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I got so many messages last week about my post about my breastfeeding journey. In that post, I mainly focused on the emotional support I received to help me along my breastfeeding journey. Today I want to talk about some of the things that helped make breastfeeding possible.
Prepare before baby arrives. Before baby comes, get all of this stuff and set up a space where you will nurse and rock baby.
We got a rocking chair. Next to the rocking chair, I had a nightstand. On the nightstand, I kept my night light, water bottle, nipple cream, and burp cloths. I filled up the drawer of the nightstand with tons of snacks a few weeks before M arrived. I also made sure I had a long phone charging cord next to the rocking chair. I did – and still do – a lot of reading while nursing M.
A good water bottle, with a handle and a straw, is an absolute must. Breastfeeding makes you so thirsty! I was not prepared for how thirsty I would be every time M nursed. Staying hydrated is also so important because it helps keep your supply up. Something like this. I am not exaggerating when I say get the biggest water bottle you can find with a straw and handle (so you can drink while nursing/holding baby. You won’t want to wait).
You 100% need the My Breast Friend Nursing Pillow. Lots of people like the boppy pillow, but I found it completely useless. The My Breast Friend pillow is much more supportive and comfortable. It clips onto you and supports your back, and the pillow itself is much more firm than the boppy. I really liked the deluxe slipcover because it’s super soft. I had two of them so I could wash one and still be able to use one. Also, get the waterproof slipcover to protect the pillow. There will be milk and spit up and probably other bodily liquids.
Nipple cream is also a must. I liked Earth Mama Nipple Cream. I also used Medela Lanolin Nipple Cream because the nurses in the hospital gave me a ton of samples of it. Both were good, but I really like Earth Mama as a brand and I have a lot of their stuff. Bring your nipple cream to the hospital and start using it right away. Don’t wait for your nipples to get cracked and sore like I did.
I didn’t have these exact breast therapy packs. I had something similar, but I think these would be better. You can put them in the freezer or microwave to alleviate soreness. They helped a lot in the first couple of weeks when I was really sore. I haven’t used them a lot since but they were a lifesaver in the beginning. A must.
These organic washable nursing pads are so awesome that I have two sets. They come in an 8-pack. I also love to give them as gifts. In the beginning, these save you from having to change your clothes multiple times per day. When the baby begins to nurse, you have what’s called a let down, which allows the milk to come out. You get the let down in both breasts at the same time, so you will probably leak some milk from the breast that baby isn’t eating from in that moment. I still use them a year later.
These breast shell and milk catchers have two uses. They can be useful to catch the extra milk during your let down or if you leak throughout the day. You can also wear them in your shirt when you are not nursing if your nipples are chapped or sore. They prevent anything from touching your nipples so they can rest and heal. I ended up ditching them after a while but they were helpful in the beginning. This is not 100% necessary depending on your situation, but you might need them. I was glad to have them.
I lived in my robe from Milkmaid Goods during the fourth trimester. A nice robe prevents you from being cold when you’re nursing and/or doing skin to skin. I liked having two robes so that I always had one when one needed to be washed.
Christy recommended these nursing tops to me. I loved them so much that I got 3 or 4 packs. I wear them every single day (still, a year later!). I even sleep in them. There are a few different styles for nursing tops, but the clip down tanks with a built in bra have been the most comfortable and easy for me. These particular ones also hide your postpartum tummy very well.
I rarely used nursing covers, these but I have one from Milk Snob and one from Copper Pearl. I got the 5-in-one kind because they have many uses! Even though I didn’t use them as nursing covers, I often used them to cover the car seat while M slept on our walks or out to eat. I imagine I would also use them as shopping cart covers and high chair covers, but with covid we stopped going places before I really would have needed them for that.
As far as pumps go, I have the Spectra S1 and I really like it. I don’t pump anymore, but it never physically bothered me to pump. It was more annoying than anything else. The Spectra S1 has a rechargeable battery so that I could pump anywhere, and I did – around the house, in the car, on vacation. Tricare paid for mine.
Make sure you know what you are entitled to through your insurance. I was able to get replacement pump parts every so often and new pumping bags every 30 days, all for free from Tricare.
A good hands-free pumping bra is a must. I have this one. I think one is enough.
The Haakaa has been a lifesaver. You can use it to catch your extra milk and to express some milk too. It’s easier than getting the whole pump out if you’re trying to relieve yourself and save a little milk. It’s cheap too. I actually got two because I used it so much.
You need things that you can eat with one hand. A few things that I kept in my night stand next to me were peanut butter cracker sandwiches, dark chocolate, nuts, pretzels, and protein bars. I was absolutely ravenous in the first few months that I was nursing. I had these oat cakes in the freezer that I ate for breakfast for weeks. They have nuts, oats, and flax seeds so I felt like they were a pretty healthy option.
I made these lactation cookies about a month before I gave birth because I had no idea how my supply would be. I rolled the dough into balls and froze them. As I wanted to eat them, I heated them up in the oven. I have no idea if they helped with my milk supply but they were delicious and I didn’t mind the excuse to eat warm chocolate chip cookies! There are lots of other lactation teas and bars and such, but I didn’t need them so I didn’t look into them.
A year later, I use almost everything on this list except for the gel pads, milk catchers, and the nursing pillow. They are all worthy investments!
What would you add to the list?
Let’s normalize breastfeeding. Let’s talk about breastfeeding. Please feel free to ask me ANY questions about breastfeeding and anything in this list. You can comment below or email me at carolann.findingithaka [at] gmail [dot] com.