I'm blogging about breastfeeding! Proceed at your own, um, comfort level.
Pregnancy has caused me, as it does most women, to need to seek our different bras and thus I've been sorting through the pile of bras in various sizes I've accumulated over the past few years of the metamorphosis of my bustline. In the past few weeks I've run into a new issue that I didn't ever deal with when pregnant with Grace: underwires are really bothering me. (I am a fairly devoted underwire wearer so this is a significant change for me.) "Are there any bras here that don't have underwires?" I ponder as I hunt through the stash of bras. Then I see them: the nursing bras.
Sometimes you hear advice to buy nursing bras when you need new sizes during pregnancy because you'll probably need those sizes later, but I never did that when I was pregnant with Grace. I wanted "real" bras then, and I still sort of do, but I need a break from the underwires at least when I'm around the house or the like. Conveniently for me in my current delicate condition, nursing bras often are wire-free (underwires can cause blocked milk ducts) and I nursed Grace long enough and lost weight drastically enough that I ended up buying nursing bras in, seriously, 3 or 4 sizes. There you are-- a nice selection of wire-free bras, right in a box in my closet! The only slight hiccup in this plan is that the size I am right now is the same size I wore for the longest period during Grace's nursing career (from 4 months to, oh, about 10 months or so) so several of those bras got WORN OUT and thrown away. Starting at about 12 months, I gave up on the nursing bras entirely as it didn't seem worth it with the reduced frequency of Grace's nursing; I'd just push the regular bra down or up the few times a day she was still nursing. For the record, this too will wear out your bras amazingly speedily.
Breaking out the nursing bras and wearing them has, of course, caused me to ponder breastfeeding and that part of my relationship with Grace and what it will be like with the new baby. I am really happy with how nursing Grace went and how it ended and all that. I don't really think of going to 2 years as an accomplishment or anything; it was just how things went for us and was the gentlest, most appropriate (and easiest!) choice for her and me. Sticking with breastfeeding through those early weeks, on the other hand-- that is an accomplishment I am darn proud of because folks, that was hard work. Breastfeeding frequently enough to establish a sufficient supply and dealing with pain for a few weeks (well, really just three weeks in my case, but still...) took commitment; I am really glad that we established how important this was ahead of time so that in the fog and delirium Rob and I knew what our goals were. I am hoping that the early stages of breastfeeding the new baby don't feel as arduous; maybe having more experience will help. However things begin, I do really hope that we eventually end up in the same kind of natural rhythm that Grace and I had, and I'll certainly do whatever I can (which is a lot, for the doggedly persistent among us). If something goes awry with the new baby and for whatever reason we never get her to actually nurse, I'll probably commit to pumping for 4-6 months and then reevaluate whether switching to formula would make me a saner, happier mama. I am ardently pro-breastfeeding but after making sure the baby has breastmilk during those early months when it has the most proven, dramatic benefits, I am open to destressing my life if I need it. My limited experience with pumping certainly indicates that it is a whole different ball of wax than actual nursing at the breast.
So it appears there have been some great strides in nursing bra technology in the 2+ years since I was last really looking into all of this. Bravado finally got rid of those terrible snaps on their Original Nursing Bra and replaced them with the regular style of nursing access hooks. About time, is all I have to say. I liked that bra for the very first weeks and hanging out around the house. This was the bra that got the most use for me once I was up and about again, so much so that it got totally worn out and I don't have one anymore, but this one also looks like a possible winner to me. And I really wish they had these bra tanks around when I was nursing Grace because I totally would have loved them; I tried the Glamourmom tanks (so unsupportive I felt like I should wear a bra UNDERNEATH it) and the cheap ones from Target (so short they didn't come to my navel) but the Bravado one looks promising. And I don't know why all the ones I am thinking about trying are from Bravado; I'm not really that brand loyal or anything. When I look at the pile of nursing bras I have leftover from Grace, they are a mix of companies (Target, Medela, and others) and styles (sportsbra-like, underwire, etc) but apparently I didn't like them enough to wear them out like a couple of my Bravado ones. La Leche League has started making bras too, which could be a good possibility. And no discussion of nursing bras is complete without linking to the horror and the humor that is the Hands-Free Pumping Bra. Aaaah! That is dedication for you; three cheers to every working mom who uses one of these to give her baby the benefits of breastmilk even while she's away.