Now that we’ve gone through all the types of cloth diapers, I thought it was time to talk about breastfeeding. Today I don’t want to talk about the benefits of breastfeeding (there are MANY) or the technical aspects (best to call a lactation consultant for specific problems), I just want to talk a little bit about my experiences as a nursing mom.
In the store this Saturday a customer asked me about the purpose of breast pads, which got us started talking about nursing bras, and she said it was good to hear the little details.
Breast pads, or nursing pads, are absorbent pads to put inside your bra to catch any leaking milk. No, your body will not be leaking milk all the time! But when something triggers your milk to “let down”, they will start to leak in preparation for feeding your baby. Letdown can be triggered by it being “time to nurse” – if my baby nurses on average every 2 hours, my breasts get in this rhythm. It can also be triggered by thoughts of your baby or hearing a crying baby (even one that is not yours!) It’s amazing how well mothers bodies respond to their babies. Even more strange, I always knew my baby was about to wake up because my milk would let down – even if she was sleeping in the other room and I hadn’t heard a sound yet!
So, back to nursing pads. Some are purely absorbent, like our hemp nursing pads, while others have a waterproof PUL backing. I prefer the waterproof ones for during the day or when I’m out of the house, to make sure my shirt doesn’t get wet. I like the ones without a waterproof barrier for when I’m at home and especially at night time. They are more breathable, and at nighttime I don’t really care if I get a spot of milk on my pajamas, I just don’t want to wake up in a puddle of milk!
Good nursing bras are also important. I got mastitis THREE TIMES before Claire turned 6 months old, and each time I can trace the cause back to wearing a bra that did not fit. An ill-fitting bra can put pressure on your breast tissue, preventing your breast from being completely emptied out during a nursing session. This can lead to a plugged duct, which can get infected and lead to mastitis. It was sooooo tempting for me to try to squeeze into my pre-pregnancy bras because they were so pretty. Finally I realized what was happening and invested in some good, supportive nursing bras that fit me well.
I’d suggest starting out with 2 nursing bras and purchasing these in the third trimester. Remember that your breast size will increase once your milk comes in (about 2-4 days after your baby’s birth), so get comfortable, stretchy bras. Then after your baby is about a week old, you can re-measure yourself and figure out what size you are. At this point I suggest purchasing 2-4 more nursing bras. Babies Bottoms and More does not currently carry nursing bras (as of September 2010) but we hope to in the future. For now, here are some brands and links of nursing bras that I have found to be good ones:
http://www.bravadodesigns.com/ has lots of great breastfeeding info plus a great selection of nursing bras in ALL sizes. These bras are designed to be nursing bras, not just regular bras with a nursing clip added on, but that doesn’t mean they’re not pretty, which I really like. Their Original Nursing Bra is a great one to have on hand before your baby is born. Another stretchy, comfortable nursing bra is the Carriwell Seamless Organic Cotton nursing bra. We plan to carry this bra in-stock by January 2011.
Carriwell Seamless Organic Nursing Bra
Another brand I like is Medela. I have several of their underwire nursing bras. Normally, as a nursing mom, you need to stay away from underwires as they are more likely to lead to plugged ducts, but Medela makes their underwires differently to reduce that risk. I like the support an underwire gives and the fact that when I’m wearing this bra, my clothes all fit normally. Click on the link to see it here: http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/products/intimate-apparel/325/seamless-underwire-nursing-bra-nude
And finally, a nursing bra company that I have just discovered, HOTmilk! How many of you mamas have ever seen nursing and maternity bras in black satin, royal blue sheer mesh, or red lace? I didn’t think so! HOTmilk has all of these and more, in a full range of sizes beyond the normal A-D cups.
As your body gets used to nursing a baby during the first 4-6 weeks, your nipples will be tender and might need a little extra care. Nipple creams like Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Natural Nipple Butter (link to purchase: http://www.babiesbottomsandmore.com/emabnipplebutter.html) are so soothing. Whatever cream you choose, make sure that it is food-grade, because you don’t want to have to wash it off before every feeding. Remember, breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, so if you are experiencing true pain, please call a lactation consultant, but if you’re just experiencing a little tenderness or chapping, a nipple cream can help tide you through. You’ll only need it for the first 4-6 weeks in most cases.