If you want to take a photo of your baby on Valentine’s Day. I love the easy kisses photo! Just grab some red lipstick, and give the baby lots of kisses all over. Then put your baby in front of a simple background with enough natural light (doesn’t need to be direct harsh sun! The hour before sunset is a great time to find soft light!)
And then you have a great picture to post online for Valentine’s Day with your brand new Valentine!
Breastfeeding was so so important to me when I became pregnant. I knew so many people that weren’t able to breastfeed that really wanted to, so I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to do it. Because of that, I did so much research. I think one of the biggest reasons I had an epidural-free birth was to increase the chances that I could breastfeed. I just wanted to do everything I could to help me be able to breastfeed. After I actually had my son, I realized how challenging it can be. I bought everything out there to make the process easier for me.
I would hesitantly say I’ve been very successful at breastfeeding. I hesitate because there have been many tears shed and stress endured every step of the way. Just recently when Leo hit 18 months old, I finally felt some relief around breastfeeding. I wanted to share some of my favorite products throughout the process!
Before continuing, I will add a little about me. I am a wedding photographer. Most of the time my schedule is flexible, I work half days during the week, and when I am away working during photo sessions and weddings I could be going to all different locations. I have been at state parks, outside on hot Texas concrete, in my car, at home, or in a random ballroom pumping breastmilk. There is no designated pumping room. I am sure a lot of women are in the same situations. Many of these items are things that would help with pumping at home or outside of the home.
I have to tell you that I kind of hate pumping. I have a few friends who had to start their breastfeeding journey with pumping and just continued that way throughout their journey, and I have to tell you that pumping all your breastmilk is way harder! I have so much respect for those Moms! If you can breastfeed from the breast, I think that is easier but everything comes with it’s challenges. When you feed your baby directly from the breast, you don’t have to worry about being covered as much, an electric outlet, pump parts (so many parts!), pumping bra, bottles, cleaning everything, storing milk properly, and sometimes watching baby while pumping. Just thinking about it gets me feeling stressed. When feeding from the breast, your baby is fussy/hungry/tired/stressed, pop them on the breast (properly of course, so that there’s no pain!) And then they are satisfied and maybe even go to sleep! Please, take a nap!
When I first started breastfeeding at home, I would use the sandwich method with one hand holding on my breast and the other holding my baby. The baby’s body should be turned towards yours. We achieved a good latch. This is so important to avoid pain.
Early on, I used the My Brest friend nursing pillow constantly. When your baby is so little, that pillow works way better to keep baby up on breast level and avoid you having a bad latch or back pain. You can put extra pillows underneath the My Brest friend as well! When the baby outgrows that pillow, I moved to the boppy being my favorite. The boppy is way more stylish, and I actually used both in the early months. I kept the boppy downstairs. If you wanted to only by one, I recommend my breast friend then switching to a pillow if you are still breastfeeding after 6 months or so.
The My Brest Friend Nursing Cover was also my favorite and I had a few. I liked that it tied around my head and was so lightweight. That’s important when it’s so hot in Texas. Again, the designs we’re not my favorite, but I’ll take functionality over fashion. We traveled a lot so I always had this cover with me especially on airplanes.
Below are some of my favorite essential nursing supplies, but honestly if you are feeding from the breast, you don’t need too much!
-Extra Vitamin D – most babies and people are deficient in Vitamin D, so extra can be helpful!
-Earth Mama Nipple cream – I honestly didn’t need this much, but I did use it occasionally early on when the nipples were tender. They say putting breast milk on sensitive nipples and letting them air-dry can help too.
-Nursing gown– My boobs were falling out all the time with this, but it is easy in the night. I liked it in those early months, but later on it was too much.
-Nursing clothes-My Favorite nursing clothes were from Latched Mama. I did not buy a ton from them, because I found them after I already had a lot of stuff. If I did it again, I would buy more from them! I found it hard to find stylish nursing clothes.
-Nursing tanks are great for travel or being in public to hide your belly. I was sensitive about this, so I liked the tanks.
-Nursing bras provide better support or if you are wearing a nursing top you can still feel covered. I bought a some at the Motherhood store, or some on sale at H&M too.
