It's World Breastfeeding Week!
For me, one of the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding is the fact that you don't need any gear. You will forget the diaper bag or change of clothes or favorite toy many, many times in your parenting career, but if you breastfeed, you'll never forget the milk. Nonetheless, there are some things that have made breastfeeding easier and more comfortable for me. They aren't necessary, but they can be useful.
Nursing pillows. I am able to read and even write or use my computer a little while nursing if I have a nursing pillow. For my third baby, I ditched the polyurethane foam one in favor of two natural nursing pillows. One is filled with buckwheat hulls, the other with organic cotton. I love them both. The buckwheat one has also worked really well for my baby as support/ padding for sitting.
Rocking chair. I nursed my first mostly on our leather sofa. And some busy moms walk around the house holding a nursing baby in arms or in a sling. (Although I love using baby carriers, my fast letdown and easily distracted babies preclude me from nursing the baby while in the carrier.) You certainly don't need a special place for nursing. But a comfortable chair is a lovely place to nurse. I bought a Dutalier glider on Craig's List that is so comfy, but sadly it's made with polyurethane foam undoubtedly treated with flame retardants. I couldn't give it up completely, but I did move it out of the baby's bedroom. I got a wood rocking chair on Craig's List to use in the bedroom. I missed my glider at first, but now I like the rocking chair (with tied-on cushions) just as much.
Infant-size prefolds. I have never used infant prefolds as diapers. My favorite newborn diaper is a Kissaluvs fitted diaper. But the little prefolds are excellent as burp cloths because they offer good coverage and are highly absorbent. In the first few months, I always have one handy while nursing to catch spraying milk. With my fast letdown and flow, sometimes a newborn can't keep up and comes off to cough, sputter and catch her breath. I need the prefold to catch the milk that is still coming before the baby latches back on.
Nursing bra. Get a nursing bra that fits well. Often your hospital store or birthing center or other mama-centered place will have a variety and someone who you can consult. My friend told me how much she loved her Bravado nursing bra. I bought a couple and have been very happy with them (tossed the foam inserts which are just for looks). Maybe someday I'll find an awesome nursing bra made with natural materials.
Nursing pads. I know some moms only leak for a few weeks or months. I leak the entire time I nurse, about two years per kid. Without awesome nursing pads, I can easily go through several shirts a day and a couple more at night. I use a combination of LANACare wool pads, which are incredibly awesome but a little bulky and more maintenance, Imse Vimse organic cotton pads (once my letdown and leaking mellows out), Lansinoh disposable pads when I need an invisible and completely waterproof pad.
Homemade rice pack for plugged ducts. As an over-producer, I am always on the look out for plugged ducts. I had mastitis once with my second, and plugged ducts on and off afterwards, and I became religious about using my homemade rice pack to warm up my breast before and while nursing to get rid of them. I sewed it myself from a scrap of fabric. I'd make one small enough that you can hold it on your breast while nursing. Heat it up briefly in the microwave and apply.
Digital watch. In the first few months, I often used the timer function, just to have some idea when I would be on nursing duty again. With two other kids to distract me, I needed a reminder sometimes. I also like being able to check the time in the middle of the night with the night light feature.
Wool puddle pads. If you are a light or infrequent leaker, a towel might work for you at night. I need something waterproof, but I don't want to sleep on a pad with a plastic layer. The lack of breathability makes me all sweaty. I use a crib-sized wool puddle pad under me and the baby in bed. It's not too hot even in the summer. It's nearly waterproof and catches leaks from over-full diapers and breasts. Get a machine-washable one.
Elastic hair band. I only nurse on one side at a time, and still cannot always tell what side I'm supposed to nurse on. Now at 8 months, I have moved beyond the elastic hair band, but for the first few months I used an elastic hair band on my wrist to remind me which side to nurse on next feeding.
A large bed. I love sleeping with my babies in our family bed at night. It makes night-nursing so easy. Nursing while sleeping -- that's my kind of multi-tasking. I did nurse my first baby in a chair in the middle of the night for the first few weeks (even though I slept with him), but after nearly dropping him, I stayed in bed for all feedings and never looked back.
What's your favorite nursing gear?
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