Saturday, 23 January 2016

My Breastfeeding Essentials + Encouraging Breastfeeding

I have been breastfeeding for 6 months now, with ups and downs and formula top-ups, but we're still nursing and that's the most important part. My next goal is 8 months, but ideally I would love to breastfeed Mia for at least a year. Today, I am sharing my breastfeeding essentials with you. Whether you're breastfeeding exclusively, expressing or combination feeding, I hope you find it useful.

Ok, let's start with the fact, that all you really need to breastfeed is your breasts and your baby. That's it. If you don't have any problems and think that any breastfeeding products are unnecessary, you are one lucky lady :) haha. Most mums do need a couple of things to make this amazing journey a little bit more comfortable though.

1. Muslin cloths  and baby wipes (Waterwipes if possible) - great for cleaning up dribble, milk and after your baby's been sick - this could be a tiny bit, or a full blown projectile vomit. Ah, the joys of being a mum, eh?

2. A nursing cover up - I adore the Mamascarf*, but you can use anything really. Even a muslin cloth will do. I will be reviewing the Mamascarf on Monday, so keep your eyes peeled.

3. Nursing bras - I adore Bravado and Hotmilk bras. You can read more about the Bravado ones here. I have 5 nursing bras in total and I still feel like I need more, so stock up on these.

4. Same goes for nursing wear (day and night) - from nursing nightdresses, to nursing tops and cardigans - they will simply make breastfeeding more comfortable. Yes, I still do the 'pull your t-shirt down' manoeuvre a lot, but when I am out, I like to wear proper nursing wear or normal, but nursing friendly clothes. I would highly recommend the Frugi Breastfeeding Cardigan* and the byStroom Naomi Tunic*. Both are very versatile and can be worn on top of other things.

5. Breast pads - essential in the first few weeks, or when you're away from your baby. Even when I think that I am over the leaking stage, I go to the shop, see a baby or think about Mia and I end up soaked :) haha. Seriously, it's fascinating. I also tend to leak from the opposite boob, when I am feeding Mia. Almost every time. Plenty of brands to choose from, you can even get reusable ones, like the Bamboo Nursing Pads by Mama Designs.

6. Lanolin - to soothe cracked and sore nipples. I had terribly cracked nipples while breastfeeding Zachary, as he had a poor latch in the first few weeks, but with Mia, I very rarely need any lanolin, as she latches on like a pro. Either way, it's good to have a tube of lanolin available. 100% natural and safe for your baby, unlike standard nipple creams with loads of nasties!

6. Nursing pillow - a must have in my opinion. I love the La Millou Grandma Dana's Hen Pillows and bought 2, but there are plenty of other ones available on the market. I would recommend La Millou though, because they are hypoallergenic, super soft and easy to clean.

7. Lactation Cookies - obviously, a good diet and hydration is a priority while breastfeeding, but you can also boost your milk production with various supplements etc. I gave the Boobix Lactation Cookies* a go and they helped me maintain my supply when Mia was fussy. Great to have in your handbag, when you're on the go or as a nutritious snack with a cuppa. I am obsessed with these! So good! I tried the Date & Ginger and Chocolate Chip & Oat flavours and both are delicious. The ginger and date ones stayed nice and moist for a bit longer, while the Chcolate Chip & Oat dried up a bit quicker. Each pack contains 10x50g cookies and they are a decent size and very filling. The milk magic is all due to the lactation boosting ingredients: oats, flaxseed, brewer's yeast and fenugreek. They are now cheaper too, retailing at £10.50 per pack. I might have to stock up on some more.

8. I also take a Fenugreek supplement and drink a Tea For Nursing Mother's to maintain my supply. Not sure how well they work, but I think they help. Some don't believe in this kind of thing, but I will do anything to maintain my supply for as long as I can.

9. Breastpump - I had to express, as Mia was in neonatal for almost 2 weeks and I couldn't breastfeed her at all during that time :( It really affected my milk supply, but I managed to continue breastfeeding regardless. I also express to maintain my supply when Mia's fussy. I have been using the Medela Harmony manual pump* and the Medela Swing Double Electric Breastpump* and I really like both. 

10. If you are expressing (there are many reasons why you might choose or simply have to express), you will also need bottles, sterilising equipment, teats, storage bags etc. You can read all about these and the two breast pumps I use in my previous post here.

