My top 5 breastfeeding products I couldn’t have lived without

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | Top 5 Breasfeeding Products I couldn't live without
Photo Credit: BabyCentre

It feels like so long ago since I was nursing Baby Girl and even longer with LO. Unfortunately with Baby Girl, I only managed to exclusively breastfeed for two months as she started to become very colicky and constipated. So I made the decision then to switch her on to formula and it worked well for us. When I had LO I was able to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months before he decided to start yanking at the nipple – that’s when I decided he needs to start getting onto the bottle so I expressed for a month or two then moved him onto formula after that.

During my first pregnancy, I literally bought everything there was to buy for a new mum and baby from changing units to swaddle blankets and nursing apron covers. Some were very convenient to use and some were more of a one-off thing for me. There are a few products that I know I couldn’t live without during my nursing days and if you’re a new mum looking for products to invest in, here are five that I highly recommend you consider ( you may even already have them!)…

1. Nursing pillow
The Greenwich Mummy Blog | Top 5 Breastfeeding Nursing ProductsThe nursing pillow is my all-time favourite breastfeeding item. It’s perfect for propping baby onto when you’re breastfeeding and makes a great neck pillow. I stopped breastfeeding when Baby Girl was 2 months but to this day, I still using the nursing pillow for myself.

If you’re expecting, you can also use the nursing pillow when you’re pregnant as a leg pillow if you tend to sleep on your side. Place in between your legs when you’re sleeping or resting and it can help to reduce any pelvic or lower body discomfort (very common if you’re in your third term).

Nursing pillows also make great baby shower gifts that not many people think about so keep that in mind for when you’ve got another baby shower coming up.

2. Lanolin nipple cream

Top 5 breastfeeding nursing products - The Greenwich Mummy BloggerIf you’re a first-time mum, get ready to learn something new today. If you’ve had a bubba before, what I write next may bring back some painful memories… literally. The first two weeks of breastfeeding are HELL – I am not going to pussy-foot around or lie to you. You need to mentally prepare yourself. As long as baby has a good latch and your milk is letting down, it’ll only be two weeks of hell.

The feeling of breastfeeding can’t really be explained but I’ll try my best. The suction is something you can’t really compare it to – it’s strong and powerful and if baby’s latch is not a good one it can be extremely painful. (More about baby’s latch later.) Some women experience soreness, cracked nipples, bleeding nipples, sometimes a combination of all these things. Your best friend will be a really good nipple cream. Sometimes the nipple cream might not be enough and you may have to think about nipple guards or even expressing breastmilk to feed baby to give your poor nipps a break.

Lansinoh nipple cream is made of pure lanolin – it’s thick and the best thing is you just put a generous amount on the nipple after every feed to help them repair. You don’t have to worry about baby swallowing/eating it as it’s a natural product that doesn’t harm baby if consumed.

Baby’s latch: how do you know if the latch is a good one? You will be able to see that baby is getting enough milk (or colustrum in the first few days of feeding as the body is making the milk supply) as the cheeks are rounded and full and baby’s head is tilted back enough to take in the milk. If you hear a clicking sound, this could be a sign of a poor latch or tongue-tie. To correct a poor latch, use your small finger to break the latch. Make sure the finger is clean before doing so.

A poor latch can cause baby to not take enough milk and cause you to stress but try not to worry. Simply see your HV as soon as you can if you are worried about your baby having tongue-tie, a poor latch, baby not feeding enough or a low milk supply. Remember that the milk supply doesn’t come into full swing until about day 5-6.

3. Emma Jane nursing bra

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | My top 5 essential breastfeeding and nursing products

This nursing bra is my favourite. It’s not pretty but really does the job. The cotton is lovely and soft, the sizing was spot-on and very generous in terms of accommodating to milk-filled boobies which can one minute be as big and hard as watermelons then as shrivelled and soft as prunes after feeding. The bra comes in three colours; white, black and nude. I had the white and nude colour but the black looked great – they just never had my size. You can find these for around £8-15 and are sold everwhere including Amazon, Ebay, Mothercare and most parent and baby stores. I bought mine online. For mums who prefer a wired nursing bra, check out ThirdLove for some bra ideas on what’s out there.

Don’t forget to get yourself some breastfeeding pads (I recommend the Lansinoh ones for softness, comfort and absorption), leaky boobs are common especially around your usual feeding time or when your boobs are too full. Either feed baby an extra feed, express the milk or if you’re at home use a hot flannel or have a hot bath to encourage milk let-down and drain some of the milk to reduce pain, the boob going hard, and mastitis.

