What are the breastfeeding must haves?
All you really need for breastfeeding is your breast and your baby.
As a money-conscious person, I hate buying more than what I need.
In my experience, breastfeeding is not easy.
Before my baby came, I didn’t know breastfeeding could be frustrating and even painful. It just seemed like such a natural process.
After speaking to many parents, I realized how breastfeeding is difficult for many. How had I not heard this before?
How can I make nursing easier?
Here are my breastfeeding necessities – what I used to make my experience more comfortable.
These breastfeeding essentials helped me push through the more difficult times. It helped make breastfeeding easier.
If you’re planning to breastfeed or are already encountering difficulties, these 10 tools will help.
Related Baby Tips Articles:
- 0-3 Month Baby Must Haves
- Postpartum Essentials: things you need after giving birth
- Hospital bag checklist – what I used and didn’t use
- Free Baby Stuff for New and Expecting Parents
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1. Breastfeeding resources
The most useful breastfeeding assistance I attained was from:
- prenatal classes
- experienced mom friends
- nurses/lactation consultants
- local breastfeeding support group with moms experiencing breastfeeding challenges
Through these resources, I learned what to expect about breastfeeding and what to do when I started running into problems.
These are some of the important things I learned:
- how to get a good latch
- the many breastfeeding positions (including the side-lying position which you can do lying down)
- solutions to avoiding clogged ducts and mastitis (I got mastitis and it is no joke! My breasts were painfully engorged, I got a fever and I had to go on antibiotics.)
A Prenatal Class is essential.
The local prenatal class I took was excellent.
If you don’t have access to a local prenatal class, I highly recommend doing one online.
The advantages of doing it online is that you can watch the videos and read the course materials at anytime AND as many times as you’d like. You can take your time absorbing the material and discussing the topics with your partner.
This is one thing I didn’t like about the in-person experience. I was frantically taking notes throughout the in-person class. I’m sure I missed a bunch of key points, especially as I wasn’t feeling the best in my third trimester.
This online prenatal class for couples goes through everything from your third trimester to your first few months of being postpartum. Hilary is an experienced labor and delivery nurse.
There’s a lot of content on specifically the labor and delivery part. Things like what legitimate contractions are, what to expect from your labor and delivery nurse and c-sections.
She talks about the embarrassing stuff that didn’t once come up in my in-person class like the possibility of pooping during delivery. At the end of each section, Hilary asks important, thought-provoking questions for you and your partner to consider. Things like what you’d like your partner to do when you’re in pain e.g. heat, massage, essential oils, music? Who could come help you when the baby is born?
There are also classes focused on breastfeeding.
Hilary touches on postpartum care and breastfeeding, but it’s not in-depth. If you’re looking for a class that’s laser-focused on breastfeeding, there’s this online breastfeeding class, which is created by Cindy and Jana – registered nurses and lactation consultants.
This class offers extensive tips on how to breastfeed successfully. Some of the topics they discuss include how to get that deep latch, what to do when breastfeeding is not going well, and how to know if the baby’s getting enough. If you want to check out their style and content, they offer a FREE course – The Top 6 Pregnancy Mistakes Shared With Us in Secret.
Cindy and Jana’s course is $40. The price reflects the extensive amount of information the course offers. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, this online breastfeeding class for $19 is a good option. It’s created by Stacey who is a Certified Lactation Educator. Her course does a great job of explaining the basics of breastfeeding. There is even a 30 day money back guarantee if you don’t feel completely prepared for breastfeeding after taking the class.
In addition to a prenatal class, I also recommend that you ask family and friends about their breastfeeding experience. Ask how it went. What surprised them? If they ran into problems, what would they do differently? Don’t be reactive like me and ask afterwards!
If you’re delivering at the hospital, ask your postpartum nurses for help with your latch right after you deliver. I highly recommend trying to perfect that latch before you leave the hospital!
2. Nursing Pillow
Initially at the hospital, I tried using a few regular pillows. It took SO LONG to get the pillows in an optimal position for latching.
Being postpartum and weak, the last thing I wanted to do was spend so much time rearranging pillows before EVERY feeding.
When I got home, I tried the my brest friend. I regret not bringing this to the hospital!
I now know why it has this name. In the first 3 months of baby’s birth, I used the my brest friend with every feeding.
This nursing pillow is so comfortable and easy to position to get the PERFECT latch. (In my experience, even if you can position for the perfect latch, your baby still needs to learn how to latch properly. I felt that this nursing pillow set me up for success. I just played the waiting game until baby finally learned how to latch.)
With my baby getting bigger and bigger, the pain in my back while breastfeeding only grew. My neck and shoulders were also constantly hurting while I was getting used to holding a baby. This nursing pillow comfortably supported my upper body and relieved my pain.
This breast feeding back pillow even has a small pocket that I used for spit-up cloths and to store the vitamin D supplement. I have a boppy pillow as well, but it just didn’t provide the support necessary for nursing.
3. Nursing Bra
I’ve found a nursing bra necessary, especially when I leave the house. Here are the reasons why:
- Nursing bras have clips that make it easy to pull the front part of your bra down to breastfeed. You could use a regular bra and pull your breast out, but I found this more difficult.
- The nursing bra comes with a pad to conceal leaks. There’s an area for additional padding. I never leaked to the extent of needing additional pads.
- Nursing bras are designed to fit you comfortably when you’re both full and empty. My regular bra felt too restrictive when I was full of milk.
This nursing bra is comfortable and inexpensive. I’ve tried similar nursing bras without underwires from other retailers and this one is the cheapest for relatively good quality.
