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From the moment I became pregnant, breastfeeding was on my mind. I began researching for breastfeeding necessities and everything nursing related that I could before the baby came. I truly had no idea how hard the journey would be at first, but it’s been incredibly rewarding. No where did I read how often I needed to nurse at first and how much sleep I would not be getting trying to get my supply up. Here are 7 breastfeeding supplies that got me through those first few months of constant nursing and beyond.
Disclaimer: I am very fortunate that I had an incredibly easy journey with breastfeeding. My son took to it immediately. The hardest part was the constant nursing called cluster feeding at first when he was always hungry.
A Support System
A fantastic support system is necessary. It’s the first thing on my list. Sure, having boobs should be, but without my moms group and mother I don’t know how I could have made it this far.
My husband was not the most supportive. Breastfeeding caused a lot of issues for us because Rion was always hungry and he always was with me. He felt neglected and that he couldn’t get time with either of us. The constant fighting was so incredibly hard on me. Not only did he not understand what I was going through after just giving birth, he didn’t understand breastfeeding and how difficult it would be. He didn’t want to read about it, he didn’t want to hear about it, he just didn’t like it. We are in a better place now.
Without the support of other moms who had their babies around the same time I did I probably would have given up. Everyone was going through different things, from a clogged duct, latching issues, to mastitis, but we were all there for each other continually offering support and advice when asked. Without this crew, I don’t know how I would have made it through those first few months. I am great friends with women I may never meet, but I can’t imagine my life without them now.
My mother was great support for me. She had nursed me and my sister when we were babies and had been very encouraging. She knew first hand how incredibly draining nursing can be when all you want to do is sleep. I am glad I always have her in my corner especially when I needed it most.
My Double Electric Pump and Accessories
I used the Medela Pump In Style that I received through insurance. I needed this at first to get my supply up because my son had low blood sugar. We needed to supplement for a few weeks, but with the help of my pump I was able to switch to exclusive breastfeeding by pumping daily.
I want to mention that I was able to avoid any nipple confusion during these early weeks some moms worry about and unfortunately have trouble with. Rion used our Avent bottles and went to nursing with ease. I know this isn’t the case for a lot of moms, but keep trying. Buy a few different bottles and don’t go crazy finding the perfect bottle when you are pregnant. Whichever one your child prefers, then go nuts! In my moms group, we would mail bottles to each other if they were unused/unopened and another baby needed help. Just another plus for having a moms group!
The pump is also necessary if you want to continue to breastfeed once you go back to work. Pumping at work is probably my least favorite activity, but I had to do it three times a day for awhile just to make up the amount my son needed while I was away. Going along with the work theme, you will need wipes for your bottles if you do not have access to a sink to wash your pumping bottles and milk storage bags if you plan on freezing or not using bottles to transport. I carried the wipes and bags with me everywhere and they were handy when I went to training offsite.
You will need your pump if you feel a clog. Nursing and pumping will help you work out that clog, making the pump an absolute necessity to get that clog out! Clogs are painful and you will want to work it out as fast as you can.
Nursing Pillow and Comfortable Chair
I highly recommend finding a nursing pillow and chair that you will be comfortable in for long periods of time. For me, the Boppy was incredibly useful and eventually I used it for tummy time when Rion was a little older. I’d take the Boppy with us if we had to go away and it didn’t take up too much room in our suitcase or car.
I’d also recommend getting a few covers to rotate for your Boppy. Rion would always end up spitting up on the cover, so it was good to have two extra on hand because there was no way I was doing laundry right away.
A comfortable chair is also a must. I ended up having a C-Section after a 24 hour labor. Top that off with nursing around the clock I was spending an incredible amount of time in this chair for the first six weeks plus. My glider became my home for awhile.
Nursing Bras/Nursing Tanks
I thought I could get away with regular bras. Me now is laughing at me 15 months ago. Laughing hard. My first nursing bra purchase were these Gilligan & O’Malley sleep bras from Target. I bought a few of them and lived in them. It made me feel a bit more human wearing some time of support and was also perfect for nursing. I still use them! I did buy a few regular nursing bras when I went back to work. It’s really good for your self-esteem to have bras!
Nursing tanks were another necessity for me. I was able to be at home in my nursing tank and use them still for under my work clothes. Nursing tanks are also fantastic if you want a little privacy without using a cover. Pull up your top shirt with your nursing tank underneath. I did this for the entire length out our nursing relationship. Rion hated the cover.
Going along with the nursing bras, please get nursing pads. You will think you’ll be fine, but you will leak all over your clothes. I didn’t like leaking and unfortunately, especially in the mornings, I couldn’t control it.
I wore nursing pads around the clock. It’s never fun to wake up sticky from leaking in the middle of the night and you never want to be somewhere without nursing pads.
Change your nursing pads often to prevent clogs!
This one goes beyond breastfeeding, but after awhile I felt glued to my chair and needed to get up and go beyond my little circle. I took my sweet time using my wrap and ring sling, but once I did it was a game changer. I was able to be close to my colicky son, nurse him, and have my hands free to eat! It was a game changer.
Large Water Bottle/Travel Mug
Drink your water! Knowing I’d be stuck in my chair for hours on end, I used a 32oz water bottle to drink water all day. I was drinking close to 100oz of water and not having to get up and worry about my water intake was really helpful. Get yourself a large water bottle!
Another piece of advice is to invest in a travel mug. If you’re a coffee drinker like me, I hate to inform you that your coffee will get cold really quick in that regular old mug. Use a travel mug around the house to keep your coffee warm while you juggle ten things.
Things You May Want
These are a few things other moms consider breastfeeding necessities that did not work out for me, but some women love them.
Nursing Cover: I found the muslin swaddle blankets worked at first until Rion started throwing it off due to him getting too hot. A nursing cover is typically large enough for privacy and should have one of those wire openings at the top to see down. This did not work for us, but it may work for you.
Lanolin Nipple Cream: The lanolin cream caused several clogs and blockages for me, but some women swear by it. I always had some on hand, but after awhile I was fine.
Supplements: I did not have to use supplements, but you may want to check out Blessed Thistle and Fenugreek if you are looking to increase your supply and if you do not respond to the pump well to increase supply. I did eat oatmeal every day, though there is no scientific proof to it increasing supply. If you are interested in donating milk, you may want to avoid supplements. Some milk banks and hospitals do not accept this milk and you will need to do research.
What products did you use that you found useful?
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