What Every New Mom Needs for Breastfeeding
Congratulations, mama, on your new baby! Being a mom is one of the most amazing things in the world.
I remember when I welcomed my first son into the word I was slightly terrified to breastfeed. I knew I wanted to but the horror stories people shared made me think this journey would be impossible. (PS: Don’t share horror stories about ANYTHING related to labor/delivery/motherhood with new moms. Just don’t.)
What I didn’t realize is that my body would do what it needed to do in most cases. My milk came in when it needed to (which was very difficult with baby #1 but was a BREEZE with baby #2) and thankfully we had no supply issues.
Our biggest breastfeeding struggle was getting a good latch.
We had to try every position for nursing from the football hold, regular hold, husband helping open baby’s mouth, squeezing my boob every which way, etc. Eventually we got it and I was able to nurse my first son for 12 months before he naturally weaned and my second for 15 months where I weaned him.
There are some MUST HAVE items that we used for both our babies that I would highly encourage you to give a try. You don’t need a million gadgets and goodies - stick with these items and you’ll be set.
10 Things every breastfeeding mama needs…
1. Bamboobies reusable breastpads
Breastfeeding, especially for the first go around, can be incredibly uncomfortable and bothersome. I mean, you’re leaking when you see a picture of your baby, your boobs get hard if you wait too long to nurse, and it just get’s exhausting sometimes. When I went back to work I had to have GREAT breast pads because the last thing I needed was to worry about leaking.
2. Bravado nursing bra
Bras in general are annoying and I tried avoiding getting an expensive nursing bra but you know what…once I did, I haven’t stopped wearing it since! (and I’m not nursing anymore, haha)
The Bravado Bra is a MUST have. If you are the working out type mama, I loved wearing this bra from SheFit. (see below) It’s pricey but keeps the girls in during cardio and you can un-velcro to nurse!
3. A Solid Pillow
There are a huge variety of products on the market to help support you physically for nursing. Many people use a Boppy (we had one and used it but I could have done without it) or even My Breast Friend, which I never tried. Honestly, I found the most comfort and success using a pillow from my bed that was firm and grooved for my neck, like this one. PS: A pillow like this helped me TONS during pregnancy too! Either under my head or even between my legs when the sciatica kicked in.
4. Muslin Blanket
As a new mom you are likely raved to about swaddle blankets, specifically ones by aden + anais. We LOVED these swaddles too but not for what you would think. Although our babies used them for traditional swaddling, we used them for covering up while nursing, wiping spit up, shade in the stroller, and even a play mat for the floor.
Here are a few different brands we love:
Aden + Anais Bamboo Muslin
Modern Burlap (We have the Mickey hat one but this one is also adorable!)
Bumblito Organic Swaddle Set (These ones are amazing and we still use them regularly)
A huge part of breastfeeding or pumping is making sure mama is getting the nutrients she needs. It is SO easy when baby is little to forget to eat or not eat enough calories, at least that was my experience. I found that having a few things on hand made the BIGGEST difference.
Trail mix (Target has great ones!) or this one from Second Nature Snacks.
Water is ESSENTIAL when nursing and producing breastmilk so mama, don’t take your water intake lightly. Not only will drinking enough water help you produce milk, it will also help your energy level, digestion, and skin!
I used a Hydroflask and would highly recommend it. It is well worth the money. (PS: Get one with a straw - it’s so helpful while nursing!)
If you want to make homemade snacks, these protein balls are awesome.
6. relaxing music or sound machine
When your baby is brand new you might need some help getting your milk under control. This could mean that you need to really focus for your milk to let down. With both my boys I found that sitting in their room quietly with relaxing music or the sound machine on helped a lot!
I swear by this Dohm sound machine for our family. We have two and will only use these going forward as they are an actual fan and don’t have recorded sounds. (Our kids can memorize the pattern and therefore wake between recordings) You can learn more about the science behind it here.
Okay so this isn’t something you can buy but mama, you NEED to have a little patience when it comes to everything nursing.
