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  • Cleo Marchese, IBCLC, RLC

Do you need gadgets to breastfeed? The Business of Breastfeeding


Since there have been babies women have breastfed, recently breastfeeding has surged in popularity in the US. It has become a booming retail business. Because of advertising, some women who are having their first baby may believe gadgets and breastfeeding aids are needed to do what is meant to be a natural process. While some modern breast feeding products are wonderful. Most are consumer oriented 'junk' you don’t need. Products are packaged to be “helpful” aids, when they actually may hinder breastfeeding or give the impression it cannot be done without gadgets. In an effort to help new mothers, here are some common “must haves” that are given as gifts or mothers feel pressured into buying because of clever marketing.

The Breast Pump…...Do you really need a breast pump before your baby is born or as soon as you come home from the hospital? No, you can wait to request a high quality double electric pump from your insurance company if you are returning to work. If you are not returning to work, you may never need one. Most women think they need a least a small hand held one for occasional use. In reality most small hand held pumps are not very effective and hard to use.

Breast Pump accessories……There are many accessories for breast pumps. Different bottles, milk storage liners, bottle washing kits, sanitizing wipes for breast pump parts, car chargers and bottle storage kits to microwave sanitizing steam kits. A lot of these things are unnecessary. Most of these items are extras for the consumer who loves to shop and have the latest of everything. However, pump flanges are really helpful, since most pumps come with standard 24mm flanges that we know will probably fit only about 50% of women. Larger sizes like a 27mm or 30mm flanges can be purchased from many local retailers that carry breast pumps. Specialty sizes like 21mm and 36mm can be purchased from local lactation consultants who carry breast pumps or directly from the manufacturer.

The Nursing Pillow.....They are absolutely optional and most women buy several trying to find one that works with their body. Women with extremely large breasts find them very difficult to use if not impossible. The biggest complaint women have with the nursing pillow is it does not fit around their body comfortably or their waist is too high or low to use it well with their baby. Regular firm pillows are a great alternative, most women only use a nursing pillow for the newborn phase and they quickly end up being recycled as pet beds for cats or small dogs.

Nursing Bras……The modern day nursing bra is one of the few advancements for breast feeding mothers that are beneficial. They come in a variety of styles for every life style. Nursing bras provide great support for your breasts with convenient flaps for easy access for impatient, hungry babies. They also come in sizes for very large breasted women and sleeping bras for nighttime nursing.

Nursing pads….. Not everyone leaks but they are inexpensive and easy to use. They come in a variety of styles and materials for even the most sensitive skin. You can also purchase cloth washable pads or make your own. They are great for working mothers to prevent accidental milk leakage showing through your clothes.

Nursing tops…...Nursing tops are no longer the matronly things your mom wore. They come in a wide variety of styles and are sold by numerous retailers. You can even purchase camisoles with tummy control. You can also adapt everyday clothing for nursing. Two piece outfits work the best. For example wearing a tank top or nursing camisole underneath your old clothes so when you lift or unbutton your top, you can keep more skin covered. Most new moms say they are more distressed about showing stomach or back than their breast. Two-piece outfits (or a tank top underneath) can help with that anxiety.

Nursing Covers…..No, they are not necessary. Nursing covers are not discreet. They literally scream to everyone around you. “Hey, look at me. I’m nursing a baby”. Most women who buy nursing covers do so because they are very shy about public breastfeeding. Nursing tops, slings and baby wraps work better for discreet nursing and come in a wide variety of styles. There are numerous websites that have information or videos about discreet public nursing.

Nursing teas and milk enhancing over the counter products…. Contrary to popular belief, your milk supply does not go away at some magical number of weeks, this is a breastfeeding myth. Your breasts will soften a few weeks postpartum, softer breast have nothing to do with milk supply. Also taking a supplement you don’t need can cause you to have a milk oversupply. While in theory this sounds great, it is not. Having too much milk, can be just as challenging as having too little milk.

Nipple Cream….Nipple creams can be great for dry chapped skin. However, they do not prevent or correct sore nipples. Only proper positioning and attaining a deep latch will do.

Pacifiers….. No! They interfere with early breastfeeding for many reasons. Newborns need to feed an average of 8-12 times a day, some times more. Every feeding that is replaced by the pacifier is one less opportunity for baby to eat. Less daily calories affect weight gain in breastfed infants. Also all the extra suckling from pacifiers send satiation cues to baby’s brain telling them they are not hungry. So your baby asks to eat less often, even when they need to eat. In extreme pacifier use, your milk supply can decrease because your body stops producing extra milk because it feels it doesn’t need to.

Slings or Baby Wrap….. While wraps help all mothers carry their baby, they are not just for breastfeeding women, they are a great product for nursing mothers. A lot of newborn crying and fussiness is due to babies missing their mothers presence. Baby wearing helps your baby feel secure as they did back in womb while freeing your hands for shopping, working in a home office, or other routine tasks. Modern wraps and slings come in variety of styles, colors and sizes. Look online in your area for baby wearing classes or groups to help you learn how to use them properly. Many manufacturers have tutorial videos for their products on their website or YouTube. Slings and wrap are also great for active women who like to spend time outdoors walking or hiking. Unlike strollers, they are light weight and some can fit into a purse.

So, next time you go shopping, or are recommended a breastfeeding aid by a friend, remember in the early weeks, the only breastfeeding aids you actually need are your breasts. Everything else is optional. Some modern products have been on the market for less than a decade. If you are on a budget, skip the frills and just nurse your baby. Many modern breast feeding aids can interfere with normal breastfeeding. They give the untrue illusion that it is impossible to achieve breastfeeding at all without some type of help from modern technology.

#retail #publicbreastfeeding #breastfeedingaids #breastpumps

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