As some of you might know, Praveen and I have been blessed with a baby girl on 17th January 2019. These six months have been so happily hectic that the blog took a backseat. Now that I have some time on my hands, I want to share with you some products that helped me immensely in these six months and have been always by my side during my breastfeeding journey.
First of all, breastfeeding is not easy and your partner’s support plays a huge role in this journey. It requires a commitment to the cause. For us, we had decided that if there are no issues during the initial few days after delivery, we would like to exclusively breastfeed our baby girl for at least 6 months and then continue our journey till the baby weans or two years, whichever is earlier.
I do not need to list down the importance of breastmilk for your baby. It is indeed liquid gold and has so many benefits that it is difficult to list down a few but I will try. Just to let you know, I have nothing against moms who feed formula to their baby. Many moms are unaware of the technicalities of breastfeeding and fall into the formula trap thinking that their supply is low or the baby doesn’t latch easily or the baby remains hungry. For all the information regarding breastfeeding, you can join a facebook group called “Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mothers” which has been a boon for me and solves all your breastfeeding-related queries promptly.
Breast milk is the ideal infant food for babies. Their stomach is so small after birth that the initial colostrum which comes after 2-3 days is enough for the baby. A lot of skin to skin contact with the baby and continous latching practice will help in starting the milk flow. There are many lactation-inducing medicines or foods that you can take in consultation with your doctor to maintain or increase your supply. I just had some laddoos my mom made for me during the last month of pregnancy and after delivery to increase and establish my supply.
Why Breastfeed I Benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby:
- The very first benefit is that it helps the mom and baby bond with each other. The baby finds comfort and warmth in the mother’s bosom and the mother finds it soothing to feed the baby. It releases hormones that help the mother to cope with postpartum weakness and hormonal imbalance.
- Breastmilk contains many immunity-building microorganisms that help build the baby’s immunity and help them fight the common infections prevalent in the surroundings.
- Breastmilk is easier to digest for babies and reduces colic and gas issues that occur while formula-feeding.
- Breastmilk has growth factors that help the internal organs of the baby to develop well.
- Breastfed babies are at a lesser risk of developing ear infections, bacterial and viral diseases, and diarrhea.
- It burns a lot of calories and keeps the iron levels of the body in check to bring the menstrual cycle back to normal.
- Last but not least, it does not require any preparation or sterilization and is always available in the purest form for your babies.
WHO and other major health organizations of the world have done a lot of research and have proven that breastmilk has many medical benefits and helps the babies and the mothers in many psychological ways too.
Now that I have shed enough light on why you must absolutely breastfeed your baby if you can and even if you cannot, pump or at least make some efforts to correct the problems encountered during breastfeeding. Some mothers do encounter a lot of problems and have to ultimately give formula to their babies but I would advise all moms to not fall into the formula trap thinking that it is easy. It is not only very expensive but also lacks so many benefits that breastmilk has. Meet a lactation expert if you have to but do not give up on breastfeeding easily unless you have tried everything.
I breastfed my baby girl exclusively for 6 months. Initially, babies feed every hour or so and this is nature’s way of establishing your supply. Do not think that the baby is not getting satisfied with your feed and that is why he or she is coming to your crying for milk every hour. If the baby has more than six clear pees in 24 hours period, your supply is fine!
After 6 months, we have introduced solids to her and now that I have joined work, I pump regularly to build a stash for her to take when I am not at home. A breast pump is a must for new moms in my opinion and I will elaborate on these pumps a bit later. Even after I have resumed work, Ira is still on breastmilk and we have not introduced formula. As I said, it is a huge commitment to breastfeed your baby if you are working but if you are determined to do the best for your baby, there is nothing that can take it away from you. My husband sees me pumping dead tired at night after a long day at work and then taking care of Ira and he has been my solid pillar of strength in this journey by sharing equal responsibilities in raising our child. He washes all the pump parts and bottles and keeps them sterilized for me while I put Ira to sleep at night. Even these little things help you relax a little before pumping.
