Finally, the post so many people asked about. Breastfeeding Helpers: What I used that I found helpful during the initial weeks of breastfeeding.
You always have to try things out before you find what works for you, so here’s what worked for me. Pay attention to the section WIN IT or scroll down to the bottom of the page for 4 different giveaways of some of these products.
Let’s start with
Before I gave birth to Alexis, I read a few books on breastfeeding to be a little more prepared for what I was about to do. As I wrote in my Breastfeeding Post, they were a huge help.
The two books that I liked the most and found the most valuable were: The Baby Bond (The science behind what’s really important when caring for your baby) and Breastfeeding Made Simple (Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers).
The first book (The Baby Bond) isn’t a breastfeeding book per se, but it talks about breastfeeding A LOT. The benefits, the studies, the science, the bonding- it’s just an amazing resource that I recommend anyone pregnant read. It talks about the benefits of breastfeeding BEYOND what everyone has heard of. It cites amazing studies on how cow’s milk is creating long lasting problems in our babies due to their leaky intestine in the first few months of life. Problems that we can’t exactly see or can’t connect to dairy until you look at the long term studies. This book is the reason I gave up dairy until Alexis is 6 months old ( aside from the fact that I plan on going fully vegan once I am no longer breastfeeding)
Breastfeeding Made Simple is a 100% breastfeeding book that covers the early weeks along with the rest of breastfeeding, problems, issues- EVERYTHING! This was my favorite breastfeeding book. It’s simply written but not dumbed down. I read it before Alexis came, to be ready, and went back to it multiple times during the initial weeks of breastfeeding. As a matter of fact, I need to read it again to see if it has any tips for babies who are in that stage of distracted nursing, because we’ve been “battling” that for a few days.
The pump I used is a Simplisse Double Electric Pump. I am actually very happy with it. I remember being somewhat terrified picking pumps during pregnancy. Admit it, they look kinda scary! Little did I know that pumping would be kinder on my nipples than my baby itself. You can read about Simplisse pump here, but here’s the jist.
The inside of the cups are made out of this nice soft and almost “fuzzy” plastic that feels good on your skin and isn’t cone shaped, so the sucking is much gentler than I expected, yet does the job. You can select 10 speeds and 5 different pressures and adjust them after you elicit a let down based on how comfortable you are. To me, the cups felt so soft and gentle that I would just stay on speed 10 the whole time to get it done faster. I know it varies from person to person but the pump would empty my breasts in less than 10 minutes on speed 10. You can pump both breasts or choose to only pump one. The cups are super easy to assemble and clean ( I throw them into a steam sanitizer, but you can use your dishwater, or plain old soap and water as well). It also comes with a portable bag full of stuff that would be AMAZING for moms who have to pump on the go:
- 2 Extra Collection Bottles w/ Storage Caps
- 2 Ice Gel Packs
- Wet Bag for used parts
- 10 Breastmilk Storage Bags
- 4 Disposable Breast Pads
I actually really like their storage bags and have used them all up already. And for what it’s worth, the bag is not all that bad looking, like some, so you won’t be embarrassed carrying it around.
BUY IT: Simplisse Breast Pump $181.77
WIN IT: FREE Simplisse would like to give away a free pump to one of The Art of Making a Baby readers. See Rafflecopter Giveaway at the bottom of the post for details.
I tried and used 3 different nipple creams and found all three very good for different stages of breastfeeding and different preferences.
One of the most important things for me was to make sure the nipple cream was safe for my baby to ingest and preferably with organic ingredients.
PROS: Organic, incredibly soft and smooth, smells good and is very moisturizing. It feels like a cloud on your finger. Comes in a small convenient jar. I love using it when my nipples feel dry and when I know I can walk around topless for a bit. Received ZERO toxins on EWG Database.
CONS: The only problem I found is that because of how moist it is, if you put a bra on immediately, most of it gets transferred to the bra. If you can wait a few minutes, then it’s not an issue.
WHO SHOULD BUY: If you prefer a soft feel of a moisturizer, this cream is for you.
BUY IT: Amazon $7.35 for 1 oz
PROS: Food grade and organic. It is a VERY thick cream, so it’s perfect for protecting your nipples from clothing. I found that once my nipples healed a little bit and I didn’t need to walk around topless so that no fabric touched them, this cream was awesome. I put a thick layer of it and put a bra on immediately. It protected my tender skin from rubbing on my clothes, but because of how it stuck to your skin, it didn’t really rub off on it.
CONS: Because of how thick and sticky it is, I’d be worried about putting it on cracked raw nipples, because you really need to rub it in. But it’s awesome, once your nipples have healed a bit.
WHO SHOULD BUY: If your nipples aren’t rubbed raw and cracked, this will protect them and moisturize them at the same time without sticking to clothes.
BUY IT: Zoe organics $18 for 2 oz
USE CODE prebabyblog to get 15% off till Friday
WIN IT: Scroll down to the bottom of the post for details and enter in Rafflecopter giveaway of Zoe Organics Nipple Cream
PROS: Very very light, comes in a pump which is the more hygienic way of using a nipple cream (reduces risk of infection from changing diapers), lanolin free and safe for baby and mom, glides on smooth and fast, dries off really well.
CONS: Not organic like the two above, maybe too light for some women.
WHO SHOULD BUY: If you don’t like the idea of sticky, gooey or wet creams and want something light that will dry off immediately, this is it.
BUY IT: Simplisse Nipple Cream $10.37 for 60 pumps.
I had to use a nipple shield for the first 5 weeks and was really afraid I would never be able to breastfeed without one. Here’s what worked for me:
Initially I was given a nipple shield at the hospital. It was the Medela brand 20mm shield. I did like the shape of it and how well it stuck on the breast, but it did have a few issues. First of all, it has a MASSIVE nipple. Alexis would sometimes choke on it and I saw that she didn’t enjoy having such a big nipple in her mouth. She would end up sucking on the nipple itself, rather than learning how to latch properly. However, it is very thick, so it does a good job protecting the nipple from the pain. So if you have extreme pain, you simply have no choice but to use it. It beats breastfeeding without it.
However after the initial few weeks, as my nipple were getting better, I started using the Simplisse Nipple Shield. It is very thin, paper thin, so it doesn’t reduce the pain as much as Medela, but if your pain is not severe, you’ll be better off using the Simplisse one. It feels more like skin, so the baby enjoys it more. It doesn’t have a humongous nipple, but I wasn’t crazy about the square shape (I wonder if there’s a reason for it). It has many more holes in it than Medela, and they are much smaller. All in all, it felt much more natural breastfeeding with the Simplisse nipple shield. So I’d recommend getting a Medela one for the first week of breastfeeding and then try to switch over to the Simplisse one when the pain starts getting better, if you do end up using a nipple shield. I also read that some LCs recommend the Simplisse one as a way of weaning yourself and the baby off the Medela shield.
Medela 20mm shield $10.20
Simplisse Nipple Shield $5.52
While I am a huge fan of Boob Tube by Mama Mio and am planning on using it religiously once Alexis gives me 3-4 hours between feedings, so that it would get absorbed before she goes to feed again, I did struggle to find a moisturizer for my breasts that I would feel comfortable with Alexis accidentally ingesting it. Boob Tube is 100% pregnancy safe, but I just don’t know that it’s ok for a baby to EAT IT 🙂