Breastfeeding is everywhere these days. More mothers are choosing to breastfeed, and more products are being invented and marketed as breastfeeding aids or accessories. These products often serve important purposes, from helping moms who are having trouble with latching to ensuring working moms can continue to provide breastmilk to their babies. Unfortunately a new problem seems to be muddying the waters. So many moms, from newly made to seasoned warriors, are starting to believe that these products are somehow essential to the breastfeeding relationship. Certainly some products can offer convenience or style, but when it comes down to it, most breastfeeding relationships do not need all of the extra things. There are so many ways to maintain a breastfeeding relationship, and many are not widely considered. Here are some of the most common, along with some other options to consider.
Breast pump -very useful to mothers who work outside of the home, but consider some other options as well. Is it possible to bring baby to work? To have a caregiver bring baby to work for a feeding? To place baby in a care setting close to work so that you can nurse on breaks? If you do not work outside the home or plan to spend significant chunks of time away from baby, consider learning hand expression, buying a hand pump, using breast shells to collect the ‘runoff’ from the unused breast during feedings or just not pumping at all. Removing milk from your breasts to feed in another way is not necessary in many cases.
Bottles -even if it becomes necessary to feed baby milk in a manner not directly from the breast, bottles may not be necessary. For early supplementation in babies who are not getting enough at the breast, extra milk can be given by supplemental nursing system, syringe or cup. Older babies may be fed solids or breast milk mixed with food from a spoon or given milk in a cup.
Breastfeeding clothes -it can be fun to have a reason to spruce up your wardrobe, but breastfeeding clothing is not at all required. State laws protect breastfeeding specific nudity, so no coverage is legally necessary. If more coverage is desired, a tank top underneath a shirt works just fine. Just pull up the shirt and down the tank to gain access. ‘Sleep’ or ‘lounge’ bras are easy to pull down for quick access and cost less than many nursing bras. A duster, scarf or tail of a ring sling can also be used to create more privacy.
Breastfeeding pillow -regular pillows can be used to help prop baby up, or none at all. The arm of a chair or couch can often provide enough support, especially for veteran breastfeeders.
If these products are working for you, there is of course nothing wrong with that. Beyond the basic function of breastfeeding is a blooming culture that celebrates motherhood and babies, and boobie hats, nursing tanks and lacey hands free pumping bras contribute to the positive views of breastfeeding that are helping the rates to rise. Just remember not to get too overwhelmed by all of the noise. One of the biggest perks of breastfeeding is that is doesn’t have to cost you a cent.