There’s no doubt that breastfeeding is great for both you and your baby. And, it’s something special only you can do for your little one. But, it also has its challenges and can be, um, well, inconvenient and uncomfortable sometimes.
Below are my top essentials for making nursing easier and more enjoyable. Put these on your registry or just go buy them yourself so you’ll be fully prepared to breastfeed when your baby comes:
#1: My Brestfriend
My Brestfriend is a silly name, but an awesome breastfeeding pillow. The pillow provides the support you and your baby need to breastfeed in comfort. It wraps around your waist, snaps on the side and provides a flat, but cushy surface to rest your baby.
It’s adjustable waistband makes sure the pillow stays right where you want it, and you’ll never have achy, baby-holding arms again. (By the way, My Brestfriend is a thousand times better than the Boppy. I had both and the Boppy’s curved surface made my baby’s body roll into me and the pillow would sink down on my waist.)
#2: Pillow and Blanket for the Car
I kept a small throw pillow and baby blanket in the car. This came in handy several times when my screaming newborn forced me to pull into the nearest parking lot and nurse her NOW, NOW, NOW. I used the pillow to prop her up (because I was so addicted to the My Brestfriend that I hated to breastfeed without a cushion) and a blanket to use as an emergency nursing cover.
Now is the time to pony up for Netflix if you haven’t already, or at least set your TV up to record shows you haven’t had time to watch. Why? Because when you first start nursing your newborn, that little child of yours will take his or her sweet time, meaning about 45 minutes of nursing every two hours. That’s a lot of sitting time. I’m not against cooing and staring blissfully at your baby, but it’s also nice to catch a fun show and avoid bad daytime TV during those nursing sessions.
#4: Reading Material
The same advice as the item above, except this applies to books and magazines that you’ve been meaning to catch up on. If you’re one of those lucky moms who can figure out how to successfully nurse using only one hand (I wasn’t), then you’ll be happy to have a magazine, book or Kindle laying around when you want it.
#5: Burp Clothes
Burp clothes are excellent for wiping spit up, but can also be used to support and prop-up your breast. If you’re larger chested, you may have to support the breast your child is nursing from so it doesn’t droop down. If you don’t want to hold your breast up the entire time your baby is nursing, you can roll up a burp cloth, washcloth or hand towel and place it under your breast to raise it up.
Many moms swear that eating oatmeal increases their breastmilk supply and I tried it, too. When my baby was six months old, I started to worry that I wasn’t producing enough milk. I tried the Fenugreek tea that is also rumored to increase milk supply and it tasted awful.
With my second child, I ate oatmeal instead. I’m not sure if it actually worked. But doing something extra to keep my baby well fed at least made me feel better. Plus, it’s yummy, filling, low-fat and can be microwaved in two minutes.
#7: One-Handed Snacks
Apples, bananas, granola bars and protein bars all make for good snacks to tear into while you’re nursing. I kept a granola bar and a cup of water on the table next to where I nursed so that every morning I could get something in my stomach, too.
#8: Nursing Bras
Yes, nursing bras really do make breastfeeding easier. I tried using my regular bras, but scrunching them down to let my baby nurse, or to pump at work, put permanent creases in my molded cups.
It’s much better to buy nursing bras, especially the padded ones. The padded ones are great because you don’t have to worry about milk leaking through or fuss with inserting nursing pads into your bras.
#9: Nursing Tops
I purchased multiple nursing tank tops from Target and they were perfect for breastfeeding during warm weather. The tanks have a built-in shelf bra, strong straps, and an easy open-and-close panel along the chest. Their extra roominess in the belly area was an added, I-love-you-for-not-clinging-to-my-baby-weight bonus.
In addition to nursing tank tops, I was also thankful for the long-sleeved, cotton Henley tops I purchased to wear as pajamas during the cool-weather months. This way, in the middle of a chilly night I could just unbutton the top of my shirt and expose a minimal amount of skin.
#10: Lanolin Nipple Cream
You don’t need much of this sticky balm – one tube will last you through five-plus pregnancies – but it’s definitely a staple you should have on hand. A tip that worked for me was to apply the cream to my nipples those last couple of weeks before giving birth to soften and prepare them for nursing.
Lanolin nipple cream is also a lifesaver for healing breastfeeding battle wounds like cracked and sore nipples. Worst case scenario, if you don’t end up using it for nursing, it makes an excellent lip balm.
#11: Mom Friends
More than any of the items I listed above, what will be most helpful to you during this time is the support of other breastfeeding moms. Some ways you can connect with other new moms include:
- See if there are any local breastfeeding support groups through the La Leche League.
- Ask your hospital if they organize parent groups or offer classes for new parents.
- Seek out a MOPS group in your area.
- Chat with friendly neighbors and family members who have young children.
- Visit online forum communities on BabyCenter, Momtastic and Mamapedia.
There is nothing else in the world like nursing your baby – besides a bonding experience no one else can have with your child, there are so many amazing benefits of breastfeeding. By preparing a bit ahead of time, and learning about the key to breastfeeding success, you’ll be well on your way to making the most of this special time.