- A NIPPLE SHIELD. Listen and listen closely.... this MUST go in your hospital bag! I repeat- put it in your hospital bag!!! If you forget everything else, make sure the nipple shield gets to the hospital!! I can not stress this enough. Here’s why: When our daughter, Winnie was born, she had a very bad tongue tie and could not latch on for breastfeeding. I will spare you with all of the details about how I basically spent the first three days of her life in tears because I wanted to be successful at breastfeeding and found myself feeding her formula through a syringe (the nurse recommended this so she would not have nipple confusion with a bottle and my nipple if I was ever going to be successful at breastfeeding.) It was awful for me. I cried. ALOT. The pediatrician that was on-call in the hospital during our stay could not perform a Frenotomy (snip of the tongue tie) for some reason. He/ She wasn't licensed? I can't remember exactly why in the midst of my complete exhaustion. Nonetheless, we had no choice but to feed her formula during our hospital stay rather than the "liquid- gold" amazingness that is colostrum. I tried pumping often and getting her to latch, but it was really tough overall. Long story short, when I got home and my milk came in, a new lactation consultant recommended the nipple shield. GUESS WHAT. She latched right away to it and I was able to breastfeed my baby thanks to the WONDERFUL invention of the nipple shield for my tongue-tied baby. GUESS WHAT AGAIN. I actually had a nipple shield in my bag the entire time at the hospital. I believe someone casually recommended a nipple shield to me at some point, so I threw it in there months prior to labor. Again, it must have slipped my mind in the overwhelming midst of caring for a newborn baby and trying to recover personally while at the hospital. Unfortunately, no one in the hospital recommended it for me either. A week or so later, I was able to get her Frenotomy done and we slowly weened off the nipple shield. Added bonus- I think the shield also helped me NEVER have any issues with pain, bleeding, cracked nipples, etc. To sum up, you need a nipple shield. You need to pack it. Try to remember it if you have a baby with the same situation. Try to use it if BFing hurts. I bought a couple different sizes on Amazon and suggest this for all my friends now. Had I not used this, I would not have been successful at breastfeeding. Which leads me to my number 2....
- THE HAAKAA! Praise be for one of the greatest inventions ever. EVER. My breastfeeding life was made SO MUCH EASIER once I was introduced to The Haakaa Breast Pump (the greatest invention ever.) Here's how I found out about it: One of my girlfriends, Whitney (the greatest friend ever) was using it and showed me. I was mesmerized at how she was able to build up her milk supply in the simplest way. Here’s why you need it: if you are solely breastfeeding, you don’t really get a break from feeding the baby. Either you’re doing every feeding or you are pumping in between feedings to get some extra milk in a bottle just to get out of the house or have someone take over for once. NO. No one has time to pump ON TOP of every single feeding!!! Are you kidding me? Ain't nobody got time for that!!! Your breasts which are supplying your child’s nutrition NEED A BREAK! And so do you. Here’s how it works: The Haakaa Breast Pump simply suctions on the breast that you are not nursing your baby on. When you have a “let-down” the milk with start to flow into The Haakaa. You’re basically emptying the other breast and saving it rather than having it leak in your bra or shirt. You can save all that otherwise potential wasted milk!! I would then take that milk and pour it into a bottle and save it for when I needed some milk to leave the house or have my husband do a feeding. Now I know some people are thinking, don’t you need the milk on both breasts for your baby? Here’s the thing... I’m not a lactation consultant so be sure to talk with your LC, but from what I know, if you are fully emptying both breasts, you will produce more milk. Your body tries to keep up with your supply. If you don't empty your other breast, your body will slowly stop producing as much, thinking you don't need it. I always struggled with an under supply of milk, so this helped me keep up with my supply since I was fully emptying both breasts or having a second "let down." And if I ever thought my supply was extra low or Winnie was extra hungry, guess what... I had milk from The Haakaa I could pour in a bottle to give to her to “top her off." On the other hand, if you are a mom who deals with an oversupply of milk, The Haakaa could possibly balance that out. For example I had a girlfriend who had an over supply and her breasts were always hurting her because