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Review: My Breastfeeding Essentials

When I had Oscar I gave up breastfeeding quite quickly as I completely lost my confidence after he was readmitted into hospital as he was jaundice and hadn’t been feeding properly so this time around I was determined to breastfeed. I had a midwife help me in hospital after I had Archie and left the hospital feeling confident with what I had been taught. On day 5 at the midwife check we were told Archie had lost more than 10% of his birth weight and my heart sunk. Obviously he wasn’t getting enough milk from me. The midwife sent us to A&E to be checked over and the paediatrician suggested I expressed some milk and after breastfeeding Archie top him up with what I expressed. The only problem with me doing this was after a few days Archie wouldn’t latch on properly to feed off of me. So I have put a small list together if some breastfeeding essentials that have made breastfeeding so much easier for me.

Dr Browns Manual Breast Pump
The Dr Browns Manual Breast Pump has a super soft flexible breast cup which has made expressing really easy and has left my breasts feeling comfortable afterwards unlike some of the pumps I tried with Oscar that hurt me. The flexible cup actually moves with your breast for maximum support and comfort. The gentle compression technology gently expresses the milk without tugging or pinching at your skin. It has been awarded a Prima Baby and Pregnancy Best Feeding Product Gold Award.

The pump comes with one manual pump, one 120ml Dr Brown’s bottle plus all bottle components (teat, collar, cap, vent insert, reservoir tube, travel disc, travel cap, wire vent cleaning brush) and you get all this for only £42. Having to express every two to three hours sounds like a chore but using this breast pump it has made it easy, comfortable and quick, taking only ten minutes to express around 100ml.

Dr Browns Natural Flow Bottles
It is always useful to have extra bottles to attach to your breast pump so when Greg is feeding Archie I can express the next bottle to try and get ahead of myself. Especially so I have bottles ready for the night time feeds as I found expressing in the middle of the night after feeding and changing Archie exhausting! 

The Dr Browns bottles are great, they have intelligent teats that eliminate air bubbles and stop your baby swallowing them when feeding eliminating any discomfort from wind or needing to burp and colic. The bottle teats are really soft and supple which make them easy for your baby to use and are really soft on their gums. The bottles have been designed perfectly and not only benefit your baby buy preserving the vitamins they need but are also easy to fill and keep clean as they have a wide top. A pack of two 240ml bottles are £11.69 and in the packet is the tow bottles, two level 1 teats, two two-piece internal vents and a cleaning brush. The bottles come in single or double packs in premmie, 120ml or 240ml sizes. You can even get them in blue or pink. With 9 out of 10 health professionals recommending these bottles they really are great.

Medela Contact Nipple Shields

I brought these in Mothercare last week after Archie wasn’t latching on properly after being introduced to a bottle. These have been a god send, the best £8.99 I have spent! By wearing them it has allowed Archie to latch back on, kept my nipples pain free and made feeding him when out and about much easier as I don’t always have to rely on expressing as I can express what I need to top him up before I go out.

The shields are available in three sizes and come in a discrete travel box. They are made from really thin material to offer maximum skin contact to aid bonding. These are absolutely brilliant!

Boppy Feeding Pillow
I was shown the Boppy feeding pillow when I went to the Chicco headquarters a couple of months ago and knew it would be a great product to make breastfeeding more comfortable. When I was given the chance to review one I was over the moon. It is a double sided feeding pillow that comes in a large range of different colours and patterns. I chose the cushion in the ‘Honey Bear’ fabric and they retail at £34.99.

I simply put it on my lap and rest Archie on it and kept Archie at the right height to make feeding easier and latch on quicker and makes you sit in the correct position. It also protected my stomach where I had had my caesarean. 

The cushion and the cover are both machine washable and the padded material means it will never loose its shape.

The Boppy can also me used to prop Archie up when he is laying on his play mat and when he is a bit older can be used to aid tummy time. So for £34.99 you are getting a really versatile cushion that will last.

Cantaloop Pregnancy/Nursing Tanktop
Cantaloop have a great range of nursing and pregnancy bras and pregnancy underwear. I was sent a tanktop in turquoise and the material is so soft and the top itself changes as you get bigger in pregnancy and again when your breasts change after birth when your milk comes in. This top keeps me so comfortable and it looks great too. 

