This post is to talk about the various accoutrements needed for breastfeeding. Technically, you don't need anything. I started out with 2 nursing tank tops that my mom sent over from Target. But I've discovered there are a couple of things that do make nursing a LOT more pleasant.
I put a Boppy on our wish list, but no one got it for us. (Well, actually, someone bought us the extra slipcover I'd put on the list thinking it was the whole pillow...) I didn't purchase it right away because I'd heard mixed reviews as to it's usefulness. We've made a concerted effort not to buy into the consumerism surrounding babies. We don't want to waste money on items that are used a few times and then discarded as so many "must have" items inevitably are. So for the first few weeks I was using a couple of throw pillows to help position Linus. I quickly found that this wasn't working. My back was sore from hunching over. My wrists were inflamed from holding him up and supporting his head so often. So when a friend gave us an Amazon gift card, I decided to put it to use for a Boppy. I got the "naked" one since we already had a slip cover.
The first time I used the Boppy it was a whole new world. I didn't have to hold my body- or Linus'- in an awkward position. I could even nurse hands free! Hallelujah! I've nursed out in public without the aid of the Boppy since then, but every time we've been home I've used my new best friend. This was one purchase that I'd gladly make again. I've heard from friends who prefer the My Breast Friend pillow (citing it's superiority for the well-endowed), but I'm super happy with my choice.
The Glamourmom Nursing Bra Full Bust Long Top
I mentioned that my mom had sent me a pair of nursing tanks from Target. They work fine. They have a little shelf bra and the front flips down for easy access, but they are definitely more around-the-house/sleepwear appropriate. I knew they'd be fine for the early days and could tide me over until my milk came in and I'd settled to a more long-term size. I didn't want to guess the size on something as important as a nursing bra, given that proper fit it key for avoiding plugged ducts and mastitis.
As I started researching options for nursing bras and tanks, I was shocked at the lack of options available in the UK! There were shockingly few nursing bras available at brick and mortar stores and no nursing tanks. Imagine my surprise when I went into Mamas & Papas (a leading baby/maternity store) and was told that only some of their stores carry nursing bras and that even they are being phased out- nursing bras would only be available online soon. No wonder UK health workers lament the small number of women who breastfeed! The stores certainly don't make it easy. (Ok, I get that it's probably the other way around. I'm sure stores don't stock because there is low demand... ) I expected that I would have a hard time finding a nursing bra given my large cup size, but I was certainly surprised at the dearth of availability even for smaller cups sizes. In general the UK is much more friendly to the well-endowed with many brick and mortar stores carrying a wider range of sizes than their US counterparts, but when it comes to nursing bras that isn't the case.
I went to my local specialty bra store (Love Your Fit in Bury) about a month after giving birth. I wanted to get fitted for a nursing bra and figured that my breast size was pretty settled by that point. They have great service and an awesome selection of bras in all sizes- though they do have to order things in sometimes. One of the nice ladies measured me up (by eye, they don't use tape measures) and told me that I was a 34J. Wha-what? That sounds obscene. I knew my boobs were big, but holy-ma-loly! Sadly they only had one style of nursing bra available in that size and when I tried it on I knew it was a no-go. It was cut so high I don't think I would have been able to wear it with anything but turtlenecks! They were super nice and understanding about my not wanting to purchase and suggested that I try the internet.
I took to Facebook to lament the lack of options for nursing bras/tanks available in the UK- especially for larger breasted women. A few American friends chimed in with suggestions, but most of the options were not available in the UK. One friend suggested the GlamourMom Full Bust Nursing Top, saying it was amazing. I checked out the website and was thrilled to see that they had a link to a site for European customers. I ordered one top in black to try and see if it was a good fit for me. I corresponded with John from the company about the products. I was wondering if it was sold in stores in my area so I could try it on first. It wasn't, but John was so nice, friendly, and helpful! He even offered to get me rush shipping the next day.
Me in my GlamourMom tank top
This tank top is so awesome. It is like an industrial strength tank top. The built-in bra is a truly supportive, well-constructed bra- not just a flimsy shelf one. It's got a good amount of length that is flattering and comfortable to a post-partum body and nice ruching near the cleavage that makes it look like "real" clothing instead of glorified underwear. My favorite feature, however, is the way the cups are constructed. It has the standard drop down flaps in the front, but there is a secondary layer inside that features a cut out for your nipple. In the shelf-bra versions from Target that I have, when I flap down the front it's full exposure! It's basically just a whole boob out in the open. I'm not overly modest, but when your boob to baby's head ratio is like mine, the added coverage is a big help.
I only have one of these tops so far, but I'm itching for more. I find myself excited on days when I wear my GlamourMom top and saving it for days when I want to look nicer. I cannot recommend this top highly enough. They have other styles if you aren't so well endowed, but I can guarantee that this is one of the best solutions available for the well-endowed mama.*
*GlamourMom did not compensate me for singing their praises. I just REALLY dig them.
And that's pretty much it for me and breastfeeding gear. I'm low maintenance.
What about you?
Did you have lots of gear or keep is simple?
What were your favorite items?