Breastfeeding can seem so foreign to new moms. Does the milk build up during pregnancy? How long is a woman "supposed" to breastfeed? What happens if a baby doesn't latch? What seems like a very simple concept isn't as easy as some new moms think. In fact, there's way more information on this subject than one would think. Once a baby learns how to latch and a woman's milk comes in, that's when it's time for the life hacks. At that point, the more help, the better.
If a woman plans on breastfeeding over using formula, she needs to be prepared to be open 24/7 for that little muncher. That baby is growing and it needs nutrients. Feeding a baby, however, isn't like how it seems in those Pinterest photos. A woman's chest gets sore, the area gets scabbed, not to mention how tiring it is lugging around a baby who wants nothing more than to eat! And this isn't just a breakfast, lunch, and dinner situation. Babies don't understand that concept. When they're hungry, they don't care what time of day it is; they want milk now. Knowing this much, small hacks to help a woman's memory and sense of peace is crucial.
*Cue these 23 life hacks to make a breastfeeding momma's life easier!*
23 Old Soda Box
"Trying to keep track of those precious bags of frozen milk can be enough to drive anyone nuts, never mind a sleep-deprived new mom! Restore order to your freezer with this ingenious empty soda box system, which allows you to separate older from newer bags (and easily see which is which!)." CafeMom
22 Breastfeeding Reminders
If you've never breastfed before then you wouldn't know that you may forget which side you last used while feeding. When you're a child's 24/7 kitchen, you get so tired that there are times you're not sure if you fed from the left or right side. Luckily, there are mommas out there who found these amazing clips that go on your bra called Mammary Minders. These little clips attach to the garment easily and are a colorful reminder as to what side you used last and which you need to use next. Plus they come in different designs which is kind of cute. They're also super cheap and can be found on sites like Etsy, so grab a few!
21 Two Shirts
Sadly, some breastfeeding shirts can get pricey. They're typically made in a comfortable, accessible fashion so that moms can breastfeed easily while being fashionable. Moms, however, don't need to spend an arm and a leg just to breastfeed easily. According to Mommy's Bundle, some moms do the "two shirt method": "Try the two-shirt method so you literally just have to lift one shirt up to feed baby. Since you have that second shirt underneath, no more exposing your whole tummy. This also helps a nursing mother feel more comfortable when she has the top shirt covering the top portion [...]."
20 Milk Savers
Attention new moms: milk savers are a thing! Even if you aren't breastfeeding yet, most women are warned that they may leak. Sometimes a woman's chest is so engorged that the milk comes out without your consent. Since leaking from your chest in public is enough to ruin any mother's day, there's an invention called Milk Savers.
These can be found on Amazon, and work by connecting the plastic holder to your chest so it can collect the loose milk.
A mother can then use that to feed her baby so that there's no waste! Now that's a genius idea.
19 A Unique Pacifier
Mothers these days are extremely lucky to have the resources and tools they have today. When the three-to-four month marker comes rolling around, and your baby is beginning to teeth, you know they're going to be fussy.
While it's suggested they teeth on rings or suck on binkies, there are now pacifiers that are two-in-one.
These pacifiers come with a little cap where moms can put some breast milk in, freeze it, and then give to their little one. Babies can then suck on these binkies to help with teething, while also getting nutrients from their mother's milk! This will make any fussy baby happy.
18 It's All In The App
I think it goes without saying that we live in a very tech-friendly world. Most pregnant women download apps to help them stay focused on their pregnancy. They'll be given reminders about drinking water, nutritional tips, what size the baby currently is... It's all so helpful. Just how a pregnant mom has a baby tracker, new mommas should also download a breastfeeding app. These apps can keep track of how long a baby ate for, which side they got milk from last, and how long ago they ate. These apps can also give new moms tricks for more milk supply or fun facts about the body.
17 Nursing Tanks
For any mom who doesn't know, nursing tanks are pretty phenomenal. They're essentially comfortable tanks and tops with easy openings. The whole point of these shirts is to make it comfortable for the mom and easy for the baby. Breastfeeding tanks and bras, however, are pretty great because most come with clips where you can just clip and un-clip when you're done. You don't need to take off your bra or lift up one side just so your baby can eat. Designers these days really listen to moms and try to make these tops as flawless as possible.
