BREASTFEEDING & SCHEDULING
If you are planning to breastfeed, you CAN schedule feeding times. Scheduled feedings are great for baby, family, and care-givers because it will give all of you the confidence to go about your day, knowing what to anticipate and when.
The schedules allows you to plan your day since you know when your baby will be hungry, when your baby will need to nap, even when your baby will need diaper changes. It takes some of the guess work out of parenting and can make your life much easier. So go ahead and plan a lunch with friends, run those errands or pick out a book to read and put your feet up. Scheduling makes it all more possible!
Because breast milk digests more easily than formula, you should follow the Schedule: Birth – 3 Weeks; Option B (10 feedings). Do your best to follow the routine of feeding-time, awake-time followed by nap-time so that your baby gets used to the schedule rhythm. After the first or second month, he should be consuming more milk per feeding and the number of feedings will reduce, allowing you to move to the next feeding schedule.
Upon birth, your infant may nurse for about 20 minutes per side (40 minutes total per feeding) or more and will take in about an average of two to three ounces of breast milk. Overtime, as your milk production and let-down become more efficient and your baby becomes a feeding pro, feeding time will likely decrease per side while the child’s milk-intake will gradually increase to three to four ounces and so on.
Regarding milk supply and demand, read: Chronicles of a BabyWise Mom “Combating Babywise Myths #5: Babywise will cause you to lose your milk supply if nursing”
As a practically perfect baby, your child will be waking and falling asleep at the appropriate times once she gets used to the rhythm of the schedule. However, it is always helpful to have a clock present in the nursery or in your bedroom (or both) to keep you on track—particularly when it comes to the night time and early morning feedings. The clock you choose should have a lit face for easy reading in the dark and if it doubles as a sound machine, all the better. I use the Homedics Sound Spa Premiere which has all the bells and whistles—a lit face with multiple alarm settings for late night and early morning feedings, AM/FM radio, plus it has 20 sound options including white noise and heartbeat which are particularly appealing to infants.
You need a chair so comfortable that you can sleep in it – literally, because you will! This is going to cost you more than any other breastfeeding-related item but I promise you, it is worth it. You will be spending a lot of time in this chair, particularly when you are nursing at night or first thing in the morning, so test them all out and find one that fits your body as much as your aesthetic sensibilities. The right chair should be tall enough for your head to fall back on, allow your arms and shoulders to rest at a comfortable point, have a smooth gliding motion and an ottoman to rest those tired dogs. There are hundreds of glider options, but I recommend staying away from ones with a lot of wood and opting for softer plush chairs which are, ultimately, more cozy for you and baby.
The Kacy Collection’s Madison Glider and Morgan Glider are stylish as well as functional. They feature both a glide and swivel base making getting in and out of the chair a breeze. Fashionable fabrics and contemporary lines will appeal to the modern mama. And, of course, they come with coordinating ottomans. The Rosie Premium Glider doesn’t boast the swivel base but is a plush, yet firm and more affordable option that still offers all of the comfort and comes in a multitude of fabrics.
The Lumbar Pillow:
Oh, my aching back, you say? A lumbar pillow will come in handy while nursing. Keep it with your chair or on your bed – wherever it is that you nurse most often. Zazzle boasts a Peace Love Nursing lumbar pillow fashioned just for nursing mamas like us – it’s quirky, cute and customizable! Nurture Center also has the Dutailier lumbar pillow which features a TON of fabric and color choices, so you are sure to find the perfect shade for your space.
The Nursing Pillow:
A nursing pillow can be crucial to your comfort while helping you keep your little one in a good nursing position. I love Boppy’s new Two-Sided Nursing Pillow which features a super-soft minky fabric with a firm support on one-side and a softer fiber-fill side for a squishier, more cuddly platform for baby. You choose which side works better for you! My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow is another super star in the world of nursing moms. With back, arm and elbow support to help you maintain position, a wraparound belt, a pocket for a water bottle or cell phone, good firm support for baby AND a big selection of cute prints, it deserves to have some groupies.
The Nursing Cover
While I believe there is never any need to be embarrassed by nursing your infant in public, many women like to have some privacy when feeding their child. A nursing cover is a discreet, yet stylish way to breastfeed and still get on with that conversation over lunch. You can often find online promotions for free nursing covers, but Bebe Au Lait’s pretty prints and monogramming are worth the splurge. For those of you who are hyper-efficient and want the most bang for your buck, check out the Babee Covee Cover– it is a nursing cover/car seat cover/stroller blanket/shopping cart cover and more – all in one!
Whether you are a working mom or just want the occasional date night with your significant other, you will need to have a breast pump. There are many brands and options to choose from, double pumps, single pumps, manual pumps, electric pumps, etc. There are two brands that I feel are worth your consideration: Avent and Medela. First and most important, you want to purchase a double electric pump which will make expressing the milk relatively quick and efficient. Both of these pumps are part of a system and each system includes travel bags for transporting your pump(s), coordinating bottles, nipples, storage containers, sterilization options and more. I recommend that you choose one brand system to make your life easy and efficient. Second, both brands are readily available at numerous locations. Medela has a huge presence at Babies R Us where you can even find spare parts for the pump should one of those pesky valves go missing. Third, both brands produce quality products with a variety of bottle and nipple options so that you are bound to find one that works well for your child. I use the Avent feeding system and highly recommend the Avent Natural Bottles and Nipples when bottle feeding—it made the breast to bottle transition for my daughter seamless.
TAKING CARE OF THE GIRLS…
Keeping your breasts healthy while nursing is extremely important for both you and the baby. Here are a few tips to help “the girls” navigate this transition gracefully.
