Each year the first week of August i.e. August 1 to 7 is celebrated as the World Breastfeeding Week. I thought it would be apt to share my breastfeeding experience with first-time moms. I can imagine your anxiety and nervousness as to how all this would work out but trust me it all happens so quickly and naturally that both your baby and you will embrace it in no time!
Breastfeeding was one of the most beautiful experiences of my motherhood journey. I do not have the best memory from my son’s first feed as I was still under the effect of anesthesia from my C-section, but what I do remember is that I fed him, and he latched on almost immediately. After a couple of feeds, we both were comfortable. He latched on very well and fed to his belly’s content. Initially, I fed him every two (2) hours, that was even through the night. And the funny part was, sometimes, he would fall asleep while feeding. I had to wake him up so he could finish the feed. As days passed by, I felt more confident and could tell when he was done or when to change sides. One other thing I realized was that I needed a few supplies to make my life easier and continue breastfeeding without interruptions. I breastfeed my son for 18 months and it was the best time I spent with him because it was just him and I! We both bonded stronger over the feeds.
Below, I have put together a list of essentials you need while breastfeeding.
- Breast Pump: This is the most essential product I had used while breastfeeding. If you think every time you feel full, you will feed the baby, it doesn’t work that way. At least for me, I was making a lot of breastmilk and sometimes it would just start flowing. Too much milk can also make your breasts engorged (feels heavy, and full) and can cause a lot of pain. With the pump, all the extra milk can be pumped into a bottle and stored for the baby to feed later. I used Medela breast pump. Easy to use and very portable. It was easy to carry it on our trips and to work too, and I could pump anywhere with much ease.
- Feeding Pillow: The “C” shaped cushion also known as the feeding pillow is your best bet. It perfectly fits around the waist and holds the baby high enough for an easy latch. It also helps you distribute the weight between your arms and the pillow. Additionally, I used it to put it on the bed and lay my baby between the “C” and play or massage him! Here is the pillow that I would recommend.
- Nursing tanks/bra: If you haven’t invested in these yet, I would encourage you to do so. I owned about 8 tanks and I loved it! I was wearing the tanks all day and they were most comfortable. These nursing tanks come with a little clip-on in the strap which makes feeding easier anywhere (especially when you are out). I shopped mine from Thyme Maternity, but since the stores closed, I would recommend browsing H n M maternity clothing line.
- Wash Cloth: Keep a stack a washcloths while breastfeeding. You need these to wipe your baby’s face and clean his mouth after each feed. It is a good hygiene habit to wipe your baby’s mouth (gums and tongue) after each feed. Washcloth come in handy if there are spit-ups too. I used these washcloths.
- Burp Cloth: I am sure this is very new to you. After every feed, it is very important that you hold the baby upright (lay against your shoulder) and make sure the baby burps. It helps the baby relieve any gas and avoid stomach aches. When you hold the baby up, it is a good idea to use a burp cloth on your shoulder, because sometimes the babies have spit-ups while burping too and having a burp cloth on could saved you a change of clothes and reduce the mess. If you do not want to invest into burp cloth, you can use receiving blankets instead.
- Breast Pads: These were a blessing for me. If you are wondering what these are and why you need them, let me explain. Once the breasts are full with the milk (usually between the feeds), sometimes the milk expresses (flows) on its own. Also, while you are feeding, if the baby is feeding on one breast, the other breast expresses some milk too. I also had milk flow if my son was sleeping and I was thinking of him (strange, but true). Breast pads are small round pads that you can place in your nursing tanks/bra which covers the breast. So, if there is any milk expressed, it stays in the pads and doesn’t stain your clothes. Some local sellers also sell reusable pads that you can wash and reuse. The choice is yours. I used these disposable pads and I changed them every couple of hours as needed.
- Milk Storage Bottles/Bags: If your body supports and breastfeeding goes well, your body will make enough milk to meet the needs of your little one. Sometimes the milk is made too quickly before the next feed. In those times, you can pump and store the milk and feed the baby later. I liked using bottles to store, but you can also use milk bags. Breastmilk can be stored for up to six (6) months. My son was too picky and did not like stored milk even if it was a couple of hours. So I usually fed him the pumped milk within an hour or two after pumping. Here are the bottles and bags I would suggest for you to use.
- Water bottle: While breastfeeding you will feel very thirsty. Always keep a water bottle beside you. As soon as your little one is done feeding, sip the water to stay hydrated. You want to keep a sip on or no spill bottle to avoid spills from the open mouth bottles because you are also handling your little one.
- Snack: As your little one’s belly fills up you will feel very hungry. Post-delivery too, the eating for two continues until your little one is independently eating solids. Keep snack packs on your bedside to munch on once you have fed your little one. Snack packs can include Chewy bars, fruits and veggies, rice crackers, etc.
- Feeding Cover: You will notice as your little one grows older feeding time will be playtime for him too. I had success with the feeding cover. I would just cover him up while feeding so he can focus instead of looking around and playing and trying to talk! Also, if you are uncomfortable feeding in public spaces while out for shopping or picnic, feeding cover can do the trick. They are comfortable to wear and easy to manage.
Enjoy these moments and you will cherish them forever. It is the best time you as moms can spend with your little ones.