Now I’m no lactation consultant, but I have nursed two babies for a total of 20 months so far in my lifetime. So I’d say I’ve earned the “you’re allowed to give advice on this topic” badge!
Breastfeeding is one of the most challenging, but rewarding things you will ever do (aside from motherhood in general, but that’s a whole different story!) There’s no need to get into all of the benefits of breastfeeding, as I’m assuming that if you’re reading this post, you are fully aware of how amazing it is! Of course, #fedisbest, but if you are able to breastfeed without having any supply issues or it driving you absolutely mad, then it’s a no brainer!
To help make your breastfeeding journey that much smoother, I’ve compiled a list of my top suggestions and recommendations based on my personal experiences.
Let me just start off by saying that the first few weeks are going to be terrible. Between your nipples getting used to to being sucked by a tiny little toothless human for 10+ hours a day, to your chest swelling up to three times the size, it’s just not a fun time. So please please be fully prepared to just be strong and power through it. I promise it will get easier and it will be so worth it.
Now, onto my top “must have” breastfeeding products:
NIPPLE CREAM!!! (If I could shout this from my rooftop I would, that's how passionate I am about it.)
Aka your new best friend. Your nipples will be chapped. They will scab. And they most likely will bleed. Lather those babies up and hold on tight! I recommend the Lansinoh brand, it’s basically like chapstick for your nips.
I’ve never been a fan of the traditional nursing bras that unhook by the straps. I found that they were extremely uncomfortable (especially because 9 / 10 times, in the beginning, I was just lounging around all day.) Who wants to wear an actual bra while doing nothing at home? No thanks. This time around, I opted for these super unattractive but incredible sleeper bras. They are made of lightweight material, almost like a t-shirt, and have a super deep V so you can just whip that thing in and out of it with ease. I don’t recommend you wearing them in public, unless you’re like me who gives zero fugs, because they offer basically no support, but at least you'll be comfy AF!
Reusable Breast Pads
Now this is something that I actually didn’t use, but looking back, I wish I had. (FYI: I no longer wear any pads anymore now that my supply has regulated.) The disposable ones were terrible. They never stuck to my bra, they were expensive, and I ended up throwing more out for being all squashed up underneath my boob than from it actually doing it’s job. Yes, reusable would require you to have more items to wash but hey, you just had a baby, laundry can be someone else’s problem for at least a few weeks!
I know what you’re thinking- why is a bottle a “must have” if I’m going to breastfeed? Well, quite simply Mama, you’re going to need a friggin' break. Being the only person who can feed your child is not only hard on you, but it’s also hard on your partner. Feeding your child is such an intimate moment, whether it’s from a breast or a bottle. Your partner deserves to experience that connection just as much as you deserve a break from boobie-dutie.
Now, I know most people will say not to introduce the bottle for as long as you can, mainly because it can cause nipple confusion. From my experience, I say introduce it as soon as possible because then you can end up like me, with a baby who refuses it! It wasn’t until she was about 6 months old (like a week ago) that she finally gave in, but even still, it’s a touchy subject with her
You Don't Need an Expensive Pump
For starters, even if you want a fancy pump, which I don’t think anyone needs, most insurance companies will cover it. The only problem is that you typically cannot apply for one until after your baby is born. I don’t know about you, but the first few days after having a baby I do not want to be dealing with insurance!
Manual Pumps Rule the World
I used to think I was the only mom who actually preferred using a manual, hand pump over a fancy plug-in-the-wall-and-pump-for-twenty-minutes type of pump. But after discussing the topic with a few moms, I’ve actually found that a lot of moms prefer them for the exact same reasons I do:
1. The suction is much stronger and more intense, resulting in a whole lot more milk in a whole lot less time.
2. You control the suction. Again, you can get a lot more milk out when you’re pumping faster than the highest speed on the "fancy" ones.
3. You aren’t forced to sit in one spot (this is especially good if you’re like me and your house is 500 years old and you only have one outlet per room!)
4. They are only like $20!
5. Free forearm workout
Pump, Pump, Pump it up!
Immediately after you give birth, pump until you can’t pump anymore. This will help your milk come in faster and ensure that you will not have to supplement with formula (again, if you end up having to it's not the end of the world!) Typically your milk will come in in about 3-4 days after baby is born, but the sooner the better cause that baby has to eat!
Pump Some More!
The first few weeks you are going to feel like a dairy cow, and that’s because well, you are one. But that’s okay! Just keep pumping, just keep pumping. I put myself on the schedule of pumping 5-6 ounces with each feeding, so that I could store it. Thankfully my supply has always been great with both babies, so I was able to feed the baby on one side, while pumping the other side at the same time. This way both boobs were draining and filling back up again at the same time.
That's all I've got! If you are a new mom or mom-to-be, I truly hope these tips help you with your breastfeeding journey. If you're not a new mom or mom-to-be, but still read this post anyway, I hope I didn't scare you away from ever wanting to breastfeed with all of my chapped, bleeding nipple talk.