I remember when I had Aubrey, I knew very little about self-care during the first few weeks of her life. I was shocked at what my own body was going through and breastfeeding was uncharted territories. I’ve written about our journey with both kids here, but I didn’t touch too much on what I found to help me get through those first few weeks initially.
I remember being in the hospital after I had Aubrey and having the nurses tell me she had to keep eating. As far as I was concerned, nothing was coming out of my boobs and eventually the nurse taught me how to express and get some Colostrum out to feed to her via syringe. The nurse told me eventually my milk would come in and I could just nurse normally.
I had no idea how long that would take. I read online and messaged friends but basically figured out every person is different, your baby won’t starve, and it’ll just happen. Shortly after we were released from the hospital, I remember waking up to rock-hard boobs that hurt so bad. Someone said get in a hot shower and massage them to release some of the pressure.
About a week after Aubrey was born (or, maybe closer to 2 weeks?) I remember cringing every time I needed to nurse her. By that point, it physically pained me to have her latch on. It wasn’t that she was latching incorrectly every time, it’s just that over time, it wasn’t perfect and as a result, my poor nipples took a beating.
Again I looked online and messaged friends asking for anything to help. My friend Katie told me to go out to buy nipple shields and I’m forever grateful for that piece of advice.
Why do I mention all this now? Because I hope that maybe if I share what worked for me, it can encourage you to have the tools at your disposal so you won’t have to suffer like I did early on. I’m no expert on anything, but these items helped me, and I suggest buying them BEFORE you give birth.
Special thank you to Medela & Bravado for sending me so many of these supplies. Some were purchased by me too!
I mentioned before, but the nipple shields can help to get you over that oh my goodness my nipples are literally about to fall off and they burn so bad moments. (of course, available on Amazon with prime shipping if you didn’t stock up before baby arrived – affiliate link). Some folks might tell you not to use these since it can mess with a baby’s latch. My thoughts? If you’re at the point that you’re ready to give up on breastfeeding all together, just try these for a few days to see if it helps get you over that hump.
Disposable Nursing Pads – (also available on Amazon) In the early weeks, when you literally just feel gross, buy disposable. After your breastmilk stabilizes, you’ll find out if you’re a light, medium, or heavier leaker. I was usually on the medium range and eventually switched to reusable pads. My favorite ones aren’t sold anymore so I’ll be trying out a few brands in the coming weeks.
Medela Harmony Manual Pump – (available on Amazon) I used these with each of the kids. Early on, as you’re super engorged, your baby might not be eating that much. Instead of expressing and wasting milk (aka, liquid gold), use a hand pump to release some of the pressure. Since it’s too early (in my opinion) to start on bottle feeding, you can store & freeze the milk in small increments for later.
Medela Pump & Save Breast Milk Bags – (available on Amazon) In the beginning, store milk in 2oz increments. Lay flat in the freezer to freeze and then start stacking them up in a freezer ziploc bag. Don’t forget to date them!
With pumping, you can use a few things to clean the pump. When on the go (later on), I’ve used Medela Quick Clean Wipes (Amazon) on the pump itself, as well as the nipple shields. When I returned to work, I used that for quick clean up on my pump breaks. Another great tool to sanitize your items are the Quick Clean micro-steam bags (Amazon). Each one can be used 20 times so it’s a great thing to have on hand wherever you go!
When your nipples are feeling sore, a great thing to apply after each feeding is their Lanolin (Amazon). It’s something that you just put on and forget, and I even used it way down the line when Luke was almost a year old and I was starting to get some soreness after feedings. You don’t need to worry about forgetting to wipe it off before the next feeding – it’s completely safe for them to be exposed to.
Last but not least are good nursing bras. I was watching a Facebook Live video from Baby Guy NYC (who is hilarious) and he had on a breastfeeding expert. When I had Aubrey, I was wearing bras with underwire before, so I bought some nursing ones for after. I ended up switching to the Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bras (again, thanks to Katie!) and never looked back. But I bring this up because this expert said how much damage we can do to our boobs when wearing underwire while nursing. She explained it better than I, but basically it could put unnecessary pressure to milk ducts and could potentially lead to problems such as mastitis or clogged ducts.
So just say no to underwire while breastfeeding! In this photo is another one of Bravado’s bras, the Confetti Bra. It doesn’t have as thick of a lining (or insert) like the seamless but it’s super comfy. I’ve started wearing them now since my other bras just don’t fit anymore. I also have their Original Nursing Bra to wear at night.
So, hopefully some of these items can help you on your breastfeeding journey. Once you get through the first 2 weeks, I promise it gets easier. After you pass a month or 2, you’ll be thankful you kept going. Everything can be easier with the proper tools. Thank you Medela for providing some of these products to me for my breastfeeding journey!