My Breastfeeding Tool Kit

Breastfeeding is hard work, and it can come with a variety of challenges.  Monkey and I have had our share of struggles with breastfeeding, in part due to his prematurity.  It seems like every time we have it “down” he changes something and sends me back to the drawing board.  I am going to share with you some of the things I used as part of my “Breastfeeding Supplies Kit” that helped us become successful at breastfeeding and overcome the many challenges that we faced. The items that I have included in my Breastfeeding Supplies Kit made my life so much easier, and I hope they can help you too!

1 – Breastfeeding Pillow

Having support to get the baby in the right position is so important.  When they are tiny newborns they are like little jelly fish and are no help at all at staying where you want them to be.  Plus your arms will get tired of trying to hold them in one spot during nursing.  If you have a breastfeeding pillow you can rest the baby on it, freeing up your hands to hold the baby’s head or your breast if needed.  I used ours all of the time; I picked up a cover for it for easy washing.  Plus the pillow has many other uses as they get older – use it to rest the baby on for tummy time (they will appreciate not having their face in the floor), and it is also a great support when they are learning how to sit up.
breastfeeding pillow
Monkey hitting the bottle to hard in the NICU – 4 weeks old

2 – Getting reliable advice from healthcare professionals

When Monkey was still in the NICU we had the benefit of being able to see the lactation consultant a couple of times a week, which was such a blessing while trying to get him to latch properly (his mouth was just too tiny!).  Once we were home we went to see the lactation consultant at our local public health office (they have some helpful videos online too) and then to a Breastfeeding Clinic with is run by 2 doctors that specialize in breastfeeding in Brampton.  We went weekly for 6 weeks once we were home from the hospital and then every 2 weeks for a couple more follow up visits.  It was great to be able to see Monkey gaining weight and be able to ask questions and get reliable advice.  The support system was amazing as they wanted to work WITH YOU to succeed.  I would highly recommend finding out before you deliver what resources are available in your area and have them on hand in case you run into any challenges.
Some online resources include KellyMom and  the Newman Breastfeeding Clinic

 

3 – Mom-to-Mom support

As wonderful and helpful as advice was from the many healthcare professionals that we saw during the start of our breastfeeding journey, nothing could replace support from friends and family members who had also breastfed their little ones.  Being able to discuss challenges and triumphs is soothing for your soul, and talking to other adults is always a plus when you are at home with a baby!
Don’t know anyone who breastfeeds?  You can also find mom to mom support through your local Le Leche League – Monkey and I go once a month to meetings and it was been wonderful to meet other like-minded mommies and be able to ask them questions and hear their experiences.  Plus there are always yummy snacks  :o)
breastfeeding pillow
Monkey loved to nap on the breastfeeding pillow – 7 months old

 

 

4 – Breast Pump

My pump was my best friend during the first few weeks of Monkey’s life and without it, I would not have been able to breastfeed him.  Since he was born so early he didn’t know how to suck yet, babies learn that reflex around 34 weeks so he had to be fed though an NG tube.  So I pumped for him – every 3 hours during the day, and one 6 hour break at night, repeat.  I had picked up a manual pump before Monkey was born, but knew it would not be up to this sort of task.  So within a couple of hours of his birth I was sending my mom out to pick up a Medela Pump In Style Advanced – it is a double electric pump and is AMAZING.  I still use it on a daily basis to pump milk to freeze and to use to mix with Monkey food. Monkey would get a bottle a day from daddy until he was 6 months old which allowed them to have special bonding time.  Without my Medela PISA I would not have been able to give Monkey the benefits of breastmilk right from day 1 and then continue to ensure he is getting the best nutrition even when starting solids.

 

5 – Determination

This is the most important “tool” in the kit – if you don’t believe that you CAN breastfeed and you are not committed to it then it is likely that it won’t work out for long.  For me breastfeeding Monkey was VERY important to me.  I always thought I would breastfeed my babies, but when he was born early I was even more committed.  My body had failed at protecting him and letting him grow inside me for 8 more weeks, the least I could do is make sure that he got the best possible nutrition for his rocky start (I do know that Monkey being born early was not my fault, but mama guilt is a funny thing…)
To help me stay committed during the difficult times I used the Two Day rule – when things seemed impossible and I wanted to give up, I decided to keep going for 2 more days and then re-evaluate.  Each and every time after the 2 days whatever issue was had resolved/changed/improved giving me the strength to carry on.  This got me through so many difficulties including Monkey’s poor latch due to his tiny mouth, cracked nipples, thrush, nipple blanching and the list goes on…
If you are thinking of giving up on breastfeeding, keep at it for 2 more days (you CAN do it!) and seek help and support during that time.  Then after the 2 days see how things are going and make your decisions from there.  Making the choice breastfeed or not should not be undertaken in the “heat of the moment” while in pain/listening to a screaming baby/being sleep deprived in the middle of the night – give it 2 days and you might be surprised at what the outcome is. 

