10 Breastfeeding Must-Haves For New Mamas

10 Breastfeeding MUST-HAVES For New Mamas

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First of all, let me start this post by saying that however you feed your baby – be it exclusively pumping, breast or bottle feeding – is awesome. I have no opinion on what is “best” and I don’t think that’s something for anyone to judge. I know many women who wanted to breastfeed their baby but couldn’t, and others who could have but chose not to. All of their babes are growing and thriving because they are being FED. So, to each mama their own!

If you are able and choose to breastfeed like I have, it really helps to know which of the MILLIONS of products out there are actually useful, since there are so many on the market.  The list below includes the exact items I have used, liked and had success with. Some of these items I also included on my baby registry essentials post as well. I hope this list is helpful to new mamas who are going the breastfeeding route!

1. Burp cloths

We use Gerber disposable cloth diapers in lieu of burp cloths. I swear at one point I had one of these hanging off every couch arm, chair and bedpost in our home. Taylor had reflux so we may have used more than the average family. I bought three pack of  10 which makes it so that I’m never without several on hand, even if I haven’t done laundry in a while. They are cheap, soft, super absorbent, and I don’t care if I have to throw one away occasionally. You can also place one under your baby’s head for side-lying nursing, so that you don’t get any spills from their little mouth onto your sheets! I think cloth diapers are a pretty good substitute for their oftentimes more expensive burp cloth counterparts, even though these are really, really cute!

2. Breastfeeding pillow

 The designer of the My Brest Friend nursing pillow is seriously a genius. As a new mom, you and your baby both are trying to figure out this whole breastfeeding thing. It’s not easy by any means, so at least you can be as comfortable as possible during something you’ll spend A LOT of time doing in those first weeks and months. The adjustable, noiseless release {trust me, this comes in handy} buckle allows the pillow to wrap around you to provide nice lumbar support. Unlike a Boppy or other nursing pillow, the surface is very sturdy – I called it my baby tray – that your babe won’t sink down into which really helps you keep good posture.Lastly, the pocket is perfect for storing items you’ll want handy (i.e. TV remote, cell phone, baby nail clipper/file, nipple cream, natural hand sanitizer, mini lotion, etc.). I do recommend having an extra slipcover for it for when you have to change it due to the inevitable spit up, blow out, et. al. They even make a My Brest Friend for nursing twins!!

3. Bra pads

Protect your bras/camis {and your dignity if you’re leaving the house} by throwing a pair of these in. If you don’t, especially in the first few months of breastfeeding when leaks are bound to happen, the milk can leave stains on your clothes. It’s a good idea to keep a couple spares in your diaper bag and/or pump bag just in case you’re out and about and have forgotten to pop them in before leaving. These disposable nursing pads by Hey Mama are soft,absorbent, reasonably priced, and can we talk about the adorable packaging?  They also make a cute tin of all natural, nice-smelling nipple salve!

4. Breastmilk storage bags

 I recommend these storage bags for any pumped breast milk you will not be feeding your baby right away. I store them in 2-3 oz increments and lay the bags flat in the freezer union they are frozen, which is a big space saver. When it’s time to use the milk, you can easily defrost it under some warm water, pour into the bottle and voilá! These are great if you want to create a stash of your breastmilk for when you go back to work.

 

5. Nipple shields

 These look a little bizarre when they’re in your bra, but I swear you will not regret having these for those first few weeks while your body is still getting used to breastfeeding. Trust me, having raw skin rubbing on the inside of your bra and shirt has to be one of the most uncomfortable feelings ever, and these were the only way I was able to alleviate that discomfort. Even if you only need to use them a couple weeks, they’re worth the small investment. I didn’t know about them until one of my best girlfriends clued me in, so I’m hoping I can pay that forward!

6. Lanolin Cream

That same girlfriend of mine once compared the feeling you have the first few weeks of nursing to a thousand fire ants. Need I say more?  The Lactation Consultant at the hospital gave me a sample tube of this Lansinoh cream and told me to use it before and after every feeding, which at the time I thought seemed unnecessary/overkill.Some women have better or worse experiences than I did, but all I can tell you is that using this cream before and after every nursing session was the only way I was able to persevere through the initial discomfort. Don’t get discouraged if it’s painful for several weeks – it was for me. Stick with it, because it truly does get better. If your pain seems greater than normal I would definitely suggest talking to a Lactation Consultant if you can, as soon as you can – they can help with latch and/or positioning issues that could make the difference.