If you don't have the resources to buy all these breastfeeding tops, most moms have been creating their own by cutting and re-attaching the straps with a simple clip.
One of the oddest things that new moms hear is to use cabbage leaves when your chest hurts. But it's true! A Very Well Family insists that cabbage leaves can help moms with "[aching] and discomfort" from an engorged chest, an oversupply of milk, and weaning. Who knew that a simple vegetable can do so much for a woman's chest!?
"studies show that if you're breastfeeding and you put the refrigerated leaves of a cabbage plant directly on [the area], it's not only soothing, but it can also help lessen your [...]pain and swelling."
It's common knowledge that our bodies are made up of 60% water. Even if a woman isn't breastfeeding, it's imperative she drinks water for her natural health and to, you know, survive... When a woman is breastfeeding, however, the urge to drink water is even greater.
A Very Well Family notes that our breastmilk is 90% water.
Keeping ourselves hydrated is also amazing for increasing consistent milk supply. In case you're one of those gals who forget to drink water easily, some moms have taken to buying water bottles that literally say when to drink. You can even save yourself the money and make one yourself.
14 Hair Bands
Just in case you don't want to buy Mammary Minders, you can try this nifty hair tie trick. "When you are feeding baby at night and switching from one [side] to the other, it’s easy to forget which[side] you last fed from. Wearing a hair band on the [side] you are feeding from helps to remind an exhausted new mom what side she should start feeding from for her next session." Hair ties might be easier for moms to use since most women have them on their wrists anyway. Switching the tie from one wrist to the other is easier than cake.
13 Double Vested
Remember how I said some women are making their own breastfeeding tanks? Well, there's another hack one mom told BabyCenter: "I discovered that a vest worn underneath a top can do the exact same thing a breastfeeding-specific top does," she said. "You can lift up your shirt and then pull the top of the vest down to get easy access while still keeping your tummy covered." I'm sure many moms might find this frumpy or uncomfortable, but if you have a winter baby, this might not be a bad idea. Think about how chilly it can get — wearing a warm vest while breastfeeding will keep both you and the baby warm.
12 Nursing Necklaces
Nursing necklaces are a mom's best friend. My best friend has a 5-month-old who loves to pull her hair when feeding or being held. The same can be said when she wears jewelry (which most moms will eventually find out is a no-no).
Instead of having the baby focus on grabbing your hair or nice jewelry for support, wear a nursing necklace instead.
These necklaces are made sturdy, so a baby can pull and pull and it won't break. These necklaces are so popular that they come in an array of colors, designs, and textures — so even the most caring mom can still be stylish.
Apparently, it's not just water that can stimulate milk — it's different food sources, too. As many people know, well-balanced meals consists of fruits, veggies, and whole foods. Those kinds of foods are also good for breastmilk. Instead of a mom force feeding broccoli or kale to herself, she can make a "lactation boost smoothie." Thanks to Cafe Mom we know that "Smoothies packed with ingredients like fresh fruit, brewer's yeast, and almond milk are one of the easiest ways to deliver all the good stuff your body needs." Especially for milk production. So dust off that blender, ladies!
10 Ice Cube Trays
Refrigerating and freezing breastmilk can take up a lot of room in the fridge, right? This is why some crafty moms started putting their breastmilk in ice cube trays, freezing them, and then popping the cubes into freezer-safe bags when they need them! As noted on BabyGaga, "Once the milk is frozen, transfer the milk into a regular freezer bag. Those [breastmilk] bags can become pricey, so this method can be helpful." They also mentioned that "one ice cube is equal to about an ounce" of milk, which is important to remember when feeding your baby or tracking their intake.
9 Storing Pump Parts
If you plan on breastfeeding your baby, then pumps might be your new best friend. The problem with pumps, however, is you have to clean the parts after each use. This can be very time consuming after feeding all day, every day.
Instead of washing every single part every hour, "throw your pump parts in a Ziploc bag and keep them in the fridge between uses."
Exclusive Pumping notes that "your parts will be fine in the fridge for 12-24 hours if you take them out to pump and put them right back in." This tiny hack can save a new mom a ton of time. Not to mention dry hands.
