Good Baby Stuff

Breastfeeding: My Brest Friend nursing pillow


Mealtime used to happen on this pillow, every few hours!

Mealtime used to happen on this pillow, every few hours!

One of my most searched and most read posts is one I wrote about breastfeeding, mastitis and potato slices.  Man, I’ve been through everything when it comes to nursing. Crazy thing is, once upon a time, the whole idea made me quite uncomfortable. I knew I was going to try it, but generally speaking, I didn’t like looking at breastfeeding mothers and even the though of myself nursing was very abstract, and not something that exactly filled me with pleasure.

It was so hard to get nursing started (as it is for nearly everyone). The pain, the frustration. This My Brest Friend pillow was a great help, and I used it constantly for about 3 months, then only when I nursed when sitting on the sofa. The lactation consultants all seem to like it best, as it’s nice and flat. 

Breastfeeding is very technical at the beginning: sit your chair up nice and straight, deflate that little hemmoroid donut they give you (invariably way too inflated) so that there’s just a touch of air in there, put the pillow on nice and high under your breasts. Then there’s the baby. Undress him so he’s skin-to-skin with you. Make sure he’s on his side. Latch him on while holding your boob with your hand closest to it. Compress your breast to make it flatter and therefor easier to get more of it in his mouth. 

Sigh. I could go on and on. It’s tough going. Like learning to ride a bike with a newborn in a basket on top.

However, take heart. Here is my one piece of advice. Whatever breastfeeding problem you may have, it will probably go away. My friend Y told me “Eventually it will come as naturally as blowing your nose.” And true enough, it happened at around the five-month mark. No more problems. No more pain. Just easy, breezy nursing. Thank god. Cause I hate cleaning bottles and making formula, and I only did it a handful of times.


What Cillian is doing now: Sleeping. It’s 11am and he’s still going strong, SINCE LAST NIGHT. Yep. He fought me to stay up until 11, crying and writhing like crazy, finally fell asleep. Woke up briefly to nurse at 7:30, played on my bed a bit, fell back asleep. It’s like having a teenager in the house.


Good baby receiving blankets by Aden and Anais


These blankies are nice, soft, and really big!

These blankies are nice, soft, and really big!

Aden + Anais make a lovely line of muslin (cotton) receiving blankets, of which I was lucky enough to receive a pack.  Except the pack was pink and brown. Ah well, free is free.

They’re somewhat expensive if you’re buying a four-pack (coming out to about $12 each), but they are worth it. They’re so lightweight and breathable, wash well and are super soft against babies’ skin. They’re also huge, which makes swaddling easier, and they make a good breastfeeding-in-public cover-up. In other words, they’re really versatile, and  make a good gift or baby shower registry item. 


What Cillian did yesterday: Visited Bak bak’s house and ate jook (congee). Showed everyone how he loves to play with his little terry octopus, dangling it and eating it. Went to sleep with relatively little crying and fuss, at 11pm (!)

Breastfeeding-friendly baby bottles


This was my bottle. The, oh, six or so times I actually drank from one.

This was my bottle brand. The, oh, six or so times I actually drank from one.

Like so many moms, I struggled with breastfeeding. Even after C’s latch got better (and on one side it’s never been perfect, still isn’t), I still kept having problems. At one point at the four-month mark, on my third bout of mastitis, I wanted to wean him to formula (which didn’t work, I’m still breastfeeding him with no bottle usage)

At the time, he wouldn’t drink from bottles. He couldn’t latch onto them, trying hard to open his mouth but finding the nipple too short so that his mouth was practically around the plastic rim. Then I had an aha! moment reading Babble blog Straight from the Bottle, where Rebecca Woolf mentions that her daughter couldn’t latch on standard bottle nipples either, and used Born Free bottles, which has a wide, breast-like nipple.

My mom mentioned that Playtex Drop Ins had a similar nipple. So off I went to buy some bottles, breast throbbing. Born Free, while appealingly made of glass, were very expensive and given that I wasn’t sure if C would drink from it, not a good investment at the time. So I just grabbed Playtex Drop Ins, because it had a rubber nipple, and a Playtex Vent Air, because it had a silicone nipple. All are BPA-free, because that’s the law in Canada. 

And lo, little C could latch onto the bottle! Getting him to prefer the bottle over nursing was another matter altogether.