7. Extra storage bottles

If you plan to pump, you will definitely need extra bottles to go with your pump. I store 4 empty Medela bottles/lids in my pump bag every day, as well as a couple extra lids just in case I forget. You can pop these in the freezer or transfer the pumped milk into storage bags. You can see the rest of what I pack in the pump bag I carry back and forth to work in this post.

 

 

 

8. Nursing Tanks/Bras

A nursing cami and yoga pants was my uniform for the first month after Taylor was born. It just makes life easier – who wants to fuss with anything else when you have a hungry, screaming newborn in your arms?

There are so many out there but here are the tanks, bras and sports bras I actually like that have held up to many, many wears and washings. The Cake bras are by far the most comfortable, in my opinion : )

{I bought some cheapy ones early on but they were not supportive or functional enough. It’s worth the investment, especially if you plan to nurse for a while}:

9. Nursing cover/scarf

There are all different styles to choose from, many of which can be disguised as just another part of your outfit. I have several different nursing covers; I store one in my pump bag, one in my diaper bag and one in my car just in case.  I love wearing my black infinite nursing scarf for travel days – super convenient. And, hey, if you don’t want to cover up at all then don’t. I’m all for normalizing breastfeeding in public if that’s your comfort level!

Below are 4 different styles to consider:

10. Water bottle

Last but not least, a good water bottle WITH a straw. One of the most important things you need to do while you’re breastfeeding is to stay hydrated! You  You will be especially thirsty in the first few weeks as your supply is coming in. If you become dehydrated, your supply may dry up as well.  So yeah, water {and lots of it!} is pretty darn important. Just when you thought you’d get a break from the pregnancy induced 20 bathroom trips a day…. The straw piece just makes it easier to hands-free, lean over and sip on while nursing or especially if you have to pump (i.e. when/if you return to work.). I have two of these, and plan to order two more to keep at work so I can cut down on one thing to schlep back and forth.

 

There are my top 10 breastfeeding must-haves for new mamas! Enjoy the special bonding time of feeding your babe, however you choose to : )

xo, Ashley (1)

 

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Packing For Travel With a Baby (featuring EZPacking)

 Packing for Travel with a Baby (2)
Last weekend AJ and I took Taylor down to San Diego for a 4 day mini-vacation, her first ever trip away from home. We attended the beautiful, heartfelt wedding of some of our very best friends – AJ was actually the officiant! My parents graciously flew down so that we could attend the wedding and related festivities, and I know Taylor had a blast spending special time with her Grammy and Grandad. It was a fantastic trip and Taylor, per usual, was a rockstar!
I have to admit that I was pretty nervous about the whole traveling with an infant process beforehand: from how to pack all the things she needs day to day, to hauling around all our baby gear, to how she’d sleep in an unfamiliar hotel room, and how on earth to pack all of her things in my suitcase in a way that wouldn’t be a complete mess.
Today I want to share a product I found that made the process of packing and accessing Taylor’s things SO much more organized and enjoyable – EZ PACKING CUBES. These packing cubes made packing all the many baby things and accessing them upon arriving at our destination so simple (hence the” EZ”!).  I discovered the company through reading the blog of a really awesome mama – www.cordiallykaycee.com.
 I purchased the Starter Set, which is one cube in each of the four sizes. The company was gracious enough to also send me a laundry bag to go with the set which ended up being crucial for all those dirty onesies and burp cloths throughout the weekend!

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Here are 4 reasons why I’ll never pack without the EZPacking cubes again:

  1. They are transparent. I was able to easily find the things that I packed for Taylor and keep everything organized as I didn’t have to rumple through all her clothing looking for a particular item.

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2. The cubes can be packed to utilize the entire height of the suitcase – so, no wasted space! I was able to pack ALL of my things + Taylor’s easily, as you can see here:

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3. They come in several different colors, which would be perfect for mamas packing for more than one little and sharing a suitcase. If/when we have another addition to the family, I know this will make packing for/vacationing with two so much easier. Seriously, an organized mama’s dream:
4 colors 4. 
I was able to quickly set up an organized, little makeshift changing station in our room, then pack it and all her other cubes up in about a minute when it was time to leave:

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Mamas, seriously these are well worth the investment. I only wish I’d bought a second set up front.