On a side note, if you don’t like nursing bras, you might like nursing tank tops better. I just used a regular, stretchy tank top over my nursing bra, but some women I know prefer to have a nursing tank top.
4. Nursing cover
Instead of getting a nursing cover, I just tied two ends of a muslin swaddle blanket together and wrapped it over myself.
When my baby was finished feeding, I would use this as a burping cloth.
Their blankets are so versatile; you can also use them as a swaddle, tummy time mat, changing pad cover, car seat/stroller cover, general blanket etc. My baby is 1 year old and I still use these today!
They are soft and get softer with each wash!
5. Stretchy tank top with a shirt/sweater on top
When I got more comfortable with how to nurse in public, I didn’t need a nursing cover anymore.
I would just wear a stretchy tank top with a shirt/sweater on top.
Whenever I needed to nurse, I would unclip my nursing bra, pull up the shirt/sweater and lower the top of the tank top so the nipple is exposed for feeding. I would just pull the shirt/sweater over top my baby’s head so it would be discrete.
If you’re the type to leak, you might want to wear darker colored clothing just in case.
6. Breast pump
You may be wondering, “Do I need a breast pump right away?”
It depends on your situation.
I didn’t want to purchase a breast pump because they’re so expensive!
Within the first few days of my daughter’s birth, she got close to losing 10% of her original weight. I had to pump to determine the amount of milk I was getting.
On a side note, the device also came in handy when:
- I got mastitis and needed to release milk quickly to relieve the pain of engorgement.
- I needed to increase my milk supply quickly. The more I pumped, the more milk I got.
- We introduced her to solids. We put the pumped breast milk in her cereal and other foods.
We didn’t actually need bottles for breastfeeding as we exclusively breastfed.
Initially, we were thinking of renting a pump from the hospital, but the costs didn’t justify the amount of use we were projecting.
We purchased this Ameda Purely Yours pump directly from the hospital. The nurse who delivered our prenatal classes said it would be the cheapest way to get a high quality electric pump and she was right!
We ended up paying 40% off most listed prices. When I spoke to other moms, they mentioned that they received the exact same breast pump from their insurance provider so you might want to look into that first before checking your local hospital for prices.
7. Padded rocking chair
A padded rocking chair made it so comfortable for breastfeeding in her nursery. We also used it for reading books and generally relaxing together.
I didn’t use an ottoman, but I did use a stool we had around the house similar to this stool. It helped relieve my back pain and maintain my posture.
8. Waterproof mattress pad
Around a month into breastfeeding, I was so sleep deprived.
I tried the side lying breastfeeding position. It’s when you can lie down while breastfeeding your baby.
To protect the mattress from milk, pee and poo leaks, I used a waterproof mattress pad.
When you’re finished breastfeeding, the pad can also be used when you have your period.
9. Water bottle and snacks
After every breastfeeding session, I was constantly drinking water and eating food.
I highly recommend always having a water bottle nearby. This Voss water bottle is the one I’ve been reusing for years. It’s extra large and made of glass so there’s no unwanted flavoring from the package.
I have friends that have said this Lifefactory water bottle is the best water bottle for breastfeeding because it’s also made of glass, but has this silicone sleeve for easier gripping and an opening that’s large enough to put ice cubes in easily.
It’s also important to have readily accessible snacks. I often had fruit, nuts and energy bars nearby.
I would drink and eat while my baby was breastfeeding.
It’s so important to keep yourself nourished. If you’re not healthy, you can’t take care of your baby.
I’ve included the carrier because I found it useful to be able to feed my baby in it while getting things done around the house e.g. prepare food, household chores etc.
The carrier I got was the Original Ergobaby Carrier because it’s comfortable and can be used with the infant insert right away up until the baby is 45 lbs. I also got it because I heard about hip dysplasia and the importance of having a carrier that has the correct ergonomic position.
Sometimes I found the carrier easier to use than a stroller when I was out of the house. For example, when I was going to a restaurant with tight spacing or on a plane with a baby.
Here are the tools I didn’t use.
- Lansinoh nursing pads – I never used them. The pads in the nursing bra were sufficient. In hindsight, I should have just tried including a baby wash cloth to see if I leaked enough to require additional breast pads before I purchased these ones.
- Lansinoh cream – When my nipples were sore and cracked, I just used saliva and breast milk, which worked well.
Additional tip on breastfeeding essentials:
To manage costs, if you’re purchasing items on Amazon, go through Ebates first!
Companies pay a commission to Ebates for advertising on their site. Ebates then shares that commission with you. Depending on the rates, you could get up to 40% of your purchase price back! Ebates is FREE to sign up.
For U.S. residents, Ebates will give you a welcome bonus of $10 after making your first online purchase of $25 or more.
Summary of the breastfeeding must haves:
- Breastfeeding resources – this online prenatal class for couples, breastfeeding class, The Top 6 Pregnancy Mistakes Shared With Us in Secret – FREE course
- Breastfeeding Pillow – my brest friend
- Nursing Bra – nursing bra, nursing tank tops
- Nursing cover – muslin swaddle blanket
- Stretchy tank top with a shirt/sweater on top – stretchy tank top
- Breast pump – Ameda Purely Yours pump
- Padded rocking chair – padded rocking chair
- Waterproof mattress pad – waterproof mattress pad
- Water bottle and snacks – Voss water bottle, Lifefactory water bottle, energy bars
- Carrier – Original Ergobaby Carrier
Related Baby Necessities Articles:
- Postpartum must haves: things you need after giving birth
- Things I actually used from my hospital bag checklist
- 0-3 Month Baby Must Haves for Frugal Parents
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