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For the past few months, on Brielle’s monthly birthday, I’ve been sharing some advice and recommendations from my perspective as a first time mom (FTM). Today I wanted to focus on some tips I’ve learned when it came to breastfeeding and changing baby.
- Figure out a breastmilk freezer solution. While at home, I wanted to focus on creating a freezer stash of breastmilk for emergency feeding needs, a backup in case my supply ran out earlier than planned or as stored milk to mix in while pumping at work when I get back to work. I’m trying to prolong the use of formula as much as possible! I pump once a day in the morning for only 10 minutes and freeze my milk in 1-5 ounce increments in Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags. I followed this dispensing solution presented by Greenlite Bites, but opted for a box container instead of a bag. (see the image above). The box holds the oldest milk, followed by each of the other bags that are each labeled “bag 1, 2, 3” etc. Creating a freezer stash is hard work that not only requires time and organization but also space! While pregnant, or for those first few weeks of having a newborn, work on cleaning/eating your frozen food to make room for milk!
- Get educated! I didn’t take any breastfeeding courses or read up on techniques before baby. I just wasn’t ready and knew that I wouldn’t “get it” until I was experiencing it for myself. After getting a few lessons from the lactation consultants at the hospital (which I HIGHLY recommend doing) I read up more on the topic through my baby books, via threads on my babycenter.com birth club and on kellymom.com. For example: you’ll want to get educated on breastfeeding terms like cluster feeding, let down and thrush.
- Block feeding works well for snackers. Ever since my daughter was born, she was not a long feeder. She’d feed on one side for maybe 6-10 minutes or 15 minutes occasionally but never both sides in one feeding session. After reading through some posts on kellymom.com about the colors of your baby poop (yes, a topic you will talk about often as a FTM), I learned that her common green poops might be due to the lack of the fatty hindmind that she wasn’t receiving during her short feedings. Instead, I read up more on “block feeding” where you feed two times in a row from one side then two times in a row on the other side. This totally changed our lives as she then started to get the “good, yellow, seedy poop” and started gaining more weight. To help me keep track, I relied on my “Feed Baby” app that helps track the time and sides for feeding. About four months in when her feedings were getting stretched out and she started mixing in solids, we stopped block feeding and we haven’t been having any issues since.
- Make room for breastfeeding/bottle materials. If you breastfeed and pump on occasion, you’ll need a place to keep your breast pump, breast pump back up supplies, bottles, and milk storage bags. For us, this place was an overhead cabinet in our kitchen. Tip: Keep a Sharpie marker with your breast milk storage bags so you can easily write on it once you fill it and aren’t searching in that junk drawer for the last Sharpie. I also printed out this Breastmilk Storage Guideline PDF from Kelly Mom and posted it inside the cabinet for a quick reference on how long fresh vs frozen can be fed/stored.
- Breastfeeding makes you hungry and thirsty! Invest in a good set of insolated reusable cups, similar to these: WaterU 2-Pack BPA Free Double Wall To Go Cup with Straw and Lid, 16-Ounce! I have three that have been with me throughout my pregnancy and after she was born to help keep me hydrated. Don’t leave the home without bringing a water bottle with you as you will get thirsty when you’re out! I left a little box of snacks next to my spot on the couch so I could easily grab something to munch on when feeding baby or in case she fell asleep on me and I was “held hostage.” Think ahead and try to prep your space with easy accessible protein packed snacks!
- If you plan to use a cover, practice using it at home. While I respect the right to breastfeed uncovered in public, it wasn’t my thing, so I was all about the cover. (Something like this: Udder Covers – Breast Feeding Cover (Porter)) At a certain point (which for us came about at 3 months), the baby is a lot more aware of what’s going on during feedings and can often become distracted. Once we were out and I put that cover on, I had to keep reassuring her (through the hole at the top of the cover) that it will still our normal feeding routine as she seemed really distracted and confused. I knew it was time to mix in using the cover in our home atmosphere, as per the advice from my friend Carrie, who experienced this with her daughter.
- Practice bottle feeding (even if you’re EBF – exclusively breastfeeding). I’ve known several friends and family members who have said their EBF child “never took a bottle” and made sure to read up on this topic often. I learned that an occasional bottle given by someone other than the mom is helpful for baby to practice this feeding style. Sure, there is that mysterious “nipple confusion” that scares most FTM but luckily we didn’t experience this. After 5 weeks, we made sure that Derek fed Brielle a breastmilk filled bottle at least twice or three times a week. Now that she’s 7 months, she’ll even take the bottle from me when we continue to practice this mode of feeding.
- Wear nursing tops at night and nursing bras during the day. While they’re great for easy access to breastfeed, I wasn’t a fan of wearing my nursing tops out after month 1 as I felt they didn’t give good support for a flattering look. BUT they are great at night to quickly pick up your little one in your sleepy state and feed them. Buy 1 nursing bra before the baby (at least one cup size larger than what you are) but try to hold off on buying more until after the baby comes. You never know how big you’ll grow. If you do buy ahead of time, don’t wash or remove the tags until you’re able to try them on and check the size! I’ve also read some places where underwire bras can cause blocked milk ducts so investigate that further if you prefer that style of bra.