Long of the short, I hated feeding C bottles. He would sometimes take them, sometimes refused. I hated mixing the powder, cleaning the bottles, figuring out how to dissolve the formula well, heat it just to the right temp, etc and so forth. In the end I gave up bottle feeding cause it was just too hard! I know that sounds silly cause of all the trouble that some moms have doing the breastfeeding thing, but once you start exclusively breastfeeding, you can’t just flick a switch and turn it off. I’m glad I perservered, and also glad I got the less expensive bottles! They’re sitting in a cupboard right now, unused. 

Now that he’s 7 months old, he drinks from a cup (something he could do since 4 months, I think because he drank from a cup so frequently as a newborn – never give a baby bottles if you need to supplement formula, use a little cup or spoon or you won’t get your milk supply up AND don’t give into pushy but well meaning relatives who tell you just to give him a bottle. Sorry. End rant. If you do end up bottle feeding, don’t feel bad about it. I drank formula and am relatively intelligent and healthy, if that means anything.) Cillian doesn’t nurse as much, night-nurses about once, and it’s gotten to be such an easy habit, like blowing your nose. 


What Cillian did today: Played in his room with his squishy octopus, dangling it and chewing it. Came to Uncle Chee’s house for dinner and entertained everyone by blowing raspberries and rocking on all fours. Aunt Kam called him a “Greedy Cat” in Chinese (this is how Chinese people show affection. Seriously).

Ultimate breastfeeding book of answers



Mommy read this book all the time!

Mommy read this book all the time!

Thank goodness for this book. At one point I was reading it every second week. They should hand it out in the hospital.

I’ve been through so much I should become a La Leche League leader or something. I ought to put this knowledge to use. Let’s see…I’ve had:

-inability to latch the baby on to one breast, cured at the five-day mark by Anne-Marie Desjardins the lactation consultant

-cracked, bleeding nipples. Granted, almost everyone gets those, but mine resulted in mastitis

-mastitis three times, requiring antibiotics (cloxacillin each time did the trick)

-a non-drainable breast abscess as a result of the first case of mastitis, also cured with six weeks of cloxacillin. The lump didn’t hurt and it didn’t liquify, thanks to the magic of modern medicine

-two more cases of minor mastitis

-recurrent blocked ducts

-nipple blebs on both sides. Had to sterilize a needle and poke the white blisters so the backed-up milk could come out

-nipple blanching (that’s when they turn white). I thought it was a yeast infection because of the intense burning pain, until I noticed they were turning white after feedings. As per the book’s advice, I took vitamin B6, 100mgs for three days, then just 25mgs a day. It took the pain away, even though they still turn white. How freaky is that!

-nursing strike, which lead to

-milk oversupply, such that Cillian was clamping down to shut off the valve, so to speak

That’s just about every breastfeeding-related affliction you can get. I would still do it again though, because motherhood makes you crazy.


What Cillian did today: Rolled over many times, and wiggles backwards too. Ate half a big piece of lasagna. Drank water out of a glass. Played in the park with Poh poh and uncle Joseph. 

Breastfeeding, mastitis and raw potato slices


What's this I hear about using potato slices to cure mastitis?

What's this I hear about using potato slices to cure mastitis?

If you’re breastfeeding and prone to getting mastitis, you’ll know those telltale symptoms in no time. Breast pain. Not tenderness pain of a blocked duct (I’ve had those too) but a really acute pain. Redness. Everytime your boob moves, whether getting out of bed or bending down to pick something up, not to mention nursing, you’ll feel it. My last bad case, I didn’t think I could even get out of bed. 

Make sure you have  some potatoes around all the time. This sounds like one of those iffy old wives tale remedies, but I can assure it you it works for minor cases. On two occasions I could feel the mastitis coming on, and I took a tip from Dr Jack Newman’s website, which says to use  raw potato slices on the sore red part of the breast. I wish I knew this the first three times I had mastitis. Yes. I’ve beaten three bad bouts of mastitis using crateloads of cloxacillin, and two minor ones using the humble potato.

(And I did try other remedies, warm compresses, warm showers and baths, massaging the area, bed rest, constant nursing. You name it, I did it.)

This is what you do, courtesy of Dr Newman’s site (this info doesn’t appear in the book)

Within the first 24 hours of symptoms, you may find that applying raw potatoes to the breast, in slices, to be very helpful in reducing the pain and the swelling and redness of the infection.  Many mothers have reported that this is extremely effective, works quickly, and often eliminates the need for further treatment.

·         Cut 6-8 washed, raw potatoes (preferably lengthwise) into thin slices, approximately 1/8” to ¼” thick.  Place in a large bowl of water (room temp.) and leave out.

