“I use an Ameda Purely Yours with 25 millimeter flanges, but the white valves need to be replaced and it wouldn’t hurt to get a spare set of diaphragms as well.” If you haven’t clicked away from that mess of words already, and you are new to the world of breastpumps, you probably are wondering what on earth everything is! Since most people have had absolutely no reason to research breastpumps at any point in their lives before they had children, the lingo can be mysterious and confusing! Why are there tubes? What is a flange? Will I feel like a cow being milked? We will explore the basic parts of a breastpump below.
Maybe you’re currently breastfeeding, but need to go back to work. Maybe you’ve decided to be an exclusive pumper. Maybe you just want a backup stash of milk for a babysitter. Whatever the reason, you are in the market for a breastpump! Like many other baby-related items, you probably opened up Amazon.com in your browser and immediately felt overwhelmed by the number of brands and types of pumps available. What should you choose?
These are the cheapest pumps on the market, and it can be tempting for the budget-minded family to just grab one of these. After all, electric pumps can run $300 or more and a manual pump tends to be in the $30-$40 range! Manual pumps are also simple pumps—you have the pump itself which screws onto the top of a baby bottle, and that’s it! They are small enough to toss in your bag and you needn’t worry about keeping track of a dozen small pieces. This also makes them simple to clean.
However, manual pumps are powered by you. Most modern manual pumps require you to squeeze a handle, which draws out the milk. You may need to do this for ten or fifteen minutes, which can grow tiring very quickly. You may have health issues that do not allow you to physically do this. You can also only pump one breast at a time, which can be good if you just need to empty one side because baby has just nursed on the other, or it can be bad if you’re in a hurry and need to empty both sides quickly. Many mothers, however, like having a manual pump stored away as a backup. If their electric pump fails, it’s better to have a manual pump than no pump at all!
I’m religious. I was raised to be modest. I would get angry when my friends would jokingly pull up my sleeve to show off my shoulders. So you’d think I would be adamant about covering up when I nurse my babies. And I guess I used to be.
When I first started nursing, I had the fancy bras and about three blankets to make sure every angle of my body was covered. My husband would be on one side and the baby’s feet sticking out the other, if she kicked enough. This would mostly happen in church since I was a homemaker. So you can imagine me trying to listen to the service while worrying that I was exposing a sacred part of myself to the entire congregation. Those days are long passed.
Now, the people around me would be lucky if I covered up. Not because I believe that women should be allowed to be free. Not because it’s just a body part and people should get over it. It’s because I’m done. I’m done worrying over whether or not I can feed my kid. I’m done carrying three blankets, making sure I packed my wrap, causing a scene whenever I try to cover up. I’m tired of sweaty, red baby face and struggling to keep a cover on when they’re kicking and pulling at it because they’re uncomfortable. I quickly found that if I just slipped my shirt up or down and let the baby latch, no one would ever know. Whereas, if I put in all the effort to get the modesty brigade out, the baby wouldn’t get fed soon enough and would start freaking out and all eyes would be on me. And stay on me through my attempts to keep them under.
My first child is a very good brother. He likes to help by grabbing a clean diaper for me when I need them. He also likes to help me pick out his new sister’s clothes. As a new sibling, however, there is one thing that my sweet little one just can’t help me with. He can’t help me breastfeed his younger sister. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t tried. Here are a few things I have my toddler do while I am breastfeeding that don’t break that helpful spirit, but keep him out of my hair.
Stuffed Animal Feeding Time
There are several ways this idea can work. The first is to tell your toddler that it’s time for everyone to eat. Explain the mechanics of how mommies feed their babies. It doesn’t need to be a whole biology lesson, but enough information to know what you are doing. Have mommy and baby stuffed animals and as you feed you baby let your toddler help the mommy stuffed animal feed the baby stuffed animal. The other way I have seen toddlers use this skill is to “breastfeed” the stuffed animal themselves. This is okay even with little boys. Eventually they will grow up to be fathers and should have some opinion on how their child gets nutrients.
While I was in the hospital after having my child I received a great deal of advice. I was taught how to swaddle. I learned that most germs enter through a newborns mouth, nose, and eyes and to avoid letting that happen. Most of all I was taught how to breastfeed.
Not All Breasts Are Ideal For Breastfeeding
Not even the two on my own body are created equal. One has a regular nipple that is ideal for latching on. The other side is flat and a little inverted. As a result my baby prefers one side of me much more than the other side when it comes to nursing. In the situation I was told to offer the side my baby disliked first, while my little one was very hungry and thus not as picky. If that didn’t work (after a good half hour try) then I should nurse her on the other side and pump the side she didn’t eat from. This wasn’t to be an everyday happening, but would help me be more comfortable. The other piece of advice I got on this topic was to pinch my nipple until it stood out a little more and was (hopefully) easier to latch on to.
