Breastfeeding such a larrgggee topic. There are blogs just about breastfeeding. It is easier for some, harder for others but there are some “essentials” that can make your breastfeeding life easier. Like most things baby and breastfeeding what works for some may not work for all but from my first hand experience and lots of input from readers and mama friends these are my breastfeeding essentials. We’ve also had a Real Mom Dilemma about how to increase your breastmilk supply which is helpful for those of you struggling with supply.
1 – Lanolin. An absolute must to soothe those sore nipples. Don’t hesitate to use generous amounts but do know it stains clothing. Most varieties are safe for the babe to come in contact with and you can’t have enough on hand.
2 – Soothies / Lilypadz. Soothies and Lilpadz were total lifesavers for me. Not to get all tmi on you but I had an infected nipple that required prescription cream and Soothies and Lilypadz helped wayyyy more than the cream. I definitely suggest putting them in the freezer. Some worry the cool can effect milk supply but I don’t know if had any negative effect on my milk supply. A heating pad can also be another way to soothe if you worry about the cool effecting your supply.
3 – Nursing bra / nursing tank. I have yet to find the perfect nursing bra but we are reviewing/giving one away next week – stay tuned. I liked these from Target and this nursing tank is super soft and comfy. I sometimes wore a bra AND tank for extra support although, I know some moms don’t require both. I would suggest having 3 – 5 of your preffered bra/tank on hand. Between leaks and spit up you never know how many you may need!
4 – Nursing pillow. I tried the Boppy but it didn’t work for me. My Brest Friend was really my best friend. The flat, firm surface is ideal and I liked that it tightly connects to you, almost creating a “pillow table” for your little one. My breast feeding life got much easier when I started using My Brest Friend. I survived with just one cover but it may be helpful to have another one on hand. You can check out our full review of the My Brest Friend for more details.
5 – Nursing Cover. A designated nursing cover isn’t a must but it is super nice. In the event you don’t want another “piece” of baby gear around you can use a blanket or anything else you can come up with. In the event you see it as a worthwhile invest the Dria Cover is by far my favorite. Some nursing covers are so obviously nursing covers. Not that they aren’t cute persay but they are almost like a big sign, “hey, I am breastfeeding” and there is nothing wrong but for the more modest in the bunch (ME) the Dria cover is stylish, chic and discreet, check out our full review, here. Not to mention it is made of super soft fabric and can double as a carseat or stroller cover too. Enter code: “WB13” at checkout at get 10% off!
6 – Breastpump. Again, we are bordering on essential here but for me a pump was a must. The one pictured is new from the bottle experts, Dr. Brown’s. I haven’t tried it yet but instead of the cups being hard plastic they are soft silicone. Reader feedback is positive and eventually I hope to have a first hand review. I would also suggest having your pump ready to go – pieces sterilized, plugged in, the whole nine yards. For that matter have your bottles ready to go too. I didn’t expect to have trouble breastfeeding but I did. I was frantic and exhausted setting up my pump and trying to sterilize bottle pieces. Pumping can help stimulate your supply and can also help give you a break and let your hubby, mom, caregiver, etc feed your little one while you catch up on sleep. My last statement could be controversial but I am a firm believer a new mom should try to minimize stress and maximize sleep and we all got to do what we got to do. In my mind there is no shame in pumping and giving a bottle or even giving formula if you need to supplement. I beat myself up about having to supplement with some formula in the early days and wish I hadn’t. I went on to 7+ months of happy, healthy, exclusive breastfeeding. Bottom line, be easy on yourself and do the best you can do because it is enough! Check out our breastpump reviews and buying guide as well as our list of breastfeeding accessories.
7 – Water, water and more water. Seriously, drink lots of water. I didn’t understand the importance of drinking water until about 6 weeks and miraculously my milk supply quadrupled (see also below). I would suggest having two or so water bottles going at the same time. Maybe one where you typically sit to feed and another “around” and maybe even another by your bed. Consider these environmentally friendly, glass bottles from Lifefactory.
8 – Food, food and more food (not pictured). Again, I don’t think I was eating enough in the early days. Not because I didn’t want too but because I just simply forgot or would grab some crackers ie, not enough to eat. Try to have good snacks and meals on hand and don’t be afraid to ask friends to bring you a sandwich, bake you a casserole, etc – believe me they would probably love too! Also oatmeal is a big milk supply booster and can be relatively easy to make. Think about making a big batch in a crock pot or baking with fruit (like this recipe) and keeping in the fridge for a quick reheat. I attribute my lack of eating properly and not drinking enough water to my lackluster supply in the beginning. Again, different for everyone but it worked for me and many of my friends.
There you have my thoughts on the breastfeeding essentials. Breastfeeding is not only a very broad topic but a personal and at times, controversial one. I included my personal anecdotes in hopes that any new mom or mom to be reading this feeling exhausted and like they are failing says, “hey, it is okay, I am doing my best and this really isn’t easy for everyone”. The first six weeks of breastfeeding were incredibly tough for me and then we went on our first family vacation. I was eating bigger meals three times a day (novel idea!), drinking lots of water, relaxing, enjoying myself and all the sudden I had more milk than I knew what to do with. Lots of people say things get easier with a newborn when you hit six weeks and I definitely agree but I also think that I truly started to relax and not beat myself up about my lackluster milk supply. When I stopped over analyzing it – it just happened. I know this may not be true and possible for everyone but again, just hoping my story helps just one of you out there! xo
On that note, do you have any other breastfeeding essentials to add?