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Advice From a Lactation Consultant: The Most Underrated Breastfeeding Products & How to Use Them

Updated: Dec 6, 2019

This blog post will discuss some of the most underrated breastfeeding products (according to our Lactation Consultant, Lindsey) and how/why you might use them.

Check out Lindsey's video review of these products below:

Most moms have heard of the Haakaa pump:

Some moms are even bringing their

Haakaa

s in their hospital bag when they come to have their baby. Unfortunately, the Haakaa isn’t super useful in the first few postpartum days, except for women who are already leaking colostrum (the first breastmilk the body makes). Most moms don’t start leaking until the onset of Lactogenesis II, which is when the milk “comes in” around 3-5 days postpartum. Most moms are discharged from the hospital around day 2 postpartum if they have a vaginal delivery or day 4 postpartum if they have a c-section. So, many moms leave the hospital before their milk “comes in” at all.

While the Haakaa is technically a breast pump, but most moms don't use them to fully empty their breast like they would with a traditional manual or electric breast pump. People do, however, use them for milk collection when they’re leaking! Especially when the milk first comes in, some moms leak a lot from whichever side baby isn’t nursing on. Women used to use just breast pads in their bras to catch their leaked milk, which is totally fine. But, it can also be collected and saved for baby to eat later on. Why waste milk, right?

It's important to specify here that some women don’t leak breastmilk. All breasts are different and how much a woman leaks isn’t representative of how much milk she's making.

The Haakaa is great for feeding baby in a place that’s relatively private or where mom is at least comfortable enough to have both breasts exposed. What about the milk that leaks while mom is wearing a bra?

Meet the breast shell!

Breast Shells are completely different from nipple shields, which can be used over the nipple during breastfeeding. This one comes from the brand

MommyzLove

but there are a ton of brands available on Amazon. The part that goes against the breast is made of soft silicone so that it shapes against the breast. This means that it catches breastmilk as it leaks, keepingclothes dry and saving to give to baby later on! This product also has a hole in the top for easy pouring into a breastmilk storage container.

And last but not least...

Ventilated Breast Shells!

Ventilated breast shells, such as these

Medela SoftShell

s, are pretty similar to the MommyzLove shells. They have very similar silicone backs, they’re about the same size and shape, but they have these holes for ventilation. They also come with little foam inserts that absorb the milk so that it doesn't slosh aound and spill out of the holes.

Why, you ask, would nipples need ventilation?

Some nipples are sensitive enough that even letting them touch the inside of a bra can be irritating. Breast shells prevent that. They also allow air flow to get to the nipples, which can be extremely helpful and important for healing damaged nipples.

The other reason why you might want to use these ventilated shells is if you have a yeast infection of the nipple or your baby has oral thrush (a yeast infection in their mouth). Yeast loves to grow in moist places, so keeping nipples as dry as possible can be crucial to getting rid of the infection. Nipple yeast infections often don't look terrible, but they are super painful. Anything that helps it clear up faster, such as these breast shells, is worth its weight in gold.

If you suspect that you or your baby have a yeast infection, you should be seen by your OB/GYN and your baby should be seen by their pediatrician. You will both need to be treated for the yeast infection at the same time. Breast shells are helpful in conjunction with medication therapy, but are not a replacement for medical treatment.

It's also important to note about these Medela SoftShells that the absorbent pads aren't cleanable. Don't save any milk you leak while using the absorbent pads because they are definitely FULL of germs.

Cleaning These Products:

Treat them just like breast pump parts! The directions in the Medela SoftShells packaging reflects this, but the Haakaa and the MommyzLove don’t come with overly specific cleaning directions. Regardless, the best thing to do is wash them with water and a dish soap of choice after each use (which means every time you empty milk from them, or every three-ish hours. Remember that breast milk is only supposed to be stored at room temperature for four hours. So, if you’re wearing these shells for more than four hours at a time, don’t save the milk.)

Also similarly to breast pump parts, these products should be sterilized every 24 hours by either boiling them for ten minutes or running them through the sterilize cycle on your dishwasher. They should also be allowed to air dry rather than wiped dry.

Thanks for reading and watching! Keep in mind that all of these products make great baby shower gifts, as well.

Happy Feeding!

Lindsey & Megan

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