As I had mentioned in my first post I had a difficult time when I first started nursing. I started thinking about that when I was reading some posts on Baby 411 on my iPhone today (Shout out to my Ladies). It also got me thinking about what are some things I would never do without while nursing and what are good products that I would recommend to first time nursing mothers. Let's face it the nursing of today isn't what it used to be for our mothers or grandmothers if they did in fact choose or were able to breastfeed in the first place. (Note while I have mentioned specific product names I am not being compensated for my endorsement and OPINION, similar products may work just as well for you)
My MVP of nursing supplies would have to be my Boppy, I own two in fact. Why is it my "most valuable possession" because I have found more uses for it then even the manufacturer intended. By the way I love how the photograph they chose for feeding was a father bottle feeding his baby so as not to exclude the market of formula fed or pumped milk babies. The Boppy was my new favorite thing in the hospital. I actually used it as a pillow because I had grown very uncomfortable laying on my side for 2 months prior to my son's birth and my neck and back killed. The Boppy made it better plus I knew where that pillow was the minute my little guy was hungry! Since then the pillow was my main assistant during nursing for 5 months. I needed more then just my own two hands to help hold my son and get everything positioned properly and most of the day I'm on my own.
Which brings me to my second must have "Mission Control" as my husband calls it. My glider and two tv dinner trays. When I was pumping exclusively I had my pump on one tray and the other held my water, iPhone, house phone, food of the moment, tissues and remote control. Mission control always spread further and was less neat then my husband likes (he's neat and orderly, I am decidedly less neat at home) and he would patiently tidy up after me when he came home from work each night. I have since learned to keep my much smaller mission control more orderly and require less picking up after.
The next item I plan to use again though I no longer require it for this nursling is my Utterly Yours Breastfeeding Pillow This little item I wish I had known about sooner because it was a life saver and my much needed third hand. As I said I was alone for much of the day and I have a mom who loves to call and a brother who loves to text and I was totally dependent on the aforementioned Baby 411. All of which requires you use your hand. Well nursing a baby requires you use your hands as well. For me though it required three: two to hold my son and one to hold me in proper position. So the Boppy held my son high enough, one hand supported him to prevent rolling off and then the Utter Pillow held me in place thus freeing my hand to answer phones, texts and posts.
The next would be my bebe au lait nursing cover. I own three different covers but this is by far my favorite. This is the most generous in size and has added features that I love like pockets made of terry cloth that can be used as a burp cloth. It also felt the nicest out of the three. The cotton is light, soft and breathable. The size matters to me because I needed the coverage and my son hates the cover and will pull and kick it off if I don't tuck it under his back and my arm. I've used this cover everywhere. I even used it on an airplane while sitting next to a stranger and they could not see anything. I keep one of the others in my diaper bag as back up just in case but I always reach for this one first.
Gerber prefold cloth diapers. But not as diapers because they are basically useless as that but as burp cloths. They are excellent burp cloths that are softer and more absorbent then the products sold as burp cloths. I'm glad I let my mom get these because my crazy hormonal pregnant self started to argue with her that I wasn't going to cloth diaper my baby so why was that in the cart. Haha little did I know then that I would be nuts about cloth diapering and would never put another baby in disposables again.
Next is Lanolin cream and Lansinoh nursing pads. It was a life saver during the beginning of nursing. I would squeeze huge dollops on the pad and then stick them in my bra, ahh relief.
This next one isn't a product it is a person, a Lactation Consultant. She was my life saver. She showed me that my little one was able to pull enough milk from me to sustain himself and I didn't need to worry about pumping to feed him because he got more from me then I ever pumped. She showed me the correct position and got my doctor to prescribe the correct medicine to clear up my thrush. She was the first one to finally set my mind at ease and allow me to see that I was being a good mommy which for the three months prior to our appointment I had felt like the worst mom ever and basically cried and could not look at my husband without feeling like a failure because my son looks like a mini version of my husband. So I would say do not wait to contact an LC if you are having trouble run there because you shouldn't have to do this alone.
Lastly would be my Medela Pump-in-Style double electric pump. I really don't understand why they make single pumps. It is wasting time and money. The Medela double pumps can be used as single pumps and if you are expression to build up a supply you are going to want to use your precious time to do something else rather then sit for two sessions each time you pump. Yes it is expensive but it is so worth it for women in my situation. In the beginning when I was pumping to feed him I really only had time to pump, feed, clean my bottle and parts, lay down for 15 minutes and then repeat the process. I was a walking zombie so the less time I spent pumping, the more time I had to hold my baby and to try to catch a little sleep. Now that I am returning to work I only have a limited amount of time in the day to pump and I need the maximum amount of milk I can get so anything less then a double pump does not make sense to me. I am splurging and upgrading myself to the Freestyle because my pump is showing its age here and I need a really quick turn over plus it would be nice to have use of my hands to get a little work done or drive to and from work while I pump. UPDATE: I have since revoked my endorsement of Medela products. See here as to what changed my mind.
I know I said lastly before but just one more thing I should mention because I'm not certain if it was something I couldn't live without or will have to use again but I did use it and it deserves mentioning as it is a product some may benefit from, nipple shields. I am hesitant with this product because it can be used for the wrong reason and can hurt your supply and your body's natural response to nursing (I am getting that statement from my private lactation consultant) The lactation nurses at the hospital gave me a shield because I had flat nipples. I've always had short nipples that never really cared to do much and to think they were going to do what I wanted them to do after almost 12 hours of labor was more then I could expect so they gave this to me. As a new mom I thought okay the nurse said this is good then I will use it. Well in hindsight in my case I shouldn't have. It is probably why my little guy had his weight gain issues in the beginning and why he screamed bloody murder every time I tried to nurse him. After I had supply issues while expressing I reattempted breastfeeding without the use of the shield and I finally experienced success. If you have flat or inverted nipples which the product is recommended for use with then by all means try it just read the instructions carefully. I was not given instructions on how to properly use it at the hospital and the nurses just gave me the shield without the packaging. Used properly I think it is a good product. I do not think however, that it should be used to block some of that early pain that is experienced during establishing a nursing relationship. Those first few weeks are critical to growing connections between the chemicals and receptors used to produce milk to maintain an adequate supply and being able to nurse a baby successfully to 6 months and beyond if you choose. If you have pain use lanolin and see a lactation consultant.
So I would like to hear your thoughts on this and to share some of the products you just can't live without as well.