I think (and this might be an assumption) that most people now know that breastfeeding is ultimately the best feeding option for your baby nutritionally. BUT, we are NOT here to judge or put pressure on or discourage a mom in any way if they don’t breastfeed.
You are the best mom for your child. Period.
If you are planning to nurse, be aware that nursing is no joke! It can be difficult and painful and rewarding and emotional and more and more. I will save the details of my nursing struggles for a later post, but to give you an idea, my child was diagnosed as non-thriving. I wanted to breastfeed so badly, and I could have easily given up so many times. I’m happy to say that she finally started to exclusively breastfeed at 4 months. For a brand-new mommy, going through that was painful in so many ways.
So, the best thing to do if you are going to breastfeed your baby is find support. Ask your doctor, your friends, your local breastfeeding support group (La Leche League is international!) for help because there is nothing better than a support group to help you figure that stuff out.
All of that said, what do you really need if you’re going to be nursing?
#1. A good nursing pillow.
Ergonomics is important when you are nursing because you will be sore, and you don’t want to add to the soreness due to poor positioning. A support pillow holds your baby up so you can sit in a more comfortable position. For me, the Boppy Pillow didn’t give enough support, so I still found myself slouching. I ultimately switched to My Brestfriend (and not just because the name made me giggle). It also has little pockets to keep nursing essentials nearby. It is more expensive, but it gave much more support. I definitely think it was worth it. Also, keep in mind that the pillow is mostly important initially, because as your child gets older, bigger and heavier, they can reach while being comfortably held in your arms in a chair.
#2. A good nursing shawl.
No shaming here for moms who nurse in public, covered or not. That’s not why we are here. But if you would like to be covered, here are some things to consider when choosing a nursing shawl:
- Is it made of soft, comfortable material?
- How well does it cover you? (does it only cover the front or does it wrap around?)
- Is it too warm? (nursing babies are like little ovens under there – especially in warmer seasons or climates)
- Stiff or soft neckline? (being able to see your baby and how he/she is latched is easier with a stiff neckline)
Shawls like the Born Free Bliss Nursing Scarf wrap all the way around and are also versatile fashion accessories. These wrap-arounds tend to be more discreet but can also be hot for you and baby if you’re in a warmer season or climate. You can also get cute handmade nursing covers like this one my good friend makes. Which means you’re supporting small business! I personally have one of hers and it’s comfy, cozy, and cute! Udder Covers – Breast Feeding Nursing Cover (Grace) is an example of one which has a stiff neckline so you can easily see your baby. But this particular one does not cover all the way around. You risk baby kicking and exposing or having your back exposed.
#3. A large water bottle.
Breastfeeding dries you out! Drink, drink, drink – water. (Not Coke, Kool-Aid or soda water.)
#4. Nipple cream.
Lansinoh worked fine, and a little goes a long way but it probably shouldn’t be used every day for your entire nursing career. While using Lansinoh, be sure to use nursing pads as it will stain your clothes. Earth Mama/Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter worked well and can be used whenever and however. It is a little more expensive though. If you have situations where you end up with mastitis and/or have very painfully cracked nipples, ask your doctor about miracle nipple cream. It’s prescription strength and can help heal quickly. Sometimes early on in nursing, while you are waiting for your nipples to toughen up, a little free air and breastmilk itself really helps to heal up and toughen up sore nipples.
Especially in the first few weeks, you’re going to want to have some way of keeping track of time between feeds and which breast your child last fed on. There are some mobile apps that do this, but we ended up using the Itzbeen Pocket Nanny which worked wonderfully. In particular, it has multiple timers (for nursing, changing, naps, misc), a button to keep track of which breast you nursed from last, a flashlight (which is very helpful in many night-feed situations), and a clip to attach it to your clothing. “Baby brain” causes the misplacement of many things. (Speaking of “baby brain,” this Breast Feeding Checklist helped keep me from forgetting things during the nursing process).
#6. Nursing Bras or Tanks.
I prefer tanks over bras because tanks cover your midsection. Bras leave your midsection exposed.
TIP: Put nursing tanks on registry because they are expensive.
#7. Nursing pads.
I liked Lansinoh the best because they are discrete, soft and stay in place with an adhesive back.
If you’re nursing, you’re likely going to need to pump as well. Learn more about that on our post on Pumping.