Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Simple Wishes Signature Hands Free Pumping Bra

Pumping can be a huge part of a breastfeeding mother’s life.  I pump at work and occasionally at home to maintain/boost supply with our little Peanut.  When Pickle was little, I pumped for the first five months while her mouth grew big enough to be able to nurse.  I’ve spent hundreds of hours attached to a pump over the last five years – but both as a mother of two and an employee, I don’t have the time to just sit and devote time to pumping.  I have to be able to multitask while I am providing that nutrition for my child. 

When I was pumping with the Pickle back when she was a baby, I tried and ordered a very simple halter-style pumping bra.  It was a lot like a sports bra that had a halter strap that goes around the neck, and a cloth band that goes around the breasts, much like this.  

The practical problem with this is that I usually try to, you know, wear a shirt to work.  In order to use this bra, I had to take off my shirt (and usually my nursing bra) to wear it, or had to wear it underneath my clothes all day – and since it rides so high on the back of the neck, it was always visible.  As such, I ended up only using it a few times before giving up and just holding the flanges.
Now, I’ve been lucky enough to try the Simple Wishes Signature Hands Free Pumping Bra (LINK)  It is a bustier-style pumping bra:

The first advantage of this is that I could simply pull up my shirt, put on the Simple Wishes bra over my nursing bra or tank, and still be warm (and as modest as possible while pumping) – no more stripping down.  I know this sounds like a small thing, but the pumping room at my office is freezing, so this is a huge benefit!

A really huge benefit of the Simple Wishes hands free bra is how it is sized.  The company provides a great tutorial video on how this works (LINK).  In essence, the back is similar to a regular bra, but it has Velcro instead of hooks, so that it can be resized up to ten inches to accommodate a wide range of sizes.  You can also resize it as you go through the course of nursing – changing breast sizes is a common issue as your supply adjusts and engorgement wanes, and you don’t have to go out and purchase a new pumping bra if/when it happens with this product.  There’s also a removable zippered panel in the front – this is great for if your breasts are closer together vs. further apart.  

My favorite part of the Simple Wishes bra is very basic – it gave me back time.  I had two hands free to work while pumping, or to hold/care for my little ones if I was at home.  I wasn’t tied down to the pump like I was in the past, I could type or read, use my phone, and so on.  I think that one of the big reasons that women discontinue pumping (and, in turn, breastfeeding) is just that they hate being stuck helpless while pumping, and this bra can really help avoid that from happening.

I washed this before wearing it, and had absolutely no issues while doing so – I just followed the instructions, washing it on cold and hanging to dry.  It’s been soft and comfortable, and not constrictive.  It’s done a great job at supporting the pump flanges – I’ve used both the standard Medela flanges and the Pumpin Pals flanges with it, and both have worked great.

I’d strongly recommend this pumping bra – for less than $40, which is less than you would spend on a single bra at Victoria’s Secret, you get a great pumping bra that should easily be able to last you the whole time you breastfeed/pump.  The company also has a great 30-day money-back guarantee, which is rare for such a product.  All in all, a great buy!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Arm's Reach Mini Co-Sleeper

When Pickle was born, we started bedsharing around 6 weeks or so – it was the only way she would sleep.  I read up on all of the literature, and found ways to make it work safely.  I’ve been a little nervous about doing it with the Peanut, though.  I don’t know if he just seems littler, or what it is, but I’ve had anxiety about bedsharing.  But, due to breastfeeding, I wanted to have him close to me at night, so I didn’t want to put him in his nursery in a crib yet.  I wanted a safe, separate space where he could sleep that was close to the bed – because, let’s be honest.  I’m lazy.  I don’t want to get up out of bed fifteen times a night to nurse him, I want him to be close by.

Enter the Arm’s Reach mini co-sleeper (LINK).  We received ours as a gift from family, but they currently run about $169.  There is also a larger size, but I wanted the smaller one so that I could still easily get in and out of bed around it after my C-section.  

The Arm’s Reach has two modes in which it can be used.  It can be set up as a free-standing bassinet, totally separate from the bed.  We’d used it that way for the first six weeks of Pickle’s life, and it worked well –but I still had to get up and out of bed to soothe or nurse her.  I knew that I wasn’t really looking for that with Peanut, so we instead set it up in the co-sleeper mode.  To use the co-sleeper mode, one of the sides of the sleeping area rolls down for easy access from your bed.  In order to ensure that the baby does not roll out and into a gap between the co-sleeper and the bed, a tether is provided that you use to attach the co-sleeper closely to the bed – it goes between the top mattress and the box spring, and has a plate that you attach on the far side of the mattress.  Thus, the co-sleeper is securely attached right beside you for easy access to the baby in the middle of the night.

At first, we had some issues with the height of the co-sleeper, as we have a tall bed.  The co-sleeper was shorter than the bed – this made me paranoid that somehow a blanket or something would fall into the co-sleeper from the bed, since there was a drop down.  I went to the Arm’s Reach website, and got some leg extenders (LINK) - they worked great.  They raised the co-sleeper up to the appropriate height, and there’s no danger of anything falling into the baby’s sleeping area.  I could hold Peanut’s hand or soothe him when he needed it without having to even stir from where I was sleeping.

He loves to prop his feet up on the side.

The sides of the co-sleeper are mesh, so they are breathable if the baby gets too close to them.  There are also pockets on either end – these have been invaluable.  Each night before bed, I load a bunch of diapers in there, as well as one of the smaller sized packs of diaper wipes, some diaper cream, a changing pad, and a peepee teepee (don’t judge, I have a pee-er).  I don’t have to even get out of bed to do a diaper change, which really accommodates my middle-of-the-night laziness.  

As the sides are fairly shallow, you want to change to another sleeping surface when the baby starts rolling.  We found a crib that converts to a daybed, and have put that in a side-car setup attached to the bed so that Peanut still has a safe surface, but I can still nurse him with maximum ease.  There was no difficulty of transition, since he was already used to a similar setup with the co-sleeper.  This is a great short-term solution to facilitating easy sleeping arrangements with a newborn, I would strongly recommend it.  There are now similar products on the market, and I’d imagine that they’d work similarly well.