If baby isn’t latching, try a new position but stay calm. Ask your partner for help with positioning. Add an extra pillow. Relax and try something new.
With one of my boys I had to really aim my breast when nursing him in order for him to get a good latch. With my other son, I had to do a football hold on one breast but not the other. You’ll figure out what works!
If you are trying to pump and not getting as much as you want, commit to sitting a little longer. Eat some more high fat (plant-based fats like nuts/seeds/avocado) between sessions and DRINK WATER. Lots of water.
If your little one isn’t liking nursing or not getting enough, it’s okay! Try a bottle. If they aren’t liking the bottle, try a different style nipple. Your baby WILL eat. But mama, you need to have a patience with yourself and your little bundle of joy.
If you are struggling with nursing, contact your local La Leche League. Ask for help from a professional. If you are still in the hospital, ask a nurse for help. Most importantly, remember that even if you’ve nursed a child before, every child is different. The difficulties I had with my first son, I didn’t have with my second son.
Other places to find support are within your family unit (spouse, significant other, parents, neighbors, etc) or even on social media. There are many breastfeeding related groups, mom groups, local groups - all would be a great place to start but remember, you’ll get a lot of OPINIONS, and not everyone is right. (shocking, eh?)
9. A GOOD BREAST PUMP
Even if you don’t plan on using it regularly, your insurance should cover a breast pump for you and I highly suggest you have one. If you stay at home with your LO you still might want to go out for a date and pump before you go. You may want to pump just to have a stash “just in case”. Heck, you may feel the need to pump just due to over production!
Regardless, I suggest you get a good quality breast pump. I used the Medela with my first and the Spectra with my second. Both worked great but I preferred the Spectra! (PS: I linked to them on Amazon but call your insurance or check online here to see what you get covered for free!)
10. BREASTFEEDING FRIENDLY TOPS
I did NOT buy nursing tops. I’m a t-shirt or tank kinda gal and I found I could easily nurse in the shirts I already had. Honestly, I just like the fitted tanks from Old Navy (great price, too!) and v-neck tees from Target.
If you do choose to buy “nursing friendly” clothing, more power to ya! There are so many cute options out there. But if you are trying to be budget friendly and minimal, check your closet. You may have things that are already perfect for nursing.
WHAT ABOUT NIPPLE CREAM?!
I want to talk about nipple cream, nipple balm, etc. When I had my first son I was convinced I would need this. I bought like 4 different tubes/jars of it and used it MAYBE twice. During the time where we were struggling with a latch is when I found I wanted to use it but otherwise, I would just use coconut oil at night all over my breasts (more as a basic moisturizer) and I was good to go!
With my second pregnancy, if I felt sore, I put a little coconut oil on it before or after nursing (yay for something truly baby safe!) and went on with my day. PSA: Coconut oil can stain clothing….it happened to me so be careful!
PS: IF YOU ARE VEGAN, YOU WANT TO AVOID LANOLIN AS THAT IS MADE FROM SHEEP. STICK WITH COCONUT OIL.
All moms will have a very different breastfeeding experience.
For the most part mine was “easy”. I produced enough milk, both kids latched well (once we figured it out), and I never had cracked or bleeding nipples. BUT that’s not to say I didn’t have struggles in different areas.
Near the end of both breastfeeding experiences, I felt annoyed when I had to nurse my kids. I would get frustrated when they “interrupted” my day to nurse. That’s when I knew that the weaning stage was near. If you are experiencing something like this whenever you nurse, talk to your doctor about DMER. This is a real breastfeeding anxiety that happens when your milk lets down. You can read about it here.
IF YOU NURSE FOR 2 DAYS, 2 MONTHS OR 2 YEARS, YOU ARE AWESOME! IF YOU CHOOSE NOT TO NURSE AT ALL, THAT’S AMAZING TOO! AS LONG AS YOU ARE FEEDING YOUR BABY, THIS MAMA SUPPORTS YOU!
WHAT BREASTFEEDING PRODUCTS DO YOU FIND TO BE A NECESSITY? WHAT WOULD YOU ADD TO THIS LIST?