Its National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and if Im being honest I started this blog post several weeks ago, but I've been determined to get in finished before the month is over! After nursing our babies for nearly 10 months, I've been asked over and over what I can't live without or what I recommend to other moms. We have had our fair share of breastfeeding "issues" between over supply, under supply, acid reflux, milk blebs, clogged ducts, tongue and lip ties, latch issues, vasospasm, etc. Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your baby, but there can be so many unexpected hurdles, and these are just a few things I hope will help you along the way as they have helped us!
1. An Educated Partner/Support Team - Being able to breastfeed was something that was important to both my husband and me. We both read the same book, took the same breastfeeding class, and watched the same YouTube Videos. Being supported also meant more than just saying "I'm here to support you". For us this meant he did a lot of the changing, burping, soothing, preparing food, etc., so that I could focus on nursing the babies and taking care of myself in those early weeks. That also means that he didn't expect to come home from work to a fresh meal (or a clean house, folded laundry, smiling babies, etc). He understood my need to rest, hydrate, and eat nourishing foods so that my body could make milk. People frequently ask me "how" I've been able to nurse twins, and my answer is always the same "I couldn't do it without Mark's support." Knowing who to call and when to call them is also an important component to successful breastfeeding. Whether you need an IBCLC, to call a friend, your mom or sister, or even doctor for more serious health concerns, if your partner is educated on breastfeeding, they will know how to support you in this. Bottom line, having an educated partner and support team around you is vital.
2. IBCLC-This is my number one recommendation for anyone who is thinking about breastfeeding. An IBCLC is an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. They are a healthcare professional trained to manage the clinical side of breastfeeding, and offer unbiased support. They help evaluate latch issues, positioning, tongue and lip ties, etc. They typically have a team of other medical professionals they can refer you to if you need further support such as a Pediatric Dentist, ENT, Cranial-sacral Therapist, and more. If you are in the Northern Virginia area I highly recommend Riverside Lactation and Creative Lactation, who both have supported us and our babies.
3. Nursing Pillow-My absolute favorite was the Twin Brest Friend. The flat surface and the shape of the Brest Friend is what worked best for all of us and allowed me to nurse both babies in the football position until about 7 months. I also use two Boppy's on either side of me so that when I was on my own I could put each baby down in the Boppy and then sit down, put the Brest Friend on, and then take each baby from the Boppy and transfer them to the Brest Friend to actually nurse. If you search youtube videos you can see how other twin moms do it too.
4. Nursing Bra (And Pumping Bra)-My favorite has been the Medela, its comfortable, no underwire, the hooks are easy to take on and off and it can be thrown in the washer, so I never really needed to explore beyond that, and bonus that you can find them at Target or order them off of Amazon.
5. Nursing Attire (Robe and Gown)-A few key things that were helpful to me in the first few weeks were a nursing gown that a friend gifted me from Gap, and a robe that I had used when I was pregnant and nursing.
6. Disposable Pads-These ended up being my favorite because I changed them out frequently in the beginnig and couldnt keep up with washing the reusable ones. I also found that those didnt stay put inside of my bra well which was annoying to have to try and fix frequently, the disposable ones have a sticky strip on the back so they stay put!
7. Snacks-Having Lactation Cookies on hand (recipe at the bottom of this post) is what kept me going, literally. I made a new batch of these cookies every few days. Bonus that they're filling, somewhat healthy, yummy, and help with your supply. I also found some bars by a fabulous company, Oat Mama, that were good to throw in the diaper bag and have on the go! My favorite flavor is the S'mores! (Sign up for the newsletter on their website to get awesome promotions!) You can use the code EMILYGERALD15 of 15% off!
8. Water Bottle-My all time favorite are Bubba Cups, easily found at Target or Amazon, because they keep your drinks cold and have a straw which makes it easy to use one handed.
9. Nipple Cream-I used so much of this the first few weeks but haven't had to use it since, thankfully. It really helped when I was sore those first few weeks while I got used to nursing.
10. Legendairy Milk Supplements-These supplements are by far the best out there. They are all natural, fenugreek free, supplements. They've even added tea and brewers yeast to their line and I have yet to have someone NOT respond well to them. At one point I had nearly 1,000 ounces of milk in my freezer thanks to these supplements. Their Instagram has so many testimonials so you can see how well they work. Use the code HENRYANDLOU for 15% off of your order!
11. Everyday Mother-This book kept our sanity. I know that there are apps out there, but for us with two babies, and having different family members help, doctors appointments, nurses, etc, this book was the best purchase I made to keep track. Its laid out perfectly, easily fits in the diaper bag and has become a treasured keepsake for documenting their sleeping, eating, diapers (all the stuff they want to know at the doctor) but also the fun stuff, like first bath, first smile, etc. Jackie, the owner and designer is a sweet mama to a little boy born prematurely and the mission for her business is so special. Cant recommend this enough!
13. Medela Soft Shells-These were a lifesaver! My postpartum nurse recommended them and I don't think I would have survived the first few weeks without them. They allow air to get to the nipple which helps them heal during that transition period. They look a little funny but are totally worth wearing around the house!
A few other checklist items, (in no particular order) that you will want to have on hand: Pump, Car charger, Cooler and Ice Packs, Storage Bags, Bottles, Nursing Cover, Burp Cloths, Nursing Attire.
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 TBS vanilla extract
2 TBS flaxseed meal
3 TBS of water
1 TBS brewers yeast
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp himalayan pink salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1.5 cups rolled oats
1 cup chips (chocolate, butterscotch, m&m’s, nuts, dried fruit, etc)
In a large mixer cream the coconut oil and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine the flaxseed and water, let them sit for a few minutes. Add the egg and vanilla to coconut oil and sugar mixture. Mix well. Add flaxseed and water mixture. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients: brewers yeast, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt. Mix well. Stir in the oats and chips. Scoop onto baking sheet with parchment paper using a cookie scoop Flatten scoops of cookies on baking sheet before baking. (I use a piece of wax paper and a spatula to flatten, this helps them cook more evenly) Bake for 10 minutes at 350. (I rotate the pans halfway through) Let cool on baking sheets.
*use organic ingredients whenever possible