(Get insurance to pay for it!) I have two pumps. One was given to me and was the Medela Pump in Style. It did the job. I think I pumped more breastmilk with the Medeala, but I purchased the Willow Pump for pumping at Weddings when I was short on time and private spaces. I loved how high tech it was, but sometimes my milk would not let down when you are using it, because you have to line up the pump with your nipples properly without being able to see your nipples through the pump. It was great when it worked properly, and I do not regret buying it. I also did not use it everyday. If I had to use that pump everyday at a typical Monday-Friday 8AM-5PM work day, then I am sure I would have not produced enough. That may have been the same with the Medela, but I think it would have made it last a little longer.
-Milk storage bags – ziplock bags are great too to store pumping parts in fridge between pumping sessions, as well as an extra set of pumping parts.
Snacks plus water!
Just a final note, a lot of people think of breastfeeding as being painful, but if the form is right, then it really shouldn’t be. It should be bonding and nourishing to your baby. I know there are exceptions to this, but if you are experiencing pain, please talk with a experience lactation consultant sooner rather than later to see if they can help.
Also, people also are told babies are supposed to feed every 3 hours, but early on my baby was on the breast constantly. I was breastfeeding every 20 minutes during the day. This is so hard and not everyone realizes this. They see this and think something must be wrong or their baby is not eating enough. You can make sure your baby is eating enough by counting wet and dirty diapers! So, just be expecting breastfeeding to take a lot of time, for your boobs to be out constantly, and knowing that it is normal and that you are producing enough milk! Obviously talk to a professional if you have concerns. I totally believe in mother’s instincts in feeling if something is wrong. I just want to make sure people have the right expectations on what breastfeeding looks like. It is “free”, but it takes soooo many hours of your time. And your time is worth something!
I also did join an LLL la leche league, and that was helpful. It is basically a group that sits in a circle and talks about how great breastfeeding is. It can be nice to be in a safe breastfeeding environment or have people to ask qustions if you have issues.
Leo took almost 30 flights during his first year of life. My tips vary slightly depending on their age, so this post will be more towards the babies that are not moving much yet in the 3 months – 6 months old. Photos mixed in are from our California trip at 3 months, our Disney trip at 6 months, and our Cabo trip at 9 months.
I have provided my top tips that worked well for us below. A lot depends on your child’s personality. I am lucky that Leo is very even keeled and not easily upset – I don’t think he got those personality traits from me. But don’t hate me, we have challenges of our own! I have heard and do believe that the earlier you take your babies traveling, the more it is a normal thing for them. Also, you know your child’s personality- You can apply what you know to travel. Leo tended to be more tired on vacation, due to the extra stimulation as well as the waking up earlier than usual. He responded to time changes really well. I would worry about so many things that could go wrong when we would travel, and a lot of times those things I worried about would be fine. But something else might go wrong that I didn’t expect. We never had a bad trip though! Traveling is exhausting with a child, but once we arrived at the destination we really enjoyed our time. Like I said, traveling looks a lot different once you have a child, but I still really enjoyed the destination once we arrived.
Leo’s first flight was when he was when he was three months old, and we flew from Houston to California with our new baby. Here are my tips as I think of them that applied to us.
1. Plan for ease of travel!
-Simplify packing as much as possible – I think we even Amazon Primed some diapers to different locations before we arrived to save luggage space!
We would definitely try to make our trips as easy as possible. Non-stop flights were important to me.
-WHAT WE PACK-
We would check all our luggage- clothes, baby gear (Leo slept in the bed with me in a snuggle me organic – we brought that with us in the luggage for those early trips). I would think you know some of the obvious things- diaper cream, big hat, baby sunscreen, diaper cream, extra clothes, basic bath stuff, warm clothes if needed. These are tips for before they are eating solids, but after we just add snacks and water bottles to the mix. We did bring our white noise sound machine on those early trips because that’s what we used at home. We just tried to keep everything the same as much as possible. I have seen parents bring their baby monitor, and they will go out by the pool with the monitor while their kid naps in the hotel crib. I think I would be too paranoid, but if you are right next to your room then maybe! We did not bring a big heavy stroller (below I talk about our travel stroller). We don’t check a car seat. We rented a car and used the carseat from the rental car company. We are AAA members and you get a discount off of Hertz rentals and a free car seat with rental… I think. You should let them know rear facing when you arrive if you do that. You are welcome to check the car seat or have her sit in it on the plane if that is important to you. I always try to think about how many hands we have to carry things. If I am carrying the baby, then my husband has to be able to carry all the luggage.