8 Warm Towels
Kind of like how working out while cold is bad for your muscles, breastfeeding while cold may also make feeding time a little tough. According to The Krazy Coupon Lady, a warm chest will let out more milk. You can already mentally picture a more steady stream when the milk is warmer rather than being cold. To warm up for feeding time, try warming the area up using a warm towel or washcloth. Simply lay the towel on your chest for a few minutes to get everything nice and cozy. If that's not your vibe, you can also take a warm shower!
7 Switch It Up!
Every mom has their own way of doing things, but some moms swear by switching sides during feeding time to make supply equal on both sides. There are, of course, moms who feed from one side and stop when the baby is full or dozes off to sleep, but that can leave a mom's chest feeling a little uncomfortable or uneven. Switching sides mid-feed may help milk supply and allowing mom to feel more at ease. This also ensures your baby is getting the right amount of calories and nutrients from both sides.
Every mom has their own preference, so try which works best for you and your baby.
6 Don't Wait
This decision may be easier for some parents, but for others, it can be quite a head-scratcher. Whether a mom decides to breastfeed or bottle feed their child is their decision and no one else's. However, it's a decision that should be figured out during those nine months. Once the baby arrives, it's game time; that baby needs to eat! Waiting to use the breastmilk that accumulates may shorten the supply. According to BabyCenter, your supply will only be as full or empty on when you nurse: "The less you nurse, the less milk your body will make."
On that note, some moms may hold out on feeding their baby, thinking they're allowing their chest to "fill up." But in actuality, it's diminishing their supply.
5 Gel Pads
A breastfeeding mom will notice soon enough that her nips change after feeding. They're sore, irritable, and probably a bit dry. Have no fear, though: gel pads are a thing. One mom told Serendipity and Spice, "I have two sets of these Soothies gel pads from Lansinoh and they are [awesome]! I always have one set in the fridge so that after a [tough] feeding I can put them on and just bask in the cooling relief they bring." I'm sure just thinking about these cold pads can make any breastfeeding mom feel at ease. She can get them online at most baby boutiques and even Target.
4 Frozen Bags
New moms can't believe how much work goes into breastfeeding; it's not as easy as it looks! Why aren't things like this talked about more? Just as you should warm your chest up before feeding, cooling them down post-feeding may make all the difference in the comfortability department! Balanced Breastfeeding explains, "Apply ice to your [chest] for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off between breastfeeding sessions. Frozen peas, ice diapers, or cold rice socks work well." However, do yourself a favor and lay a layer of cloth in between the skin and ice — you don't want to be too cold!
3 Check Your Insurance
Most parents touch base with their insurance company once they find out they're pregnant. They need to know how much is covered and when baby appointments should start happening more frequently. However, don't lose track of that number after the baby arrives because you may want to use a pump. Depending on the insurance, most companies offer pumps to new moms or at least lactation consultations at no additional expense. Pumping can make a mom's life easier because this means someone else can feed the baby for a change. Mom can also do more things with her hands while she pumps, instead of having to wait to put the baby down.
This is one hack I found to be very worthwhile. If you're using a pump, it's not always as easy as it looks on TV or online. One way to ensure your milk production to come through is by keeping pictures of your baby nearby. "Some moms find it hard to respond to their pump and experience the same kind of milk let-down as they do when breastfeeding. Having pictures or videos on your phone of your little one can help with this and keep your mind off the pump, which is nowhere near as cute as your baby."
Thinking of your baby can also induce positive hormones and make you feel more connected to the process than being used by a pump.
Parents already know that loss of sleep is inevitable when a new baby arrives. Depending on whether you're co-sleeping with the baby or having them sleep in another room, getting up in the middle of the night is bound to happen. Waking up in a dark house, however, can be a tad risky when you're walking with one eye open; so keep it safe and get a whole bunch of nightlights. "If you’re strict on safe sleep guidelines (like I was), you’ll want to stay awake through those late night nursing sessions (especially when your baby is brand new)," one mom mentioned. She also let moms know that there are specific nightlights for nursing moms! "The nursing nightlight works on a timer and vibrates when time is up, ensuring that if you do fall asleep, you won’t be asleep for long. It also gives you just enough light to see what you’re doing without waking your baby."