Nothing is more natural than breastfeeding! And in honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015 I thought I would share some of the products that I love that have helped me along my breastfeeding adventure. Not all of these products themselves are “natural” per se, although I do have some DIY natural options as well, but they are proved their worth time and again over the last 6 1/2 months in my home. Check them out to help you on your natural breastfeeding adventure or even better, build a gift basket for someone you love who is expecting to set them up for breastfeeding success!!!
A Local Lactation Consultant – Few things are as natural as breastfeeding but unfortunately it doesn’t come naturally to every mom and baby. A Lactation Consultant (LC) is a healthcare professional who has been trained as a breastfeeding specialist who helps teach mothers how to properly nurse their babies. They can be especially valuable if you are experiencing difficulties getting a proper latch, having painful nursing sessions, or have low milk production. They are trained to diagnose conditions such as lip or tongue tie in babies, thrush in mothers and babies, as well as clogged ducts and mastitis. LC’s can offer invaluable advice on how to increase milk production through massage, pumping techniques such as “power pumping,” and recommending vitamins and supplements that may help. Lactation Consultants are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, Inc. under the direction of US National Commission for Certifying Agencies. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) may be found in a wide variety of health care settings, including hospitals, pediatric offices, public health clinics, and private practice. You may be lucky enough to not need an LC but knowing how to find one locally is important.
Find an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) here: International Lactation Consultant Association: Find a Lactation Consultant.
Find a FREE Lactation Consultant – even if you are not income eligible for WIC you can still speak to a lactation consultant or nutritionist at your local WIC office for FREE. Find your local WIC office here.
A Nice Water Bottle – Hydration is key to keeping your milk supply up and nursing will make you thirsty, especially in the early days!!! Our hospital provided us with a big ol drinking cup with a lid and straw that I kept by my side all throughout my maternity leave. I did really well keeping up with my water intake until I went back to work and started to slack off a bit. So recently I invested in a pair of really nice glass water bottles, I purchased Zulu brand because I found them for $16.99 for a pair at Costco (you can find them for $14.99 a piece at Target if your Costco has sold out for the season. I add a drop or two of Lemon essential oil to my bottle (it’s 20 oz – if it was an 8 oz glass I’d only add 1 because it can be a strong lemon flavor). Having the slight lemon flavor keeps me picking up the bottle and ensures that I get at least 60 oz throughout my work day! Plus, it helps curb my appetite and prevents me from snacking on unhealthy snacks in between meals (Bonus!). It is important that you have glass or stainless steel (although I prefer glass so it doesn’t have the slight metallic taste that steel water bottles have) if you intend to add any essential oils since the oils can break down plastics over time. Otherwise, a nice BPA/phalate free plastic water bottle (like Nalgene) would work just fine!
Book: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding published by La Leche League International – The La Leche League International is an international nonprofit agency that advocates for breastfeeding and helps provide mothers with information about the benefits of breastfeeding worldwide. Their book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a national best seller that helps guide new mothers through what to expect from their breastfeeding relationship with their newborns, helps problem solve some of the most common difficulties with breastfeeding that cause many mothers to give up, and provides the latest scientific research on the benefits of breastfeeding. It’s a valuable resource and good reference whether this is your first, or fifth, child!
More information about the book or to buy it visit the La Leche League International website: http://www.llli.org/thewomanlyartofbreastfeeding
Nursing Tanks and PJ’s – You won’t want to put on clothes during the first several weeks after the baby is born… Hell, you’ll be lucky to get a shower. But one thing I did before I had my daughter, that I highly recommend to all new moms, was to invest in brand new lounge wear. I bought myself two nursing tanks, a pair of lounge pants, and a pair of yoga pants. I lovingly packed them away in my hospital bag and never put them on until after she was born. It was so nice to feel like I was getting something new to treat myself yet something comfy that I actually wanted to wear. The nursing tanks are amazing because they provide some, limited support, but are super easy to snap down and nurse your little one. They are especially nice for when those cluster feeding sessions start and you feel like you constantly have a baby attached to your boob! After almost 7 months of nursing, still the first thing I do when I come home from work in the evenings is change into my comfy tank and lounge pants! You can get comfy nursing tanks almost anywhere but I preferred Target brand nursing tanks because they were inexpensive and came up to a size XXL (which is important for all us buxom mamas!).
A Good, Supportive, Nursing Bra – This is especially important if you are well endowed already because once you decide to brave leaving the house you will likely find that those comfy nursing tanks aren’t supportive enough. Yes they will get bigger (Ugh, I know! Sorry…) so make sure to get fitted by a professional in your last month of pregnancy to have a better idea of what size the girls will be postpartum. You want to make sure that the bra is supportive but not too tight and many LC’s recommend avoiding underwires in nursing bras because the wire or bras that are too tight can contribute to developing mastitis (which as I understand it is no fun at all!). I know a lot of women really like the nursing bras they can get at Target (because of the price point) or Motherhood Maternity (because they have a cute selection) but I was unfortunate enough to be a large enough cup size prepregnancy that neither company offered nursing bras in my size. The style bra that I found that I love is the Bravado Essential Embrace (pictured) because it was wire free yet still supportive, comfortable, and came in 3 colors (I hate bra shopping – it’s seriously traumatic – so I’m the type of girl that when I find a bra that fits I buy one in every color!). The price point is pretty high on these bras, usually around $45-50 each, and while I’m normally quite frugal I cannot overemphasize the importance of a good bra in general, let alone a good nursing bra. Well worth the money, hands down!
