Let me introduce you to my 3 brest friends: Pump, Pillow and Chair. I have found these 3 companions indispensable on my breastfeeding journey. Let me explain why:
Pump: My sis-in-law said the breastfeeding pump was essential. Now I understand why. Even if you are not working or planning to return to work, a good breastfeeding pump will help you establish your milk supply faster during those early weeks, enable you to quickly build up a store of frozen breast milk (very useful when you are sick, need a rest or when you just need to be out and about, as others can help to feed baby) and to maintain your breast milk supply when baby’s intake at the breast starts to diminish gradually with the introduction of solids.
Some simply hand express or use a manual hand pump. I have found that the electric breast pump worked best for me. What kind should you buy? Well, my sis-in-law used the same freestyle Medela pump (backpack style) for her 3 children without problems, and I have been using a freestyle Medela pump myself for almost 9 months without problems either. However, it’s true that this is on the pricier side, and other pumps on the market may work just as well. At the time, I really struggled to make a decision on which pump to invest in, but having read nearly all the reviews on Amazon for the Medela freestyle and Philips Avent electric pumps, I resigned myself to the fact that all pumps will come with some negative reviews. Some say that the Medela pump has too many parts to clean afterwards, but I haven’t found it difficult to clean the four parts that the pump breaks up into. But do be careful with the ‘membrane’ piece which is quite delicate and make sure the pump horn fits you well. In the end, you will just have to take the plunge and choose one.
Pillow: Absolutely necessary! After purchasing 2 different breastfeeding pillows (one was a standard poofy cresent shaped pillow that fit my waist in front), I have found one that works the best. It is called (surprise, surprise) ‘My Brest Friend’ (www.mybrestfriend.com). It comes with a back support piece, which I have found crucial in helping to improve my posture and reduce lower back strain during breastfeeding. It also has a little pocket and a keyring so that you can hook one or two toys to keep a bored baby entertained during breastfeeding. This pillow has been extremely useful during traveling as well, and also for a new breastfeeding position I invented myself (more on this in an upcoming post). Even now, almost 9 months later, I am still loving and using the pillow!
Chair: You will definitely need a comfy breastfeeding chair, preferably one that has a tall back to provide a headrest, as you will be spending LOTs of time in the chair. If you breastfeed, you could be spending anywhere from 20 minutes to 60 minutes per breastfeed session in the chair (from breastfeeding both sides). Imagine doing this a few times a day, so it is worth getting a chair you enjoy sitting in. A good breastfeeding chair doesn’t have to be expensive—we got ours at Ikea and it works great (see post on “Top 5 ‘Must-Haves’ in Your Baby’s Room” for more details). Use additional pillows as needed so that you can make the seat as comfortable as possible for you and baby!