Today's #MomTalk comes from Sheryl K, a first-time mama to a baby boy. Interested in sharing your breastfeeding journey on the Milkful blog? Email your story to [email protected]
You know Oprah's Favorite Things? The yearly list where she combs through thousands of products on the market to hand select only the finest available items? You can think of this list as "Sheryl's Favorite Things: Breastfeeding Edition."
At 12-weeks into my breastfeeding journey I'm handing out advice like Oprah passing out touchscreen knit gloves or artisanal popcorn. I want to share only the best, only the most useful, and only the items that really impacted my first two weeks of nursing my son.
Here they are mamas, "Sheryl's Favorite Things!" (Sorry, artisanal popcorn did not make the cut.)
Here’s a secret. I almost didn’t register for this pillow because of that cringe-inducing name. My friends went on and on about the merits of the My Breast Friend Pillow and yet I almost passed it up for the sake of a bad pun. Thank goodness their recommendations won out because this pillow is… dare I say it… my breast friend.
This pillow is more like a soft tray that you clip around your waist. It holds your baby up high so that you can nurse without needing to support their body weight. I brought mine with me to the hospital and it was helpful right from the start. My Breast Friend held my baby up so that I could correctly position him for a successful latch. And when I was running two-hour nursing sessions, half-asleep in a recliner those first two-weeks, I was infinitely grateful to not have to hold him up to keep breastfeeding.
What’s the deal with nursing bras? They’ve got funny clips. They open in weird ways. They feel entirely foreign to a first time mother-to-be. I’m hear to tell you that a good nursing bra is worth its weight in gold. If you ever plan on getting dressed postpartum you’ll need a nursing bra that you love. (And if you don’t ever plan on getting dressed again, I 100% support that plan!) Don’t make my mistake and remove the tags from a nursing bra you’ve only worn for 30-seconds in a dressing room.
Keep the tags on, wear it around your house for an hour, and practice clipping and unclipping your bra. If you still feel comfortable in it after an hour, go out and buy three versions of it before you give birth.
You’ll be glad to have a comfortable, well-fitting nursing bra right when you get home.
I was wandering through a maternity store in my 9th month of pregnancy when a black nightgown with polka dots caught my eye. I’ve never been a nightgown kind of girl. Similar to someone who always has a fresh manicure or regularly gets facials — nightgowns seemed a little extravagant to this t-shirt sleeper. But standing there 9 months pregnant feeling tired and nauseous, I craved some extravagance. Into the cart the nightgown went.
Fast forward to my first two-weeks breastfeeding and I practically wore this around the clock. Having sleepwear with a nursing bra built in meant a shirt wasn’t covering my sons face during night-time feedings, I didn’t have to worry about stains from drool or milk, and best of all, it felt special.
That small lift from an item that is both practical and indulgent earns this nightgown a spot on my must-haves for the first two weeks of breastfeeding.
Can you excuse me for not wanting to go into the gory details over the internet about why you need to use nipple cream? Just take my word on this one. Buy yourself a nice thing of nipple cream and use it after every feeding for the first two weeks. Trust me.
It was 9 p.m. and I was standing in the grocery cart checkout line. I had been a new mom for 5 days and we had finally gone through all of the food in our house. Instead of sending my husband out to shop, I used grocery shopping as an excuse to take a quick breather from the tiny newborn who had been attached to me nonstop.
Not thinking straight and acting purely out of exhaustion, I bought what I wanted to buy. All. The. Sugar. I’m talking Frosted Rice Cereal, sugar cookies, powdered doughnuts, Pop Tarts, ice cream, blueberry bagels. My grocery cart looked like something out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I just knew I was starving, I absolutely couldn’t fathom preparing food, and I needed calories for breastfeeding.
You can probably see where this choice led.
Filling your body full of processed garbage doesn’t exactly help you find balance as a new mom. But unless you’re literally superwoman you also won’t have the time or energy to prepare healthy snacks. That’s where Milkful Lactation Bars are a lifesaver. They are full of healthy, wholesome ingredients that are specifically designed for breastfeeding women. You can get your calories in a way that won’t give you cavities, and better still, you don’t have to do anything but unwrap them.
I’m telling you, these bars are worth every penny right from the start. I’d recommend buying them towards the end of your last trimester so a healthy snack is waiting for you when you need one.
Did you know that the first few weeks of breastfeeding is when your body calibrates how much milk to make on a regular basis? This is the golden window of time to “set your milk thermostat high” and urge your body to keep up production. As La Leche League International says, “Don’t worry about making too much milk in the early days, as you can always back it down. If you set it too low it can be tough to bring it back up.”
I knew that the removal of milk was the best way to encourage a higher milk supply. Once my baby and I established a healthy routine (it took about a week) I started pumping.
These 2.7 ounce Medela breastmilk storage containers were perfect for storing milk in the first few weeks. The 6 ounce bags felt too daunting to fill, and they would have been far too much milk to defrost for a feeding. Plus these containers can be used to collect milk from your letdown so that you can start building up your freezer stash! Simply hold up a container to the breast your baby isn’t nursing from and catch the milk that would otherwise go into your bra.
Keep Reading #MomTalk: Tales of Pumping at Work ›
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Folate and folic acid play a vital role in embryo development, healthy pregnancies, and infant survival rates. Up to 50% or more of neural tube defects could be prevented with proper folic acid supplementation prior to conception, reports The American Academy of Pediatrics. Read more about this important micronutrient for women of childbearing age and learn the recommended daily intake as well as foods that provide folate.