Don’t Let The Baby Win
This was the most direct piece of information given to me by one of my nurses. Don’t let the baby win. He proceeded to let me know that breastfeeding is the natural way of feeding my child as well as the best way. That doesn’t mean that my child is going to like it. Nursing isn’t something our little ones are born knowing how to do. Like mommy, they must learn to nurse and sometimes it can be rough. Don’t give up and don’t just give your child the easy bottle when you get discouraged.
Many years ago, breastfeeding was on its way “out.” Advances in the nutrition and development of commercial formulas meant that children who needed to be on formula, whatever the reason may be, were able to thrive on good nutrition. However, with these scientific breakthroughs, and due to an enormous number of factors that I won’t do into in depth here, the general American public came to see formula as “better” than breastmilk, and women who chose to breastfeed were seen as weird, perhaps even “backwards.”
If you nurse, it will probably happen to you: You’re out and about and you THOUGHT your baby was fine, but…uh oh, he or she is doing that telltale “Eh, eh, eh” cry. Baby is hungry, you don’t have a bottle, and there are a thousand people around you! But how will they react to you stepping aside for a moment to feed your impatient child? If you’re like me, every horror story you’ve ever heard on the internet will come roaring back to you and you will grit your teeth until you have a headache and declare that staying at home until your child is weaned is the best course of action.
Nursing in public isn’t too bad once you get used to it. At a restaurant you can curl up all cozy in a booth, at a park you can sit on a bench, using jackets to cover yourself and baby if you want. In many states, nursing in public is even protected by law.
Traveling, however, can be an entirely different beast. Every few months another story makes its rounds on the news about a mother getting kicked off of a train or airplane by stern employees who insist that nursing on a plane isn’t allowed, and then if you make the horrific mistake of reading the comments on those news stories you’ll see dozens of people saying ignorant things like, “Well she should have just pumped a bottle before she got on the 10 hour flight, why did she need to nurse on the plane?” It’s enough to make anyone want to second-guess nursing while traveling, but you will probably travel at some point while you nurse a child, and your body will not stop making milk just because you hopped on a bus with sixty other people.
Skin to skin contact with your new little family member is a beautiful way to start out your relationship with him or her. It not only helps to build a better bond with your child, but comes with a whole bundle of other benefits that help your child both emotionally and physically.
What Is Kangaroo Care?
The most basic explanation for kangaroo care is skin to skin contact with your little one. In the first couple hours after delivery it’s important to lay your new little one on your bare skin, letting them feel your warmth and hear or feel your heartbeat. It’s said this this helps form the family bond that both you and you child need. Best of all it isn’t something that only works with mommy. Daddies can bond with their newborns by using skin to skin contact as well. According to my spouse, it helped him feel more connected to our first child. He also felt more included in the care process rather than left out because he wasn’t mommy.
Breastfeeding is one of the experiences that dads don’t have, but they are still a part of the breastfeeding team. Breastfeeding can be difficult, and though it’s natural, sometimes it feels like a mom just can’t do it right. She is going to need her partner more than ever to help her get through the difficulties and discomfort that comes with breastfeeding a new baby.
Feeding Times Are Crazy
Aside from the soreness of breastfeeding and childbirth, new moms sleep less. New dads do as well, but moms need to be up every two hours to feed the new family addition. That doesn’t include the time she will spend awake worrying about every little hiccup your new little one will make.
Dads, we know that you work and come home tired, and that the new baby is going to wake you up as well. It doesn’t take much to help your new mom around the house. Try doing one chore per evening that she would normally do. Make sure she gets the rest she needs as well as plenty of fluids.
I really hate bra shopping.
Actually, I hate clothes shopping in general. A size large in one brand fits like a medium in another brand and I won’t even talk about what gigantic size I am in junior’s department clothing. Mostly, it’s a huge pain and bra shopping is even worse. Some bras have underwire, some are cut high, some low, some stretch and some don’t, sometimes you want a mix of casual and fancy bras for different occasions and sometimes even if you get measured for your correct size, some brands will just fit weird on you.
And then you get pregnant.
Your hormones don’t care whether you’ve decided to breastfeed or formula feed. Your pregnant body simply starts producing hormones which tell your stomach to start aching, your nose to suddenly hate the smell of orange juice and pork, and your breasts to start preparing for nursing a baby. It doesn’t matter that it will be about three-quarters of a year before you actually have a baby in your arms to nurse, your body just hops on that preparation ASAP. Thus, even if you have decided to formula feed your child, you will likely need to shop around for new bras at some point during your pregnancy.