My journey with breastfeeding has definitely been interesting. Ever since Petra was born, I knew she would be breastfed. There are so many advantages, medically and financially. That isn’t to judge anyone that has done formula. I know that I got lucky in having Petra immediately latch and my supply grow steady. And while I haven’t had any lactation problems so far (except one mild case of mastitis), there isn’t a day that goes by where I question whether I’m producing enough breastmilk or wonder whether Petra is getting the adequate amount of nutrition to help her grow. She’s only at 8 weeks old but it has been a tough two months full of self doubt and a lot of work, from sore nipples to crazy pumping. I don’t know about you guys but I very stupidly assumed breastfeeding would be easy. Gosh, was I wrong but I did want to share the things that made it a little bit better.
1. Nipple Shields: I didn’t even know what this was until I was home from the hospital for 5 days and my nipples began to hurt from, well, Petra breastfeeding so much. Łukasz is actually the one that brought it to my attention and I was rather impressed at his knowledge of such a thing. Anyways, a shield is a thin piece of plastic that you put on your boob to create a barrier. Some hate it because it eliminates the skin-to-skin contact. Others hate it because they say it might cause nipple confusion. For me and Petra it was a lifesaver. My boob-skin (what?) got a break and after a few weeks of wear, I actually didn’t need it anymore.
2. Breast Pump: Oh the breast pump. I began using mine about a month after Petra was home from the hospital. I love mine. It was actually gifted to me by a friend who is expecting herself. Sort of a test run to see how I like it, haha. Mine is electric although I have heard that manual pumps are amazing. I have personally never tried a manual pump but I have no complaints from mine. It gets the job done and it’s quick and it has two pumps attached so you can pump simultaneously. I’ve only done that once though, it makes me nervous when at least one hand isn’t free. Sort of negates the purpose right? Oh well.
3. Bamboobies: Boob pads! For those moments when you spring a leak the moment you hear a baby cry! No, but let’s get serious for a moment. How weird is that? I will literally be about to hop in the shower when I could swear I hear Petra cry and bam, my body responds almost immediately. It has settled down a bit now that my supply is established but these breast pads have been amazing. I first got them as a sample from a baby expo and I loved them so I bought a whole box. I considered buying the reusable ones but I just can’t deal with the thought of having to wash them all the time. But I’m sure they’re great too! I’m just the laziest.
4. Water: I’ve googled a million lists on nutrition for how to maintain your breast supply and to be honest, keeping hydrated is the only thing I found consistent in those lists. I now know there isn’t a magical food that’s going to make you produce more milk although women swear by oats, and fenugreek, and lactation cookies. Maybe they work but I’m tired of eating oats. Breastfeeding has made me incredibly thirsty though, but it makes sense: you make milk, you expel milk and while water won’t magically become milk, it helps to keep hydrated. Thus, my water bottle is literally always next to me.
5. Ziploc Bags: Lastly, these babies for storing milk. I haven’t been great at increasing my milk storage in the freezer but I am trying, slowly but surely. I remember wondering what I’m going to put the milk in and bottles are expensive and bags made for breastmilk are too. So one day while perusing the usual mom forums, I saw a mom say that she uses freezer ziplock bags. Just make sure you get the ones with a zipper. They’re inexpensive and they hold milk well. Bam, bought a box the next day and now I have a freezer fullllll of breastmilk. Well not full but, like I said, slowly getting there.
This all being said, once again, I’m not an expert. I’m just a first time mom trying to figure it out as I go along and what works for me might not work for others. Maybe a shield just isn’t for you or maybe you prefer a manual pump, that’s all cool too.