My Breastfeeding Must Haves
When I decided to breastfeed, I knew it was going to be a bit of a learning curve, but to be honest I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
After Izzy was born, she was able to latch, but the first few months were terribly painful. And when I went to seek help from lactation consultants or fellow moms, I was left feeling even more upset than I was before.
I was told so many times to quit breastfeeding. That I didn’t have to. That nobody knew how to help me figure out what was going on. But I was determined to keep breastfeeding. I knew it was what I wanted, and I knew Izzy and I would end up figuring out this whole breastfeeding thing together.
And a few months in, we figured it out. She still breastfed all the time, but that’s probably just because my girl is so attached to me. Totally a mama’s girl!
But during the 14 months I breastfed Izzy (exclusively, I should add), I still dealt with normal bumps in the road: in the beginning it was pain, then it turned into leaking and engorgement and once I even dealt with mastitis. So, before I even get in to my must haves, I want to tell you something very important.
Breastfeeding is not “easy”. It can hurt, it can be overwhelming, it can be one of the most time-consuming things you will ever do. But it will be so worth it if you decide it is what you want to do! So please, don’t give up because you hit a bump in the road. Get the support you need and you will get through it!
Now, onto my list. If I could go back in time before I gave birth, I would give myself this list to help make my breastfeeding experience a much better one. And keep in mind these are all products I used, not all of them are necessary for everyone. But I do plan on having all of these ready for next time I give birth so I am prepared for everything!
1. Nipple cream.
I don’t know how much I can stress this.
Call me dumb, but I thought nipple cream was something that only some people used.
In the beginning, nipple cream was necessary for the survival of my nipples. I swear they would have fallen off if I didn’t have it. Dramatic? Yes. But that’s totally how I felt!
So get it just in case, I used Earth Mama Angel Baby, but since we use the Honest Company diapers, I may use their nipple cream next time!
2. Medela Soft Shells
These things saved me from quitting breastfeeding. I was so bruised and cut up and in so much pain. I couldn’t wear a bra (could barely wear a t-shirt). So I definitely recommend these if you get any cuts or bruises while breastfeeding! I thought I would never heal, and I healed within a few days.
These were LIFE CHANGING!
3. Nursing Pads
I was an over producer, so nursing pads were something I had to wear almost the entire time I breastfed… probably for the first 10 months at least. In the beginning though, you will leak! So make sure you have something in your bra to help soak up the milk. I used both disposable and reusable nursing pads.
I would say to use disposable in the beginning when you are leaking more milk, and once your supply levels out you should be able to switch to the reusable ones!
This isn’t a must-have for everyone, but the Boppy made breastfeeding so much easier for me. It was the only way I could get Izzy to latch; and since she had such a small mouth, she was used to latching in the position the Boppy held her in. So, we used it for every feeding for probably the first 10 months of her life.
I had one Boppy that stayed at home and another that stayed in the car because I couldn’t risk forgetting her Boppy at home… that’s how much she needed it to eat!
But even if your baby doesn’t NEED it, it does make breastfeeding easier so you don’t have to hold them up with your arms. And it definitely helps for those late-night feedings and cluster feeding sessions
5. Burp Rags
Get some super thick burp rags for burping your baby after they eat, but also for when you are breastfeeding. Since Izzy didn’t have the best latch, and I had an oversupply I leaked terribly during feedings. So I had to keep a burp rag under my breast and her head so when I leaked it wouldn’t get all over my clothes or the Boppy. Attractive, I know.
My favorite ones were home-made but we did get some that were good quality that we bought! But if you are able to buy thicker, home-made burp rags, I would say definitely go with those!
6. Nursing Bra
These aren’t a necessity for some people, but they make life so much easier. Not only are they comfy, but they make breastfeeding so much easier. I only had 3 bras and would just do laundry more often (which, let’s face it, you’ll have a newborn, so you’ll be doing a ton of laundry).
7. Shirts to Breastfeed In
This is something I didn’t really think of until I started breastfeeding. But flowy shirts make breastfeeding so much easier. I definitely recommend getting some shirts that are a little big, or ones you could lift up/to the side easier!
This one I’m not going to link any products to because you probably know what I am talking about. So instead I decided to link this shirt. Isn’t it so amazing?! ALL THE HEART EYES!
