I’ll start with this: I haven’t really been prepared for breastfeeding beforehand, since I didn’t think there was much to prepare for, not to say that I would need some special products I couldn’t live without. I did, however, buy some nursing pads together with some lanolin for the nips and put it in my hospital bag (which I still thank myself for!). This was the wizest thing I did so far lol. More on that later.
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That was pretty much the whole preparation for breastfeeding. So as soon as I started it, I had to spend countless hours in front of my computer and in the shopping mall to order or buy things I really needed. Not to mention my nerves.
Breastfeeding is a difficult task. It really is. Starting with mastering a perfect latch and finding the best breastfeeding positions that you enjoy breastfeeding in without feeling numbness in certain parts of your body, finishing with products that can save your sanity while you’re trying to figure out this brad new mommy-breastfeeding-baby-care Universe you just found yourself at. The good news is that you can facilitate your countless everlasting nursing sessions for yourself by using these helpful breastfeeding essentials.
Here is the list of the top 7 items I SWEAR BY and believe that every momma needs them.
1. Nipple Cream
The first thing I ever needed after the birth of my baby was the nipple cream! After endless times I was applying my baby to the breast, my nipples became so sore I would cry every time he latched. That’s when I remembered I had lanolin with me.
Speaking from my experience, there’s no doubt that sore or painful nipples can cause a lot of stress and frustration to many mothers who are trying to breastfeed their babies. Fortunately, nipple cream can relieve your nipple soreness in between feeding sessions and is absolutely harmless for your infant to swallow or ingest (the one in particular is composed of organic high quality olive oils mixed with cera alba, butter extracted from shea tree nut, Althaea officinalis, and pot marigold).
If you experience tender or painful nipples, try using this homemade nipple cream from Mama Natural you can make by yourself to calm your nipple skin and strengthen baby’s immune system. That’s a win-win!
2. Nursing Pads
God Bless the person who invented them! As soon as I started making milk (about the 3rd day after delivery. Before that you have colostrum – a substance rich in fat, vitamins, minerals, antibodies and other healthy substances your newborn needs so much to kick start his digestive system.) I noticed leaking. And it wasn’t a couple of drops! Every time I had a let down (the reflex that makes milk and transports it through the milk ducts usually to your baby’s mouth) my shirt would get soaked wet with milk and wasted! So nursing pads was the second thing that came in handy at the hospital. I was so glad I had them!
Only after some time did I realize the difference between the different brands of nursing pads and that some of them were not good enough – they would last no more than two hours, wouldn’t prevent leaking and my breast would sweat in them. So I highly reccomend this brand of nursing pads. It may be a little bit on the expensive side, but in the aftermath it saved me tons of money.
I have to say, not all women are like that. Some don’t even know what this leaky breasts are (lucky ones!). But the majority would have this little “side effect” of nursing. So during the first days after birth while you’re still setting your breast milk production, you are likely to leave your house for some quick shopping and return with a soaking wet clothes. That is exactly what nursing pads are for. They will eliminate the probability of leaks and help you stay dry while your baby is not feeding till your lactation is well established. There are disposable bra pads and washable bra pads you can reuse. Both options are great.
3. Specialized Nursing Pillow
Soon after you’ll learn this Kamasutra with breastfeeding positions you realize these longlasting nursing sessions should be organized as comfortably as possible and you’ll be ready to sell your soul to devil (literally!) to get the best support for your back and hands that starts to numb after 15 minutes of breastfeeding while you are breastfeeding.
Of course you can breastfeed effectively using just an ordinary sleeping pillow, but a nursing pillow is perfect as it’s contoured to the natural curves of your body, which means you don’t have to constantly rearrange your regular pillows again and again. “My Brest Friend“ and “The Boppy“ are the two standard and most popular padded cushioning designed for breastfeeding moms. “The Nesting Pillow“ is a little bit more expensive, but it’s excellent at molding to you and your baby’s shape for extra support.
4. Nipple Shield
I have a confession to make. I personally didn’t use them! But my friend did. And she swore by them. She had one of the most common breastfeeding problems – sore nipples, but hers were so tender and sensitive, they would sometimes bleed making it impossible to endure the latching pain. So she found a way out by using a nipple shield every time she breastfed by the first couple of weeks, until her nipples healed completely and became less sensitive.
I believe, you may use it not only in the toughest cases, when your nipples are bleeding, but also if you have really tender nipples to get used to breastfeeding without being harsh on your nips with constant nursing. A nipple shield is a lifesaver for moms with flat or inverted nipples, too!
5. Breast Feeding Pumps
For mothers who want to store some extra breast milk in their refrigerator, a manual breast pump will come in handy. Don’t forget to stock up on some storage bags for breast milk! Manual breast pump also saved me when I had troubles with supply. I pumped after the nursing sessions.
If you don’t want to waste your precious milk, you can nurse on one side and gather milk from let down on the other with the help of this amazing super easy to use Haakaa breast pump.
What can you do with the milk left in Haakaa after breastfeeding? It’s great to make some breast milk popsicles for your teething baby, for example, to relieve your baby’s sore gums. Simply poor the milk gathered in Haakah into this special frozen pop tray. Freeze for a couple of hours. Voila! The pain relief teething popsicle is ready!
