I knew I wanted to try my hardest to nurse my babies and make it a year doing so. I have now breastfed for a total of 22 months between my two little ones. However, I never realized how tough breastfeeding would be or how much I would actually enjoy it.
Breastfeeding with both Blake and Raelynn has had its moments of blood, sweat and tears (quite literally!) If I weren’t such a stubborn person I probably would have thrown in the towel. There is a lot about nursing I wish people told first time moms (check out this post for what I wish I had been told). Nursing has been both the hardest and best thing.
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*Disclaimer: These are merely my suggestions and things I have found helpful. Always check with your Dr. or lactation consultant before you try anything new with your baby. As always make sure to read the safety and warning labels on any product you use with your baby.
Since I started nursing I have found some essential items and resources that I suggest to every breastfeeding or soon-to-be breastfeeding Mom.
Essentials for Breastfeeding Comfort
Like I said breastfeeding can be painful and tough. I experienced a lot of discomfort with nursing both Blake and Raelynn for different reasons. Blake had some latch issues early on and developed thrush which made nursing him a constant challenge. Raelynn started off well but quickly developed thrush as well and struggled with pain latching on. I also quickly learned that nursing during the night was exhausting (especially with thrush and latch issues). Therefore, you need to find essentials to help keep not only your little one comfortable but your body too!
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Since both Blake and Raelynn struggled with latching my lactation consultant suggested using a nipple shield. I had to use one with Raelynn because I was bleeding so bad she was spitting up blood (talk about scary!!) and developed thrush. Raelynn only used hers for 2 weeks (read more about our breastfeeding journey here)
The nipple shield is essentially a piece of soft silicone that you place over your nipple and allow your baby to nurse from. It helps with flow issues, latch issues and soreness.
If you have latch issues, flow issues or deal with pain then talk to your lactation consultant about using a nipple shield. I really love these Medela nipple shields. It is a good idea to get multiples to stash all over so you don’t have to hunt for them.
2. Lanolin Free Nipple Butter or Coconut Oil
What you will quickly learn once having a baby is that the topics of conversation that were once weird or taboo are no longer such. One such topic is definitely the condition of your boobs once you start nursing.
If you haven’t heard yet then let me be the first to tell you! You will be raw and chapped the first week or two once you start breastfeeding.
To help with being raw, chapped or having cracked nipples you need to get yourself moisturized. I used a combo of lanolin free nipple butter and coconut oil. It is especially helpful to apply after showering or nursing to help keep you from bleeding.
The boppy nursing pillow is my ALL TIME FAVORITE breastfeeding essential! It is one of my top recommendations to any mom (nursing or not).
During the early days of breastfeeding it is helpful to have for support as you figure out how to properly hold your baby. I also love having the boppy at night when I’m half awake and have to feed my baby. It helps give the extra support needed in a sleepy stupor.
The boppy also serves as more than just a breastfeeding pillow. It is perfect for tummy time, helping baby sit up and just for resting your little one on in general. It is also a comfy pillow for mom during and after pregnancy.
I love that the boppy is easy to transport wherever you go and is easy to wash. I bought 2 covers so that I could always have a clean cover when one got dirty. They will get dirty fast too from spit up.
4. Big Water Bottle
Nursing requires you to stay very hydrated since your baby is eating every 2 to 3 hours. I found that having a big water bottle with me throughout the day helped out a ton! I actually have water by my bed and have an ozark trail 32oz. tumbler around the house to help remind me to drink enough.
Essentials for Public Breastfeeding
One of the things I love about breastfeeding is the ease of being able to feed my baby at any time and anywhere I want to. I know not everyone is comfortable with breastfeeding in public and it does take some getting used to.
I have become pretty comfortable with feeding my baby wherever I want to and they need me to. However, I do not feel comfortable showing myself to the whole world. So, I have found some essentials that make breastfeeding in public easier and more comfortable.
I enjoy having a nursing cover (especially in the beginning) so that I can breastfeed discreetly without a little wardrobe malfunction. I also like having nursing covers as my baby gets older because it helps hide things from their view and keeps them focused.
My favorite nursing cover by far is the hooter hiders cover. This cover has a flexible neckline that allows you to be able to see your baby while nursing them. This is so helpful because you can see to discreetly re-latch your baby or snap your bra back without anyone noticing the extra movement. It is also comforting for your baby to be able to see you while nursing.
6. Nursing Bra
Having a good nursing bra is essential to the ease of breastfeeding in public. I have tried out a few from Walmart, Hanes and Motherhood Maternity. My favorite was Motherhood Maternity Nursing Bra.
