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There is nothing you can do to prepare yourself for breastfeeding. The feeling of it, the emotions surrounding it, the stress, pain, but at the same time love and joy. It is a full-time job and will occupy more time and money than you ever thought possible. This post is lengthy, so refer to the table of contents and jump around as needed if you are only interested in specific topics.
- Finding a pump
- The latch
- Needed supplies
- Mastitis vs. clogged duct
- 2nd baby
Finding a pump
So hopefully you have been told by someone or your doctor that your insurance will buy you a pump 100% free (for every pregnancy)! All you need is a prescription from your doctor and an idea of what you want. I used Aeroflow (direct link to insurance form below), and they made it incredibly easy. Literally, all I did was submit my information, my insurance information, and my doctor’s information, then selected what pump I wanted, and it arrived at my door a few weeks later. I love easy, especially when I was pregnant with a toddler. Easy makes the world a better place, am I right?!
So what pump should you get and should you get the optional upgrade? Here is the truth, you are going to want a regular pump that plugs into the wall as well as a portable pump. My first pregnancy, I got the Spectra S2PLUS, and I loved it. Easy to use, easy to clean, got the job done (about 5oz in 10 mins). Because this wasn’t portable, it required me to be on top of travel and pump beforehand, which I was never able to get a grasp on. Let me tell you, road trips with an infant that eats every 2-4 hours just got much longer, and husbands got much grouchier. For my second pregnancy, I got the Motif Duo Double Electric Breast Pump and let me tell you, game changer! I still love my Spectra because it does pump much faster, but I can’t stand being tethered to the wall. I use the Motif for a quick bottle on the road as well as during the day at home if I am trying to leave the baby with my husband. This brings up something very, very important. A hands-free pumping bra! If you have money to burn, then I suggest just going to motherhood maternity because their stuff is always legit. If you are like me and hate spending money than just get a sports bra you don’t care too much about and cut 2 small holes over your nipple. Viola, hands-free, hand-made, pumping bra!
Hopefully, if you are a 2-pump type of person, you have friends who will loan you theirs if you are on your first pregnancy. If not, then I would just choose what you think is more important to you and don’t buy anything extra. These pumps are $250-$300! So, choose either more efficient (less time being milked) or wall/tether free.
Last point on pumps, the “upgrade.” Most of the upgrades are just a pump bag; the Medela packages seem to come with a cooler as well. For me, the bags aren’t worth it. I use a big diaper bag from Target that fits everything plus a little extra like nipple balm, milk bags, hair ties, and snacks. I do like that the Medela bags have their own little compartments for the motor, it’s the little things, right?
Here is a link to take you to the exact page to get your pump:
2 little words that will completely dictate your happiness while you breastfeed. The follow up to that is LACTATION CONSULTANT! I got lucky with a sister-in-law who taught me to hamburger and shove and fixed us right up! For everyone else take advantage of the consultants in the hospital and if you have any discomfort afterward seek help. There are so many different things these ladies are trained to figure out. They know all these special holds and techniques and can identify physical abnormalities that could be causing problems. Trust me, the amount of time your baby will spend attached to your boob, you want to make sure that you are doing it right.
With all that being said, breastfeeding is not in the cards for all moms. The slogan “Fed is Best” is completely accurate. If breastfeeding issues are making you spiral down a deep dark hole than it might be best to consider other options. The other options are buying breastmilk or formula. Don’t be hard on yourself; just do what feels right.
Before I had my first son, my supply list went like this: boobs, check…. Nipple butter, check…. Baby, coming soon.. I was a bit more prepared than that but definitely not completely prepared! Here is a comprehensive list of everything I needed to nurse my son for 13 months:
- Nursing bras
- Nursing shirts*
- Cover up: I love this cover-up. It is crazy versatile and an absolute must-have in every diaper bag. I considered getting 2 because I use it so much!
- Ice packs
- Nipple butter
- Nipple pads: I would bring 6 pads with you everywhere you go for the first few months. You make so much milk in the beginning, you soak right through everything.
- Milk saver: I didn’t have this for my first baby, and it literally haunts me how much milk was wasted.
