Tag

postpartum

Breastfeeding Essentials

As of right now, I have nursed for a total of 30 months of my life. Six years into this gig, I’ve certainly amassed a few favorites and while 2020 presented some new gadgets, many items are my tried and true favorites from 2015. I hope you find some things that make those early days of breastfeeding even a little bit more bearable below.

Postpartum Essentials

The first couple months of postpartum life is one of the only seasons that described as equally exhausting and exhilarating, joy-filled and tearful, shockingly slow and way too fast. I read every book, blog post and article on the postpartum experience during my first pregnancy and yet nothing could even come close to preparing me for it. I’m going to be as real as can be in this post in efforts to be as helpful as possible so buckle up, friends. Here is every single item I’d call essential to make the postpartum weeks as comfortable, seamless and healthy as possible.



Bathroom / Lady Bits:

I keep this bin on the back of the toilet in our room and stock it with all the items you see above. If you click any items in the image you can purchase directly that way. You need all these items. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, I’m sorry, these items are non-negotiables unless you don’t have a need for Tucks pads (if you catch my drift.)

I always start off with depends and then transition to pads but I prefer these natural organic pads much more than “always” or something like that. This time, I didn’t tear so I was completely healed within the first couple days and didn’t have any soreness while using the restroom. With my first I tore so badly that it used to take me at least 15 minutes just to relax my muscles to go to the bathroom. In that case, I used the sitz bath spray and the balm every time I went to the bathroom. This time around I just used the peri bottle and the spray every time for the first few weeks because it was so refreshing and helps speed up healing.

Speaking of using the restroom, whether you tear badly or not DO NOT forget to take your Colace every single day for the first few days. Trust me. Do not. I kept this by my bedside and just remembered that one time I forgot to take it with Oshiolema and straight up cried my eyes out in the bathroom. I also continued taking this every night as a natural way to keep my digestion normal because giving birth messes things up a little bit. Real talk, I also take a swig of warm prune juice every day that first week. Not taking any chances!

Clothing:

The four most important clothing items for me in every postpartum experience are my tummy-flattening support leggings, this support tank, my postpartum belly wrap and a great nursing bra. I think every single woman needs to wear a wrap immediately postpartum. I have herniated discs in my back and diastasis recti (an abdomen separation that often occurs after pregnancy) which means all the strange positions we find ourselves in postpartum can take an enormous toll on the body. I wear this wrap every day for one week and then switch to wearing this wrap at least 4 days a week for the next few weeks. The second wrap is NOT comfortable to me whatsoever but it is the absolute best. Pro-tip: be sure to wear it over a tank (either this one or this one) to protect your skin from irritation. In addition to helping support my core and help me heal, I always notice this helps tremendously with shrinking my uterus back to size and helping tighten the excess fat.

the first wrap four days postpartum

 

the second wrap two weeks postpartum

This nursing bra is the one I wear every single day and love it so much that I still wore it multiple times a week for the two years after I was done nursing. It’s that good-hence the 4k+ great reviews on Amazon. This is my favorite one for sleeping and for those early days where everything hurts.

These tummy support leggings are the most flattering, comfortable, necessary item in my closet after giving birth. They’re designed to hold you in which really helps after essentially having an open wound down your middle. They’re also thick so they don’t show the Depends or giant panty line you’ll be sporting for a few weeks. The support tank paired with the leggings and a long cardigan is my go-to outfit in the first days. (you can see them in the first photo-they almost reach my nursing bra which is ideal postpartum.)

I give myself two weeks to essentially wear pajamas so let’s address that too. If you haven’t purchased a pair of these pajamas yet, take this as your invitation. They are the most comfortable pajamas I’ve ever worn and everyone who has purchased them through my blog tells me they feel the exact same way. Like buttah! I stick to pajamas with buttons for easy access to the milk makers.

Now, when I transition to actually “getting dressed,” I keep it cozy and simple.

Trust me when I say, this top with these leggings will be your favorite “athleisure” outfit in your wardrobe. The tops built in bra is supportive enough that you can actually go without a real one and trust me, your chest will thank you. The leggings are the same ones I’ve raved about for years but they are even more crucial in those first weeks postpartum because they feel like a second skin. Comfort is key for me while everything is healing and there’s a reason these pants are called “the naked pant.” This length is the one I personally find most flattering.

You can see my favorite matching sets, sweaters and cozies in this post.



Nursing:

I’ll be dedicating a whole blog post to breastfeeding so I’ll just stick to the basics here and keep it short. Nursing is always a bit jarring at first-let’s be real. I don’t know about you but I don’t have someone sucking on my chest 8-12 times a day so it takes a bit of getting used to every time. I go from being pretty small chested to suddenly having two upside down mixing bowls attached to me. They’re sore and solid and it’s a LOT, you know? But hang in there. It gets so much easier every single day and before you know it, your body has regulated to your exact situation (twins? your body will provide that amount. preemie? your body knows whats up.) For those times where you get clogged ducts that hurt so badly you want to cry, this little tool has been SO helpful for me. I used it all the time when my milk was regulating and now that she’s sleeping longer stretches I have a feeling I’ll need to pull it out again.

I have to give a quick shout out to the Haaka because it’s the MVP of my nursing experience. It allows me to not have to hook up to my pump and instead build up my freezer supply just with by attaching it to the opposite side of where she’s nursing. It collects my let-down and I store it in these bags which I can’t rave about enough. I struggled so much to pump enough for bottles with my older two because I feed on demand and never create an over supply. This is the answer. These are the other items I couldn’t successfully breastfeed without:

and these are my favorite tops that make either pulling up my shirt to nurse or unbuttoning to nurse a breeze:

Lastly, now that Zeameh is in our room we have portions of the night where our room isn’t pitch black. I also am not a great napper and need all the tricks to be able to go to sleep in the meantime. For that reason, the eye pillow that helped me get more rest in pregnancy has also been an absolute essential postpartum.

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 every.single.day. 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.