4. Muslin cloths

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An overall life-saving product. They’re great for placing around baby for discreet nursing, wiping away milk possets and even using as an alternative blanket during those hot and humid summer days when a cellular blanket is too warm to use. My favourite brand is aden + anais and I completely recommend them. They are made from 100% cotton and are the softest muslin cloths I’ve tried. I bought mine from TK Maxx for a bargain – get the swaddle ones as they’re much larger than normal muslin square cloths.

Muslin cloths can so make great teething soothers – simply tie a knot at one of the corners and voila! Babies love chewing on it! 🙂

5. Manual hand pump

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | My top 5 essential breastfeeding and nursing products

If you’re a mum content on exclusively breastfeeding you may feel like expressing is just a cop-out way for feeding baby but this is the wrong mindset. Of course you want to give baby the best ad you don’t want to confuse baby with breast and bottle (teat) but if you are having problems breastfeeding, or your nipples are so cracked that nursing feels like torture or if you’re just so damn tired you can’t cope, a day or two of expressing may just provide you with that little bit of relief mentally and physically. I think sometimes there is just too much pressure on women to exclusively breastfeed but remember we are not “one size fits all” so do what is best for you, your baby, and your current situation.

Don’t force yourself to feel like you need to measure up to what another mum is doing, just do you! You have to take care of yourself as well as baby and your wellbeing is just as important so remember that. I had a really hard time breastfeeding Baby Girl because my nipple was too large for her mouth she kept gagging on it which is the reason why she had a bad latch. She was also constipated on breastmilk (yes, it can happen) so I had to make the decision after two months to just give it up. I and Baby Girl both felt much better after that, her poos were regular and soft and I got back some of my sanity.

For those thinking about expressing there’s plenty of tips on how to express successfully. If you’re contemplating on whether to go for a manual or electric pump I think it depends on your personal preference. I had both and I much preferred my manual one, it actually took near enough the same amount of time to express (I think electric was just 5mins faster for me). My favourite pump is the Medela one. It’s easy to use, easy to clean and the bottles are bigger than some others so more milk storage.

That’s my top 5 essential breastfeeding/nursing products!

I hope this post has helped you out in considering what to buy for your breastfeeding and nursing needs. 🙂

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Baby Girl seconds after she was just born (2016)

Other breastfeeding tips and advice:

  • Make sure you express a little bit of milk if your boobs are too full, a hot bath or warm flannel over the breast can help encourage the milk let-down
  • Milk storage: Any expressed breastmilk can be kept unrfriderated for 1-2hrs then must be discarded, in the top shelf at the back of a refridgerator for up to 5 days, in the fridge ice compartment for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months
  • If you want to feed discreetly in public, make sure your muslin cloth is long enough. If you want something specific, think about purchasing a breastfeeding apron.
  • Another nursing trick is to wear two tops; a low-scoop vest inside and a loose top over it. This way you can pull the vest below the breast and the loose top over the breast to feed baby. It should give baby enough ‘boobage’ but still keep you nicely covered and you don’t have to fuss with buying other equipment.

A month on: My motherhood experience so far…

The Greenwich Mummy | Post pregnancy life
I can’t believe it’s been a month already!

Now looking back, these past 4 weeks have just flown by! I’m now in what mums might call the “fourth trimester” – the period straight after birth where new mums can expect ‘niggles’ like postpartum after-pains and contractions, sore nipples, sleep deprivation and exhaustion… alongside what feels like a daily emotional roller-coaster ride.

The first two weeks were really the hardest – I’m not going to sugar-coat. To be honest, I don’t know how I got through it without catching a bit of the baby blues like I did first time round with LO. I am very lucky to have such a smooth (ish) labour and birth, I didn’t have to worry too much about my own physical recovery. Now feeling a little more energetic I want to share my experience so far as a new-mum with you all.

Remember that every woman and every pregnancy is completely different so take everything on here with a pinch of salt. Your experience may be like mine, it may not – it’s good to learn about other people’s experiences but not rely on them as an indication of how your experiences will be like.

My postpartum body

I gave birth to Baby Girl at 11:19pm and was discharged the next day around 5pm. You can read more about my birth story here. I think the hospitals tend to get you in and out as quickly as possible now if you don’t have any complications during/after birth.

My after-pains didn’t last for long –  the pain down below disappeared by day 5-6 which was sooner than I expected. The post-pregnancy contractions were intense at certain times but passed by the end of the first week. My bleeding (lochia) subsided around day 4-5 and I was able to ditch those horrible maternity pads for normal sanitary pads and opted for the night ones when I thought the bleeding was a bit heavier.