Reusable Breast Pads – Boobies leak and reusable breast pads are a must if you don’t want to be throwing them away constantly (and if you’re reading my blog then you are probably hyper aware of your waste and carbon footprint too!). You can find reusable breast pads at most retailers or boutiques nowadays but they tend to be really expensive. I’ve mentioned before that I’m super
cheap frugal so naturally I looked for the least expensive options. I originally planned to DIY my nursing pads but stumbled upon a promotion for FREE breast pads so figured I’d give them a go before I took the time and effort to make them (besides I was busy making burp cloths, bibs, and baby blankets in my last couple months of pregnancy. Apparently “nesting” for me means I must make ALL the things! lol). My only constructive criticism of the free breast pads is that they do tend to show a bit through tighter fitting clothes. So if your wardrobe is more fitted or this is a concern for you then you make want to invest in a more expensive brand like Bamboobies, which advertise that they are less visible (but I cannot attest to this as I personally have not tried them because I didn’t want to invest the money). But the people I know who use Bamboobies swear by them!
Get 10 pairs FREE (just pay s&h – $12.95 – which seems expensive but is still cheaper per pair than buying reusable breast pads other places) from https://www.breastpads.com/ Current promo code for World Breastfeeding Week: WBWBP15 (If this code has expired a quick internet search will turn up several codes that should work on this site, including AThriftyMom1 or PJBABY)
Check out Bamboobies at their website: http://www.buybamboobies.com/
Feeling crafty? Make your own with this tutorial I found on Pinterest from DIY Mommy: DIY Nursing Pads (That Actually Work!)
- Lanisoh Lanolin – Probably the most popular brand of nipple cream is Lanisoh’s HPA Lanolin. It is hypoallergenic and 100% naturally sourced Lanolin. More about Lanisoh brand Lanolin on their website: https://www.lansinoh.com/products/hpa-lanolin or you can contact Lanisoh’s customer service to request a FREE sample: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter – Not all moms want to use Lanolin, perhaps they are Vegan or have concerns about GMO’s. For the more crunchy mom, Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter is a wonderful option! It is made from olive oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, candelilla wax, mango butter, and calendula flower extract and is certified organic, non-GMO certified, and rated toxin-free on EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. Check out Earth Mama Angel Baby brand Nipple Butter here: http://earthmamaangelbaby.com/products/natural-nipple-butter
- DIY Boobie Balm – want to DIY it? Check out my previous blog post Sore Nips? Here’s a Homemade Boobie Balm Recipe to Help!
A Good Breast Pump – Thanks to the Affordable Healthcare Act most insurance companies will now cover the cost of a breast pump for nursing mothers. I have a Medela Pump in Style that my health insurance covered in full and I love it!!! There are lots of brands to choose from but availability will depend on your insurance company. Medela, Ameda, AVENT, and Hygeia all get great reviews so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. Something to consider, there are two types of breast pump systems: open and closed. An open system means that there is no barrier between the milk collection kit and the pumping mechanism which may allow your milk to be exposed to impurities in the air, such as dust, pollen, smoke, bacteria or viruses. There is also the possibility that the milk could be sucked back up into the tubing and pump itself where it cannot be cleaned and could allow mold or mildew to grow (This is why you should NEVER resell or buy a used open pump system – no matter how many people you may see selling theirs online or in yard sales. Reputable consignment shops and sales will not accept open pump systems). All current Medela styles are open systems. Closed systems have a barrier in place that protects the milk from impurities as well as protects the pump mechanism from sucking milk back up into it. The AVENT Comfort Double Electric, Ameda Purely Yours, Lanisoh Affinity and Signature Pro breast pump series, and Hygeia Q are closed systems. The Hygeia Q, although less well known, is the only pump endorsed by the La Leche League International.
Call your insurance company for more information on which pumps are covered by your plan.
Tips on how you can get your FREE breast pump in this article by USA Today: How To Get Breast Pumps Covered By Insurance
Also check out Baby Gear Lab’s Top Ranked Breast Pumps and breastpumpratings.org’s Pump Comparison Chart. Both websites offer great side by side comparison of all the different features as well as lists of pros and cons of each pump. This is a great resource when trying to decide which pump is the best choice for your family!
Milkies Milk Saver – Breastmilk is called liquid gold for a reason! You don’t want to waste even one precious drop and the Milkies Milk-Saver is a reusable, recyclable, BPA/Phalate free tool to help you capture every last drop!!! Simply place on the other breast when nursing or pumping to catch the milk from your let-down. This is especially helpful in the early months when your supply is still regulating or after baby starts sleeping through the night and you wake up engorged. The down side? The price point on this item is really high at $27.99 but it is so worth it and makes a great gift!
