Another list of stuff to buy! You're welcome.
I had such a good time yesterday talking about nursing Beck and how it's been for us so far, so thanks for indulging me in that one. And now, as promised, gear! I go back and forth on these posts because on the one hand I believe in not getting something specialized for every. little. thing. BUT there are a few products that really make the whole experience better, so I try to keep the number of products I require to a minimum and make sure they're really good ones.
- Creams! When I was first nursing my nipples were super tender all the time, and I had some samples of the Lansinoh Lanolin cream. It felt fine but was nothing miraculous. I also got a prescription for Newman's Nipple Cream, which I think worked slightly better. The lactation consultants also told me that new research is showing that coconut oil is doing a better job of anything at healing and comfort for pain, which is awesome because you can use coconut oil on your whole dang family. I use the Trader Joe's kind for cooking, nothing special, and it works great! If you're pregnant, I'd say hold off on buying any of this stuff - you'll get a ton of samples or half-empty tubes from friends, and truthfully you won't use it that long. Once your bod gets used to nursing you don't need anything, so use up the teeny versions first before you buy. Also, a note from my super-wise mother. She told me she never used anything with any of us, the rationale being that if you use stuff to soothe and soften your nipples you might be actually elongating the healing process. Go for it, muscle through the pain, and it might heal faster. I took that and also used the stuff when I couldn't take any more. I'm not as tough as her.
- The biggest thing I've spent money on is clothes and bras. Because I'm so adamant about nursing everywhere, I need easy boob access, and I really don't like to lift my shirt with nothing under it. For regular clothes, I do the over/under method where I wear a nursing tank + bra and cover it with a baggier top. Then, I lift the baggy shirt up, unclip the tank and bra, shove Beck's head into my boob, and boom. Done. I have a bunch of Motherhood tanks, I just waited for a few to go on clearance when I was pregnant. A note on those, one time I found something identical on clearance called "tunic length," and I love them. They're about 3 inches longer than regular camis and stick out under your top shirt kind of in a cute way. I also still wear stretchy Gap maternity tanks under baggier shirts, they are stretchy enough that I can pull them down over my breast and unhook my bra, with the same larger shirt on top concept for coverage.
- I only have 2 "real" bras, a black and beige of this Motherhood one. They were about $25, which I love because they're starting to crease from being pulled up and down so much. I don't see how any molded bras wouldn't crease with that kind of use, though, so I'd rather spend less and replace them sooner. Plus, they get full of milk sometimes, so is this something that you want to last for 10 years? Probably not.
- I also have these Target sleep bras (so comfy, I've talked about them before) and this overpriced sports bra, which I like but not as much as I paid for it. A few seams are already coming apart, but it fits great and I needed something for exercise that was accessible - regular sports bras really don't cut it.
- In true nursing clothes, I've gotten a few wrap-ish things from Destination Maternity (we have one in our mall), but my newest obsession is Seraphine, aka Princess Kate's go-to for maternity/nursing wear, which is surprisingly affordable. Everything has fun little slits to nurse without taking off your damn clothes, which I really like because it allows you to wear high-necked stuff or other cuts that normally wouldn't work for nursing. I have this shirt, this shirt, and this dress, and love all three equally. The fabric feels really nice and is forgivingly (definitely a word) stretchy, and I have my eye on another dress for our NYC trip later this month.
- I don't use nursing pads. I got TONS of samples and never bought any, and dutifully used them for the first few days my milk came in. I never leaked enough to really need them, and it was just one more thing to deal with that I couldn't be bothered to manage. I also don't have one of those bras that you put pump parts in to write blogs while you pump. I just hold the pump on my boobs and use it as quiet time to do nothing else.
- I have a Medela Pump In Style from my insurance company (free! Thanks Obama!), and love it. There were a few high-quality brands of pumps to choose from, but Medela is pretty much the gold standard if you aren't using a hospital-grade pump, so I went with it and love it. I am still figuring out if I need to look at extra parts (tubing, etc), but for this first 4 months I've just used what it came with and have been just fine. I didn't invest in the cooler with the ice pack that fits the pump bottles because OMG COOLERS ALL DO THE SAME THING.
- I use Medela's pumping bags, and often pump directly into them, which is a great timesaver when I'm at work. I prefer to pump into bottles (and sometimes I'll just hold the pump close enough to the bottle Beck drinks out of without an attachment) because the bags aren't reusable so it's a heavy-hitter for the environment, but I like the bags themselves.
- Beck drinks out of Avent Naturals plastic bottles because we got 2 free before she was born and to me 2 of anything makes a set. I downgraded from level 1 nipples to 0 preemie nipples, I want her to work pretty hard at a bottle just like she has to on my breast. Also, a quick "this is just my opinion" note on the whole "babies are so picky about bottles." I think this might be true, but I also think that sometimes we aren't bottle feeding correctly. There's lots you can read about it, but I've seen Beck take Avent bottles beautifully and I've seen her reject them wholeheartedly depending on her mood and who is feeding her. The key, it seems, is to feed her like she's nursing, holding her close, facing in to the feeder, bottle at a similar angle to a breast, etc. All that to say, don't go buy one of every bottle if your baby doesn't take it the first time. They might truly be picky/brand-loyal, or they might need some practice learning that food comes out of the one you're offering. Because having a 4-month old clearly makes me an expert on such things.
- I mostly put bottle and pump parts in the dishwasher in this thang, but occasionally I'll have to hand wash some if I'm out of stuff and the dishwasher isn't full. I use a little brush that holds soap and everything air dries on the Boon drying rack, which I love. I usually hate stuff on countertops, and will probably loathe this in a few months, but I kind of like that there is something baby-specific in our kitchen. I spend so much time there cooking for us, so Beck's food supplies being on display makes me strangely happy.
Those are my basics, things that I do think make a difference in the happiness of my breastfeeding life. Beck was so excited about me talking about all this that she ate last night/morning at 8:30, 9:30, 11:30, 2:30, and 5:30. She woke up again at 7 and I kicked her and Jay out. She's wearing a 6-month onesie currently (turns 4 months Saturday) and I have no clue why.