Sweetie Pie Baby: Waste Not, Want Not

A Breastfeeding Supply that’s a Bit Different: 

Breastfeeding Shells
Breastfeeding Shells

When my mother-in-law told me that plastic breast cups made all the difference for her when it came to breastfeeding, I had a hard time keeping an open mind.

Plastic cups against your breast? Strangest thing I ever heard.

But I think she knew the idea would weird me out- probably because she had suggested them to her nieces in the past. The response, I assume, was not a lot of interest. In fact, they probably looked at her with an expression that said, “Sure Aunt Connie.”

I can’t blame my cousins-in-law. I certainly didn’t go out and buy them. In fact, when Connie gave me her set, I put them in a box I have labeled “Breastfeeding Supplies” and left them there.

Then Ginny started sleeping through the night.

I’m not complaining. A full night’s sleep is a wonderful thing I didn’t fully appreciate until I became a mother. But if you’re a breastfeeding mom, eight hours of milk making comes with a price. Some women leak out while they’re sleeping. My problem appeared when I first nursed Ginny in the morning. While Ginny nursed on one side, the other side leaked! And I’m not talking about a little wet spot on my nightgown.

Illinois Farm Under Water, Spring 2013, Photo Courtesy of Kevin Wright
Illinois Farm Under Water, Spring 2013, Photo Courtesy of Kevin Wright

More like the Illinois flooding we had this spring! 

At first I just used my nursing pads to soak it all up. That felt like such a waste! I don’t know about the rest of you breastfeeding moms out there, but to me, every drop is precious. So allowing it to pour away irretrievably felt like asking a waitress to trash half your meal (sharing/splitting a meal…such a better idea).

You see where this is going.

I grabbed one of the plastic breast cups, put it in the basket next to my rocker, and the next morning, popped it into my sleeping bra. I put it on my left side, since my right side is my powerhouse. After nursing on the right, I gently pulled the cup out of my bra to avoid spilling, and found a good deal of collected breast milk.

After I finished nursing Ginny, I poured the collected breast milk into a bottle and voila- half an ounce.

Now I keep one cup next to my rocker, and one next to my bed. I use one every morning.

A note on the collected breast milk: if you try this, you’ll notice that what you end up with is more translucent than what you pump. My aunt, who’s a lactation consultant in Chicagoland, explained it like this: when your baby first starts nursing, she gets a sugary thirst quencher that’s kind of like a watered down snickers bar. So you’re essentially starting out with dessert. Then comes the thicker, fatty milk that gives your baby the nutrients she needs.

Keeping this in mind, I take the collected breast milk from the cup and combine it with the thicker, expressed breast milk from my breast pump. That way, I’m never giving her a full bottle of snickers.

If she’s anything like me, she’d like that a little too much.

Interested in giving these a try? They’re technically called ‘breast shells’ and the closest thing I’ve found to the pair Connie gave me is O-cal-ette Nursing Cups. They only have one small hole, so collecting breast milk works. 

There are a lot of other versions of ‘breast shells’. I’ve seen them at the store by both Medela (see the image below) and Avent. Problem is, many of these versions have a bunch of holes in one side, (where as Connie’s only have one hole, as you can see in the image at the beginning of this post) so be careful. The holes are there to help sore nipples air dry- so if you have an issue with that, you’ve got another reason to find these.


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