This round of the Motherwear Blog Breastfeeding Carnival asks for Product Reviews, so I wanted to share some of my favorite "basics" from when I was breastfeeding, along with some "bling," stuff that is nice to have but (in my opinion) not entirely necessary.
For me, the basics, the absolute must-haves, came down to a nice nursing pillow and a good breastfeeding bra . Some folks prefer other brands of nursing pillows, but I found that my Boppy was exactly what I needed. Especially when my babies were small, I brought my Boppy everywhere. Here I am nursing my 2 month old daughter at my son's 2 year old birthday party.
A good nursing top is nice, especially if you tend to be on the shy side or plan to nurse right in the middle of a toddler's birthday party like in this photo. Personally, I'd put dedicated nursing wear more in the "bling" category, instead of being a necessity. (Then again, that might just be me -- keep in mind that I worked for a time as an artists' model, so modesty isn't exactly my highest concern.) Of course Motherwear is a great source for that sort of thing.
I purchased about a dozen nursing tops and camisoles, and it was especially nice to have them to wear for more "special" occasions when I knew I'd be nursing in public around lots of people. The shelf-bra nursing camisoles and tanks are nice, too, because they can turn any shirt into a nursing top by providing an underlayer to cover up mommy's postpartum belly and to keep too much boob from showing.
But I found that the shelf-bra tanks just didn't give enough support to wear them very often -- which brings me to my second breastfeeding basic. It really is worth it to invest in a good nursing bra! When my son was born, I convinced myself that I didn't need to spend $50 on a breastfeeding bra, but I also didn't like the idea of purchasing a bra in the mail without being able to try it on first. (Sorry, Motherwear!) Not knowing of any other resource at that time, I headed out to Motherhood Maternity at the mall.
The fitting "expert" at the store was anything but -- bless her heart, she couldn't have been more than 20 years old, didn't seem comfortable with the physical contact involved in measuring another woman's bustline, and her "expertise" consisted of calling into the fitting room, "Oh, that doesn't feel comfortable? Hmmm. I guess you could try something bigger.... That doesn't work either? Maybe something smaller..." Finally she wandered off to "help" another customer, and I was left to my own devices, scouring the racks for a 38D bra that might do. I ended up with two bras that were okay, but not great, and it was a source of nagging disappointment throughout the 14 months spent nursing my son.
When my daughter was born, it was clear that my 38 G bust (!!!)wasn't going to work out so well in the very tired bras left over from breastfeeding my son. So I decided to go to the real experts: Maternal Connections, the breastfeeding store at El Camino Hospital. (One of the many benefits of joining a mommy's group was hearing about resources like these.) The women there were amazing. Of course BB wanted to nurse as soon as I arrived, and the clerk patiently waited while we finished, chatting with me about my breastfeeding experience. She showed not a hint of discomfort when she measured me, and very casually helped me assess the fit of the bras that I tried on.
Thanks to her help, I ended up with two very supportive bras: the Anita Beautiful Mum and the Bravado "Supreme Nursing Bra." I remember when she handed me the Anita, the clerk said with a grin, "And this one even has lace on it!" (Someone could make a mint designing gorgeous, supportive bras for larger sizes!) Granted, the Bravado wasn't exactly sexy, but it was incredibly comfortable. And every time I unhooked to nurse my daughter, I was glad to have gone the extra bit in getting good nursing bras.
Another piece of breastfeeding "bling" is actually a very useful tool: a nursing reminder, something to help a tired mom keep track of nursing sessions. Often this is a bracelet, and there are many, many variations on this theme, from the very elaborate (tracking time and everything) to the very simple (a friend of mine used a safety pin fastened to her bra strap). In those first weeks of nursing my son, I used a hair elastic worn on my wrist, simply switching it from side to side as needed. Soon thereafter, I started developing my Baby Friendly Beads breastfeeding jewelry, and the reminder bracelet was the very first design I perfected. The clasp-free design makes it very easy to switch from wrist to wrist, so that mom can keep track of which breast to start with for the next feeding.
Thanks for reading! For more great product reviews, please be sure to visit the other participants in the carnival. (To be updated as folks publish their posts.)
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Breastfeeding and Pumping CDs
Breastfeeding Mums: The Food of Love
Babyfingers: Bravado Essential Nursing Tank
Half Pint Pixie: Gorgeous nursing bras - they do exist!
Mama Knows Breast: Utterly Yours pillow
Blacktating: More Milk Plus tincture
Mama's Magic: Breastfeeding basics (and bling)