Are you an expectant mother wondering what you can purchase and line up for yourself now to ensure breastfeeding success after your little one arrives? If so, perhaps you’re stopping by our blog because you know that we are a trusted source of breastfeeding information and offer a wealth of products to support new mothers on their breastfeeding journey.
So, if you ask us what are the breastfeeding must-haves that every new mother needs in her hospital go-bag, or waiting at home for her on her nightstand, it’s hardly fair if we reply, nothing.
Sure, it’s true, you don’t need anything to breastfeed, other than your breasts and a baby, but that doesn’t help. You are looking for more than that. You want the skinny on all the products out there. You want the right stuff to hack this thing called breastfeeding. Fair enough.
The real answer is information and support.
Breastfeeding might come instinctively to babies, but for moms it’s a learned behavior. You need solid, evidence-based information along with the wisdom of other women’s lived experiences to help you navigate this new relationship and make your best choices when it comes to feeding your baby.
Equally important, you need the loving support of those around you to nurture your confidence and see you through the early challenges.
It’s as simple as that.
But we get it. You want tools for your toolkit—and so, a list it is!
In no particular order, our Empowered Blog must haves for breastfeeding:
- A good nursing bra, or two, or three. (When we said support, we meant it. Literally!) Avoid underwire, which can press on the breast and even restrict milk flow. Buy something comfortable enough to sleep in. You’ll likely need to size up a cup and band size from what you are wearing during pregnancy.
Nursing bras need to accomplish two things at the same time: Support milk-heavy breasts comfortably, while allowing baby unfettered access to the goods on-demand. Many will have clasps allowing you to open one cup at a time, others are in a wrap style with stretchy fabric, allowing you to expose one breast at a time. Either way, you will be able to nurse the baby on one side and keep a nursing pad tucked into the cup of the other side. Which brings us to our next must-have—
- Nursing pads. These come in washable, reusable styles; disposable single-use pads by the box; and even pad alternatives which catch any milk that leaks, so that you can collect it and feed it to your baby later. Don’t fuss with that last kind in the beginning, although they can be a great tool for moms who are pumping. Washable, reusable pads get the job done and are environmentally responsible but have some single-use pads on hand as well in case you don’t have a clean, dry, reusable pad handy.
You will leak milk. You will even squirt or spray milk. Be prepared.
- Pillows. Again, with the support! You will be spending a great deal of time sitting with your baby in arms. You will be surprised how heavy seven or eight pounds feels after a while. Use pillows to support your back and neck. Use an ottoman or footstool for your legs and feet. And once you get the baby positioned just-so at the breast, tuck a pillow or two under your arm to support the weight of the baby.
There are fancy kinds just for breastfeeding, but any pillows you like will do.
- Lanolin based nipple ointment. Yes, breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt, but the fact is, it can take a bit of trial and error in the beginning to find the sweet spot, that spot where baby is happily latched and feeding effectively, and where mom can relax her shoulders, uncurl her toes, and exhale. Until then, there’s lanolin. Lanolin is hypoallergenic, safe for moms and babies, and just feels good. Keep some close by.
- Something wonderful to wear. That day will come when you are ready to venture forth and meet the world as a new mother. And when it does, you want something you look smashing in. Something that boosts your confidence. Something that’s easy to breastfeed in.
Start with realistic expectations about losing the baby weight (hint: it takes time! It took you nine months to put it on, so go easy on yourself!). You’ll want to keep wearing your maternity pants for a while. For tops, you’ll want side slits and hidden panels—the secret to covering your belly while still being able to feed comfortably.
- A breastfeeding book. There are so many to choose from. You’ll want one that resonates with you, supports your best instincts, and respects the breastfeeding bond. A book that speaks your mothering language.
- A diary or notebook—or alternatively, a great breastfeeding app, but we’re putting in a plug for old-school pen and paper. What for? You may want to journal to preserve precious memories, like your baby’s birth story, or the closeness you feel with your partner. A place to jot questions for your lactation consultant or pediatrician. A place to track baby’s feeding patterns and wet and poopy diapers (which provide important intel on how breastfeeding is going).
You won’t want to forget a moment or a detail. The successes and the challenges, joys and even heartaches, it’s your story. Yours and your baby’s. Write it down!
And that’s it, in a nutshell. A few products to help you get comfortable and to boost your confidence. Of course, if you will be pumping there will be additional gear involved, and that will be the topic of another post. Check back soon, and cheers to you on your breastfeeding journey.