Breast Feeding essentials: What you need to Breast-feed
Breastfeeding is certainly the recommended option for moms and babies and we understand that 'breast is best' although sometimes that's easier said than done. Having breastfed 4 children with varying degrees of success, we compiled this guide to make it easy and let you know what to consider when purchasing.
In order to breastfeed, the following are essential:
These items aren't essential for breastfeeding, but can be useful:
Breast pads are absorbent pads which are placed in your bra during your breastfeeding journey to protect from milk let-down.
Whether you need to wear breast pads all the time really depends on your milk flow and let-down rate. With my eldest sons, I had LOADS of milk and couldn't have survived without breast pads. In fact, before I realised that I would have to wear them all the time, even at night, my partner and I woke up in a milky puddle!
Yes, even if not breastfeeding, you'll still need breast pads in the early days straight after birth. Your milk will still come in whether you are breast feeding or not and you'll end up wet and soggy if you don't use them.
Yes, it's a good idea to pack some breast pads in your hospital bag. It usually takes a couple of days for your breast milk to come in, however could have a quick and easy birth and be discharged quickly, or you could end up spending a few days in hospital. If this is the case, your milk will likely come when you're in hospital and your breast pads will be very necessary!
There are 3 different types of breast pad available:
- disposable breast pads
- silicone breast pads
- reusable cloth breast pads
Many women choose disposable nursing pads as they perceive them to be convenient and easy to use. Which they totally are, however if your nipples get sore or chapped from breastfeeding, they can exacerbate the problem. Think about what's softer next to your skin, cloth or paper?
The fabulous Lilypadz were recommended to me by a friend. These are silicone shaped pads which basically stick to your boobs and stop the flow of milk rather than just absorbing it. They work on the same principle that if your milk 'let-down' starts, you can stop it by pressing flat against your breast with your hand.
I found that they worked really well for me although I believe that it's best to start using them once your milk supply has settled down, past the engorgement stage as the pressure of milk might be too much for the Lilypadz to hold at that point.
The main benefit to using Lilypadz over cloth or disposable pads is that they're VERY discreet. You could wear a white t-shirt over the top without those tell-tale shaped pads being visible. Not a good look. Plus they'll probably work out cheaper if you're planning to feed for more than a couple of months as I paid about £17 for my set.
The downside to Lilypadz for me is that I had Eczema on my boobs while I was breast-feeding (anyone who says that breast-feeding is easy has obviously never had the thrush / mastitis / nasty latch-on experiences) and the Lilypadz exacerbated it so I couldn't continue using them.
Reusable or Washable Breast pads are a fantastic alternative to Lilypadz. They're absorbent so work differently to silicon pads and are therefore capable of dealing with even the heaviest of milk let down and flow.
Cheeky Reusable Breast Pads come in two super absorbent options. Flat breast pads are great for larger breasts and shaped breast pads are brilliant for smaller bosoms. Both are made from supersoft bamboo and microfibre, plus a stay dry layer against your skin.
Just when you thought that breast feeding was distinctly unglamorous, my last top tip for breast feeding necessities is a fabulous bra. I discovered the HOTmilk maternity & nursing bra range during my third pregnancy.
I thought I should treat myself as I had only just stopped wearing my nursing bras after baby no2 and they were all looking grey and grubby (which is just how I felt too!)
HOTmilk bras have it all: they're gorgeous, give you a great cleavage but most of all are extremely comfortable, with no underwiring but plenty of support built in. And (whisper) I'm still wearing mine 2 months after finishing breast feeding as they're now my favourite bras, so they're good value for money too.
So what other breast related bits and bobs are helpful for breastfeeding moms?
Nipple shields can be a godsend for breastfeeding mums with cracked nipples. At some stage with all my children I needed to use nipple shields, usually around the 7 day old mark when I realised that I was dreading the next feed because my poor nipples were a blistered, bleeding mess.
They're great for using temporarily to give some respite and allowing your boobs to heal. if you do reach this stage, we'd also recommend finding a lactation consultant to talk to as you may have issues with your babies latch.
Lansinoh ointment or other nipple creams are fabulous stuff too in these painful circumstances.
It's worth considering having a breast pump if you're thinking of breastfeeding. Although there's no doubt that you look and feel like a dairy cow when attached to one, being able to express your breast milk and feed your baby with it means that your partner can also be involved in feeding your baby. Brilliant if you need to go out for the day or evening!
If you choose to express your breast milk, you'll also need bottles to 'mix-feed' from a bottle and breast.
I have mixed feelings about nursing covers. I don't feel that women should need them, we shouldn't have to hide our baby under a cover just to breastfeed. However I also appreciate that for some mums, it just makes them feel more comfortable.
Breastfeeding covers can range from specific items just for that purpose, but I also found that a muslin cloth popped across my shoulder worked just as well. It was also great for cleaning spit up!
Again, a nursing pillow isn't a necessity, but it can be really useful at home to make both mum and baby comfortable and relaxed which is really important when breastfeeding. They tend to be curved to allow your baby to nestle against you, whilst supporting you too. You can even get nursing pillows which are dual purpose and can be used by heavily pregnant women to support your bump in bed. Genius!
Hopefully that's given you an overview on breast feeding buying tips, but if you've any comments, please feel free to share.
About the author: Helen Rankin founded Cheeky Wipes back in 2008, when people thought she was crackers selling reusable wipes. She's also a Mum of 4 and has suffered through the occasionally toe-curling pain of breast-feeding with all 4 children, so is well placed to give advice on breast pads. Cheeky Wipes have been specialists in 'Simple Reusables' since 2008 and are especially proud of their friendly, helpful customer services, answered by real people who have all used the products themselves.