8. Nursing Cover
Let me say this first, I respect your decision to breastfeed in public.
But, my daughter would not breastfeed efficiently if other people were watching her. She was always getting distracted, playing games, and just taking her sweet time when she could see other people. So I chose to cover her so she could eat as fast as possible.
And let me just say, when she would play games with people while breastfeeding my nipple would just be chillin’ out in the open. Definitely not something I wanted people to see! So find a cover that works best for you, but I liked the ones that were open on the top so I could see her, but others could not.
Even if you exclusively breastfeed, you will need to have a pump just in case! I pumped to store up some milk for when Collin fed her, and just in case there was ever an emergency and I couldn’t breastfeed.
You should be able to get a free pump through your insurance, so I would call them and inquire on how you can do that. Definitely get the pump delivered a few weeks early just in case your baby is born premature.
All pumps have their own pro’s and con’s, so just figure out what you want your pump to do and pick the best one for you! I chose mine because it was battery powered and you could plug it in. I also chose it because there was no way for the milk to get into the tubing of the pump.
I am not going to link a pump just because I want you to do your own research - and I want you to take advantage and get a free one from your insurance if you can!
10. Hands-Free Pumping Bra
This is a necessity if you are going to pump. It is so exhausting holding the pump yourself. That way you can also take care of your baby, read a book, text, or whatever you want while you are pumping. Enough said.
11. Milk Storage Bags
Breast milk can only be stored in the refrigerator for a little while, so I definitely suggest getting storage bags so you can freeze your milk and it can last way longer.
Any bottle is fine, I really don’t think babies get confused if you give them a bottle or binky every now and then. I do suggest getting bottles that are shaped more like a breast for your baby if you plan on breastfeeding exclusively. But ultimately, I don’t really think it matters which one you give them.
We used (and still use) Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature, since it is specifically made for babies who breastfeed so the transition is easy!
13. Water bottles and Snacks
This may seem obvious, but having a water and snacks next to you while you breastfeed is so important! I can’t tell you how many times I got stuck breastfeeding when I was terribly thirsty or hungry. Because if you didn’t know, breastfeeding makes you so so so thirsty and sometimes makes you feel the urge to have a snack!
My favorite water bottles are S’ip by S’well, because I am spoiled (as my husband would say… in a loving/teasing way) and only drink ice cold water.
And in case you were wondering, I own close to 15 of these. I am OBSESSED!
14. Prenatal Vitamins
Keep taking your prenatals when you breastfeed! Your baby still needs those nutrients! My entire pregnancy I took the gummy prenatal vitamins, and I continued them the entire time I breastfed. To be honest, I am still taking them. Not sure if I am supposed to but I love those things!
15. A caddy with all your stuff in it!
I plan on going more in-depth about this in another post, but I had a postpartum/newborn/breastfeeding caddy I hauled everywhere with me. It made my life so easy, because everything I needed was right next to me all day! Get yourself a caddy that can hold everything you need!
I can’t find the specific caddy I had, and all of the ones I see on Amazon are way too small. So my suggestion is go to Target and see what they have! I remember getting mine from there and it was pretty cheap!
I am not going to number this last point (partially because I like leaving it at a list of 15 things, and partially because this point isn’t a “thing” you should have), but I think this is still super important for me to add to this list.
When I breastfed Izzy, I claimed a specific spot on our couch as my designated space for breastfeeding. I loved nursing Izzy there. I had my caddy, there was a ton of sunlight in the room, I could watch whatever I wanted on the T.V. and it was close to both the kitchen and the bathroom. Find a spot in your home and make it yours. This helped me really be at peace with the thirty minute nursing sessions - or even the three hour cluster feeding sessions.
I hope this helps some mamas out there who are having their first (or even their fourth or fifth) baby and need some tips to help make breastfeeding successful! I plan on writing more blog posts specifically dedicated to this topic, but I figured this would be a great one to start out on,
As always, I am always here to talk or give you support if you need help with your motherhood journey, or even your breastfeeding journey! I am not a licensed Lactation Consultant, but I am currently studying to become a Childbirth Educator so I am learning a thing or two on nursing through my studies, and from my experience.
P.S. This post is in no way sponsored by any of the products or companies I mentioned. These are all my own personal beliefs and reviews based on my personal experiences with these products. However, each of these links are affiliate links