If you're not into knitting, crocheting, or breastfeeding, you might as well find some other corner of the internet to investigate today. See you later :)
Mother's milk: one of the wonders of the natural world. However, most mothers find it inconvenient, embarrassing, or just plain cold and wet to carry surplus milk around in their clothing, instead of in their bodies. There are quite a few disposable and reusable products out there, and the Lansinoh disposable nursing pads aren't awful, but they're not that environmentally friendly.* So, inspired by these, I figured something homemade might work just as well.
Prototypes 3 and 1 (left to right):
Prototype 3 (green tag) is the one I'm happiest with. Prototype 1 is an instance of these Woolen Nursing Pads, which I found to be too flat and not as thick as I wanted. Prototype 3 is suitably cuppy, therefore it doesn't bunch up in the bra (creating little escape routes for milk no less). Here's a partial profile to convey cuppiness.
Here's my version, using Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool (1/4 or 1/3 of a skein?) and a size H crochet hook:
- ch 3 and join to form ring
- (row 1) ch 2; hdc 6 into ring; join to top of ch-2 with sl st (7 st)
- (row 2) ch 2; hdc 2 into each of next 6 st; hdc into base of ch-2; join w/sl st
- (row 3) ch 2; (hdc 1 into next st; hdc 2 into following st) x 6; hdc; hdc into base of ch-2; join w/sl st
- (rows 4-10) continue as above, making one additional hdc per repeat. Tenth row should have 70 st total. Bind off, cut yarn, and weave in ends.
- Felt in hot-and-heavy wash cycle (in a zippered pillow case so fiber doesn't end up in the pump or septic tank). Air dry.
For the first 2 days they worked great; now they're noticeably less absorbent and are having a bit of a bath in warm water. I was surprised at how little they itched (just a bit on the first day). They're very soft and in this below-zero weather I am grateful for the extra layer too. ;)
* Yes, we are switching to cloth diapers next week. I wanted to get the hang of breastfeeding before tackling those.
The lovely and kind Kathleen (author of the comment below) shared her tips on lanolizing woolens in an email, and she said I could share them with you here as well!
Here's the process. :-) Lansinoh lanolin is perfect (only the pure lanolin, I think they have some other cream out there, but just USP lanolin is what works for this).
First handwash your pads with a wool-safe cleanser (you can use a wool wash - those are the best, but if you don't have it available or are trying to be frugal, baby shampoo works fine). Soak your pads for 5 mins in lukewarm water. Then rinse them in lukewarm water, and squeeze them out (you don't want to wring them, just kinda press them folded over on themselves). Set
You can now lanolinize using hot water, a dollop of Lansinoh and a dollop of baby shampoo. Microwave a cup of water, and when it's hot enough to melt the lanolin, mix the three together until the liquid is milky-looking and the lanolin is fully melted. Then fill your sink with lukewarm water and put the pads in. Pour the milky solution and let it all sit for a half hour. Drain the sink while holding the pads next to the drain - it helps to get every bit of the lanolin into the pads. Then all you have to do is roll them in a towel to get out the excess moisture and hang them to dry.
After that, like I said in my post, all you have to do is wash them with a wool safe wash (one note, Woolite will strip all the lanolin out) if they get stiff (just let them dry, otherwise), and repeat the above process if they seem to lose their absorbency or start to smell. These will also gain lanolin from your use of them, but make sure you spread it thin or you will end up with sticky parts on the pad. They take a little while to dry, in my experience, so keeping 2-3 sets on hand is good.
And from my experience, Fisherman's wool is kinda dirty, so I clean it really well before I use it, which strips out any oil. Also, the oil is not just lanolin, but also a processing oil they use when spinning it.
This is the same process I use to lanolinize our wool diaper covers. I would never have believed it worked until I tried it. Wool is truly amazing. :)