When I was pregnant with my first child, I knew from the start that I wanted to breastfeed. What I did not know however was just how hard it would be, at times, to do so. I stuck with it however and have successfully breastfed my first two children until they were weaned, each around 14 months. I plan to breastfeed again with my third baby, due in June, and over time have discovered that having these items on hand are a necessity for me when I’m breastfeeding. Here is my breastfeeding essentials list:
A Quality Breast Pump
I am a stay-at-home mom, so many people (including myself, before my first child was born) probably would not consider this to be very important. However, it has proved to be essential to me in my breastfeeding journey, for a few different reasons. First of all, after my milk comes in, I have WAY more milk than my baby can possibly drink. Pumping some of that excess milk not only provided comfort for me and helped with preventing a plugged duct, it also allowed me to establish a nice stockpile of frozen milk.
While you may think you will never leave your baby’s side and always be there for a nursing session, sometimes this is just not possible. I had to leave my son at around 3 months of age for an entire day because my grandmother was dying (suddenly), and I needed to travel to see her. Thankfully I had plenty of stocked milk to leave for him, and I had my pump to take along to relieve myself at feeding times.
There may also come a time when you need to suddenly go on a prescription that your baby should not be exposed to (this happened with my daughter). You can also use the pumped breast milk to dilute and thin solids when your baby is a little bit older or just enjoy an evening out with your husband and leave milk behind for the babysitter. You just never know when you will need that extra milk, so stockpile some if/when you can!
There are a lot of things to consider when purchasing a breast pump. If you are debating between a manual or an electric pump, I highly encourage you to get the electric pump. In my experience, they work SO much better! I’ve tried a few electric pumps and can recommend both the Lansinoh SmartPump Double Electric Breast Pump and the Lansinoh SignaturePro Double Electric Breast Pump.
Breast Milk Storage Bags
After you pump, you’ll need a place to store that milk. Breastmilk Storage bags are one of my breastfeeding essentials from Lansinoh. They have always worked very well for me! There are lots of options out there though! There’s no shame in trying out the bags you find on sale.
A Small Supply of Bottles
Although you will be breastfeeding for a large portion of the time, it’s always helpful to keep a few bottles on hand. I have found that three 9oz bottles has been plenty. I have Phillips Avent Anti-Colic bottles, and they have always worked well for us.
A Nursing Pillow
There are many brands and types of nursing pillows out there, and I highly encourage you to find at least one–maybe two! I have tried (and reviewed) a few, and although I liked them all, I held onto my favorite: the aden + anais nursing pillow.
You can read my review of the Gia nursing pillow by clicking here and my review of the My Brest Friend pillow by clicking here. Each pillow has different features that I found helpful at different times. I love that the aden + anais pillow is so plump!
I was told countless times that “if it hurts, you are doing something wrong.” Well, honestly, I wish they would stop telling moms this, especially when you are just learning to breastfeed. It can already be a very tough time for many new moms.
The sucky truth about breastfeeding is that sometimes it DOES hurt. If you have been told this, and yet it’s painful for you, do not give up! From one breastfeeding mom to another, it does/can hurt sometimes! The good news however is that the pain will get better. With my daughter, breastfeeding was unpleasant for the first 6 weeks. With my son, I lucked out and it was only uncomfortable for 3-4 weeks.
To put it simply, my nipples needed to toughen up. My babies had a good latch, but it was still painful at times, especially until I would get a let-down. I generally tried not to use TOO much cream because I wanted them to toughen up, but at times I just had to for a little relief.
Lanolin is highly recommended by moms everywhere and one of the best companies to buy from is Lansinoh. The lanolin is high quality, and I’ve found it works for other ailments too, like diaper rash and chapped lips to name a few.
Disposable and washable breast pads are available, and I prefer to have a supply of both. My favorite brand of disposable nursing pads are made by Johnson and Johnson. They are super absorbent and are very hard to see underneath your clothing, thanks to their contoured shape. When I’ll be leaving my house, I grab these first. If I’ll be staying home for the day, I tend to reach for my washable nursing pads. They are super soft on sore nipples, while still being absorbent.
I have spent hours upon hours in my Stork Craft Glider breastfeeding my babies. Generally my newborns sleep in my room until they are 4-5 months, then we transition them to their own rooms. They also don’t start sleeping through the night until about a year old, so having my rocking chair to use for nighttime feedings has been so very important. My son, who will be 2 in May, still enjoys rocking every night before bed, even though he is no longer nursing.
For me, modesty is extremely important. I believe my breasts are to be seen by my husband and my babies, and no one else. Many women choose to nurse in public without a cover, however I am more comfortable when I am covered. Not only am I able to relax myself, but I find that my babies are less distracted during a nursing session when they are covered as well. There are tons of easy-to-use nursing covers out there now, many with extremely cute prints too!
A Handful of Nursing Tanks or Bras
Personally, I am SO thankful that they make nursing tanks. While I own a few nursing bras, I tend to reach for my nursing tanks if they are clean. When you have a nursing tank on, the skin over your stomach stays covered while breastfeeding. Since the weather here is only warm 4-5 months out of the year, I really appreciate that! Try out a few different styles and see what works best for you. I personally LOVE Bravado nursing tanks!
A Support System
Okay, this last thing you can’t buy, but find yourself a support system, whether it be your husband, friend, midwife, OB, or the local La Leche League chapter. If you can’t find support anywhere else, email me! You will have questions along the way and, at times, may consider quitting. Find someone who will support you through those first few weeks. Breastfeeding can be tough, especially in the beginning, and it’s okay to seek out help!