Baby's don't need any particular equipment when it comes to breastfeeding; your breasts are always "ready for use"! However, certain breastfeeding accessories can prove useful on a day-to-day basis in order to help you take care of your breasts and make sure breastfeeding provides the maximum benefits. Read on for more details.
A good bra for beautiful breasts!
Contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding does not necessarily have any detrimental effect on your breasts. A well-supported bosom will lose none of its appeal! It is, however, important that you invest (or indeed are offered as a gift!) two breastfeeding bras, also known as nursing bras (two so that you always have one spare), providing excellent support for your significantly enlarged breasts. Another advantage is that they are normally front-opening, which provides ease of access to your breasts without having to take off too many clothes each time you need to feed your baby.
Our advice for purchasing a nursing bra:
Size: if you buy your nursing bra before giving birth, wait until you are at least into your 8th month so that your breasts have had the chance to grow as much as possible.
If you decide to buy after the birth once your milk has come in (this applies in the first case also) follow the advice of a good sales person, who will be able to provide you with the right size, cup shape and chest size, so that your bra provides maximum support for your breasts, does not constrict your back or leave a mark on your skin.
Some models have no under wiring whereas other offer flexible under wiring. It's really your choice, the important thing, of course, is that you feel comfortable.
Opt for a cotton bra: it will be softer on your baby's skin and on your own, is hard-wearing and can be washed at high temperatures for maximum hygiene! Some very attractive and practical models also exist in synthetic fabrics, however. It's really up to you.
Look for wide straps, especially if your breasts are large and require particularly effective support.
Pay particular attention to how the cup opens; it must be very easy! When you need to feed your baby, you will need great dexterity to open it using only hand!
Buy one black and one white bra, which will look discreet under a white shirt and sexy under a black top.
You may end up wearing your nursing bra both day and night, particular at the beginning. Comfort is therefore of the utmost importance!
Nowadays, there are some very pretty, and even a little bit sexy, models on the market. Just because you're breastfeeding doesn't mean your bra has to be 100% plain and functional!
Also consider breastfeeding bustiers (with integrated bra) and crossover bras; super comfortable and fabulous under a slightly fitted top.
What other accessories might I need?
These soft round discs collect the surplus milk your breasts produce during the first few weeks. They are very useful for avoiding stains on your clothes appearing between feeds! Change them regularly to avoid your nipples being kept moist, which can lead to cracking. You have the choice between two types, depending on whether your use them up quickly or not: disposable and washable. Try to always have some on you, for peace of mind's sake!
These serve the same purpose as breast pads (to collect leaking milk between feeds), but are more rigid and thicker. They therefore stimulate your breasts constantly. If you already have plenty of milk, avoid wearing breast shells as they will only increase your milk production and lead to engorgement. Neither are they recommended if you suffer from cracked nipples, as you should aim to keep the affected area as dry as possible!
They offer two advantages: for women with hyper-sensitive nipples, they avoid direct contact between the nipple and bra or breast pad. Secondly, breast shells can be employed by women with poorly-formed or flat nipples to help nipple formation; in this case, they should be worn during the later stages of pregnancy. Ask your gynaecologist for advice.
Silicon nipple protectors
These artificial nipples, generally made from silicon, can help your baby, particularly if they are having difficulty latching on to your nipple naturally. You can also use them to protect your nipples if they are ultra-sensitive. Their use is, however, controversial. While they certainly relieve pain in the case of cracked nipples, if the baby becomes too accustomed to this "false nipple", they may not subsequently wish to breastfeed normally, with potential consequences for the quality of their suction ability (and therefore of their feeding). For occasional use only.
Breastfeeding can also equal style! No need to banish your favourite tops from your wardrobe (if they still fit your new, fuller bosom!) just because you are breastfeeding. Early on, when you are just looking for the most practical solution, specially designed T-shirts which open at the breast certainly have their advantages. Think about then moving on to shirts which unbutton (particular practical for breastfeeding in public without exposing your stomach). Generally speaking, choose comfortable clothes which are easy to wash and soft to the touch.
You can buy special soothing moisturising creams for sensitive breasts. Ask you pharmacist for advice. Your baby will not necessarily like the smell and taste of the cream, so don't forget to wipe your nipples with a moist cotton wool pad just before breastfeeding
Breastfeeding wipes clean your breasts gently and are useful if you are out and about with your baby. Otherwise, use water instead!
"I had been back at work for around a week after my maternity leave and I had started bottle feeding my baby, only breastfeeding in the mornings and evenings. The first task my boss assigned to me was to negotiate a big contract with the service provider. Before a team composed entirely of men, I launched confidently into a monologue, trying to get back into my role as a tough negotiator (on which my reputation was based). Suddenly, I felt my milk let down and I had a horrible image of a milk stain appearing on my shirt! Time for a quick break in the negotiation to change my breast pads! Fortuately , no-one noticed and, thanks to me, the negotiation was a success!" I still think how fortunate it was that I always had spare breast pads in my bag. Phew!"
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