Breastfeeding may be normal and natural, but that doesn’t make it inherently easy.
A lot of women do struggle with breastfeeding for various reasons. However, it is also important to realize that a lot of women also have almost no troubles at all breastfeeding. So, it is impossible to predict what your own experience will be. What you can do, though, is prepare well beforehand to help improve your chances of successful breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is an amazing gift for you to give yourself and your baby. There are lots of amazing benefits of breastfeeding not just for your baby, but for you as well! Did you know that each month that you breastfeed your baby actually reduces your chances of getting breast cancer or other female-anatomy-related cancers? That’s only one benefit, though! There really are endless ways that breastfeeding benefits you and your baby. So, preparing ahead of time to help improve your chances of successful breastfeeding can certainly be well-worth it.
6 Breastfeeding Essentials to Help You Reap the Benefits of Breastfeeding
Technically, all you NEED for breastfeeding is your baby and your breasts. Nonetheless, there are some great things that you can do and have that will help make breastfeeding easier for you and help you to enjoy the many benefits of breastfeeding for you and your baby. Below, we’ve listed our top 6 breastfeeding essentials to help you in your breastfeeding journey!
Nursing pads are definitely a staple item when it comes to breastfeeding! They are simply small pieces of material designed to be placed inside your bra for the purpose of soaking up leaking breastmilk. The thing about breastfeeding is that most women do leak breastmilk sometimes. Some women may not have a problem with it, while other women will leak profusely.
The good news is that most women will slow down or stop leaking after a couple to a few months of breastfeeding since their milk supply is more regulated by then. You’re still going to want protection, though! Nothing is more uncomfortable or embarrassing then a huge milk stain pouring down the front of your shirt. You can choose disposable nursing pads or reusable nursing pads depending on what’s most important to you. They will help you stay more comfortable and therefore more relaxed and confident, which can definitely have a positive impact on your breastfeeding relationship with your baby!
Having a good nursing pillow made a huge difference for me when I was breastfeeding my babies as newborns. I remember some days where the nursing pillow was the only thing that allowed me to actually eat anything that required a utensil. The way that it works is that it simply sits in your lap around your waist and helps position your baby for breastfeeding.
The pillow supports your baby in a comfortable position that allows you to nurse hands-free. Some women still like to use one hand to help position the breast for the baby, but this won’t always be necessary – and having one hand available is better than having neither hand!
This is a major must-have breastfeeding item for a lot of women. There are a lot of different options out there when it comes to nipple cream, but you will definitely want to have something on-hand in case you need it.
Some women tend to experience sore – or in extreme cases, cracked – nipples when they first start breastfeeding their new baby. Nipple cream will help to soothe and heal sore or cracked nipples, so that breastfeeding will become comfortable again as soon as possible.
You are absolutely going to want to have some good nursing clothes for successful breastfeeding! You might be surprised at how inaccessible your breasts may be in a lot of your normal clothing.
Good nursing bras, nursing tops, nursing tanks, and even nursing dresses can make breastfeeding so much easier on you! The right breastfeeding clothing can even make it easy to be more discreet when breastfeeding in public if you prefer to be more modest or attract less attention.
Something that might not be thought about as often, but it absolutely essential to this list is a good reusable water bottle! Find one that is high-quality, easy to hold in one hand, and ideally one that you don’t have to have both hands to open up or use. There is a lot of water in breastmilk, so breastfeeding is definitely going to dehydrate you if you don’t drink enough water.
There isn’t usually a need to track your water intake, but just make sure that you drink to satisfy your thirst. Chances are that this is going to be a lot, especially in the first few weeks of breastfeeding. So, having a good bottle that you can keep by your side will be really helpful. Having one that you can easily use with one hand is great because it will make it easy to drink water while you are nursing your baby!
This is going to go right along with a good water bottle. Breastfeeding actually burns a lot of calories and you are going to be HUNGRY when you are breastfeeding. With the amount that a newborn baby nurses, it can be hard to find time to eat, much less cook. So, it is a great idea to have easy snacks on hand. It is even better to choose some easy, healthy snacks to keep around.
Keep a bag of carrot sticks and some apples close by to your favorite nursing spot. Anything that is relatively healthy and easy to eat with just one hand is a great option. The less prep needed, the better! Of course, it is always okay to indulge in something a little less healthy every now and then. I’ve heard that oatmeal cookies can help boost milk supply, after all.
Above, we listed 6 breastfeeding must-haves! However, there are definitely a few more things that you will want to consider having to help ensure your breastfeeding journey. The big difference is some of these things will only be helpful for some women depending on their specific circumstances. So, in addition to the 6 breastfeeding must-haves that we’ve already discussed, you may want to consider getting a few of the following as well:
A Good Breast Pump
A good breast pump can be extremely important to some moms and completely useless to others. This is why it didn’t quite make the list for breastfeeding must-haves. If you are a mother that is planning on being a stay-at-home mom and you have no intention of being away from your baby very often or for long periods, there is no reason to worry about a breast pump.
However, if you are planning to go back to work after your baby is born – or if you will be leaving your baby with another caregiver on a regular basis – a good breast pump can be very important and helpful. It will allow you to more easily and quickly express breastmilk to store for your baby while you are away. It is important to express breastmilk regularly when you are away from your baby to maintain your milk supply.
Breastmilk Storage Bags
This one goes right along with a good breast pump. If you are going to be away from your baby on a regular basis – such as when you go back to work – you will need a good and easy way to store your expressed breastmilk. Breastmilk storage bags are inexpensive and effective at easily storing breastmilk.
Still going along with a breast pump and breastmilk storage bags, you will need breastfeeding-friendly bottles for your baby if you will be away from them. Breastfeeding-friendly bottles tend to have special designs and unique features that make them more likely to be accepted by breastfed babies. Things like wide necks and natural-shaped nipples make a huge difference here.
A Nursing Cover
Whether you need a nursing cover or not will simply be based on personal preference. Some women prefer to thoroughly cover up while breastfeeding in public. However, it isn’t necessary and is based on your own personal comfort level. Some women consider them a nuisance as they can be difficult to maneuver, and many babies don’t like them. You can breastfeed discreetly without one, but many women do find them to be necessities.
Lactation Cookies and Lactation Teas
Sometimes a breastfeeding mother may struggle with her breastmilk supply. It is not common for a woman to have a low supply of breastmilk unless something is preventing baby from breastfeeding often enough and/or effectively removing milk from the breasts. However, it can sometimes happen. One thing that many women swear by to help boost milk supply is lactation cookies or lactation teas. These are products that are designed with special ingredients that can aid the body in more successfully producing adequate amounts of breastmilk.
You’ve Got This!
Seeing all these things that you need for breastfeeding can be a bit overwhelming and hearing stories about women failing to breastfeed or having immense trouble with breastfeeding can be intimidating. Try not to worry about all of that too much, though. It is always a good idea to be prepared and the things we mentioned can certainly make things a bit easier, but when push comes to shove, your baby and your breasts are really the only things that you need. Women have been doing this for their babies since the beginning of time and I know you can too! You’ve got this!