The Right Support:
Don’t rush into your pre-pregnancy bras before your breasts fit in them properly. Confining your breasts too tightly is a contributing factor to Mastitis – inflammation of the breast tissue — which can cause flu-like symptoms, pain and significant milk reduction in the affected breast, as well as, a host of other issues if left untreated. Your breasts will remain larger than normal during breastfeeding, so my recommendation is to invest in two nursing bras during your third trimester. You should be able to use these bras during your first several months of breastfeeding. The professionals at Motherhood Maternity are a good resource — Take the time to let a professional fit you for the nursing bra so that it fits correctly in the band and the cup. Treat yourself to as many nursing tanks as you can – these are super comfortable, easy to sleep in and just as easy to wear during the day under a cute top. I love the Gilligan & O’Malley brand from Target—they have a slight A-line shape that is flattering to a post-baby tummy but are still fitted enough to wear under something else. Try their Henley Nursing Cami and the Cotton Nursing Cami which comes in a nice selection of colors.
The Nipple Cream:
Your nipples are going to go through some heartache. As they are initiated into breastfeeding, it is important that the baby’s latch is correct as this will help minimize pain, but it won’t eliminate it. After a feeding, you should feel free to gently wipe the nipple with a clean, warm wash cloth and apply a cream, such as Boob Ease Natural Nipple Balm or Palmer’s Nursing Butter. Both are all natural and neither need to be wiped off before the next feeding.
The Nipple Pads:
Leakage is going to happen – particularly in the beginning. Leaking is also common when you phase out a feeding and your infant begins to sleep longer during the night. Invest in four to six pairs of washable cotton nipple pads that can absorb excess breast milk that may leak in between feedings. For everyday use, I like Ameda’s Washable Breast Pads. They are thick enough to last throughout the night, 100% cotton, comfortable and contoured for a nice fit. Bamboobies makes the cutest washable breast pads out there. Fancy some hot pink hearts on your tatas? They have that! They also have slightly thicker pads for overnights and a 100% organic bamboo fleece option for those do-gooders who find the time to think globally in between feedings.
If you are a working mom or have a big night out planned, you may want to invest in the LilyPadz Silicon Nursing Pads which are, in a word, amazing! These reusable silicon pads have a slightly sticky side that adheres directly onto the breast and nipple preventing any leakage. They require washing after use with a mild soap and water but dry almost instantly, so they are very easy to reapply.
The Nipple Shields:
If your nipples are inverted or if you are having trouble dealing with the initial pain of breastfeeding, there are nipple shields (BPA free, of course!) that can help your baby get a good latch while eliminating the initial pain of breastfeeding for you. I recommend choosing a shield that is soft and most like your natural nipple texture. You will want to purchase a minimum of two (I recommend four) and you will need to sanitize them after every use.
For inverted nipples, I recommend the Avent Nipple Shield which is a slightly more firm shield. For moms looking to ease some of the initial pain of breast feeding, try the softer and more naturally textured shields from Medela.
Note: If you are using a nipple shield to give your breasts a break while they slowly adjust to their new function or while a latch issue is corrected, I recommend gradually discontinuing the use of the nipple shield to allow your nipples to strengthen and so that your child does not become dependent upon nursing through the shield.
The Bottle Warmer:
Because your little one is used to receiving your breast milk at your body temperature, you will want to warm any bottle-fed breast milk prior to feeding. While you can do this in the microwave with any BPA free bottles or on a stovetop with a pot of shallow water, a bottle warmer is the best way to go. A bottle warmer warms the milk evenly and at an appropriate temperature. Two options for you to consider are the Kozii Breast Milk and Bottle Warmer by Kiinde and the Avent Express Food and Bottle Warmer. The Kozii is a steam-free option safe for all brands of bottles and bags. It is as safe as a warm water bath but as efficient as the microwave. The Avent warmer is as effective as and less expensive than the Kozii, but designed to work specifically with the Avent bottle and storage system.
The Expression Bustier:
If you are anything like me, I hate how I look and feel when pumping. It is so mechanical without any of the warm and fuzzy feelings you enjoy when nursing your child. I find that wearing an expression bustier helps me feel a bit less exposed. The bustier is designed to hold the electric pumps in place and allow you to have free hands in which to read or work on your laptop—particularly nice if you are a working mama! Medela’s Easy Expression Bustier is compatible with almost any electric breast pump. It is easy to wear, easy to wash and won’t leave you feeling so exposed.
If you are concerned that you are not producing enough breast milk, there are natural means by which to encourage production. The herbal mixture in Organic Mother’s Milk Tea by Traditional Medicinals is effective in increasing milk production when ingested according to the package directions. Whether your milk production can’t keep up with your infant’s growth spurts, stress is inhibiting your production or you are recovering from mastitis– give it a sip!
The Alcohol Test Strips:
If you plan to drink alcohol during the period in which you are breastfeeding your baby, I urge you to pump before you indulge so that you have plenty of alcohol-free milk ready and available for your little one. However, should you drink before breastfeeding your infant, MilkScreen Alcohol Test Strips allow you to test your breast milk for any traces of alcohol. It goes without saying that if your test strip is positive for alcohol, than you should not nurse your little one and instead offer the breast milk you had the foresight to pump ahead of time!
And there you have it – a bevy of recommendations from one nursing mother to another. I hope these help you as you set out along the path of breastfeeding your baby. You will no doubt make your own discoveries and develop your own preferences as you navigate the oh-so rewarding, yet challenging road of breastfeeding.
Wishing you luck and success, Mama!
Danielle Weed, PPB Guest Writer