6 – Create a Boobie Box

If you have another child I highly recommend creating a Boobie Box – basically a box of activities that your older child can do independently while you are busy breastfeeding. This box will help keep your older child busy and leave you hands free to give your attention to your youngest.
Everyone’s breastfeeding experience is different and unique.  What tools did you use to help you succeed at breastfeeding?

2 thoughts on “My Breastfeeding Tool Kit”

  1. Breast feeding was always super important to me. When I got pregnant the first time I was 15 and still I knew I was going to breast feed my baby, it didn't take any thought I just knew that was the right thing for me. I had a mostly good pregnancy the first time around only having an issue at the end(I got that horrible PUP rash, lucky me) and when my daughter was born, only 3 weeks early so full term, I started breast feeding right away. i was so worried they'd give her formula I only let her go to the nursery when she absolutely had to. The lactation consultants were only a little help since they were busy and I feel like being only 16 they figured I wasn't serious about breast feeding anyway. A couple days later my daughter was readmitted for jaundice which broke my heart. I'd never heard of such a thing and thought it made me a bad mother. I got the shock of my life when staying with her in the pediatrics unit when some nurses tried to talk me out of breast feeding her! They literally asked me to just give her a bottle even after the doctor specifically said it was best for me to breast feed. My mom was thankfully with me and had a much clearer head and was able to push back when the nurses resisted my attempt to give my daughter the best. I waited and waited for it to get easier and go better and stop hurting, but it never did. At about 3 months I gave up breast feeding because my nipples hurt so bad. I really wish I hadn't though.

    My second pregnancy didn't go as smoothly. I knew from the beginning I was going to try breast feeding this baby too even after the last time didn't go as I had hoped. At just under 29 weeks I went into labor. they were able to stop it and gave me steroid injections(most painful shot ever!). Then I ended up having my water break at 32 weeks at which point they won't stop your labor and won't help it progress for 2 more weeks. they wanted to keep me there hooked up to an IV for 2 weeks. I ended up having her 13.5 hours after my water broke(identical labors oddly) which was a blessing because I was starting to have placental abruption and almost needed a transfusion(they had it all set up and ready to hook up even). Since I had the steroids my daughter came out crying and I got to hold her for a little bit before she went to the NICU but no one had told me she wouldn't be able to nurse at all. It broke my heart. My insurance thankfully payed for a Medela PIS and I began pumping. They had to supplement her with some formula at first but my milk supply got up and she was able to have only breast milk. But the pumping was a horrible painful experience. In the NICU they seemed a lot more aware of the benefit of nursing and helped me a lot more. She never did latch well but I kept trying to nurse her. After nursing for a half hour or so I'd give her a bottle of pumped milk and and then pump some more. Then the absolute worst point was when she went to one of her well child checks. She was still tiny and the doctor wanted her to be gaining a lot more and actually told me to quit breast feeding her and switch to special formula. I tried for about a day but the formula didn't agree with her at all. Her dad has dairy issues and if I had dairy while nursing the child would get the worst gas, so I went back to nursing. The system we were using didn't work well to keep my supply up though and they only medication to help I am allergic to so around 3 and a half months we stopped and she went to a dairy free formula. I wish I had been able to find more support but I didn't even know it was out there. We plan on having another child in the next two years and after reading your post and you being able to have success with a preemie I am definitely going to find more help and give it another go. I wish I had thought of the 2 day rule because I think it would have helped me a lot. Thank you so much for giving me hope for nursing my next baby, sorry for rambling so long, lol.

  2. @Ashley – thanks for sharing your experience (there was no rambling there :o)
    Breastfeeding can be so challenging and having preemies just adds another layer of complexity. When you do try next time, see if the 2 day rule helps out!

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