Breastfeeding may not be as simple and natural as it’s cut out to be. As I explored in my last post, sometimes it can bring along many unexpected challenges. Being prepared and knowing what type of supports, products, and services are out there will help you navigate with more ease your breastfeeding journey.
Here is a list of my 11 breastfeeding essentials:
1. Nursing Pillow – we used the Boppy Pillow and really enjoyed it! Some people tend not to invest in a pillow thinking it will be a short-lived item. Well, let me tell you, it’s not! Besides the countless hours of breastfeeding we also used it as a prop for my daughter as she grew. Either for tummy time, for supported sitting, or simply just to play with… my 20 month-old can still be found using her Boppy at one time or another. As it pertains to breastfeeding itself, I found it extremely useful for the long nursing sessions that tend to happen in the first months of breastfeeding. Holding your child in the same position for 30 minutes to 1 hour can take it’s toll.
2. Nipple Cream – everyone knows that nipples can become cracked in the beginning of breastfeeding. Lanolin creams can definitly help alleviate the discomfort. However, sometimes, it goes beyond normal discomfort and you should know that there are other options. Ask your doctor or midwife about prescription APNO cream and if it’s indicated for you. In my case, this made a huge difference. It truly helped the healing process of nipples that were already beyond cracked.
3. Nipple Shield – it is not recommended to start your breastfeeding journey with a nipple shield unless your doctor or midwife diagnosis you with inverted nipples while you are pregnant. It is said that the nipple shield can bring on nipple confusion, slower milk flow, incorrect latch, and that babies can loose interest in breastfeeding. However, in many cases, the nipple shield is the best way to get your child to feed, if feeding without one is not working for the pair of you. In my personal case, when introduced as a newborn, it did not work out for us at all, making feeding even more difficult for me and more frustrating for her. However, after 5 weeks and a bit more growth and development on the baby’s end, it was the perfect solution. We have always used it without any problems or interference in breastfeeding.
4. Lactation Support – you will need it! Either a good book, class, educated friends or family, an actual lactation support group or consultant. Breastfeeding is hard and that’s why so many people try it for a while but end up switching to a bottle sooner than they expected. If you are truly interested in breastfeeding, make sure you surround yourself with the right supports. That will help you overcome any initial problems that come up and help you through your breastfeeding journey.
5.Bamboobies Soothing Therapy Pillows – these are life savers! I got them way to late in my journey. So I am sharing this with you now! Get them even before the baby comes! See here. You will be using them. You can put these in the freezer and get the cold therapy to alleviate cracked and sore nipples, but also microwave them for engorgement or mastitis discomforts. They are amazing!
6. Nursing Pads – either disposable or cloth, purchase some of these too. Leaking is normal in the early stages of breastfeeding and you will need to use nursing pads. Disposables like these are great to have around and on-the-go, but cloth ones like these are more practical while you are just hanging around the house. You can just throw them in the washing machine and use them again.
7. Hydrogel Pads – they gave me some of these in the hospital and at the lactation consultant’s office to relieve some soreness. They do provide great immediate relief, but it tends to ware off pretty quickly. Plus, you can only use them for x amount of time before having to discard them. They are great to have around, but the Soothing Therapy Pillows mentioned above, those you can use over and over again.
8. Breast Pump – a new law passed by President Obama makes it mandatory for health insurance to provide breastfeeding support and access to a breast pump. Each insurance can either provide a rental or give you a pump, either electric or manual. This is where each insurance is different. But before you go out and buy one, call your insurance and ask! A breast pump is a must-have, especially if you are going back to work and intend on continuing to breastfeed your child.
9. Nursing bra and clothes – this will definitely make your life easier, especially if you are out of the house and need to feed your baby. Invest in a couple of good daytime and nighttime nursing bras and some nursing tanks and pajamas. I purchased a bunch at Destination Maternity. They frequently run sales on nursing bras and tanks. Start shopping early in your pregnancy so you have more time to wait for the good deals and sales, instead of having to make a last minute, full-price purchase.
10. A timer – oh, that’s silly, you are thinking. Well, you won’t find it silly if it prevents you from feeding twice from the same breast at night, because you are so tired and can’t remember which one you did last time and wake up with a super sore and engorged breast. You will see different products out on the market, from bracelets, to electronic timers, etc. Personally, I purchased this app on the app store and found it to be amazing! Since I already use my phone for everything, it was just easier to jot things down on this app. I always knew which breast baby fed from last and also how long it’s been since she last fed, slept, had a diaper change, etc. This is all important information that your tired-new-parent-brain will not remember otherwise. When you go to your 1st pediatrician visit and he/she asks you how many wet diapers in a day, you will know the answer. This has also helped me calculate a good average and pack the exact amount of diapers I would need on a trip, and also helped me keep a record of pumped milk. Definitely worth the $5.
11. A comfortable and relaxing setting – as many new parent do, we purchased a comfortable glider for the baby’s room. We did use it, but not as much as I would have anticipated. Although it was comfortable, I found that my couch, the Boppy, and Netflix, was what really worked for us. Like, I mentioned above, you spend so much time feeding in the first couple of months that sometimes you just want to use that time to do something else than breathing in that amazing newborn smell. Some days you will want the “I am so in awe of this baby” moment and others you will want to do something else for yourself during those 30 minutes. Whatever works for you. Just make sure you and your baby are comfortable and cozy!
And that’s that! What a long list! But the breastfeeding journey is also long and you need the resources to tackle it!
Good luck, fellow breastfeeding mommy!
This post is also available in: Portuguese (Portugal)