Seeing as how I have been doing all this shopping lately, I thought maybe I should share some of my thoughts and opinions on what I’ve picked up with you. I won’t be able to talk about all the stuff that we use for Kitten in one post, so every now and then, I’ll let you know what I think of something.
First, I’d like to say that we do bottle feed Kitten on occassion and that means that we have had to purchase bottles. We received two free Avent bottles. We have the slowest nipples that they offer, on two different sized bottles. To be honest? I never use them. I tried and tried when we first started feeding her at home, but they just seemed to make a mess. Part of the formula she’d just spit out (she still does that to this day, no matter the bottle), and the bottle would just seem to leak, as well. We do use them, however, to mix formula in. The formula calls for 60 ml’s of water per scoop of formula, and the Avent bottles are the only bottles with gradient ml measures on them. Most other bottles have only the 50 ml and the 75 ml marks on them.
We then tried the Playtex Ventaire bottles. I didn’t like them because you aren’t supposed to shake formula in them because the bottom comes all apart (which is how they vent, which is supposed to cause less air to be swallowed). This irritated me, although I suppose it wasn’t a big deal because we use the Avent ones to mix the formula. Anyway, there just seem to be more parts to put together and clean, which didn’t really do anything for me. So, we have one of these sitting in the cupboard, that never gets used.
When we picked up the Ventaire bottle, we also chose one of the Playtex Drop-In Nursers. These ones have got to be my favourite. We have two large bottles, and four short bottles, and that seems to be the perfect amount (although we rarely use the large bottles – I just wanted to have them in case we’re supplementing a full feeding… which we rarely do). I do have to say that I like the look and the feel of the Deluxe Nursers, and I prefer the cap style. The cap on the regular Nursers causes the nipple to fold in on itself. I’m pretty sure that they are made to do that, but for some reason, I don’t particularily like it when it does that. Also, the regular nursers are more likely to leak (out the nipple), if they go for a tumble in your diaper bag. The Deluxe Nursers have a bit of a cupped area for the nipple to sit in, so there isn’t as much leakage. For us, Kitten has adapted to this nipple very well, and doesn’t seem to have a problem with latching on to my breast when she’s not on the bottle. I understand this isn’t the norm, but it is one of the things that Playtex claims – that their nipples are supposed to be more “natural” feeling. There is a bit of a textured area where the lips, nose and chin sit on the nipple, so that could be what they mean. ::shrugs:: I can’t see how that would make much of a difference, but I’m not about to compare myself. The great thing about the Drop-In system is that there is far less to clean. You only have to sterilize the nipples (we don’t do it every time. I know – EVIL!!), rather than the whole bottle, so it takes far less space, and could mean for some people that they’re only have to do one set of sterilization. The only bad thing about the Drop-In system (besides being kind of wasteful, but we do try to rinse and recycle our liners) is that it’s almost impossible to measure in these bottles. The Drop-In little baggy things (they’re preformed these days, rather than those bags of old) aren’t exactly straight and even, which could cause a skewing of the amount. If you’re not an amount nazi, or you’re mixing your formula in a different bottle like us, that doesn’t really matter and it gives you a good estimate of how much your baby is consuming anyway.
Because I am breastfeeding, I have tried my hand at several different breast pads. I have to say that the clear winner is the Gerber Contoured Nursing Pads. They come in Light, Medium and Heavy flow, and are individually wrapped. I understand that this isn’t the healthiest for the environment, but I do try to recycle all the packaging. It is nice, though, because I can throw them in my diaper bag and not worry about pulling out dirty pads later. I mean, you don’t want to dry your dishes with a filthy dish rag, I wouldn’t want to have my baby’s food source sitting against dirty pads. Anyway, the pads I use are large sized and contoured, so they maintain a fairly natural shape. They’re bigger than most, which is good for me, because they’re less likely to show through my shirt (I find with the smaller ones, they tend to have very defined edges, that show against my large breasts). They’re also highly absorbant, which is good because I still leak a fair amount… Mostly the side that isn’t being nursed on will let down a fairly large amount.
I also tried the Gerber Ultra Thin Nursing Pads, which I don’t like. They’re ok for in between feedings, but if I wear it during a feeding, I’ll leak right through the pad and all over my bra. Nothing is worse than a wet, sticky bra. Oh wait, yes there is – when your bra dries and it gets kind of crusty (and then you throw it in the wash because EW). I suppose that if you didn’t have a heavy let down, or were wearing them in between feedings, they would work just fine. Personally, I wouldn’t depend on them to keep me dry.
One thing that I did pick up that might be surprising is the Gerber Warm or Cool Relief Packs. All they are is a circular pack of gel with a cut out for the nipple. You can put them in the freezer or the microwave, depending on what kind of relief you need. I never heated them up, but did use them out of the freezer when my milk first came in. You should only use them when they’re cold AFTER you’re finished feeding – using them before could cause your milk ducts to shrink and block up. Ouch. After the initial sore period was over, I’ve found that they’re the perfect size to stick into the bottle cooler bag that came with my diaper bag, and they’ll keep a bottle cool for a couple of hours. It’s certainly not a full day or out in the sun solution, but works well enough when you know you’ll be using that bottle within an hour or two!
My neighbour gave me a box of the Avent Ultra Comfort Disposible Breast Pads. They were definitely comfortable, but tended to show right through my shirt. I’ve noticed that my neighbour has the same problem, so I don’t think that it’s just because I’m large and the pads are small. They are very absorbant, though, and I’ve never had them leak for me. If there was a way for them to be comfortable, absorbant, and not show through my clothing, I think I would like these best.
There are a few other breastfeeding/bottle feeding things that I’ve used, but these seem to be the most common. I did try out the Madela Shells, which protect your sore nipples from fabric, but found that they leaked, and could only be worn at home because they made large, weird lumps in your bra. I also use the Lanisoh nipple cream, which is pure lanolin and is quite helpful (side note: Apparently, also good on chapped or blistered skin. It can also be used to help speed healing on diaper rash… so if you’re done breastfeeding, don’t toss the tube!).
Before you run out and spend a lot of money on nursing clothing, I would recommend waiting until breastfeeding is established. I had purchased a couple of tank tops, and didn’t use them until after we had stopped using the nipple shield (just too many things going on – removing the bra, putting on the shield, making sure the breast was poking out of the hole, etc.). You won’t know what you want out of your nursing apparel until you’re used to nursing, so that’s always a major consideration. I would also recommend that you buy one shirt in several styles – you can get shirts with zippers over the nipples (they’re discreet), ones with multi-layers and flaps, or ones where you just move the top layer to the side. If you try different styles, you can find one that you like without buying a bunch of the “wrong” kind.
So those are some things that I’ve tried that I like and don’t like so far.