This is not a sponsored post, but the the company has kindly extended a discount for my readers.  Enter code: “taylor” at checkout for your discount:
https://www.ezpacking.com/

Here are a few other photos from our first family vacation:

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Daddy & T enjoying the view.
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My best girl.

Taylor’s moccasins: Freshly Picked

 

ALL the gear.
ALL the gear.

xo, Ashley (1)

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Keeping the Glow Going: Post Pregnancy Skin Care

Obviously, I’m just a little obsessed.

Taking good care of yourself, and feeling confident in your skin are so important for busy mamas. One quick and easy way to add self-care/pampering into your day is a consistent morning and evening skin care regimen.

I’ve always struggled with some type of acne, until I started using these products by esthetician, Emme Diane, two years ago. Emme’s Skin Care Bible she sends with her product, and her regular tips on Instagram (@emmediane) have helped me understand how to take care of my specific skin type. Not only does she know what she is talking about when it comes to corrective skin care, anti-aging, pigmentation issues, sensitive skin, etc., in my opinion, her prices are very reasonable for the quality of product.

I owed my pregnancy glow to hormones and this skincare line. Right now I’m loving the Lighten Up product line for the pregnancy melasma on my face, as well as the linea nigra on my stomach, both of which are now almost completely faded; I put a little of this Lighten Up Serum on as part of my evening regimen, after cleansing and toning, and it does the trick:

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I never thought I would get to the point where the only foundation I need to feel “covered” is tinted moisturizer – Thank you Emme!  If you don’t have a skin care line that works for you, and especially if you have troubled skin like I do, I can’t say enough about these products:  http://www.emmediane.com/

What are some other ways you include self-care/pampering into your busy days?

Disclaimer: This  is not a paid for review. The products listed are for my own personal use and I have not been compensated for my review or opinions.

xo, Ashley (1)


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Etsy Shop Discovery – The C Shoppe

ETSY C SHOPPE

Not much is cuter than a baby girl with a sweet hair accessory – especially when they don’t have very much hair. [or maybe that’s just my bias for my bald babe!]. I absolutely love the beautiful headbands that Heather, owner of The C Shoppe, creates.

The nylon headbands are super soft and have just the right amount of material to stay put, yet not leave an indentation on my baby’s head. I ordered a custom neutral colored “Anemone” [featured on the title image of this post] and received it within 3 days of emailing Heather to make the request. Heather was so kind and open to creating an adorable, custom piece for Taylor. And, I mean, how cute is this packaging?

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Heather will become a mama through adoption, and all of the proceeds from the shop go toward bringing her child/children home. So if you have a little girl or need a gift for one, head over to The C Shoppe to support a fellow mama, and add a truly adorable hair accessory to their collection.

Taylor wore a teal Anemone to her friend’s 1st B-day party, and it was the perfect, festive addition to her “look”:

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What are your favorite Etsy [or other] shops for stylish kid’s clothing and accessories? Leave a comment and let me know – Thanks for the tips, and for reading!

xo, Ashley (1)

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Baby Registry Essentials

Off The Beaten Baby Registry Essentials

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I had the luxury of inheriting a killer registry list from my BFF which has been passed down and refined, pregnancy by pregnancy, by she and her teaching colleagues. It took out so much of the research and guess work I would have had to do otherwise! However, since Taylor’s birth, there are some non-traditional items that I’ve discovered by recommendation or figuring out by trial and error that I would definitely recommend adding to a registry [I used Amazon for mine] or purchasing ahead of time to have on hand. I hope you find some of these recommendations useful : )

SLEEP STUFF

  1. DockATot Deluxe

At first it may seem a little pricey, but a DockATot is well worth the investment when your baby is sleeping in it like a champ! I hadn’t heard about the brand before a girlfriend of mine recommended it to help Taylor and I with her sleep. Coupled with her bedtime routine [more on that here] and swaddling, I truly believe the DockATot was integral in getting her to sleep through the night in her own crib at only 6 weeks old! Docks can also be used in lieu of a more cumbersome Pack & Play when traveling – which is nice because your peanut will have something familiar in an unfamiliar sleep environment. DockATots also work great for “tummy time”sessions, and fit inside of most bassinets allowing you to use it to help transition baby from bassinet to crib. There are so many cute patterns like this one, this one and this one:

 

2. Halo Bassinest Swivel Sleeper bassinest

Speaking of bassinets….this one is the best! AJ’s barber recommended the Halo to him and I’m so thankful she did. Even though we transitioned her pretty quickly into her crib, I am still glad we used the Bassinest for the first weeks we had her home.  It pulls up right onto the edge of your bed [hello space saver!], and swivels out of the way when you need to get out of bed. When your baby wakes up at night you just push down the front panel to pull them out to feed, and if you hear any funny little noises [in case you didn’t know – newborns make the weirdest noises at night] you can look through the mesh and see what’s going on. I loved having Taylor so close to me while we slept, but also safe in her own little space.

