Top image courtesy of nursingbra-shop.co.uk
As mum to two strapping (read: constantly hungry) boys, I have breastfed in some pretty unusual places: on a stool – and to quite the audience – in the centre of Ikea Shanghai, high in the Sri Lankan hills at a tea plantation and on a Bangkok ferris wheel. I think it’s fair to say that my nursing experiences have been nothing if not adventurous and so these days, I’m pretty relaxed about random gawkers and have an armoury of smartarse retorts ready and waiting for any rude comments.
I also know what works for me may not work for someone else, and I’d like to state for the record that the only true “essentials” required to successfully nurse your baby are your baby and your boobs. And it goes without saying that no-one should ever feel embarrassed or ashamed to feed their baby however the hell they like, wherever the hell they happen to be.
Not convinced? Let’s take a short quiz. Would you rather:
a) casually glance across a room, notice a mother nursing their baby, shrug as it doesn’t affect you in any way at all, walk on by;
b) listen to the sound of a hungry baby screaming the place down, setting your teeth on edge and generally harshing everyone’s mellow?
(If you answered b), you’re an idiot btw, and this post is clearly NOT intended for you. The rest of the internet is that way >>>)
Right. All that said, there are occasions when a few smart nursing accessories can make the whole process that little bit easier – if, for example, you’re on a cable car halfway up the Great Wall of China (true story) or gritting your teeth in pain while muttering abuse at your partner (also a true story) – so here are six buys that I found made breastfeeding my boys that little bit smoother.
To cover or not to cover is entirely up to you… or more accurately, up to your baby, who may happily go along with the idea, or else begin howling and thrashing like they were stuck with a pin if you dare to block their view for a second. I’m sure you can guess which of these two categories my little darlings fall into, however, before Baby T-T came along, I popped into Mayarya‘s original Sheung Wan branch for a pair of maternity jeans, and couldn’t resist buying this stylish nursing cover/scarf. A great solution for folks like me who steer clear of anything too cutesy or floral, this stretchy cotton jersey wrap can be used long after you’ve done breastfeeding as a regular scarf. It’s discreet, looks good and keeps you warm in the winter – what’s not to like?
When nursing my eldest son, I bought – and rejected – more nursing bras than I care to recall before stumbling across a gem. The perfect combination of comfort, support and simple design (the concept of a “sexy” nursing bra completely squicks me out – I’m looking at you, Hotmilk •shudders•), the Bravado Body Silk Seamless Yoga nursing bra comes in sizes small to extra large, meaning that you don’t have to keep replacing your bra as your size changes (and it will). A few Hong Kong retailers stock this brand, but I always buy from UK-based Nursing Bra Shop as they deliver to your door in under a week for a flat rate of just £1. Returns are straightforward too.
Costs £33.50 / around HK$382. Available online at www.nursingbra-shop.co.uk.
Ok, so it’s an awful name, but bear with it because this stuff really works. Breastfeeding can be a sore business when you first start out, and this stuff helps to make everything a bit more comfortable as you get into the swing of things. Similar in texture to fellow Aussie wonder balm, Lucas’ Pawpaw ointment, MooGoo is made from 100% edible oils, allowing you to slather it on with abandon without worrying about wiping it all off again before feeding the baby. It soothes, heals and – once your boobs are back to full health and you’re left with half a tube going spare – makes a great lip/cuticle/heel balm too. MooGoo’s Milk Wash is also pretty awesome for the whole family and smells comfortingly like vanilla milkshake. Yumzo.
Another comfort buy for you, I’d recommend getting someone to buy this for a baby shower gift as otherwise you’ll end up with thousands of pastel bunnies. This first aid kit for your boobs contains three essential oil blends, designed to remedy specific breastfeeding concerns. The “Ooh” helps with engorgement (useful when your milk first comes in and you feel like you have two boiling zeppelins stuffed down your shirt), the “Aah” helps to boost low milk supply, and the “Ouch” soothes sore nipples – from experience, using this one in conjunction with the MooGoo balm works wonders. Now, whether or not you’re sold on the healing powers of essential oils, what this kit forces you to do is relax and take some time out to recover – something that gets pushed to the very back of the queue when establishing breastfeeding and all the general hoopla of caring for a new baby. For that reason alone, it makes my list. (Also, the oils smell really good and the two organic cotton washcloths are handy as babies are filthy creatures).
Costs HK$600; Available from BaoBae.
Another invaluable Mayarya buy, this dress is on heavy rotation as it doesn’t look like maternity/nursing wear at all – essential in my book. Nothing screams “nursing top” more than a shapeless t-shirt with weird seams all over the front and bizarre fake layers. Mayarya aim to make all their items both pregnancy and nursing-friendly, while also being suitable for normal wear post baby years. This saves you a pot of cash and means that they have actually thought carefully about shapes and styles, cutting their dresses to flatter while actually fitting properly instead of swamping you in acres of fabric. This dress drapes well, has hidden nursing access and is a great casual wardrobe staple that also comes in plain black and grey. Simple, unfussy and stylish (cowboy hat optional).
Costs HK980; available from Mayarya .
“Err… what does this have to do with breastfeeding?” I hear you ask. Well, the average newborn feeds between eight and twelve times each day, with each feed lasting up to half an hour. Even past the newborn stage, you’re talking a minimum of anything between two to six feeds a day, potentially even more (Young Master T-T never managed to stretch more than two hours between feeds. I cracked and weaned him at the age of one for my own sanity).
Of course, a large amount of time will be spent gazing adoringly at your baby, stroking their hair, trying to take a picture of them all blissed out on milk without accidentally Instagramming a picture of your nipple, wondering what exactly is causing that smell, marvelling at their phenomenally loud belches, picking dried food from their faces (six months and over) and texting your partner to fetch you more drinks and snacks. That still leaves a LOT of downtime where you are obliged to sit and do nothing at all, and I say embrace it. This is the perfect opportunity to read all those classics you’ve always meant to tick off the list – although do bear in mind that baby brain is a real thing. Alternatively, use it to simply download InStyle into a format that you can manoeuvre one-handed, whatever floats your boat. An essential.
Costs from US$79.99 and up; Available from Amazon.