It has integrated, closed cups and the drop down cup is easy to open with one hand and makes breastfeeding even easier without having to pull your top up or down. The material is extra soft which is perfect next to your new baby’s delicate skin. The top is available in six different colours; turquoise, white, black, beige, light rose and sweet red. The tanktops are £28.49 and come in small, medium, large or large. 

This tanktop is the perfect top for pregnancy and breastfeeding and I will be ordering more as I keep wearing mine and having to put it in the wash to be able to wear it again and again. The Cantaloop range is fantastic and I have also been wearing their C-Section briefs which made after my caesarean pain free. A full review of these will be on the blog next week.

Avent Isis Comfort Breast Shell Set
You simply pop the breast shells inside your bra and collects any excess milk that would normally be absorbed by a breast pad. It comes with ventilated shells to wear to protect your nipples if they are sore and non ventilated shells to collect your milk. They have a soft silicone backing for extra comfort. I don’t even notice I am wearing them. I couldn’t believe how much extra milk you can collect wearing these. I wear them to bed to and sleep on my front and always have at least 60ml collected by the morning which is amazing. I got these from Tesco for £10.95.

I hope you find these essentials helpful and make your breastfeeding experience easier like they have made mine.

Disclaimer: I was sent the Dr Browns Manual Breast Pump, bottle, Cantaloop Tank Top and the Boppy cushion to review. However all opinions are completely honest and my own.

What do we really need for our baby?

When I was expecting Oscar I went completely over board buying all sorts of unnecessary stuff that I didn’t really need. If and when we have another baby my list of its to get would literally be halved. Over the last few years when friends have been expecting one of the questions I always get asked is what do we really need? So I thought I would put a list together of some of the bits that we brought and the stuff that you really do not need.

We brought our actual nursery furniture: cot/bed, wardrobe, changing table/chest of draws, toy box and cot/bed mattress from Mamas and Papas. To be honest I never looked anywhere else and have been really pleased with it all. Even four years on, their customer services team sent me out new draw runners as one of mine broke under the weight of all of Oscar’s clothes! We also got our Zeddy and Parsnip moses basket, cot bedding, cot mobile and changing mat from Mamas and Papas too. We went with a unisex theme and have cream walls and added the Zeddy and Parsnip border around the room. I had the BT 150 baby monitor and it had a built in room temperature indicator and lullaby songs.

I stocked up on Pampers nappies and cotton wool when I was pregnant. I brought the Braun 4520 Thermoscan thermometer which is great. It has been used loads and would defiantly be a gadget I couldn’t have gone without. It gives an accurate reading and is easy to use what is a must when you have a wriggling crying teething baby! Keeping a bottle of Infacol in the cupboard is always a good idea in case your little one suffers from colic. For when your baby is teething I would totally recommend Anbesol. My Auntie suggested it to me as it is something that has been around for years and my Mum used it on me. We used a few different teething aids but this one defiantly seemed to work the best. A top and tail bowl is always useful for nappy changing and I used mine all the time. In regards to nappy rash I always used Sudocrem or Bepanthen.

Let’s be honest no matter how many people tell you don’t buy lots of clothes for your baby as you get given loads when baby is born, we never listen! When I was pregnant with Oscar I brought loads of cute outfits, half that were never used as he got tons of clothes when he was born. The only clothes I really needed to buy was vests, sleepsuit’s, hats and mittens for in the hospital and an outfit to bring baby home in, then a couple of other bits. I brought a newborn starter kit from BHS and it had everything you needed in it to last a few days and it was less than £20, I would really recommend getting something like that. Don’t forget to wash it all first! Obviously depending on the time of year you might need a little cardigan or pramsuit. When Oscar was first born I used a Gro swaddle blanket and then Gro bags when he was old enough. My most extravagant baby buy was my Gucci changing bag.. I LOVED IT! I will use it again and then pass it on to one of my friends when they have a baby.