7. Easy to Access Clothing
I have never bought a nursing tank, dress or shirt simply because I look for regular clothing that is easy to access for breastfeeding. Finding dresses for church has been a little more challenging. I found that spaghetti strap dresses or LulaRoe Amelia style dresses work best. This is an area where I often try to find secondhand clothing since I won’t need it long.
I exclusively breastfed but even with that there are times I needed to pump. Having a freezer stash of milk comes in handy for date nights, outings and long road trips!
I wish I would have had the haakaa with Blake because it has been AMAZING! The haakaa is so easy to attach and use. Unlike a traditional pump it doesn’t require electricity or any hand pumping. This is one of my top baby shower gifts now!
The haakaa has allowed me to build up a nice freezer stash without any extra effort or time. I was able to get at least 4oz of breast milk a day just by using the haakaa a couple times when breastfeeding. I recommend have 2 of these on hands so that you have one to attach to each breast.
9. Breast Pump
As an exclusivley brestfeeding mom having an electric breast pump is essentail. It helps build up a freezer stash of milk in a timely and efficient manner.
The first breast pump I got was a Spectra S9 and I loved it so much! I got it because it is portable, compact, efficient and relatively quiet. As a youth leader I knew there would be youth events where I would need to leave my baby at home and pump out and about. This portable pump made that so easy and convenient.
I rented a hospital grade Medela pump from the hospital with Blake and while it did a good job I was not impressed. The medela was bulky and loud. After using my Spectra S9 I was sold on Spectra so much so that I got a hospital grade Spectra…the Spectra S2. I was even able to find a car charger for it so that I could use it while driving.
The S9 is very efficient but the S2 definitely beats it in being able to get more milk in a shorter time. I love that the S2 like the S9 is relatively quiet for a pump. It also features a night light which was so nice to have even when nursing at night. I highly recommend buying a Spectra pump! They have yet to disappoint (and no I am not partnered with them. I just love them that much!).
10. Breast Milk Storage and Bottles
So, you have the essentials to pump the breast milk but where are you storing all this liquid gold? I use Walmart brand breast milk storage bags that are made for freezing milk. They are cheap and work well. I also suggest buying some bottles to have so that you can feed the milk to your baby. It is always a good idea to have several bottles on hand (the Spectra pump comes with 2).
I love the Philips Avent bottles because of the nipple shape and the fact that they are compatible with my Spectra pump. Both of my kiddos have preferred the larger nipple on the Avent bottles compared to a lot of the more narrow bottles. Find what works best with your baby and buy several bottles.
Other Essentials and Resources
There are so many wonderful options out there today for the breastfeeding mom but I must wrap up my essentails before I get carried away much more!
11. Mother’s Milk Tea
Growing up overseas turned me into a hot tea drinker so of course I was thrilled when I learned of Mother’s Milk Tea. Drinking tea growing up was something I enjoyed doing with my mom (still do when we see each other). I love ending the day with an evening cup of hot tea by the fire or out on the porch.
This tea is geared just for breastfeeding moms. It is full of herbs that help your body produce milk. If I ever felt like my supply was dipping then I would make me a cup of this tea with some honey!
12. Lactation Consultant Resources
One of my biggest pieces of advice to breastfeeding moms is to get a lactation consultant. The best place to start with finding one is asking the maternity ward at your hospital and googling breastfeeding classes in your area.
I have my lactation consultants on speed dial because I call them frequently with any concerns or questions. They are always so helpful and I have even gone in to see them in person when I have had issues. Breastfeeding is challenging so it helps greatly to have a support system and people cheering you on. It is even better when those people are certified and know how to best help you.
Another resource I recently came across was Andrea Tran’s eBook Breastfeeding Like a Boss-52 Tips for the First Year of Breastfeeding. This book is a quick and easy reference full of breastfeeding tips. It is geared more so to first time breastfeeding moms who have no idea where to start.
I wish I had found all the suggestions in one place when I was breastfeeding. Instead I had to search the internet, do countless hours of research and constantly call my lactation consultant.
Andrea makes it easy for you by providing everything in one book. She is definitely qualified as she is a RN and certified lactation consultant who has over 25 years of experience. She covers everything you would ever need to know from latching issues to weaning process.
Best of Luck Momma
I hope you have found these essentials helpful and that you have success in your breastfeeding journey. I encourage you to find a support system of people who encourage you while you breastfeed because at times you will want to give up. If you don’t have anyone to support you please let me know and I will be there to cheer you on!