Breastfeeding is one of the most rewarding things you can do for your baby. But it can also be one the most challenging. You are dealing with sleepless nights, sore nipples, voracious appetite and an equally voracious tiny human. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends women breastfeed for at least the first 12 months of a baby’s life so it’s in your child’s best interest to try to push through those struggles if you can. (Remember, if there is any worry that your baby is not getting enough milk, talk to your doctor. There is no shame in supplementing with formula if that’s what Baby or Mama needs. Remember fed is best!) That being said I have put together 5 Must-Have Items for Breastfeeding Mamas!
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Breastfeeding Must-Have #1: Nursing Bras, lots of them!
When I was pregnant I bought three nursing bras. Just three. I don’t really know what I was thinking because now 4 months later I have at least a dozen and I still feel like I sometimes don’t have enough. The tricky thing about nursing bras is battling leakage. I personally have an oversupply of milk, which is a blessing and also a challenge at times. This oversupply means that I leak ALL OF THE TIME. Despite using nursing pads I still manage to leak through at least 1 bra every other day, if not every day. This is usually the result of me forgetting to put my nursing pad back in after I finish nursing my daughter or because the nursing pad got all squished down under my gigantic ta-tas.
Whatever the case I dirty a lot of bras. I find that its much easier having lots of nursing bras around then trying to remember to do laundry every other day, especially with baby brain. I also have found that I use different types of nursing bras at different times. I have the super cozy sleeping bras (my only downside to these is that my boobs sometimes flop out when I roll over at night), light support nursing bras or these, and then the nursing bras with underwire. I wish I could always wear nursing bras with underwire because like I said I have HUGE, gigantic breastfeeding boobs. But I have read that wearing underwire bras all the time could limit milk production so I just didn’t in the beginning. I dealt with having saggy boobs on the reg while breastfeeding my daughter until my milk was established. Once I wanted more support I bought these underwire nursing bras.
Breastfeeding Must-Have #2: Nursing Pads
Another lifesaver while breastfeeding is nursing pads. As I was saying before I leak all the time. I have found that it is crucial to have nursing pads. I have used both the washable nursing pads as well as the disposable ones. I prefer the disposable ones for work and overnight because they are SUPER absorbent and I don’t have to worry about it for a few hours. The bummer about disposable nursing pads is that they create a lot of trash. Not only are you throwing away the nursing pads throughout the day but they also all come individually wrapped (From what I’ve found) which creates even more trash.
I really like the idea of the washable ones because I dislike the ecological impact of using lots of disposable nursing pads I tried to use these as much as possible.
The con to the washable pads is that they don’t wick moisture away from your skin. As a result, I could really feel the dampness against my skin which I didn’t love.
The washable vs disposable debate is a tough one to sort out. I liked and disliked both types for different reasons. Try both options out and see what you prefer! Let me know if you have found disposable nursing pads that don’t come individually wrapped!
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Breastfeeding Must-Have #3: Breast Pump
I’ll be honest, I really dislike having to pump. It takes time out of my busy day. It’s boring. Basically, I would rather just feed my daughter myself, the old-fashioned way. But, since I work away from home, and like the occasional cocktail, pumping is a necessary evil.
If you have insurance you should qualify for a free breast pump. The Hygeia Enjoye is the pump I use. I like it okay. I haven’t tried others so I don’t feel that I can really recommend it one way or another. I hook it up, adjust the speed and strength of the pump and just sit and wait while it does its thing. Have I ever mentioned I sit in a supply closet in my classroom to pump? Pumping is extremely glamorous. Not.
All in all, my pump gets the job done.
Breastfeeding Must-Have #4: Silicone Manual Pump
While I absolutely hated pumping I loved my little manual pump. When my daughter would breastfeed I would attach the sucker to the opposite boob. It suctions on and catches the milk from your letdown. This is milk that regularly just ends up getting soaked into a nursing pad so its great to be able to catch it and use it later.
I regularly got at least 1 ounce and in the mornings would get more like 3-4 ounces.
This was a great thing to use when I was stocking up on milk before going back to work. Over the course of a day’s feedings, I would collect enough for one or two 5 oz bottles. I did this daily for a few weeks before going back to work. I froze the milk and had a nice little freezer stash all without having to add in an extra pumping session.
I also used this as a manual breast pump if I was feeling overly engorged and just needed a little bit of relief but didn’t want to go through the work of setting up and cleaning my electric pump.
This silicone breast pump is dishwasher safe, can hold up to 4 oz of breastmilk, and can even be used as a cup once Baby is old enough to drink from it. It is also hands-free. Although, watch out if your baby is kicking or waving her hands about. I had it go flying once with 2 ounces of breastmilk in it. Whoops!
Breastfeeding Must-Have #5: Nipple Cream
Despite what so many lactation consultants told me, breastfeeding hurt at first. Those early days when Baby is latching nonstop can be really chafing on your fresh nursing nipples.
I took a class from a board-certified lactation consultant before my daughter was born. She told us that the only thing we should be putting on our nipples is Lanolin. In the cases of infection, a lactation consultant or doctor will prescribe something stronger. The lanolin doesn’t have to be wiped off before Baby nurses which is a HUGE plus. That’s one less thing you have to remember.
My midwife told me to use the lanolin nipple cream preventatively from the get-go. I put it on after EACH and EVERY nursing session for the first few weeks. While I still had some nipple pain I think it really helped ease the discomfort. This is the lanolin nipple cream I used. It’s the same one that I was given samples of at the hospital.
Must-Have Bonus: Cute Nursing Tops!
A final suggestion, which isn’t really a lifesaver but is just really nice is having some cute nursing tops. Most nursing tops I have seen are also maternity tops. I wish I would have known this because I would have bought tops to wear while pregnant that could also be used while breastfeeding. I am always up for killing two birds with one stone.