Today actually marks six months since I started breastfeeding L. I can’t believe we made it and that I am sitting here on my couch typing up this post! I don’t know why, but in the beginning I wasn’t 100% confident that I would be able to breastfeed at all, but I knew how badly that I wanted to make it work. Over the past several months I have had a bunch of ‘mommy-to-be’ friends message me and ask about my breastfeeding journey and what has worked for me. Because breastfeeding is a subject that I actually enjoy talking about, I am happy to share the things I have learned so far with you all! I wish I had someone ‘lay it all out there’ for me before I started. I think if I had that, I would have been a lot less worried and more prepared for what was to come.
Back in September, a month before Landon was born, I was on Pinterest everyday pinning articles and looking up tips on ‘how to’s’ and best ways to breastfeed, because I honestly had NO CLUE how it all works. I would read about the ‘best way to get baby to latch’ or look through numerous pictures showing the ‘best positions to hold baby’, but none of it actually made much sense until I had L physically in my hands. I talk more about my experience of the few first weeks starting to breastfeed in a previous post found here.
But today I want to talk with you about the items that helped me so much starting out breastfeeding and what I recommend that you keep handy. I would not have been as successful as I have been breastfeeding without them.
My top essentials include:
- You may be asking yourself, “Why would I need a breast pump if I am going to be exclusively breastfeeding?” Good question… Having a reliable pump is essential because you never know how your baby is going to latch or if nursing is going to be easy (or not). You always want to have a back up, so you can always have a way to provide breast milk to your baby. You can purchase a manual breast pump, but most insurances now will cover electric. Pumps are a great tool to help you maintain your milk supply and provide consistency. Initially, when I came home from the hospital I did not plan to use my pump for the first few weeks, however I ended up using it the second day home when my milk supply came in and I needed a way to relieve my engorgement.
- A nursing cover is great to have in case you plan to breastfeed ‘on the go’ or if your baby is hungry when you are out at church or in public. A scarf is a good way to provide privacy, while still getting the job done. My scarf is multi-purpose and also works as a carseat/shopping cart cover.
- Lanolin cream is great and is a big help with sore or crackled nipples. I carried it all the time with me, just in case I needed it. At the hospital I got a few sample tubes, so make sure to ask your nurse for a few extras!
- Medela Soft Shells were a lifesaver. I won’t go into too much detail about them here, but you can read about them in my previous post found here.
- A good nursing bra is another must have! Nurisng bras come with straps that snap on and off, making it easy for fast access for baby. You can buy the same bra I used as a multi-pack here.
- This app is great! I used this free app called ‘BabyNursing’ everyday. It helps you track every time you are feeding baby, what side you last fed on and for how long baby nursed.
- This is obvious. You need to keep a burp cloth handy in case any mess comes (up) your way 😉
- It is SO important to stay hydrated while breastfeeding. Speaking from experience, every time I feed Landon, I get soooo thirsty. I mean- the thirstiest I have EVER been. You will soon know what I mean. Can any of you moms relate? Snag a cute water bottle to pack in your hospital bag.
- Protein bars. Did you know that breastfeeding burns an extra 500 calories a day? You will need to eat more to supplement your caloric intake and give you more fuel/energy for your busy days being a mom.
- Breastfeeding pillow (not listed above in picture). I personally tried a few different pillows and none really worked great for me and baby, however I still use a normal pillow from my couch, which seems to work great! It provides some head support for L and gives my arm a break!
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In my next upcoming posts I will be talking about pumping and the hands-free pump that I use and love, as well as how to build and maintain a supply/decent freezer stash. Feel free to email me with any questions that you have or topics that you want me to cover!