(This article contains a number of affiliate links. Purchasing through the links does not cost you anything extra, but it helps support this blog – so in advance, THANK YOU!)
As a mother of four who has breastfed for a total of 72 months over the past 8 years, I always found that being educated and prepared for the “what ifs” gave me an advantage when I was thrown a curveball or two. I have nursed through bleeding nipples, tongue tie, countless clogged ducts, outpatient surgeries, MRIs, returning to full time work four times after maternity leave, and 8 weeks of having our infant fight for his life in a medically induced coma. None of those experiences made me quit – on the contrary, they made me more determined to stick with it. All three boys (one is still nursing) weaned when they were ready (at 16, 22 and 22 months respectively).
But I can tell you that without the things listed below, I would have never made it much longer than a few days with our first son. I needed these things at some point – and you will too!
Everything you need to breastfeed – other than breasts:
- Breastfeeding Class! Attend a breastfeeding class while you are pregnant. Bring your partner if at all possible. (I told my husband that his attendance was mandatory. He ended up being the only male present! But to this day he remembers what we learned in the class and he’s my biggest breastfeeding cheerleader!)
- Breastfeeding book! Read a good breastfeeding book before you give birth. (You won’t have the time to read the book cover to cover after the baby is here, but you will then use it as a reference guide.) I recommend The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.
- Pump! Get a pump, boil the parts, assemble it and become familiar with how it works before the baby gets here. You probably won’t need to pump the first few weeks, but having one will help you handle unexpected situations like a pro: in case of a clogged duct, a skipped nursing session or for the first few nights the baby sleeps through the night.
- Nursing bras! Buy comfortable nursing bras without underwires. You will more than likely be wearing them day and night, so comfort is key – sexiness is NOT (at least not in the first few weeks/ months!) These have worked really well for me: Lamaze nursing bra
- Lanolin creme! In the early days of if you start to get sore, apply this creme to your nipples. It is soothing, doesn’t need to be washed off before the baby feeds and it has saved many nipples from becoming raw and bloody. (trust me – bleeding nipples are as unattractive as they sound – call a lactation consultant immediately if you get to that point – they can help you with the latch!) Lansinoh Lanolin is my favorite brand.
- Nursing pads! **Money saving tip** They will be your best friend the first several weeks, perhaps even months, until your milk supply settles. I have over the years gone from disposable to reusable nursing pads. I find the reusable cheaper, less obvious and more effective. Bamboobies Washable Nursing Pads is my favorite brand!
- Nursing attire! **Money saving tip** Other than nursing bras have I never bought clothes specifically made for nursing moms. They do make some cute tops and dresses, but I always just found it easy enough to wear a camisole under a shirt. When the baby gets hungry, you pop your breast out of the bra, over the camisole’s neckline and pull your shirt up just far enough to expose the bottom of your breast. Your midriff stays covered and your breast is barely visible!
- Nursing cover! **Money saving tip** As with anything, nursing in public is a matter of personal preference. Personally, I nurse wherever and whenever, but I use the camisole/ shirt trick, so I never feel like I am fully exposed. I know the law states that we have the legal right to nurse anywhere, and breastfeeding is using your breasts for their God-intended purpose, but some situations may require more modesty than others. Instead of buying a big nursing cover, I have always just had a receiving blanket handy. Normally I hold the baby in the blanket and casually hold a corner up to shield any exposed skin – for my own modesty.
- Boppy pillow! **Money saving tip** This monstrosity of a crescent moon-shaped pillow comes in handy the first weeks as you recover from delivery, especially if you have had a c-section. It helps you position the baby comfortably, so you can focus on perfecting the latch, which is crucial to your nipples’ wellbeing. However, once you and the baby have gotten to know each other, the pillow will slowly work its way into a corner of the bedroom where it will collect dust until your next pregnancy. If at all possible – ask a veteran mommy friend if she has one you can borrow – chances are that her’s is sitting in the corner… trust me!
- Support network! This is THE MOST important item on the list! Your breastfeeding cheerleading squad is a specialized group of people who are there for you, day or night, through engorgement and low supply and they help support, EDUCATE and celebrate your achievements. This group hopefully includes your spouse/ partner, women who have “been there done that” and a lactation consultant/ lactation educator. However, anyone can support your journey – having breastfeeding experience is not a requirement!
What helped you on your breastfeeding journey? Who was your biggest cheerleader?
For more breastfeeding tips check out my previous posts, which include real life stories of trials and triumphs and lots of great advice and encouragement: Previous Posts, click here!
My “Breastfeeding” Pinterest board is another great resource for tips and encouragement. I add new articles every day, so please follow the board – or all my boards for that matter!