For more information, reviews or to purchase visit Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Milkies-Milk-Saver-Breast-Collector-Storage/
Cooling Gel Pads – Cooling gel pads are a wonderful idea for when your breasts become engorged or painful. Simply throw in the fridge or freezer then place over your nipple for instant relief. Most brands of breast pumps make their own line of cooling gel pads, including Lanisoh, Medela, and Avent as well as a few other non pump brands. I personally prefer the Lanisoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy pads (pictured) because they can be cooled to help with swelling or engorgement, heated to help with clogged ducts or mastitis, or even used as a let down aide while pumping. The Lanisoh TheraPearl pads are available at most major retailers but you can check them out here for more information.
Traditional Medicine’s Organic Mother’s Milk Tea is a favorite among nursing mothers and widely available at most supermarkets and health food stores. It is comprised of several herbs known to help promote lactation, including organic bitter fennel fruit, organic anise fruit, organic coriander fruit, organic fenugreek seed, organic blessed thistle herb, organic spearmint, organic lemongrass, organic lemon verbana leaf, and organic marshmallow root. (Note: some mothers do not like the subtle licorice flavor from the anise fruit)
Get your free sample of Mother’s Milk Tea by sharing your breastfeeding story here: http://www.askthelactationconsultant.com/freebies.html
- Fenugreek – Fenugreek is probably the best known herbal supplement to boost milk supply. Fenugreek is a middle-eastern spice that comes from a plant in the pea family. It is found in capsule form as well as in tea. The tea may not be as strong as taking it in capsule form. It can be used in conjunction with Blessed Thistle. Warning: a common side effect is that it may make you smell like maple syrup, so if you are opposed to this smell you may want to avoid it. You can buy Fenugreek capsules at most health food stores or through Amazon. Or you can buy the seeds, extract, powder, or capsules through Mountain Rose Herbs.
- Blessed Thistle – Blessed Thistle is another really common herbal supplement recommended to help increase breastmilk production. Often recommended to be used in conjunction with Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle is highly regarded by the breastfeeding specialist, Jack Newman. Traditionally used to help with indigestion and with loss of appetite. Blessed Thistle is not the same thing as Milk Thistle, although both have been identified as galactagogues. Milk Thistle is more often used as a food (peeled, tender shoots) rather than an herbal supplement. YOu can buy blessed thistle capsules at most health food stores or through Amazon. Or you can buy blessed thistle in bulk to make your own tea or get the extract through Mountain Rose Herbs.
- Red Raspberry Leaf – Red Raspberry Leaf is a common ingredient in nursing teas and tinctures. It is high in vitamins and minerals, including niacin (in the B Vitamin family). Also known as a uterine toner it can help the uterus return to it’s normal size immediately following birth. Some recommend Red Raspberry Leaf to help support uterine health while trying to conceive as well as to prepare for birth after 40+ weeks gestation. You can buy Red Raspberry Leaf capsules at most health food stores or through Amazon. I buy mine in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs and make my own tea.
- Chasteberry (Vitex) – Chasteberry is actually a prolactin-inhibitor usually recommended to help balance hormones but has been proven through repeated studies to increase breastmilk production in nursing mothers. This may be an ideal choice if you are struggling with hormonal imbalances while breastfeeding, including PMS. Note: Chasteberry may start menses in nursing women so avoid if you are relying on lactational amenorrhea as a birth control method. You can buy Chasteberry (Vitex) capsules at most health food stores or through Amazon. Or you can buy the berry, seed, powder, or extract through Mountain Rose Herbs.
- Other less common herbal galactagogues include: Fennel seed (may help with let down and to ease mother’s digestive issues), Goat’s Rue, Alfalfa (avoid if you have an auto-immune disorder), Wild Asparagus, Nettle and Hops.
Get your free Guide to Herbs and Breastfeeding published by Earth Mama Angel Baby here: http://www.earthmamaangelbaby.com/herbs-for-breastfeeding-ebook
Essential Oils – There is a lot of information out there about essential oil safety that lists oils that should be avoided when pregnant or nursing and you would do well to take heed and research any essential oil before using it to know your risks. Essential oil use should always be practiced safely. Only 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils should be used, especially while pregnant, nursing, or with children. Some brands of essential oils contain fillers or synthetic chemicals that you don’t want to expose yourself, or your baby, to. Do your research and make sure you trust your brand implicitly before using (I prefer Young Living – for more information on why check out my blog post Why I Chose Young Living Essential Oils). But there are several essential oils that when used appropriately can actually help boost lactation, decrease lactation when ready to wean, and even help relieve pressure and aches associated with engorgement or clogged ducts, including Fennel, Basil, Geranium, Lavender, and Myrrh to name a few. For more information on essential oils and nursing check out my previous blog post How Essential Oils Can Enhance Your Breastfeeding Experience!
Lactation Cookies – Want to go the extra mile when making a gift basket for a new mom in your life? How about throwing in some homemade lactation cookies! Check out my favorite recipe in my previous blog post Homemade Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies!
Do you have a product you love that I failed to mention? Share it in the comments below to keep the conversation going!