11. Nipple shields - I almost forgot about these, as I didn't need any with Mia (such a good latch!), but I used them during every single feed with Zachary for a good 3 months, until he figured out how to latch on in every position. My nipples were cracked and bleeding, so I needed protection, but these also improve latch and help to shape inverted and flat nipples. Yep, even mums with inverted nipples can breastfeed. Nipple shields are an amazing invention! I used many different brands - Tommee Tippee, Medela and Avent and all are great.

I am not gonna lie, I've had some major struggles with breastfeeding both of my children and I could have gave up, but I did it for as long as I could. Why? Because we all know that breast is best. Saying that, I fully support the 'fed is best' movement, as it is obvious that baby has to be fed and that is the most important part, but... I am all about promoting breastfeeding and I hope more and more mums will at least try it and if they struggle, they can get A LOT of support from their midwife etc. You are not alone!

Let's start here: I struggle to understand, why some mums don't even consider breastfeeding. I would really love to know why, without anyone getting defensive etc. I am just curious. To me it has always been a no brainer that BF is the first option and then if there are any struggles or if BF is not possible, you start with formula top-ups or exclusive bottle feeding. Obviously, if you can't breastfeed for medical reasons etc, it's a totally different story and I know that from my own experience, because I will never have enough milk to breastfeed exclusively due to not having enough glandular tissue in my breasts. Hence why I am topping up with formula. We chose Aptamil, as that's the brand I used for Zachary's top-ups too.

All I can say is - please, please, please at least try and give it 2-3 weeks, before quitting. The first two weeks are usually the hardest, but not necessarily. For all you know, it could be smooth sailing! It's the most amazing thing you can do for your baby, it gets easier as times goes on, it is the most convenient way of feeding, an incredible bonding experience and something money can't buy. And let's just ignore the 'I couldn't be bothered or f*** that' comments in regards to breastfeeding. (Both real life answers I overheard, while I was in the hospital!) Ignorant and sick attitude! It actually hurts mums who really wanted to breastfeed, but couldn't, or battled for months, but their milk dried up etc. In most cases I know personally, breast wasn't even an option, because the full family on the mother's side bottle fed the previous and current generation and breast was considered 'a hassle' or just a weird thing to do, something they aren't familiar with. That's why the #normalisebreastfeeding hashtag is sooo, sooo important. If it makes one more mum give breastfeeding a go, I am happy! 

I know that promoting breastfeeding can cause major upset amongst some women, but I am no longer scared to have an opinion and talk about. There is nothing wrong with talking about the benefits of breastfeeding! Longs you are not bashing anyone of course. UK needs boobie talk more than ever. Let's celebrate it and promote it as much as we can! Being able to breastfeed is an experience some mums are robbed of due to health issues etc, so why not give it a chance?

I also want to add, that I wish there was more help with combination feeding

If there is anything I would do differently with the next baby, I think I would maybe consider to look for a local mum who could donate some breastmilk for top-ups. There are plenty of supermums who do it for those who struggle with their supply, but I only found out about it recently. Amazing!

Happy breastfeeding ladies! 

And, if you're struggling, there is always help:

*PR samples



  1. Wow that last image is so powerful in so many ways isn't it? x

  2. Well done for getting this far in your bf journey, I'm sure you will reach your goal :) Never seen those type of chicken pillows before, they are very cute!

  3. It's so nice to read a post about breastfeeding; I follow a few parenting/mummy blogs and haven't seen too much about it. I'm hoping to breastfeed so it's always great to read posts like these as I need as much information as possible!

    Definitely putting a few of these on my list! Fingers crossed you reach your 8 month bf goal :)

    Rachael | Fizzpoppers 

  4. Amazing post! I am due in APril and I want more than anything to breast feed! I don't understand those who don't consider it as an option either. I guess it depends on a number of things, especially their upbringing and what their mothers have told them. I agree though, it's the best option ,if you have it and you are able to breast feed, then you absolutely should. If I can't I have also started to research a milk donation option where other mothers donate their milk to those who can't breast feed. THank you for the post!

    Tahana <3

  5. I definitely agree with absolutely everything you say! I'm one of the lucky ones who breastfeeding came easily to, the only thing I struggled with was always being the one up every 1-2 hours for the first couple of weeks whilst my partner snoozed away next to me!

    I actually have an oversupply and fast letdown (Ada is forever coughing and choking on my milk in the first few minutes) so as soon as I get a pump I'm going to look into donating my milk.

    Catherine | Lady Liquor


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