·         Apply wet potato slices to breast and affected areas.  Leave in place for 15-20 min.

·         Remove and discard used slices.  They should feel hot and softened. Apply fresh slices from bowl. 

·         Repeat process two more times, totalling approximately 3 applications per hour.  Take a 20-30 minute break and then repeat procedure.

I can assure you from my own experience, this works really well to take away the mastitis, but you have to catch it in time. Three days later and there will probably be too much infection for it to work. If you have a raging fever, you’re probably too far gone and should just get antibiotics. Don’t let it turn into an abscess! I had one of those, too. 


What Cillian is doing now: Jumping on his Jolly Jumper and howling…basically getting himself nice and tired for bedtime. 

Why you need lanolin from Lansinoh if you’re breastfeeding


Ahhh. Lansinoh.


Nobody tells you you’ll probably want to kill yourself if you start breastfeeding and it doesn’t go well in the hospital. One word: OUCH!!! There will be cracks. There will be blood. But take heart, it will get better…frankly even if baby’s latch doesn’t ever become perfect. More on this another time.

Do yourself a favour and just bring the Lansinoh with you to the hospital if you’re planning to breastfeed.

A well-meaning nurse said to me as I was lying in my hospital bed “Oh, just express some milk and rub it on the cracks.”

Not very useful if your milk hasn’t come in yet.

When I got home and got a truly gifted lactation consultant to visit me, she said, “Use the Lansinoh, push it into the crack, but only on the nipple.” THANK GOD FOR HER. It made a big difference.

So ladies, just use it. It’s safe for baby and it’s soothing.

Some like Medela lanolin better, to each there own…but for me, milk didn’t work.


What Cillian is doing: Sleeping on his tummy on my bed. Hey, I didn’t put him that way, he rolled over on his own!

What to pack for the hospital when having a baby


"It's too bright in this hospital. Where are my sunglasses?"

It's too bright in this hospital. Where are my sunglasses?

By all means, pack most of the stuff the books and websites tell you to take to the hospital. A layette for baby. Digital camera. Car seat for baby, clothes for you, maybe one book or magazine if you’re lucky enough to have a leisurely labour.

Don’t forget: 

Extra receiving blankets…they give them at the hospital, but sometimes they get dirty and you have to wait for the nurses to bring more.

Bring a baby hat…they don’t have hats usually, though they do have baby gowns. 

Bring heavy duty sanitary pads. Again, they have but you might be waiting arouind for a nurse to bring you some. 

All-purpose hand wipes. I was in a semi-private room, and these would have come in handy had I thought of them, to wipe down the toilet or sink handles, and my own hands before breastfeeding as I couldn’t always make it over to the sink.

Socks for you, slippers for dad. My hub had to wear his shoes the whole time, slippers would have been nice for nighttime. As for me, I forget extra socks.

Lanolin. If you’re planning on breastfeeding. I’ll post about this next.

Consider bringing also:

Laptop. I loved having mine with me as my hospital had wifi. I could watch shows (no time, but in theory I could have) and I could put all-important status updates on Facebook and send out some emails to non-family. My husband liked using it too.

My Brest Friend nursing pillow. Yes they are more expensive than the Boppy, however, all the lactation consultants I saw said it was the best pillow to buy because it’s flat so baby doesn’t roll toward you. I was having trouble arranging the crappy hospital pillows to prop up bambino. Plus, I still get use out of the nursing pillow six months later.

Don’t bother with Champagne. 1) It will be warm by the time you open it 2) You ain’t gonna have time to drink it. Sorry to dispell the illusion. Save it for when you bring baby home. You’ll need it that night.

Some other insights about going to the hospital and coming home with baby:

Stay at least the night if you can if you’re going with a midwife, if only because the nurses bring you glasses of ice water /juice and will help you to the toilet and wrap the baby and will help you bathe her.  

If you end up with stitches, the sitz bath and spray bottle are ok, but when you get home, I’d use or install a removable shower head. The lactation consultant (she’s also a registered nurse) told me to use that instead of the spray bottle after going to the toilet to heal much faster, and sure enough, she was completely correct even if it was more hassle to get undressed and towel off after. 

Don’t let anyone visit without bringing food. If visitors ask if you need anything, definitely get them to bring food! Also, having a plate of food next to your bed at all times was helpful to me. I was a ravenous pig when I got home!


What Cillian is doing now: Sucking in his lower lip. Also, howling since he got up two hours ago. That’s his version of babbling, a sort of howl. It’s like having a basset  hound puppy in the house.