- Breast pump
- Pump bags
- Water/snacks- it’s like you haven’t eaten or drank water in 10 years every time they latch, no joke!
*honestly, I have nothing to link here because I am not super impressed with any of the items I found. Mostly I just find a way not to have to strip down, but it would be much easier with a shirt specifically for nursing.
Mastitis vs. clogged duct
About 1 in 6 women will experience one or more episodes mastitis (1). It will most often occur in the first 4 weeks postpartum (1). Mastitis is something that you can attempt to prevent, but it’s not always possible. Especially in the beginning, when your boobs go crazy making milk. The best things you can do to avoid it is nurse on both sides and express when your breasts start to get too full. You can express with a pump, hand pump, or by massage in a warm shower. Mastitis can typically be identified by the presence of a fever. It will also present with red, tender, hot, and swollen areas on the breast. A clogged duct is painful, but you most often won’t have a fever.
Here are my methods of relieving a clogged duct and hopefully prevent mastitis. Aim the babies chin towards the duct that hurts for a couple of feedings, that always gave me relief. If the pain still lingers, I used a couple of drops of lavender oil and tea tree oil with a carrier oil and rubbed it all over my boob. The weirdest trick I learned is to put sliced potato over your boob under your bra. Doing all 3 of those steps and pumping like crazy, I never got mastitis.
An amazing resource for all things breastfeeding in the La Leche League (https://www.llli.org/) They have a ton of information and have local chapters all over the world to help women learn to breastfeed in a way that keeps mom comfortable and baby healthy.
Oh man, so with my first baby, my boobs were just learning to make milk. Baby 2 they were professionals and went CRAZY! I made so much milk in the first week postpartum I saved almost 20 bags!
The biggest thing to remember is every baby is different. Your experiences might be completely different each time. What I want to bring to your attention about the 2nd baby is it is really easy to forget to have that peaceful feeding giving you the time to connect with your new human. I had Noah when Micah was 22 months, so I find myself chasing Micah around the house with Noah on the boob…. that is real life! Although sometimes it is a necessity, I am learning that I need to find time to sit down and feed Noah without distractions, away from the TV, away from my phone and give him that undivided attention he deserves.
Here is a link for our favorite sippy cup
There is no wrong time to wean. Whatever works for you and your family is all you need to worry about. I weaned Micah at 13 months. My goal was a year, so at 11 months, I start trying to introduce milk to him.
What I remember about the initial attempts to give him milk is he wanted nothing to do with it. He LOVED nursing, his eyes would start to roll, and he made these sweet little content sighs. The method I used was don’t offer, don’t refuse, and distract when possible. At a year, I started trying to drop a feeding with this method; I opted for his afternoon feeding because that was when he had the shortest nursing sessions. Every time he showed signs of wanting to nurse, I would get his sippy with milk or some sort of food and try to get him to eat/drink that instead of nursing. It honestly took about 2-3 weeks of doing that even to get him to consider not nursing.
Once he finally liked milk, I was able to drop the first feeding no problem and then finished with his bedtime feed. The whole process took about 1.5 months from start to finish. He was sleeping through the night already but would sometimes wake up for a quick chug. After I weaned his dinner feed, he never woke up crying for milk again. This method also saved me from developing any sort of duct issues. I think it is because I slowly reduced how much milk I needed to produce instead of going cold turkey.
I recently found a fantastic supplement called Milk Dust. It is a protein powder that was created for breastfeeding mommas to help with our nutrition and stop sugar cravings. The ingredients are amazing, and after using it for almost a month, it really does help with sugar cravings. I walked past a Hershey bar tonight and didn’t think twice about it. The main ingredients you want to help increase milk supply are milk thistle, fennel seed, brewer’s yeast, raspberry leaf, and fenugreek seed. All of which is found in the milk dust powder. If you are more interested in pill form, I used THESE when I was breastfeeding Micah, and they worked great!
Just like delivering your baby, don’t make any assumptions on how breastfeeding will go. You need to set yourself up with the possibility that it might not go the way you envisioned. I say this all the time, but you need to be your own personal cheerleader. Even attempting to breastfeed is a victory and everything after that is a win!