My breastfeeding journey has certainly been a long and fulfilling one. I’ve been direct feeding Tristan for over 18 months and in the course of this time I have never left home without him. No doubt, this route has been a little more challenging than expected. Constantly moving around with a baby can be demanding, as it requires a lot of extra planning, especially when the nanny is unavailable and Carlos and I are left to make do with our every day situation. It is hard to believe that in this not-so-short amount of time, I have taken Tristan with me to shoots, events, work trips and vacations, and I have no plans of stopping just yet. My goal is for my son to self-wean, which honestly, I have mixed feelings about, as I am kind of excited for him to move on to solids and start on formula milk. But at the same time, I can’t bear the thought of my baby not feeding from me and us not having our quality time. I guess every mother feels this way about her baby, it’s like you can’t wait to see him grow up but you relish every second he needs you.
I remember the day I found out I was pregnant, I was overcome with so much joy, it was truly one of the happiest moments of my life. I couldn’t wait to be a mom and meet my baby. Of course, at the same time, I was riding out the horrible symptoms of the first trimester so I was constantly dizzy, nauseated and tired. Physically, I was miserable. But emotionally and spiritually, I was over the moon with happiness. One of the things I was worried about (apart from actually giving birth) was breastfeeding. I had heard stories from my friends that they would rather give birth 10x than continue nursing, or that it was so painful they would cry everyday–it scared the crap out of me. I had no clue what to expect, and so I attended breastfeeding workshops and birthing classes so I can know everything there is to know about it and hopefully, erase my growing fears. It worked. As I equipped myself with proper knowledge and surrounded myself with positive people, I became more excited and couldn’t wait to feed my baby.
Finally, the day came when after 12 hours of labor and pushing for an hour, Tristan was placed on my chest for the first time. It was amazing, because he knew exactly what to do–with his eyes opened, he inched closer to find my nipple and just started sucking. It was the most wonderful feeling in the world–I felt like I had super powers! This was the beginning of my breastfeeding journey, which has not been a walk in the park as I really endured and overcame all the struggles and challenges that came with it (maybe I can do another blog post about this). Thankfully, my milk supply has never been an issue (hmm, this is another topic on its own), and I can continue to nurse my little boy until he weans.
In case you didn’t know, breastfeeding gives the best nourishment for babies as it is rich in vitamins and minerals. It also imparts immunities that keeps your baby away from sickness, infection and allergies. Most importantly, it strengthens the emotional and physical bond between mother and child, which means everything to a mother. This post is about the essentials that helped me breastfeed Tristan with comfort and ease. These products helped me immensely, and in my opinion, every breastfeeding mom needs these to make her journey a happy one. Here are my top 10 breastfeeding essentials.
1.) Natalac. This malunggay capsule has played such an important part in my breastfeeding journey. I began taking it on my eighth month of pregnancy (I took 1 capsule 3x daily) and I continue to take it until today. The active component, malunggay (Moringa oleifera) is all-natural and organic and has been proven safe as it does not contain any toxic components. This has been used by generations of nursing mothers (especially those with inadequate lactation) usually by adding the leaves to soups like tinola or halaan. I love Natalac though as it comes in a capsule form and makes it so easy to consume malunggay leaves and it really helps boost my milk supply. I think it is a must for every new mom, as it not only increases milk supply significantly, it gives you the confidence to feed as you don’t need to worry if your milk is enough for your baby.
2.) Poncho Baby. This is one of my favorite nursing covers, and I love it because it was designed by a mom. It is made from 100% organic cotton muslin, which is incredibly soft, breathable and soothing. It comes in neutral colors that goes with any outfit and it is multifunctional–it can also be a stroller cover, a baby carrier cover, car seat canopy and more. The best part: when you purchase any one of their products, Poncho baby donates a portion of their sales proceeds to Baby2Baby, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing low-income children ages 0-12 with diapers, clothing, and all the basic necessities that every child deserves. This is available through Poncho Baby Philippines’ IG account: @ponchobabyph.