3. Fisher-Price Moonlight Meadow Cradle ‘n Swing
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One of my besties recommended this swing for Taylor after hearing my complaints about her crap naps [20-30 minutes at a time], and I’m so glad we ended up getting it. The first time I tried swaddling her and placing her in it for a nap, she slept 1.5+ hours! Infants love being in motion.  This swing is literally the only place she has ever fallen asleep on her own thus far. She can nap peacefully in it up to 25 lbs, so we’ll continue to make good use of this item for months to come.

4. Halo Swaddle Sleep Sackshalo sleep sack

I am lazy and terrible at swaddling with blankets, so these sleep sacks have been lifesavers. I bought two of the newborn size and now two of the size smalls, so that if one gets dirty it’s not an emergency laundry situation before nap or bedtime. I also recently purchased one for her daycare bag as well. Update: now that Taylor is out of a swaddle, she still uses a Halo Sleep Sack – this winter weight sack keeps her warm and cozy:

5. Sound Machinesleep machine

If your baby is anything like my baby – white noise will quickly become your best friend. Taylor is pretty conditioned to fall asleep with the sound of “rain”. Originally not a believer, I started using white noise with her out of No Sleepville desperation via an app on my iPhone, and it eventually worked like a charm. Nowadays, if we’re on a walk and she starts to struggle-fuss because she is sleepy, I whip out my phone, place it next to her and she instantly settles down. Who cares if I sound like a walking thunderstorm?! For nighttime sleep I didn’t have anything with continuous play and I didn’t want to leave my phone running all night in her room, so I purchased a sound machine with that option.

NURSERY

6. Disposable Changing Padschange pads

For some reason, babies like to pee as soon as you take their diapers off – at least mine does. You don’t want to have to wash your cute changing pad cover every day [like I did for the first couple weeks before Amazon Priming these bad boys], so having a disposable pad on top saves you that step. Plus, they are great to stash in your diaper bag/car kit/portable changing clutch for diaper changes out and about.

water7. Water Wipes

Newborns are not supposed to have wipes with any chemicals on them, and at the hospital they may recommend just wetting dry wipes. I found these Water Wipes that are 99% water, and 1% monk fruit – totally all natural and you won’t have to take the step of wetting dry wipes which seemed totally annoying to have to do. I order them through Amazon.com, but they do also sell them at Target.

8. Drawer OrganizersIMG_1918

The IKEA Skubb collection is super great for organizing all the little clothing and accessories that babies require. I have these in all of her nursery drawers, and they really help to keep everything organized and neat – my OCD thanks IKEA. I bought 4 of the sets of six, and 2 of the ones with lots of little compartments. 

9. “My Brest Friend” – nursing pillowScreen Shot 2016-06-27 at 10.46.01 PM

The “My Brest Friend” pillow has a solid sturdy surface, wraps around your waist providing a backrest, and is adjustable to your size. The attached pocket is super useful to store things you’ll need every time you feed your babe [I always keep protein bars, spit-up cloths, baby nail clippers, nipple cream and hand lotion for me stocked.]. Seriously, this pillow has been a MUST for us! I also have a Boppy nursing pillow, but personally it didn’t work for me – way too swishy!

10. Babyganics Foaming Hand SoapScreen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.25.28 AM

You can’t always get to the bathroom to wash your hands immediately, so it’s nice to have one of these easily accessible on your changing table. I also have one next to the chair where I usually nurse Taylor. The Babyganics brand is Pediatrician and Dermatologist tested- safe to use around your baby. I also have the mini version stashed in my diaper bag, stroller organizer, etc.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

11. Stroller Organizer ethan

Essential for holding your water bottle, coffee, keys, phone, baby socks/beanies/etc. for all those walks you’ll be taking on maternity leave and beyond! I linked the Ethan and Emma organizer I have and love.