Bath Time
As I said above a top and tail bowl is a must. We also brought a bath support to make it easier and safer when bathing baby being able to have your hands free. Obviously when Oscar was first born we only used warm water and cotton wall to clean him but when he was old enough we used Johnson’s baby shampoo and bedtime bath wash. I also used the bedtime oil to massage into his skin after his bath. The cuddledry bath towels are great as you wear it like an apron then have two hands free to pick baby out of the bath and wrap them up safely. Avent also sell a good bath water thermometer but to be honest I didn’t use one as I just tested the water myself. As Oscar has got older he has a bath mat in the bath with a temperature indicator on it.

I tried hard to breast feed and use the Medela electric breast pump. Unfortunately I just didn’t have enough milk and ended up using Aptamil baby formula instead. We used Avent bottles and the Avent steam steriliser and bottle warmer. They worked great and have now been passed on for someone else to use. I have seen that Avent have a new steam steriliser out and I will be getting that one next time around. I also used the thermal bottle bag when out and about. When I started weaning Oscar I used the brother max freezing tray and prepared pureed meals and froze them. My In Laws brought us a high chair from Mamas and Papas which was great with different height adjustments and the seat had three positions so when Oscar sometimes crashed out in his chair I could tilt it back to make it comfier for him. I have also seen the new Tommee Tippee perfect prep machine and this will be my must have gadget for when we have another baby! We used the Tommee Tippee soothers and bibs with Oscar too and then I ordered personalised dummies for him with ‘Mini Maycock’ on them. They were only 3 for £10 and you can choose colours, wording and designs.

Pushchair/Travel System
I started off with a Silver Cross travel system that my parent’s kindly brought us. It came with the pram/pushchair, car seat and changing bag and I think it was around £500. I loved the pram, hated the car seat and wasn’t overly impressed when it turned in to a pushchair. I ended up selling it on Ebay and getting a Bugaboo Cameleon instead. Yes they are expensive but I loved it! I could have Oscar facing me when we were out and about so I could talk to him and it went completely flat when he wanted a nap. Next time I would buy a Maxi-Cosi Pebble Infant car seat and the isofix base. You can then get adaptors to connect it to the Bugaboo. I will defiantly get a Bugaboo again I want the Buffalo this time though. As a stroller I had the Silver Cross Fizz from John Lewis and loved it. It was great and I also found it amazing when we went on holiday as it had a mesh back and it allowed the air to flow through it in the hot weather. It also folded small and had removable/reversible seat insert which made it easy to keep clean. I also have a Maclaren BMW stroller which is just a great stroller and looks good too. Oscar liked it as it had the same wheels as Daddy’s car.

Newborns don’t do much but the months fly past and it is nice to have colourful and stimulating toys for them to chew on or play with. I got a lot of Lamaze toys and Fisher Price cookie jar sorter and a Fisher Price Sing and Go choo train. Of all of the baby toys we had (the lounge was full) these are the only ones I have kept for another baby. Oscar’s favourite toy was his Cuski Comforter which went everywhere with us and he still has it at bedtime now. From Mothercare I got a Blossom Farm sit me up cosy which was really useful and when we went to visit grandparents and friends I took it with us as Oscar could play comfortably. Oscar’s Uncle Simon brought him a adorable Barny Bear play mat which he used loads too and I have packed it away for the next one!

Things I brought and didn’t really need:

  • Loads of baby clothes (you will get loads as gifts)
  • Bath Thermometer (use your own judgement)
  • Loads of baby toys (just get a few and change them every few months)
  • An air purifier (had one and used it for about a week)
  • Baby walker (the Vtech push along walker was better)
  • Cuddly toys (they just sat there collecting dust)
  • Baby bouncer (Brought one and never used it)
  • To many blankets (I had two favourites and the others just didn’t get used)
  • Expensive clothes (I stupidly brought lots of baby Ralph Lauren clothes, when the carrot puree or a leaked nappy gets on them they were completely ruined. Looking back I wasted a lot of money on silly designer clothes. Don’t buy anything that your not happy with having to throw away.)
  • Baby/pregnancy books (They didn’t have these 50 years ago and managed ok!)
  • Movement baby monitors (I brought one then took it back, I just felt it was a bit unnecessary and opted for a normal BT one instead).
  • Buggy arch toys (Oscar never used it and loved his Lamaze ones that clipped onto the pushchair when we were out and clipped off to play with indoors).