In My Arms

My Ultimate Breastfeeding Essentials

Our trip to New York last weekend marked the first time I went an entire day without nursing Keogena…and it was 4 days. I’ve gone away for a night twice and spent chunks of the day away but I had yet to go a full 24 hours apart from her. It sounds crazy as I type it out, but that’s just how I’ve been with both my kids for their first year of life. When O surprised me a couple weeks ago with this trip to NYC, I found myself crying at the thought of having to wean K immediately.

Sure, sometimes I want to be done nursing like yesterday, but I realize there is a sweetness there you never get back with your baby. I get pretty much nothing when I pump after that 7ish month mark or else I would totally do the bottle thing for more freedom, but I did start giving her bottles of almond milk to be able to go to an appointment or meet up with a friend once she hit 10 months and that was heavenly! She gets a bottle of almond milk every week for our date night and Wednesdays when our sitter watches them for my Wednesday Work mornings but other than that, she’s with me. 15 months straight.
I weaned Oshiolema at 13 months because I was pregnant and felt that was perfect timing and since we’ve been back from our trip, I cut the daytime feeds and only nurse when she wakes up and before bed so we’re on our way to weaning in the next month. I have learned SO many things through trial and error in my nearly 30 months of nursing experience, so I figured no would be the perfect time to share my breastfeeding essentials! Everything from those brutal early days where your nipples are all but falling off to the easy days to these 15 month old days nursing a walking tornado.
First Few Weeks:
I’ve heard of many mystical women who give birth to babies with perfect latches, settled tummies and deep slumbers. I am not that woman. With Oshiolema, they had to give me APNO (all purpose nipple ointment-so luxurious, right?) so I could just barely make it through those early feedings. The scabs, the engorgement, the endless hours of nursing and no time to heal in between can make for some discomfort, for sure. These items really helped.
Bravado Nursing Bra: I went through many nursing bras. Weird ones, stiff ones, and pointless ones. This bra doesn’t look like much but just trust me, it’s the absolute BEST. It has just enough padding, just enough support and just enough stretch to be flattering and comfortable at the same time. Much to my husband’s dismay, I rotated this bra in two colors For an extremely long stretch of time. (Picture a long stretch of time and then double that.)
Sleep Bra This has no support whatsoever but it’s the most comfortable bra ever. I couldn’t get away with wearing this with real clothes, but at home it was my favorite.
Mother’s Milk Tea: This tea is magic for milk production
Muslin Swaddle Blankets Swaddle blankets are a lifeline in those first few months. Spit up? Grab a swaddle. Too sunny? Grab a swaddle. A little chilly? Grab a swaddle. A little hot? grab a swaddle. These blankets are perfect for just about everything and make a perfect nursing cover too.
Covered Goods Nursing and Carseat Cover: I was so scared of nursing in public when I first had a baby. It took me a genuine lifetime to get him to latch every time and with the screaming and flailing arms I just feared showing way too much to way too many. When I had a 20 month old sprinting around and a newborn needing to nurse, I cared a whole lot less about who I showed what to and brought a nursing cover everywhere to nurse whenever I needed to! I love this one since it’s a nursing cover, a grocery cart barrier and nursing cover all in one.
Nursing Tank With Oshiolema, I tried so many nursing tops. Tops with the flap, tops with a zipper, tops with the hidden layers and all the ones in between. I personally didn’t like how any of them looked and never felt put together in them! I learned to just wear this nursing tank under my tops so I didn’t have to bare my whole stomach to nurse. I also found just wearing the nursing cover made nursing tops and tanks unnecessary.
Postpartum Leggings These aren’t necessarily a breastfeeding essential, but those contractions that happen while nursing to help shrink your uterus back to its normal size are really helped by the hold-you-in effects these leggings have! I swear, these were like a tummy tuck. They are a bit pricey but I wore them all.the.time.
Hydration Mask Nursing is so, so drying. That on top of not getting enough sleep (understatement of the century)
Agave Lip Mask Same as above- you’re dry and nothing shows dryness faster than your poor, sad lips. This lip mask had crazy rave reviews and a cult following so I tried it out and will never use a different one. I keep it on my nightstand and use it every night before I fall asleep to rehydrate.
Month 1-4
Pretty Nursing Bra I didn’t really mess with underwires in the first couple weeks but soon, I needed something other than jersey- you know what I mean? This bra is crazy flattering and so comfortable!
Month 4+
Keogena didn’t take a bottle until she was 4 months old. We tried everything! This was a super frustrating period of time, but once they do take one a whole other world opens up and that world is called ‘Sweet Freedom.’ Different babies prefer different bottles, but here are my favorite pumping and feeding favorites.
Double Electric Breast Pump To be fair, there may be better pumps than this but I’ve only used this one and your insurance often covers it!
Hands Free Pumping Bra For whatever reason, I knew absolutely nothing about pumping when I started. I had done all the breastfeeding research in the world but hadn’t read a sentence on the whole pumping part. I started pumping one side at a time, wasting all the let-down of the opposite side and letting it soak through my bra or onto a towel. WHY. I cannot for the life of me fathom why I ever did this but I’m blaming the post-partum fog for sure. When I finally discovered this bra and realized I could pump both sides at once and not waste any milk I Amazon-Primed that thing to me the next second. It was the best thing to ever happen to my pumping life, for sure.
Hand Pump For those nights I was pumping in the closet or the baby was fast asleep in the backseat but I was engorged and uncomfortable I started reaching for this. By my second nursing experience, I used this pump almost exclusively after she hit five months old and find it to be the easiest way to get the job done.
Dr. Browns Bottle Both of our babes rarely got bottles, but this was the one that they (and I) loved most. I found it gave them the least gas and loved the glass version, ensuring it was BPA free and free of the toxins found in so many other bottles. Also, when Keogena still wouldn’t drink from a single bottle on the planet at 4 months old, she finally drank from this one and we ran with it. My lactation consultant gave me a tip to use a Preemie Nipple as long as possible so the flow was really slow, ensuring the bottle didn’t give too much at once and irritate their stomach with gas.
Comotomo Bottle This was another one we really enjoyed after she warmed up to the bottle idea as a whole.
Food Restrictions: 
It’s not at all uncommon for babies to be irritated by dairy while nursing. This can show up in the form of rashes, acid reflux and tons of spit up, gas and inconsolable crying  or a number of other things. Both my kids were so irritated by dairy that I couldn’t have a speck of dairy for 8 months each of breastfeeding them. By the time they hit 8 months and were eating dairy themselves, they both were able to tolerate me eating it as well. Oshiolema had a much more dramatic case where I couldn’t eat eggs, gluten, soy or nuts as well so if you’re in that boat, we can talk! Now that we’re vegan as a family I’ve had even more experience in this department. But for now, here are my tried and true dairy-free favorites.
Earth Balance Butter
Nut cheese
Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
Kite Hill Vanilla Yogurt
Amy’s Pizza
Nadamoo Ice Cream
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
Coconut Bliss Ice Cream
RX Bars
Nursing wardrobe: I really never warmed up to the idea of nursing clothes, but I did find a slew of styles I was super comfortable in and still felt “myself” wearing. In those early weeks, peplum tops like this one were my absolute favorite to cover up all the stuff going on in the tummy-region. I always forget just how pregnant I look in the months after having a baby and this helps boost my morale. That specific top is definitely an investment but over the years I’ve purchased two because they’re just that perfect and the quality is amazing!
Then I progress to a point where I feel great wearing a tee or nursing tank under a kimono (spring/summer) or oversized sweater (fall/winter). This helps give me a little bit of shape, especially when I wear high-waisted pants.  Off-the-shoulder tops and dresses are always a favorite because they’re super easy to nurse in and take no effort whatsoever to undo. My other favorite nursing go-to is a pair of overalls. Nursing in them couldn’t be easier! Here are some of my favorite options that take the stress and ugly out of nursing clothes.

