Breastfeeding is one of the things I was most nervous about when it came to post-pregnancy life. Like everything pregnancy related, I read up on breastfeeding, took the Tinyhood Breastfeeding 101 course, and chatted with my friends who had breastfed to get tips and advice. But unlike everything else, it’s the one thing you can’t practice beforehand. As prepared as I felt, I knew nothing would quite prepare me for the journey. I decided before having Noah to set small goals, that way I didn’t feel pressured if it wasn’t working for one or both of us. I know that breastfeeding has many advantages for baby, but that my mental health is also important. I know that I can’t take care of my child if I’m not the best version of myself. I take it week by week and so far we are ten weeks into breastfeeding and pumping. It’s not been without struggles and obstacles though. There have certainly been days where I wanted to throw in the towel, but I am proud that I have stuck with it, even on the hardest days! Today I’m sharing my breastfeeding journey (so far!) along with my breastfeeding and pumping essentials.
Originally my plan was to exclusively breastfeed for two weeks and then begin pumping so that Nick would also be able to feed him. But like all things in relation to pregnancy and motherhood, even the best laid plans can go out the window quick! In the hospital we met with two lactation consultants and while they were helpful, it was overwhelming and a lot of information at once. It was hard to comprehend everything, especially when my milk had yet to come in. At the time Noah was latching well and was getting enough colostrum. When my milk came in a few days later, I had some struggles (read more here) and ended up pumping because I was so engorged and Noah was having issues latching. I was not prepared for how tough and somewhat painful breastfeeding could be, especially that first week or two while you’re trying to get the hang of it.
Once my milk came in we ended up meeting with a lactation consultant through our pediatrician and she was so helpful. She gave great advice and located a lip and tongue tie that was causing some of the latch issues. Noah had lost a bit of his birth weight (which is normal) and due to his latch issue, he was having trouble gaining it back. We decided to supplement with formula in order to get him back to his birth weight. At first I really, really struggled with this because it wasn’t part of my “plan” but I knew it was what was best for Noah. Nick and I worked around the clock with Noah on his latch and teaching him to drink from a bottle. I can’t stress enough how amazing Nick was when it came to helping out. Whether it was with late night feedings, handing me water or a snack when breastfeeding, or working with Noah on getting a proper latch or position, he was always ready to help in any way. Within 2 weeks Noah was back at his birth weight and was gaining well! Since then we have continued to supplement with formula for a few feeds a day, along with breastfeeding and pumped breast milk from a bottle. Breastfeeding is hard. Pumping is time consuming. Making the decision to give our child formula was tough and guilt inducing for some reason. At the end of the day, I know fed is best and as long as he is getting fed and is healthy then that’s all that truly matters.
Over the last ten weeks I feel like I have tried and used every product, so today I’m sharing my favorites. These products are the ones that have helped make each day a little easier and have really made breastfeeding and pumping a bit better in one way or another!
And as always with motherhood, every journey is different. What works – or doesn’t work – for me, may not be what works for you… and that’s ok! Motherhood is certainly not a one size fits all system and I think thats what makes motherhood so beautiful. We’re all working to find what works best for us, our children, and our family. I am proud that I am able to feed my baby and I can go to sleep everyday knowing that he is fed and happy, no matter if it involves breastmilk or formula!
my breast feeding & pumping essentials
ONE – HAAKA SILICONE PUMP | The Haaka is a game changer! I use this manual breast pump all the time. This was really helpful those first few days that my milk came in because I was constantly leaking (sorry, TMI!). I put this on after the shower and can easily get a few ounces of breastmilk, just from letdown. I also use it when breastfeeding and suction it to the other breast to gather let down. I am always shocked at the amount it catches! This is a great way to up your freezer stash, if needed!
TWO – SPECTRA S1 DOUBLE PUMP | This is the pump I got through my insurance company. I chose this pump because of the closed system, meaning it ensures hygiene and motor performance. I was really intimidated by this pump at first, but it’s really easy to use and clean. I get a lot of output from this pump. I use the spectra bottles and these bottles with it.
THREE – KINDRED BRAVELY PUMPING & NURSING BRA | These are hands down my favorite nursing and pumping bras. The material is so comfortable and they work great with my Spectra and Elvie pumps!
FOUR – MEDELA QUICK CLEAN BAGS | I got these bags to quickly disinfect my breast pump parts. Each bag can be used 20 times. These bags are a great “quick” option for sanitizing your parts! These can also be used for bottles, pacifiers, etc.
FIVE – MEDELA QUICK CLEAN WIPES | I keep a few of these near my breastfeeding stations and can quickly use them to sanitize my breast pump parts. These come particularly in handy when pumping on the go or you’re strapped for time (or have a crying baby!).
SIX – ELVIE HANDS FREE PUMP | In addition to my Spectra, I have the Elvie hands free pumps. The Elvie pump is great when you don’t want to feel strapped to a machine, like the spectra. I wear the Elvie pumps if I’m doing things around the house and I like that I can easily put these in my bra and carry on with what I need to do. I will say, at first I wasn’t a fan. Because the shields are in the pump it’s a little harder to fit the shield and make sure it’s adjusted properly to your nipple. I don’t think I get as much output when using the Elvie (in comparison to what I get from the Spectra) but the convenience factor makes these worth it!
SEVEN – S’WELL BOTTLE | Staying hydrated when breastfeeding and pumping is really important. I like to make sure I always have a full water bottle when I’m pumping or breastfeeding.
EIGHT – LEGENDAIRY MILK SUPPLEMENTS | I noticed a dip in my supply last week (and I’m not sure why!) so I immediately ordered a few of these supplements that my friends have raved about. I could tell a difference within a few days and think they work great! I am using the Sunflower Lecithin and Liquid Gold right now and plan to order the Pump Princess!
NINE – LANISINOH THERAPEARL 3-IN-1 BREAST THERAPY PACKS | These gel packs were a god send once my milk came in! They provide hot or cold relief, depending on what you need! I keep them in the freezer for when I need relief from engorgement and warm them when I need to encourage let down or relieve a clogged duct. If you’re expecting soon, be sure to grab these and have them in the freezer for when your milk comes in. You’ll thank me later, I promise!
TEN – EARTH MAMA MILKMAID TEA | If you’re a tea drinker, grab this to help support healthy production and lactation!
ELEVEN – MEDELA TENDER CARE CREAM | This is the nipple cream I used when my milk first came in and I was really sore. It was what felt best on me and kept them feeling protected. I like that a little goes a long way with this product.
TWELVE – EARTH MAMA ORGANIC NIPPLE BUTTER | I also use this nipple butter and like that it’s thick, is organic, and works really quickly! I noticed a big difference when using this nipple butter, especially because Noah had latch issues at first.
THIRTEEN – BOPPY PILLOW | The Boppy Pillow is great for help with positioning when breastfeeding. We mostly do the football hold and cross cradle and this pillow comes really in handy for those positions! It’s also a great way to support your arms when you’re holding your baby for long periods of time.
FOURTEEN – LANISINOH NIPPLE SHIELDS | Noah was having some latch issues due to a tongue and lip tie, so these shields were a great tool while we were working with a lactation consultant to asses his tongue and lip ties and improve his latch. These are definitely not long term solutions, but they worked great (and helped protect my nipples) while we figured out his latch issues.
FIFTEEN – BAMBOOBIES NURSING PADS (DISPOSABLE & WASHABLE) | These are a must have for anyone who is breastfeeding or pumping! The brand has both disposable and reusable nursing pads. I use both and have been really happy with them. The washable pads are so, so soft!