I cannot thank my shape wear enough in terms of helping my belly return back to its pre-pregnancy shape and size. After I had LO, it took my belly around 3 weeks before I stopped looking pregnant after birth. This time round, it took me 5 days and Baby Girl was a slightly bigger baby than LO.

The Greenwich Mummy | Post pregnancy life
Before & After

Don’t be fooled though – my ‘mum tum’ may look flat but as the muscles are still stretched and slack, I still get the rolls when I sit down or eat too much. Nothing will get rid of this apart from exercise which I plan to start very soon. I will take up proper exercise once I’ve got the all-clear at my 6 week postnatal check-up.

Feeding and supply

Baby Girl was exclusively breastfed since birth so she received her intake of colostrum and my milk supply came through around day 3-4 (sometimes it can take up to 5-7 days). During this time, my nipples were sore (Lansinoh nipple cream is a life-saviour!) and my boobs felt like rocks due to the engorgement. Up until a few days ago, I didn’t realise that they weren’t supposed to feel hard  like that. The engorgement went away when I  started to fully empty the breast before offering the other one. I remember some nights I wanted to cry because of the pain; Baby Girl was cluster-feeding (feeding every 1-2 hours throughout the day and night) and doesn’t have a great latch because my nipple’s too big and her mouth is too small.

By week 2 I wanted to stop breastfeeding entirely – I was ready to give up. Daddy P encouraged me to continue and suggested me to express to offer me some relief physically and emotionally which I did and boy did it make a difference. Week 3 my boobs felt much softer and my milk supply was starting to match up with her feeding demands. Now, I think I milk supply is established and I have started to express more so Daddy P can take over some of the feeds which has helped me stay sane. I also occasionally co-sleep with bubba at night which makes feeding a little easier and I can get some shut-eye.

I never liked giving LO the dummy when he was a baby and only started when he was around 3 months but have to confess that I’ve already started Baby Girl on the dummy. As she’s a really colicky baby (since day 3) her crying really started to drain me and I made the decision to give her a dummy about a week ago. I make sure that she only has the dummy after a feed and nappy change. She’s been good with it and the dummy hasn’t interfered with the breastfeeding at all. She’s also able to switch from bottle to breast fine but I think that’s because only Daddy P gives her the bottle so she associates the bottle with her dad.

Sleep (or lack of it)

On average, I think I get about 3 hours sleep a day -if I’m lucky and manage to get some rest or have a nap when she’s sleeping that bumps up to about 6 hours a day at the most. Sleep is what I struggle with most at the moment because it’s so hard to do all these new-mum things and have sleep when I have a super active 2.5 year old toddler to keep happy and included. LO is so loving and affectionate toward his sister it’s not hard to get him involved with doing things with her such as nappy changing, entertaining her and comforting her when she cries. It’s trying to find time, or make time shall I say, to give LO his own space and time with mummy. He was the centre of my attention before and now it’s shifted slightly as I now have his baby sister to care for too.

I think the sleep deprivation properly kicks in around 3-4 months so I have all that to look forward to. *a sarcastic yay* A mummy friend advised me to ‘train’ my body to nap which sounds ridiculous but it’s really hard because as a new mum it’s very difficult to shut-off on cue especially when you know that in an hour or two, you’ll need to feed baby again. For those who want to sleep-train their bubbas early on, this sleep guide by BeddingPal has some good techniques for sleep training 1-3 month olds, which you could try.

My well-being

Being a second-time mum doesn’t exclude me from feeling all those emotions I did first time round. As much as I hate to admit it, I think I did suffer from mild baby blues with LO. With Baby Girl, I did start to feel overwhelmed – I don’t like using the word ‘depressed’ as I don’t think I got to that stage yet but everything did feel like it was getting on top of me. This pregnancy was unplanned and all the “what if…” questions started to cloud my mind. Luckily, by mid-second trimester I started to feel much better about myself and the pregnancy.

It’s been difficult to manage a newborn baby and a toddler especially when Baby Girl has colic so she cries constantly and LO’s testing my patience with his mischievous antics. Despite these small hiccups I am very glad to have friends and family around to offer me their help and support.

Having a baby is a wonderful thing and further along the line I know these post-pregnancy niggles will become a thing of the past and only the good memories will remain. Come on, if having children was that painful, stressful, etc I am sure we women wouldn’t be doing it to ourselves again and again. 🙂

The Greenwich Mummy | Post pregnancy life