Saturday, June 14, 2014

My Breastfeeding Must Haves

Because I have 6 kids I often get asked by pregnant women or new Moms what baby things that I just can't live without, and while I always have a hard time thinking of things that I have to have specifically for the baby, I can think of a handful of must-haves for nursing!

Breastfeeding is a lot of work, and it can get complicated if you have to work and add pumping to the mix. I don't feel like I was prepared for how much work it would be when I had my first couple kids which is why I didn't make it very long! I think I finally figured it out by #4, 5 and 6 :) I don't at all want to scare someone into not breastfeeding or to think that you have to have all these things to make it work for you, but for me these products were SO helpful in making it to at least a year of nursing. This is a long post but so worth reading if you are nursing or will be in the future. So here they are...

The Arden Bra

This bra has been pretty much life changing for me.. that's a lot to say about a bra!! I first saw someone pin it on pinterest as the dairy fairy and I thought "what the what??" but it seemed like it had something to do with nursing and since that consumes my life at the moment I was curious and checked it out. I was impressed by all it's features- #1- it's pretty! It's adjustable on the straps, the back closure and the front crossover straps to make it fit you just right as well as being able to be used for nursing, hands free pumping or both simultaneously. I took the plunge and bought one after reading reviews and watching the really informative videos on their site. It was an investment but I did have a $15 off code so that took the price down to $53 which I feel has been well worth it! I have the Arden Bra in ocean color- it fits so great and I LOVE it!! No jabbing or pinching anywhere, no cup-runneth-over, no uni-boob, saggy-boob or side-boob issues (I think that pretty much covers all bad bra issues) and it's really well made. It's so adjustable that I never feel like I could get too big or small for it (I mean, I would love for it to get too big at some point!!). By far my favorite feature is the hands free pumping, I call it my "work bra" because that's where I have to pump and I love that I can be doing something else like eating my lunch, doing paperwork or (more than likely) checking facebook and sending snapchats while pumping- true mommy multitasking! Because I am so in love with this bra and I keep preaching that all nursing Moms should have one, I reached out to the company and the awesome people at The Dairy Fairy have offered a $15 off code!! Use the code mealandmesses (make sure you don't add an "s" to meal) for $15 off on their website till June 30!! So go, go now and visit their site and get the Arden Bra...ooh and check out the Sadie Tank too- it looks way prettier and more functional than the ones I've been sporting and it's shipped for free!!

 The Milk-Saver

This is another thing that I've been babbling to my friends about.. well, I seriously babble a lot, but this has been coming up frequently! I'm not one of those Moms who is a major milk maker- I make just enough and when I have to pump it's usually is about an ounce less then what the babe eats from a bottle while I'm away. I was annoyed with wearing nursing pads when I nursed and just wasting milk that would leak from the opposite side I was feeding on... enter the Milk-Saver. It's kind of a weird looking thing but it basically goes in your bra (ok.. most likely nursing tank!) and catches the milk that would be wasted if you just had a nursing pad on. I know for some Moms this would never be an issue because they don't leak from the the side that they aren't feeding from, but for me I always do, and being able to catch that milk gets me that extra milk that I'm not able to pump. It's been awesome to have because now I don't stress about not pumping enough! This isn't something that you just wear around all day, it's just for when you are nursing the babe, unless you want to look funny and very rigidly-lopsided.. in that case, wear it all day.

The Boppy Pillow
This one is a pretty common nursing staple and it was something I did have from my very first baby. I love to use it for nursing to get the baby in a better position to make it easier and more comfortable for both Mom and baby but it's also awesome that you can use it for more and throw it in the washer (which I really need to do!!) or change the look with a cute cover.

Nursing Tanks

If I am at home you can pretty much bank on me being in a nursing tank and counting that as having a bra on! I will, for the sake of others, put a bra on and a shirt over top of the tank when I venture out :) Other than being super comfy and so convenient at home, they are great for having to nurse in public without having a lot of skin (i.e. post-baby-belly) hanging out for the world to see. I have them in a bunch of different colors and in a couple different sizes so I'll have some to fit as I change sizes, ya know because that baby weight fell off so quickly from breastfeeding,.. ahem, not so much- it's gone now, but it was hanging on for dear life!! I got mine from target and always picked them up on sale, I think for around $12 or so. It can get a bit much to have a nursing bra on and a nursing tank on all day, lots of buckles and more places to pinch me so if I know that I'm going to be out all day and have to nurse then I  might just wear a long tank that I can pull down from the neck with a shirt over and a nursing bra. FYI these are all big boob problems, it might not bother someone with smaller boobs to have a nursing tank and a nursing bra on all day.. but for me I feel like I'm suffocating by the end of the day when I'm all strapped in!