they were so full. She did not want to pump as that encourages more milk to be made and another let-down. She was able to use The Haakaa on the breast her baby was not nursing on to relieve some of the pressure and pain from having swollen breasts without having to pump, continuing to trick her body that she needed to produce more milk. The Haakaa saved my breastfeeding life. I really never had to pump!!!! I'll leave you with this: as a mom who always dealt with an under supply, I was able to leave my baby girl for countless date nights and 3 different trips/ weekends including one for 7 days at 9 months old. She was given only my breast milk from my frozen stash I had built up all from The Haakaa alone. And I rarely ever had to pump. Hardly ever. Basically never. I hated pumping. Do I have you convinced that you need this thing yet? I am hopeful this will help some mamas as well! Now, where is my sponsorship? :)
- A VELCRO SWADDLE. The swaddle is great for many reasons in regards to easing the transition from warm, snug womb to big, open crib/ bassinet. I never slept well when I wrapped our newborn in a swaddle/ Muslin blanket. I always felt nervous that I didn’t do it exactly right or that it was going to come up over her face in her sleep. It continuously made me nervous. Then HALLELUJAH! The Velcro swaddle! It was introduced to me also by my friend Whitney (the greatest friend ever.) It gives your babies the perfect snug fit and they can not wiggle out of it as easily, if at all. Not to mention, it takes way less time to put on! I slept 100X better once I saw how she was in the Velcro swaddle. It became a sleeping cue for Winnie that also helped us have a great sleeper. Make sure you're knowledgeable about when to no longer use it though. Blanket swaddles are soooo cute and we do have several and did use these to wrap her up during the day when she wasn't sleeping for extended amounts of time while we were trying to get some shut-eye too.
- A SOUND MACHINE. I’ll keep this simple. The baby book I followed (#5 below) and a few others I read all mentioned the importance of the sound machine in a pitch black room. Apparently, inside the womb it is a loud sound similar to that of a vacuum cleaner constantly on. Expecting a newborn to rest peacefully and deeply in complete silence is quite the transition and expectation. The sound machine assists in helping them reach the deep REM sleep phase. It also became another great sleeping cue. Dark room + velcro swaddle + loud sound machine= “Oh! This means it’s time for me to sleep! Goodnight Mommy & Daddy!” Added bonus- it drowns out noise outside the bedroom that may startle them awake.
- MOMS ON CALL BASIC BABY CARE (0-6 Months) By: Laura Hunter LPN and Jennifer Walker RN BSN. This was the book my husband and I read before our daughter was born and decided to follow when she was here. We chose to read this book because everyone that had recommended it to us had successful sleepers. I do think it’s important to say this: when choosing a baby book to read, you have to decide first what is very important to you or what rules you may have. One of the things my husband and I agreed upon was having our baby on a good schedule and sleep training. We value our own time in our own bed, with our child sleeping in her own. This was something we wanted to be very prepared for. I can say plenty of great things about this book but I'll say this- I referred back to this book (the schedule in particular) nearly every day of our daughter's life the first couple of months. I call it my baby Bible. I wouldn't have had a clue about what to do or what schedule to follow if it hadn't been for this book. It's also short, sweet and to the point. Each chapter is only a couple pages short which is all us parents and soon-to-be parents have time for! It is founded on Christian beliefs and each chapter starts with a bible verse. Although the methods can seem a bit militant, it comes from a position of encouragement and support. Most importantly, IT WORKS. Our daughter became a consistent sleeper through the night at around 1.5 months old and never looked back. If I've met anyone that has read this book, their baby is a great, independent sleeper too.
Hopefully this helps some parents-to-be as they embark on the best journey of life! Our daughter is two, so writing this now has brought me joy, takes me back to the precious newborn phase and makes me want to cry- a good cry! I'm reminded of how passionate I feel about helping other moms and sharing any advice I can give. I'm reminded of why I wanted to write and start this blog and little shop in the first place. Please share + pass along! I'd also love to know in the comments below if any of you find this helpful or have used any of these things!
Happy Momming! :)