For mamas who plan to return to work, don’t produce enough milk, or have to express breast milk on a regular basis for other reasons, the automatic breast pump is a must-have. The manual pump will allow you to cut your pumping time in half. There are also special hands free pumping brassieres you can use while you’re working (typing, training, talking, eating, etc.).
6. Comfy Nursing Bras
I’m sure this one cannot be underestimated! Considering the fact that you’re now more like a milk producing – constnantly nursing mother, rather than a person with your own needs and desires. And, yes, I did cope with that fact, but what I couldn’t manage with is lack of comfortable nursing underwear! Oh My GOD, how wrong I was when I desided not to buy any while pregnant.
I quickly realized I don’t want to get saggy breasts after several years of breastfeeding (that’s what I was aimimg for) and weaning. Because, you know, if you don’t nurse for several hours, your breasts become engorged; after you breastfeed they look much smaller and empty – this continuous process makes your ligaments whacky without using a decent support! So I need to wear supportive bras 24/7! Wearing no bra just wasn’t an option.
I also couldn’t imagine breastfeeding in public wearing a regular bra – because this is JUST UNCOMFORTABLE!
So, nursing bra it is! Luckily, Amazon’s got plenty of options to chose from. This is a great option for sleep. This one just looks really nice and you can wear it during the day. This absolutely gorgeous nursing bra for special ocasions and dates with your hubby (speaking of saving time for dressing up). Sports nursing bra is great for active moms and suitable for workouts. But don’t wear this too long, since the compression it makes could lead to a clogged milk duct.
7. Milk Boosters
I would lie if I say that I had a flawless breastfeeding journey and enjoyed it right from the start. To be completely honest with you, first couple of months of nursing were a pure nightmare. No experience, sore nipples, a clogged duct, no milk, too much milk, then no milk again, low milk supply, hormones, stress, a constantly crying newborn, damn, I don’t miss this period of my life AT ALL! 🙂
Back to “no milk” and “low milk supply”. What can I say? Being an unexperienced mom who’s not sure if she’s doing things right is tough. This daily stress can’t go unnoticed. Back there, I didn’t really know that stress was the major culprit for low milk supply, since it’s actually blocking prolactin (milk-making hormone) and oxytocin (milk-releasing hormone) production.
So my first tip to all the new moms out there is this: RELAX!
Do you need some milk boosters? Maybe. But not necessarily.
You see, according to statistics, there’s a tiny percent of women who can’t breastfeed at all. I’m not sure if the figures are accurate, but they fluctuate from 1-5%.
While your lactation is establishing (that may take up to 3 months!), you may experience what you think is low milk supply or some episode when you don’t produce enough milk, but in reality it may be just a feeling! Here’s how you can identify low milk supply (and there’s only one reliable method! So make sure to read this article!)
As to the MILK BOOSTERS, I would actually start with the NATURAL AND FREE ONES:
- Eliminate stress
- Sleep as much as you can (you need to rest!)
- Eat a healthy nutrient-dense, rich in calories and healthy fats diet
- Get more fresh air, go for a long walks with a stroller (it will also help you lose weight postpartum naturally)
- Drink more water, more hot beverages.
- Go for skin-to-skin while nursing your baby
- The LATCH IS CRUCIAL! Make sure it’s good.
If you tried all this and still got no boost in milk supply, it’s time to go in for over-the-counter support.
- Fenugreek. Being the first ingredient in nursing teas, this is the common herb used for mothers to increase low milk supply. Is there scientific evidence that fenugreek actually helps? There actually is. I found two studies ,  that prove that fenugreek does help to increase breast milk supply in nursing mothers, however, there are currently limited efficacy and safety data with regard to the use of herbal galactagogues during breastfeeding, despite the fact that fenugreek has been used for milk supply for centuries. Make sure to check yourself and your baby for allergic reactions.
- Let there be milk. Contains fenugreek as the primarly ingredient, plus other herbs that help you produce more milk. I’ve seen some mamas started to pump up to 250 ml of milk after using this supplement and managed to make a stash of breast milk. From low milk supply to a milk bank – nice bonus, right? Worth a try.
- Milk thistle. It is known to be good for milk production, but it is generally excellent for helping your liver and cleansing your blood. So anyway, if you opt for trying milk thistle, you will get at least some palpable benefits for your health. I like the liquid option more.
- Brewer’s Yeast. Trying it wouldn’t hurt. Especially, because it can also help you overcome the baby blues (which is really common in new moms!)
Just keep in mind that nobody will give you the exact recipe for boosting milk supply. This didn’t come out right. I mean, there are plenty of recipes, but will they work for you? They might and they might not. The key here is to try everything you can! And don’t forget to relax in the meantime. 🙂 I still believe it’s the best milk booster.
Don’t Forget To Share This Article!
I hope this really helps. I know for myself, if I had stumbled upon this kind of article when I just started off my breastfeeding journey, I would have been so very glad! I tried to cover everything in-depth with respect to my own experience and give you a detailed explanation why these products I mentioned above may be crucial to ensure a comfortbale and stress-free breastfeeding.
What about you, Mama?
Share your breastfeeding essentials in comments below. What is it that you can’t live without?