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My Breastfeeding Journey And
7 Essentials For The First-Time Mom

[Credit: @momisdrawing on Instagram]
I went into breastfeeding completely blind, and part of me assumed it would be a natural and intuitive process and did not anticipate the challenges it would bring. 
had gone into labor six weeks early and had to cancel the breastfeeding workshop I signed up for. The nurses in NICU, bless them, guided me through the early process, from setting up the breast pump to the right way of cradling my premature baby. They encouraged me to press on when no milk came in the first few days of pumping round-the-clock and cheered with me when my first drops of colostrum came in. 

Soon after my milk came in, however, my entire chest area broke out into nasty hives and the lactation consultant in the hospital helped me knead my engorged breasts for over half an hour. I also had no idea that newborns needed to eat every 2-3 hours in the first couple of months of their lives because their stomachs were so tiny, and the sleep deprivation hit me like a ton of bricks. I was then plagued with repeated milk blisters that made nursing excruciatingly painful, and it turned out Aidan had both tongue and lip ties that we had removed by laser surgery.
I am now four months into my breastfeeding journey and it does get easier, although I have had to learn to roll with the punches. While I had been committed to exclusively breastfeeding Aidan, my milk supply has not been able to keep up with his voracious appetite. After a horrible eczema breakout from trying out two organic milk-based formulas, we ended up taking him to the immunologist who put him on a hypoallergenic formula. It was a difficult decision to make initially, but the fact that he is happy and thriving has helped me come around, and I still breastfeed him as often and as much as I can.
I must confess that I am looking forward to weaning Aidan off at some point between 6 months to a year, but I would also love to share some products that really helped me as a first-time mom. I started with a list of 12 products and whittled it down to the 7 most essential ones for me:
1. Zoe Organics Nipple Balm ($11.95 for 2 oz)
This was a thoughtful gift from my friend Yenny (of Eco Chic Beauty), and it has been a lifesaver for my sore and cracked nipples! Unlike other creams with a lanolin base that can carry a heavy load of pesticides, this balm is a blend of 100% organic oils and herbs that are soothing and restorative for your nipples and safe for your baby to injest.
2. Bamboobies Nursing Pads ($12.99 for 4 count)
Ditch the disposable nursing pads and choose these sustainable bamboo rayon ones that are unbelievably soft and absorbent, perfect for containing embarrassing leaks and preventing nipple chafing. I like that they don't show up under my clothes either!
3. Lively Nursing Bra ($35.00)
It is important to wear a comfortable nursing bra as a poor or tight fit can cause clogged ducts and mastitis, and this Lively bra combines style with function to have you look and feel your best when you're up nursing at all hours of the night. 
Fenugreek has been found to boost your milk supply within 24 to 72 hours after you take the herb, and I take two of these 2 times a day (but I will advise against taking them before bed to avoid engorgement). One of the ways to determine if you're taking the right dosage is if your sweat and urine begin to smell like maple syrup, although I have not noticed that for myself to be honest!
5. The Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding by La Leche League ($17.60)
Written by La Leche League, the leading breastfeeding advocacy group in the world, this is my breastfeeding bible, and it is chock-full of insights, wisdom, tips and strategies on nursing your newborn. I especially love the "Tech Support" section at the back where they break down all the issues one can face when breastfeeding and how you can resolve them.
6. NOW Sunflower Lecithin 1200 mg($11.30 for 200 softgels)
Aidan's lip and tongue tie meant that he was unable to effectively empty my breasts, and when the milk sits in the breast for too long it becomes thicker and lead to clogged ducts. I tried a few homepathic remedies that did not work for me, but I saw immediate results with this. The lecithin works by thinning out the milk, and if I skip a day or two I can feel my clogged ducts recurring.
I have tried many kinds of lactation tea, but this is by far the tastiest (albeit most expensive!). It is made of 7 organic and non-GMO herbs that improve milk production and flow in a biodegradable sachet and each bag yields three cups of caffeine-free tea, so make yourself a big pot and sip on it all day long!

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