Medela Pump In Style

 I pretty much hate pumping, but I work a couple days a week and there is really no other way to make it work but this pump makes it suck a little less.. because it sucks so well- see what I did there lol! I have to admit that "Pump in Style" is so far from the truth... I put mine in a cute bigger bag, but its a pump- how stylish can we get here?!  I had no idea about pumping and how often I would be needing to with my first babies so I just had some dinky little hand pump.. seriously not an efficient use of time!! Then I borrowed a Medela pump from my sister in-law and my life became much, much easier.. well the part of my life that included pumping. I now have my very own which insurance covered awesome because I am *el cheapo*!! I encourage any new Moms to check with their insurance to see if they can get it covered. It was super easy- just get a prescription from your doc and take it to a medical supply company and they will hook you up, well they won't really hook you up.. that would be weird- but they'll give you the pump and then you can hook yourself up :) If insurance doesn't cover it you could borrow or buy used but I've seen some warning against that so do that at your own risk.. it was fine for me but I do like having my own brand new one too. You can get them on Amazon too, but not cheap!

Because the part of pumping that stinks the most is washing all the 50 million parts, I found these tiny brushes at Meijer in the baby section. They are made by Dr. Browns for their bottles but work perfect for what I needed and were CHEAP!

Another pump accessory that I use often is the car adapter. I'm hoping someday to get pulled over for a stupid reason when pumping either in the passenger or drivers seat (yes, I've done both!), I feel like I might get out of that one!! I don't enjoy pumping in the car but sometimes there just isn't a choice, so the car adapter is a way better choice than the battery pack- that takes about 37 AA batteries and they last not nearly as long as you think they should. The last thing you want is your batteries to go dead mid-pump session! You can get the actual Medela car adapter from Amazon, but I ended up getting a car adapter that you can plug regular plugs in.. I felt like I was getting more bang for my buck- what the hell else I'm going to plug into it is besides me but it made sense at the time!!

Nursing Cover

I don't have to nurse in public a whole lot and I used to be so afraid of it but I've pretty much gotten over that and a nursing cover has really helped! I got a super cute nursing cover that works great (for me at least, I have a cousin who doesn't like it!) from Udder Covers. I like it because it's light so the baby doesn't get too hot under there, there is an adjustable strap that goes around your neck and there is flexible boning that let's you see the baby without having to lift it off your chest with your hands that are usually tied up. The best part is that it's cheap!! When you use the code breastfeeding at checkout the nursing cover is FREE, you just pay shipping which is $11.95! They have lots of prints to chose from and lots of other products too from their sister companies like car seat canopies,  and  baby slings and the code breastfeeding works for all those products too, making them free but you pay shipping.. awesome!! I don't have the sling or car seat canopy so I can't say how well they work but the fabric prints are stinking adorable and I feel like even if it didn't work well I could re-purpose the cute fabric some how.. or most likely I'd say that was my plan but move it from one place to another in the house until I forget about it :)

So there's my fav things! I might get a little flack about making Mom's feel like they need more stuff to be able to breastfeed successfully but I get asked all the time about stuff I would recommend so I thought this would be helpful to at least some :) In reality these things have made it possible to breastfeed longer, with 5 other small kids and working part time, which makes me and my baby happy! I have friends who don't use any of these things but everyone's circumstances are different; some work, some stay home, some are professional milk makers, some struggle to make enough (like me!), some have big boobs and some can get away with a nursing tank as a bra (Jealous!!). I hope that this post helps some and at the very least gives you a little honest glimpse into my life as a nursing Mom :) If you have any questions about any of this stuff just leave it in the comments and I'll try to get back to ya soon!!

Oh and just FYI.. I didn't get paid anything or any free stuff for this post.. these are just my honest opinions that I thought would help- however I'm not opposed to getting money or free stuff (I think I mentioned that I can be a little cheap.. I'm dutch!!), but you'll still get my very blunt, honest opinion :)