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 11.10.21 PM12. Baby Wondersuits by Bonds

I have 3-4 of these for Taylor in every size from 0-3 months up through 12-18 months, and they are pretty much all she sleeps in. Honestly, I have kept her in these most days for her morning play time as well. They have both short and long sleeve versions so your babes can sleep in them year round.
Stock up on fun prints and patterns with 2 for $39 Zip Wondersuits online. Shop now!
I can’t say enough about how much I love these things – super quality/comfy material, adorable patterns, zip from the top and bottom [who wants to bother with a bunch of buttons and snaps at 3AM?!] and fold over flaps for both feet and hands so that they stay warm and don’t scratch their little faces with flailing arms while they sleep. Bonds give free shipping to the US for orders over $100  AU dollars. Fortunately the conversion rate is such that you only end up spending about 75 US dollars – deal!!

13. Infant Tub by 4 MomsTUB

I originally had the PRIMO Eurobath tub that Taylor could grow into, and still plan to use later, but it was just too big and slippery for her infant self [and for me to feel comfortable bathing her as a new mama!]. This tub is made specifically for infants: it has a temperature gauge to ensure the water temperature is not too hot or too cold, there is a slip-proof pad on the bottom, and the water stays fresh and clean throughout the entire bath. 

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.24.38 AM14. Ergobaby Four Position 360 Baby Carrier Grey –

We’ve used out Ergobaby carrier to bring Taylor with us everywhere – wine tasting, hikes, the grocery store, walks downtown, etc. It makes maneuvering around a lot easier than using her stroller, and she typically falls right to sleep in it. Another thing I didn’t realize – make sure to purchase the Infant Insert if you have a newborn [I believe they need the insert until about 15 lbs]. Amazon carries a combination carrier + insert HERE.

15. Inglesina High Chair – this is an absolute must-have for us to go out to eat with Taylor. I wish I had come across this idea sooner!

POSTPARTUM CARE

16. Sitz Bathseatz

This is not a glamorous recommendation by any means, but I have to keep it real with you…I had no idea how sore and uncomfortable I would be after giving birth. It got so bad that I ended up calling Kaiser, and the wonderful Advice Nurse recommended I get one a sitz bath, and use it a couple times per day for 10 to 15 minutes to promote healing, in addition to walks. I can’t tell you how much doing that helped, and I only wish I had had this from postpartum day ONE! It’s a new mama’s best friend ; )

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Make them. Trust me!

17. Padsicles

Last, but DEFINITELY not least…A friend recommended I make about two dozen “Padsicles” before delivering, and I’m infinitely glad I did. Trust me, if you are expecting you’ll want to go ahead and have these ready to rock for your first week postpartum. Your hubby might be a little weirded out by all the pads in the freezer at first, but it’s SO worth it. There are lots of “recipes” online, but I linked the one I used.

The ingredients you’ll need are: alcohol free witch hazel, extra thick maxi pads, lavender oil and 100% aloe vera.

What other “off the beaten registry” items have you discovered that I’m still missing out on? I’d love to follow up with a Part 2 using what you’ve found to be essentials!

xo, Ashley (1)


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The Return Of Date Night

date-night-when-you-have-a-newborn

When Taylor was 2 months old, AJ and I headed out for our first date since her birth. We left her for in the care of my awesome parents and went out for a quick, early bird dinner at a great little farm to table restaurant, 31st Union.

I realized that I was giving pretty much all of my attention to Taylor [newborns tend to require approximately 110% of you], and not nearly as much to my hubby. Date night was a much needed refueling of our love tanks.

A stiff marg for him, a perfect glass of rosé for me, and the rest was blissful one on one history.

AJ and I have always loved dining at restaurants together, and have had some of our best conversations over good food and drink. It was hard to leave Taylor, but having that time as AJ + Ashley again was so sweet.  Nurturing my marriage and having a strong relationship with my husband – the relationship that created our gorgeous baby to begin with – is one of the best gifts I can give to my daughter. Not to mention that putting on actual “going out” clothes, makeup and even perfume made me feel like I was coming out of the sleep deprived, messy bun, yoga panted, newborn fog state I’d been in.

I believe that prioritizing each other/our marriage, will not only keep the romance alive, but help us to be better parents and show Taylor what a loving, healthy relationship looks like.

Cheers to that!

How do you make date nights happen? How often? Leave a comment and let me know!

xo, Ashley (1)

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