of work! And I need lots of calories to keep it up, so he doesn't tease me when I pig out. He attended a breastfeeding class with me (all of the husbands were there, so don't let your husband try to weasel out of it!) and that was a big help.
You might also want to pick up a book, like The New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding if they don't give it to you at your breastfeeding class. I also found the relevant chapter in Baby 411 to be the most helpful of all. Actually, Baby 411 is so great you should pick it up anyway, even if you aren't breastfeeding.
I worked really hard right after Georgia was born to ensure she latched on perfectly, I really did not allow her to do an improper latch. If she did, I just gently moved her away and then put her back on until the latch was correct. I didn't have any problems with sore nipples or anything like that. In fact, I really didn't need the tube of lanolin that I bought. The travel-size sample provided by the hospital was enough. Since it's a little pricey, you might want to wait to see if you need it first. If you do, you can always send your husband out to buy a tube for you.
This post might be a little TMI for non-moms or non breastfeeders, but I decided to post it because when I was pregnant and curious I had a really hard time finding resources that I related to. La Leche League was a little too gung ho for me. On the other hand, I knew I wanted to give breastfeeding a fair shot, and other blogs I found could be quite dismissive of it, since it can be difficult at times. If you have any questions I might be able to help with, please leave a comment or feel free to email me. If you comment, please leave your email address so I can respond to you directly.
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