Sunday, May 5, 2013

top 10 items for a new breastfeeding mother

When it comes to breastfeeding you naturally have all you need to get started.  But there are some items that you might decide to purchase that will make breastfeeding a more enjoyable (and do-able) experience for you and your baby.  Here is my list of the top 10 items for a new breastfeeding mother:

1.  Breastfeeding reference books to read at the end of your pregnancy.  Trust me when I tell you that you won't have time, energy, or free hands to read them after baby arrives.  I thought Ina Mae's Guide to Breastfeeding was a great resource.  Dr. Sears' The Baby Book has a nice section on breastfeeding.  Many other moms recommend the La Leche League's Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.  Combine your reading with a breastfeeding class at your local hospital to help your partner feel more comfortable with breastfeeding and to reinforce what you have read.

My Breast Friend
2.  Support pillow.  I started off with the Boppy because it looked simple, and that is precisely what it is.  Simple support.  But, OMG, life improved when I finally took the My Breast Friend (MBF) out of its package and tried it out.  I almost didn't use it at all because it looks so "contraption" like.  But the MBF wins, hands down, in my book.  It offers adjustable support and encourages good, comfortable posture. My husband laughs at me every time I put it on, but that silly little pillow is worth every penny.  I am still using the MBF and have since only used the Boppy as a photo prop. I purchased my MBF off of deal-site Zulily.  There is no promise that it will come up again, but I've seen it pop up every 6 months or so in the past.
Lansinoh's lanolin
3.  Nipple cream.  I'm not sure I would have been able to continue breastfeeding if it wasn't for nipple cream.  I rotate between Lansinoh's lanolin, Earth Mama Angel Baby's Nipple Butter, and plain ol' breast milk.  Use this from the beginning even if you feel like you are okay without it for the first couple days.  I did not because I thought I didn't need it and suffered with blisters and bleeding that developed several days later.  Nearly 7 weeks later I still use these when Elliot is nursing heavily or as a barrier from the water in the shower.

organic unrefined coconut oil
Unrefined coconut oil was recommended by my lactation consultant as a great natural nipple cream due to its moisturizing, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties.  Coconut oil is an all-purpose baby and mommy product that can be used for so many things (nipple cream, lotion substitute, baby massage, healing oil for mama's perineum, cloth diaper safe diaper rash remedy/prevention, and more)!

Ameda ComfortGelPads
4.  Cooling pads.  Like the nipple cream, use cooling pads right away from the beginning even if you feel like you are okay the first day or two.  You'll need them in that beginning 2 week "toughening-up" and engorgement phase. My favorite disposable option for nipple pain is Ameda and my favorite reusable/disposable system for engorgement is The First Years.  The Ameda gel pads are slightly larger than nipple while The First Years are larger for more surface area contact on the breast.

EMAB Boobie Tubes
A reusable option are the Earth Mama Angel Baby Boobie Tubes.  These are nice because they are multipurpose.  They can be chilled in the refrigerator for use during engorgement and initial nursing adjustment or heated up in the microwave for use with clogged ducts. I liked these but I did not feel like the Booby Tubes held the cool nearly as long as the disposable options.  If a person was being frugal and practical I would recommend Bobby Tubes in your breastfeeding survival kit.  But if you can splurge the extra money I would also recommend a disposable option for when things may be especially painful in the beginning-even if it is just one set to give you some extra cooling during that time.

5.  Milkies milk saver.  As long as you remember not to bend over while using this (you'll learn the meaning of crying over spilled milk), you'll have a great stash of "free milk" that didn't require pumping. Milkies are especially great in the first couple weeks, during times of engorgement, or if you are a regular leaker. I used my Milkies religiously in the beginning and I am so thankful I have that colostrum rich transitional milk frozen for when my baby may need it in the future.  Not everyone will leak, but I think it is worth the cost just to have them on hand in case you are.  I still use these at seven weeks post-partum for leaky days (yesterday I collected 3.5 ounces- enough for a bottle feeding).

6.  Bamboobies.  Speaking of leaking, you'll want something to protect your clothing and to serve as an insurance against embarrassing leaks during outings. These reusable pads are eco-friendly and wallet-friendly in the long run.  I have found that the regulars serve my needs just fine, but I do like the overnights during periods of engorgement. Pro-tip: make sure your nipple is dry before placing the Bamboobie against the skin or else you will have to peel it off your nipple when you take off.  {Ouch!}

7.  Breastmilk storage bags. You'll need a place to store all that "free-milk" you've collected in your Milkies.  If you are going to return to work outside of the home or want your partner to take on some of the feedings, you'll likely want a longer term milk storage solution like these freezer bags.

When I surveyed my mommy subscribers, the Lansinoh brand was overwhelmingly the preferred choice and so far they have been working great for me.  Be sure to ask your OB/midwife/hospital if they have any samples.

Freeze the bags flat and with minimal air for orderly storage.  Check out this pin for an up-cycled way to keep your freezer and stash organized.

8. Breast pump.  If you are going to be returning to work outside of the home or wanting to build a freezer stash of breastmilk then you will likely want to invest in a quality breast pump.  I use the Medela Pump in Style and have been happy with it thus far.  I have only used it pre-labor (natural induction method) and several times for relieving extremely engorged breasts.  The Simple Wishes hands-free breastpump bra is worth every penny if you are going to be pumping on a regular basis.

If you are going to be a SAHM and only need a small breastmilk stash or want something for quick engorgement relief, a manual pump will likely be all you need.

Glamormom Long Top
9.  Nursing Bra/Nursing Tank.  Go ahead and let the girls air out and be free at home when you can {really, do it! it is good for your nips to get some air.}, but you will want nursing bras and tanks for outings.  When your baby is fussing or crying because he/she is hungry you will want very quick and one-handed access to the ladies.  Only buy a couple of these toward the end of your pregnancy and then order any others after your milk comes in and you know what size you will need.

I asked my subscribers for favorites and the Bravado and Glamourmom were preferred brands.  I have the Bravado brand and although they are pricey they are supportive and great quality.  I also have a Glamourmom and Le Leche League tank ordered.  I will update this blog post once I have tried them out.  For an economical option, Wal-Marts Bestform line is "okay." Personally, I don't feel like this brand gives enough support but decent enough to have one or two cheap tanks in your wardrobe. Old Navy also has nursing camisoles but I have not been impressed with them. 

10.  Comfortable place to nurse. You will spend A LOT of time nursing.  Please have one or two comfortable places set up for nursing before your baby's birth day.  A rocking chair or glider is great for both nursing and for comforting a fussy baby.  A reclining chair is also great for practicing laid-back breastfeeding/biological nurturing. Set up a little basket at each chair with breast pads, nipple cream, burp rags, muslin blanket, and nursing pillow.  Put the lights around your nursing locations on a dimmer switch.  Keeping the lights dim will help keep your baby (and you!) in sleep mode during nighttime feedings.

Were there any other items that you felt were essential as a new nursing mother?  What were your must-haves?  Please comment below to help others that come to this page looking for advice.

If you are on Pinterest, I'd greatly appreciate a pin.

If you are having challenges breastfeeding, visit this site to locate a lactation consultant near you. 


  1. Something to do while nursing. When my baby was little I could manage a laptop and her on my lap, when she was a few months old, I graduated to using my iPod touch. Also keep snacks and a bottle of water by your nursing spot to make sure you take care of yourself while you feed your baby.

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