Keeping the Joy in Marriage During the Holidays

Christmas is right around the corner and we. are. busy. We are busy grocery shopping. We are busy cleaning the house and getting things ready for guests. We are busy with the Elf on the Shelf (not us yet, but I see you out there workin’ your butts off with that thing). We are busy attending corporate parties and celebrations with friends. We’re busy serving at church and serving in our communities. We’re busy waiting for bonuses and vacation time while planning class christmas activities and pinteresty crafts. In all the Holiday hustle and bustle, we can often overlook our marriage.

Holiday Gift Guide: For the Littles

I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving! O always asks me to wait til “the day after” to put up a single decoration and really get into the Christmas spirit. Friends, it’s here!!! The magic of Christmas is elevated 100% since having kids. This is the first year Oshiolema really gets it and I’m so excited to continue our little family tradition of baking cinnamon rolls, blasting classic carols through the speakers and decorating the tree with cocoa in hand. Here are some of my favorite gifts for the babes this year.

10 Tips for Traveling with Littles

Thanksgiving is notoriously the “biggest travel week of the year” and while we are staying home and hosting for the first time in many years, we are no strangers to travel with kids. I actually put together this travel video (at the end of this post) in August when we returned home from over two weeks in Italy with our then ten month old and two and a half year old. Let me tell you, we learned a thing or two.

Kids will always throw you curveballs, but I pulled together the things that we found most helpful for traveling with kids and while these particular things apply more to vacation and further distance travel, hopefully there are takeaways for you if you’re braving travel this week!

Reflecting on ‘What’s in a Name’

For whatever reason, my kids names have been a topic of conversation a lot lately. I suppose they always will be, which is something I now realize is so special. If someone introduces their child and announces their name is Razor or River or Aspen or Archer, our brains are trained to digest that as “2017 names” rather than “unusual name.” When I announce my children’s names are Keogena Na’Airah and Oshiolema Michael, many people try to digest that and their brains are trained to say “does not compute.”