I thought I would show you some of the products I have been preparing for the arrival of my second baby in just a few weeks time. I am starting off with feeding related products, by this I obviously mean feeding for young babies on a purely milk diet, weaning is a whole different ballgame, one which I thoroughly enjoyed with my son so you can expect a post on that as well.
I have options here for Breast and bottle feeding, I am not going to go in to the which is best debate, as a pregnant woman you get enough information and pressure on this point from health professionals and I think it is a deeply personal decision. I mix fed my son, it worked for us and helped me to have a small break when I was incredibly poorly after his birth. This time around I am going in to the situation with a completely open mind and prepared for every eventuality. I do feel it is important for me personally to breastfeed for as long as we are both happy, especially in the early days when babies eat little and often and making up and sterilising bottles seems like such a hassle, but I don't have a set goal in mind for how long I intend to do it. So here are some of things that I think are helpful for those early days and nights of two hourly feeds and sleepless nights:
A good water bottle: Regardless of whether you are breast of bottle feeding, it is essential to rehydrate your body after labour, which can be as strenuous as a marathon. If you are breastfeeding you will feel incredibly thirsty and drinking plenty is essential to helping your supply, you will be sat for hours daily feeding so get someone to top up your drink regularly. I love my BKR bottle in the deep purple colour Lolita, after much debate I purchased it from Naturisimo and I use it all the time. It is glass with a silicone sleeve, so much healthier for you than plastic and less likely to drip and spill compared to some of the other glass bottles I own.
Breast pads: If you are breast or mixed feeding it is highly likely you will leak, especially in the early days. I used to leak horribly when baby cried, not just my own either, my downstairs neighbour had a baby at the same time and I often thought it was my own crying he was so loud. I have a few boxes of nice Organic cotton disposable breast pads from Organyc, they kindly sent me some of their baby range to try but I have also bought another couple of boxes of these as I know I will need them. Unlike other brands they are not individually wrapped so they save on all those fiddly bits of plastic going to landfill and organic cotton is much better for the environment, they also seem on first impressions softer than others I have tried. I also purchased some bamboo reusable pads from Mama designs which feel incredibly soft, I am hoping they will be absorbent enough to use when my supply settles down. I won't be using anything reusable until baby is a few weeks old and I am more able to help with the washing, poor Mr Green will have enough on his plate, but after that they are a much better option environmentally.
Balms and oils: Although you could argue these aren't strictly essential I found these really helped keep me comfortable during the early days of feeding when you can get very sore. The Weleda nursing oil is an all natural oil, perfect for breast massage to avoid blocked ducts and to encourage a quicker let down if baby is impatient. It is also worth considering that your breasts will be doing an awful lot of work and they will deserve some pampering. A good multi-purpose balm is brilliant for using on baby and for you, the Organic babies Mum and Baby rescue balm from Green People is 91% organic and totally safe for use when feeding. It is full of soothing plant oils and is lanolin free, although I personally find lanolin a useful ingredient I know many people prefer not to use it, so this is perfect.
Comfortable clothing: I cannot stress enough the difference comfortable clothes make in the early days of trying to breastfeed, you don't need to buy lot's of breastfeeding tops and outfits, but a couple of outfits that you feel comfortable in and have easy access can make all the difference, especially when you are learning a new skill. You will need a few breastfeeding bra's, I disliked the ones I bought last time, so this time I have only bought a couple to start with and try out. I bought two fairly inexpensive seamless bra's perfect for night time, which are in my hospital bag but they aren't the best for daytime. Bravado were kind enough to send me their Body Silk seamless nursing bra to try and I am looking forward to putting it to the test. It feels really lovely and comfy and has removable soft cups which add some extra support.
Healthier bottles: If you are planning to bottle feed full time you will need a few bottles and a sterilising system. I think an electric steriliser is the quickest and easiest option, but not something I feel I need unless I am going to switch to full time bottle feeding, so I just have some sterilising tablets for now. Something that concerns me about plastic bottles is that some of the chemicals within the bottles such as BPA have been found to leach in to the milk through repeated heating. To be safe I have purchased a couple of Mam glass bottles to introduce a bottle of expressed breast milk after the first few weeks. These come in lovely designs and should wash well unlike plastic which can get a little cloudy. If you are going to use bottles I urge you to research what they are made from before purchasing.
Another product which is nice to have if breastfeeding is a breast pump. For my first I had a Medela electric pump, which sadly has gotten lost in the depths of my loft. I am currently researching different options to see which one will be best for me to use this time but there is so much choice it is slightly baffling. Last but not least make sure you have some good box sets and books to read to keep you entertained for those very long cluster feeds, take a deep breath and know that even though those early days are hard, it does get so much easier, I promise.