I just did the math and I’ve breastfed for 21 of the last 36 months of my life. And I’m gearing up for (hopefully) another year of breastfeeding our newest baby girl. Although I feel like a professional at this point (the photo above was taken at Magic Kingdom where I had to nurse and push a stroller down Main Street!), I know how difficult and overwhelming breastfeeding can be, especially during the newborn phase. And while I know that it doesn’t always work out for every mom and baby, there are a few things you can buy in the beginning to make the journey a little bit easier. Here are my breastfeeding essentials for the first few months:
Breast Pump // I’ve used both a Medela Pump in Style Advanced and a Spectra S2 pump and liked them both. I got more milk out of the Medela, but found the Spectra to be more comfortable. These days, nearly every insurance plan covers the cost of a breast pump so be sure to contact your insurance company before purchasing one. I also highly recommend getting a Haakaa pump and/or a Medela Harmony manual pump for on-the-go pumping or for when you need to pump a small amount.
Nipple Balm // Do not go to the hospital without packing a jar of nipple balm in your bag first. Your nipples take a major beating in the early days so it’s best to be proactive and take good care of them from day one. I apply nipple balm after every feeding in the early weeks. I’ve tried balms from Earth Mama, MotherLove, Honest Company and Bamboobies. I liked them all and would repurchase them all. I also recommend buying a set of the Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads for particularly rough days. (Put them in the fridge first for extra soothing power!)
Nursing Cover // Nursing in public (or even at home when you have visitors) can be super awkward at first. Some of the nursing covers on the market are so complicated that they aren’t worth the fuss, and using a blanket in the beginning can be tricky because all of the extra fabric can block your view of baby. I prefer using one of those stretchy covers that can also be used as a carseat, shopping cart and highchair cover. Lots of brands make them, but Copper Pearl is my favorite. It’s a thin, stretchy fabric which is perfect for humid Florida and the price is better than some of the other ones I’ve seen.
Nursing Pads // Once your breastmilk comes in on day two or three, there will likely be a lot of leaking happening. And there aren’t many things more embarrassing than discovering a big wet spot on your shirt when you’re out in public. I use disposable and reusable breast pads just depending on what I’m wearing. For disposables, I like the Lansinoh brand. They’re thin so they don’t make your tops look lumpy, but they’re super absorbent. For reusable breast pads, I prefer the Bamboobies brand.
Nursing Bras & Tanks // I honestly can’t remember the last time I wore a regular bra, but I know it was definitely before Avery was born. A good nursing bra is an absolute must-have for breastfeeding. Easy access is crucial when you have a tiny baby screaming for food and breastmilk spraying everywhere. (Am I totally scaring you first time moms?) I have one expensive nursing bra by Bravado and the rest I purchased at Target. I really love the Medela sleep bras you can find there and on Amazon. I have a few different nursing tanks, but none that are amazing. If you have a recommendation, please let me know!
Nursing Pillow // Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t need a nursing pillow. Nursing is hard enough in the beginning without having to strain your back to get the right position. The Boppy nursing pillow is probably the most popular and the one that I’ve used for all three babies. And I always make sure to have at least two covers in case the baby spits up on it.
Snacks & Water // Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories so you’ll probably find that you are ravenous most of the time and can chug an entire bottle of water in seconds. With Avery, I ate way too much junk food during middle of the night feedings, but I’m determined to make healthier choices this time. I highly recommend Boobie Bars and/or lactation cookies as a snack that will also boost you milk supply. And definitely pick up an insulated tumbler to keep your water nice and cool all day long.