Breastfeeding is a JUDGMENT FREE ZONE, as is mothering in general! I know it’s not for everyone and I respect moms who decide not to do it. Fed is best. With that said, once I became pregnant, like any first-time mom, I started researching everything under the sun related to caring for a newborn and knew pretty quickly that I was going to breastfeed.
I took a breastfeeding course at the hospital, which was an ok experience, but, if you plan on nursing, I would highly recommend investing in a one-on-one with a lactation consultant instead, as you’ll get a more hands on training as well as gain a sponsor who you can reach out to with questions after your baby is born.
I breastfed Ryan for almost fifteen months, and am going strong with Leo, who’s five months old now. If you’ve read my blog, Birth Story I: Welcome Ryan August, you could imagine we didn’t get off to a very good start with breastfeeding since Ryan had to spend some time in the NICU. I didn’t get to experience the “golden hour” of skin to skin and “first latch” with him right after he was born which is crucial. And then after that until the end of our breastfeeding journey, I was always playing catch up to make and store enough milk. Still, I didn’t give up and went passed my goal of one year.
Breastfeeding has been a lot easier with Leo since it isn’t my first rodeo and we got off to a great start with lots of skin to skin and strong first latch right after he was born. He's also just a better eater than his big brother, and the more frequent your baby suckles or you express milk, the more your body will produce. Don’t get me wrong, nursing my second baby comes with its own set of challenges, like keeping my toddler entertained somehow while I feed my infant multiple times a day, but overall it’s pleasant because I know what I’m doing and that takes a lot of pressure off!
I know breastfeeding can seem overwhelming to a first-time mom, but if you plan on nursing, here are some products I highly recommend to support you on your journey.
Every nursing mom should have an automatic breast pump. Most insurances offer a free breast pump per pregnancy. Tip: look into this with your insurance before having your baby. A lot of moms love the Spectra S2 or Medela Pump In Style, pumps that are typically covered by insurance. I went through my insurance to rent a Medela Symphony hospital grade pump because I learned I required something more powerful to extract my milk. If renting a hospital grade pump through insurance isn’t an option, try to locate a birthing center or baby boutique in your area that rents them out for a monthly fee. You can always buy your own, too.
Here’s the leaky truth. As you nurse on one breast, the other breast leaks milk, and if you don’t catch all that “liquid gold,” it's wasted! That’s why the Haakaa manual pump is a must-have! Hold the Haakaa pump to the breast you’re not feeding on to catch all that milk that would otherwise just soak your nursing pad or bra.
Breastfeeding can be hard on your back and posture. Assisted breastfeeding is the best! I either feed on My Brestfriend Breastfeeding Pillow or in my other favorite position, lying down on my side with my baby latched on the breast lying down on his side next to me.
There’s no worse or embarrassing feeling than leaking through your shirt. Breastfeeding moms can leak to the sound of a crying baby or when they haven’t fed or have been away from baby for a few hours. Leaking is especially common in the middle of the night when your baby starts to sleep for longer. I love my Bamboobies Washable Reusable Nursing Pads to prevent leaking through my clothes. They’re eco-friendly, pretty, soft to the touch and you can throw them in the washing machine.
After pumping out all that milk, you have to have a sterile, safe method of storing it. I pump directly into my Medela Milk Storage Bottles and store milk in the refrigerator until I’ve collected five ounces of milk in a bottle, at which point I transfer the milk into a Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bag and store it in my freezer. Make sure to write the date on your storage bag and use before six months from the date.
In addition to the essentials, here are my breastfeeding nice-to-haves:
Good Nursing Bra(s)
When breastfeeding, you and your baby will want to have easy access to your breasts. The last thing you want to listen to is a hungry, screaming baby while you try to figure out how to unsnap your bra with one hand while holding your baby on your other arm. Destination Maternity has a lot of nice options. Tip: can get fitted for a nursing bra at most hospitals that have a lactation center after you have your baby.
Soothing Gel Pads
Yes, sore nipples are a thing. Think of gel pads for sore nipples like cucumber slices for tired eyes. I got lucky twice with gentle nibblers, but with Ryan, I pumped a lot with some sessions lasting up to an hour (!), so my nipples were always sore. I loved to soothe with Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads in between feedings.
Nipple balm is is lovely, and especially so early on when you and your baby are learning to properly nurse. Using nipple balm helps prevent and soothe dryness and cracking. Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter is my go-to because it’s organic and lanolin-free, so it's completely safe for you and your baby and there's no need to wash it off before feeding. Tip: pack your nipple balm in your hospital bag!
For more resources on breastfeeding, I found these sites to be helpful:
Any questions on the topic of breastfeeding, ask away below in comments! And, if you've got any tips to share, I'd love them.