- Always have a burp cloth when feeding. My little girl is a messy eater. While she nurses, she sometimes unlatches and milk dribbles down her cheek or chin onto me or my bra. This resulted in a wet spot on my bra that thankfully never came through on my shirt, but could have! I quickly learned to first fold down my nursing bra or top and tuck a burp cloth underneath before having my little one latch on. This helped to keep my bra and clothes underneath mess free!
- Breast pumps are free through your insurance. Yes, now through ObamaCare, you can get a free breast pump. Call your insurance company and find out what their policy is and where you can order your pump from, as they’re all different! Some make you wait until you have the baby to place the order and some need a doctor’s note. My insurance company directed me to two options of medical supply companies where I could choose from a few breast pump options. I ended up choosing the Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump, despite mixed reviews online. After struggling with it for a few months, with low suction issues and the fear that it wouldn’t work right when I went back to work, I eventually took advantage of a “breast pump trade in” event at Babies R Us, and upgraded my pump to the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump with On the Go Tote. For me, this is the best decision and worth the additional gift cards I used to get the pump.
For more information on other breastfeeding supplies I recommend and more tips about my freezer storage solution, check out this follow up post!
Tips on Changing Baby:
- Not all diapers are shaped/sized the same. Yes, while the package says “Size 1” on all brands, I felt they were still shaped or sized differently on my baby. For Derek’s work baby shower, someone gave him a pack of CVS size 1 diapers. I was skeptical about them at first due to the odd “sized to fit” stretchy band, but they were the best fit in the beginning transitional phase into that size! While we were not brand specific in our house, we also realized that she outgrew Huggies first and stayed in Pampers Swaddlers longest at each size.
- Use different diaper styles for different reasons. This is piggy back thought from my last point. There are some diapers that are made for longer stretches of time that are great for night when baby is (hopefully) sleeping in longer stretches. In our changing station in Brielle’s room, we have a basket which contains “day” diapers and “night” diapers in different spots. We weren’t brand specific, as even in the photo above we have both Pampers Swaddlers and Huggies Little Snugglers for day and Pampers Baby Dry and Huggies Snug and Dry in the night section. Maybe one will work better on your little ones, but using the right diaper style for the right situation will help to lessen those issues with blow outs.
- Use sleepsacks at night that unzip from the bottom up. At the hospital, we were given a HALO SleepSack Micro-Fleece Swaddle, Soft Pink, Newborn.Once she outgrew the newborn size (she got really tall really fast at first) I bought another one of these in the bigger size. These sleepsacks are great because they unzip from the bottom up (for easy nighttime diaper changes) and have the option to swaddle with their arms in or out. Arms in is preferred so they don’t wake themselves and to keep them warm, but at around 3 months, she started to want her warms out at some sessions at night. I loved these as a transitional sleep sack and we now use the regular ones for our 7 month old!
- Stick with onesies in the beginning weeks. People love to buy cute clothes for your little one. But you’ll soon learn that dressing them up for the sake of a cute photo or event isn’t always the best for your sanity for diaper changes. For the first few weeks, I preferred to keep her in a basic onesie during the day and an open nightgown style pjs at night. My mom fondly calls these pjs “baby in a bag” as it has an opening at the bottom that’s easy access for the common nighttime changes. Later we moved to different pjs that all had snaps or zippers on the bottom for the same concept. They have plenty of time to be dressed up in cute clothes when diaper changes are easier!
- If you have a multi level home, create a “changing station” on each level. We were lucky to have borrowed a co-sleeper from my aunt which we used on our main floor as a changing station in the first few weeks. You can also look into adding a diaper caddy to your registry which are used for the same purpose. For changes on the go, I bought additional portable changing pads which we kept in the trunk of each car.
- When applying diaper cream, less is more and wipe the excess cream onto the new diaper. The first time my husband applied diaper cream to her, he yelled “I need help” and I walked in to find his hands covered in white cream and no where to wipe them. He explained how much he squeezed out of the tube (too much) and then was confused on how to fix the situation while standing in front of a diaperless newborn. (Really regret not photographing that “new dad” moment.) Less is more with the amount of diaper cream you actually need, and once it’s applied, wipe that finger onto the inside of the clean diaper that’s going to be applied so you have a cleaner hand to help complete the changing experience.
- Keep a small bottle of dish soap in the closest bathroom to baby’s changing area. If your baby has any diaper blow outs (and trust me they will), you’ll want a solution to clean up their clothes if you aren’t ready to do laundry at that moment. I recommend scrubbing the clothes under cold water with a little bit of dish soap, then soak them in the sink for a little while. I was surprised at how many times this method worked and how we removed stains from pretty much all her soiled clothes with just some soaking.