3.) Medela Swing Maxi Double Electric Breast Pump. This has been such a lifesaver, especially in the beginning of my breastfeeding journey as pumping milk also helped boost my milk supply. This one from Medela is small, portable and super easy to use (there are only four buttons). It has a double pumping 2-Phase Expression technology, which has shown to express on average 18 percent more milk. I love the convenience and size of it–I can bring it with it anywhere and be able to pump with ease. Oh, and since it is a double pump, all you need is to buy a bandeau to be able to pump two breasts at the same time and you can go hands-free. This is available at The Parenting Emporium.
4.) Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags. This is one of the strongest breastmilk storage bags on the market as it is designed with reinforced, double sealed side seams for extra protection. Each bag features a tamper-evident, fully sealed tear-away top for safety, as well as the patented double Click ‘n’ Secure seal to prevent leaks. A convenient pour spout at the top of the bag makes transferring milk from bag to bottle super easy. This is a must if you plan to store and save your breastmilk for future use.
5.) Medela Breastmilk Cooler Set. This is the perfect secondary container to transport breastmilk from work to home! It is compatible with Medela Breast Pumps and Bottles and provides extra breastmilk storage. I love how compact it is: everything fits perfectly in one bag, and it really keeps expressed milk cold and upright. Great for travel, work and mommas on the go. Also available at The Parenting Emporium.
6.) Tommie Tippie Closer to Nature Newborn Starter Set. This was given to me during my baby shower and proved to be one of the most useful gifts. This set comes with 4 bottles (two 9 oz and two 5 oz) with easy latch natural feed nipples for smooth transitioning between breast and bottle feedings. Tristan liked these bottles a whole lot, it was easy to shift from bottle to breast without any problems. There are two options for the nipples: slow flow and ultra slow flow for less air intake and less discomfort for baby. It includes pacifiers and a bottle & nipple brush, too! Oh, and it is BPA and phthalate free, which means it is super safe for babies.
7.) Medela Purelan 100 Pure Lanolin. This was recommended to me by Beng and Maricel of TPE and it made a world of difference when I began breastfeeding. New moms, you need this! The initial first weeks of nursing can be painful, and lanolin is pretty much the only safe thing you can apply on the affected area to soothe it (apart from your own breastmilk). What I love is that you don’t need to remove lanolin before nursing because it is hypoallergenic and safe for babies to ingest. Also, if you want to get your nipples ready for breastfeeding, start applying this one month before giving birth. It will moisturize the area and prevent cracked skin when you do start to feed.
8.) Elin Nursing Tops and Dresses. This is one of my favorite local maternity and nursing clothing brands because they are made so well, and they deliver right to your doorstep. I lived in Elin dresses during my pregnancy and I was able to use them after to feed Tristan as most of their designs have easy access for breastfeeding. Check out their site for comfortable maxi dresses and nursing tank tops and t-shirts!
9.) Kleen Kanteen Insulated Classic. Breastfeeding can make you super thirsty! You need to be constantly hydrated or else, your milk supply might drop. I had a hard time remembering to drink water, especially as I was just getting used to taking care of Tristan. What I found useful is having this insulated water bottle with me at all times (I got it in a bright color so I always see it) so I never forget to drink water. It has an electropolished interior that doesn’t retain or impart flavors and it has a double-wall vacuum-insulated construction that keeps contents hot for 30 hours and iced for 100 hours. Amazing! This is available at Certified Calm.
10.) Mamaway Second Skin Seamless Maternity & Nursing Bra. This is THE BEST nursing bra I’ve tried–I bought all the colors and use it every single day. It has wide shoulder straps that lie flat against your back and side panels and distributes weight more evenly, helping prevent back pain. It is made from ribbed fabric that stretches up to 3 cups, giving you proper structural support without the nasty underwire. Most importantly, feeding is super easy! It features drop-down clips for easy feeding and has flaps that can be opened and fasted with just one hand. Seriously, this is so important when feeding a hungry baby! To order, click on to their site: www.mamaway.com.ph.