-WHAT TO BRING ON THE PLANE –
All we brought on the plane was the big diaper bag backpack with diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes for plane (sometimes we use, sometimes we don’t), a few quality light weight toys/books, breastfeeding cover, lightweight blanket, and a heavier blanket, an extra outfit, diaper changing pad, bags to put dirty clothes in if needed, pacifier. Blowouts were common for Leo in those early days. He usually pooped twice per flight during those first flights. On his 6 months flight, he totally blew out his diaper. You can ask the flight attendant which restroom has the diaper changing station. Those restrooms are cramped.
Often times on those first flights, I would need to stand and bob up and down some to get Leo to fall asleep. I uncomfortably did that from my seat sometimes. Like I said, you know what your kid usually needs, and that might apply while in the airplane. Leo hated the car seat for like the first year, so we also brought some light up soft music things for if we were driving at nighttime. Those were helpful on the airplane too. At some point I brought like teethers to chew on, crinkle toys, peekaboo forest book.
-Breastfeeding an infant during airplane travel- (Note: There is no judgement here. This is just my experience)
Breastfeeding is your BEST friend during travel. I breastfed on the plane, probably more than usual, maybe it was for comfort, and I think Leo sleeps more than usual on the plane. I think all the sounds were very calming to him. I always try to sit in the very back row of the airplane by the window and my husband sits on the aisle. He will move to the middle if he has to. I use the thicker blanket on my arm so when Leo falls asleep, my arm doesn’t fall asleep. I put the light blanket over him. I use the breastfeeding cover, but try to take it off as much as possible when it is hot. I breastfeed on takeoff and landing. I have not once had issues with him crying on takeoff or landing. My pediatrician told me not to feed him on takeoff and landing. I forget the reason. She told me to use a pacifier instead. I talked to so many Moms that told me they breastfed on takeoff and landing, that I didn’t worry about it. As he got older, I wouldn’t always feed him on take-off or landing, and sometimes I would give him a pacifier. He has never really taken a pacifier, but sometimes he would suck on it a little during takeoff and landing. We have never had any issues with his ears- Thank goodness!
I never brought pump stuff if I was on vacation. That was just a whole new set of gear that needed to be lugged around during travel and a whole new set of issues to worry about. Breastfeeding on demand was my friend. Breastfeeding on vacation actually made me more comfortable doing it in public when I was back home. I just want to encourage anyone nervous about breastfeeding during travel, just to do it. I used a cover because that is what I was comfortable with. The more you do it, the more normal it feels to you. You can also look for mamava boxes at airports. I never really had a chance to use them, but I did look inside. I usually try to wait and feed Leo till we were on the plane. Sometimes that made for a bit of a stressful time getting onto the plane. You can usually tell how long you can push it!
2. Have what you need in your Hotel room
I would ask hotel for crib/pack in play. If you want high quality stuff, most cities have services where they can deliver nice and clean quality baby stuff to you if you don’t want to pack certain things or want something nicer than what hotel provides. This might be appealing to y’all if you wanted a nice crib or stroller… not sure what all else they offer.
3. Lots of breaks in the room!
I always liked to plan on our trips where we have breaks to come back to the room. It’s like wake-up, get ready, go to breakfast, back to room for nap, go to pool, back to room for nap, go to lunch, back to room, etc. Maybe a little less frequently, but I always felt a little more relaxed in the room. It also might be nice to have the baby sleep on you outside on a pretty day under an umbrella with a tropical fruit drink nearby… I digress…
Usually on these trips, you just take it easy, enjoy the family time, pretty weather, good food, and lack of to-dos. I never liked to plan any big activities more than a walk and taking pictures of each other with Leo. Often times Leo would sleep on me while we were at a restaurant reservation, and I would just eat like that.
I never really got into baby wearing, even though I expected to. If you like Baby wearing, I think that would work well for travel. The only downside to it is maybe getting hot, especially on that hot airplane.
Definitely look at your schedule and try to anticipate any issues and think about ways that would make them easier. Like I said, often times what you worry about most isn’t even an issue at all.
Good luck! Have fun! I know it will be great! I am feeling jealous already!
Let me know if there are any specific things you are feeling concerned about or have questions about. I am sure I am forgetting something! E-mail me at email@example.com with any questions!