I direct feed Ira now when I am with her and she takes around 250 ml of pumped milk in my absence. For breastmilk storage and thawing guidelines, you can refer to the Medela breastmilk storage guidelines. If you are wondering about how much milk should I be pumping, the rule of thumb is about 30 ml for every hour that you will be away from the baby.
Breastfeeding & Pumping essentials for new moms:
My breastfeeding and pumping essentials are listed below so that new moms can take help of this list and keep the essentials ready for their breastfeeding journey:
1. Breastfeeding Pillow:
I cannot emphasize enough on the importance of a good breastfeeding pillow. It prevents backaches and gives you a good breastfeeding position that is comfortable for you as well as the baby. If you have taken an epidural during delivery, it is very important to give a rest to your back for at least 2-3 months after delivery to avoid back pains later. I used the BOPPY Original Nursing Pillow which is very comfortable and provides adequate back support to the mother and the baby. It has multiple uses and can be used as a support pillow for baby to sit after a few months and for tummy time also.
2. Manual breast pump:
I bought a manual breastfeeding pump before my delivery just in case my baby has latch issues or is unable to feed directly. While it is not advisable to pump till 6 weeks after delivery as it can lead to oversupply issues but I used this pump with a light hand after delivery to initiate milk flow. I used to feed whatever little quantity I got to the baby and in my personal opinion, this is what helped initiate my milk flow and establish supply. I did not pump after the milk started to flow and started again only after 6 weeks and that too when I had to go out for a few hours leaving the baby at home.
I used the Philips Avent manual comfort breast pump and this is by far the best purchase i have made for maintaining my breastfeeding journey. It is comfortable, compact, and so easy to use. The pump comes with a bottle and a newborn teat.
3. Electric breast pump:
After six months when I joined work, I have been pumping thrice a day to build a stash for Ira when I am not at home. Manual pumps can be a bit tiring so I invested in an electric pump for frequent pumping. These pumps are quite easy to work with and do not require any manual work. After a lot of research, I bought the Medela Swing single electric pump. Exclusive pumping moms go with double electric pump for more time saving but for me, the single pump works effectively. The pump does come with a Medela bottle and an additional membrane. It is the smallest electric pump from Medela and is very convenient to use.
4. Breastmilk bottles:
I got one bottle each with my Philips Avent manual pump and Medela Swing electric pump but I purchased a set of two Medela bottles for ease of use. Ira prefers the Avent Natural bottles with newborn teat when she drinks breast milk in bottle so I use the Medela bottles for milk storage and pumping. Make sure that you go with paced feeding and use the newborn teat only to avoid any nipple confusion if you are pumping along with direct feeding.
5. Breastmilk storage bags:
While I hate to use the plastic single-use breastmilk storage bags, there is not a very hygienic alternative solution to these bags when i researched for how to store breast milk. I use the Lansinoh pre-sterilized breastmilk storage bags for keeping the milk in the freezer. They are a bit expensive so I pump the milk and keep it in the fridge thrice a day and then combine all the milk at night to freeze it in a single bag. Others bags like Medela are also good but they are much more expensive if you compare the cost per bag.
5. Steam Sterilizer:
You can always simply boil the pump parts and bottles after every use for sterilization but I love the convenience of this electric steam sterilizer and the fact that it sterilizes up to six bottles and pump parts in one go. It can also be used to sterilize nipples, pacifiers, and small toys while conserving a lot of water. I bought a pre-loved Philips Avent 3-in-1 sterilizer and it has been a savior on nights when you are too tired and do not want to boil the bottles and then wait for them to cool and all!
A Comfortable cotton bra/nursing bra is also a good investment but I just used my regular soft cotton bras for pumping as well as feeding. Some other essentials include a good nursing cover for public feeding and nipple cream for taking care of sore nipples.
Also read: Ten Best Homemade Face Masks for Acne
So this is all about my breastfeeding journey and which are the must-have items for a new mom who is passionate about breastfeeding baby. There is no substitute for breastmilk and it is indeed the best nutrition your baby can get. Do you have any doubts regarding breastfeeding or pumping? You can share in the comments below and i will try answering them to the best of my knowledge.