I know what your thinking; not another breastfeeding essentials blog post but hear me out first before you close out of this post. Everyone has a different perspective on what is essential and I had no clue what would be important the first time around and overlooked quite a few things the second time around. I will just say I attempted to breast feed both my children. I really gave it a good effort before resorting to pumping including meeting multiple times with the wonderful local lactation consultants.
Despite this my son never got the hang of it and I ended up exclusively pumping to give him breast milk for a year. My daughter struggled with transfer issues early on and I had resigned myself to exclusively pump for her as well. Then magically, one day, a light switched on in her and she started actually breastfeeding and breastfeeding well. I continue to go back and forth with pumping and having her nurse and it has been working for us. So whether you are a mom to be, first time mom, second time mom or someone looking for a baby shower gift, here are the items I found to be essential to have while breastfeeding.
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A really good pump
I have the Spectra S2 and love it. With my son I had the Medela and had some issues with it. Keep in mind that was 6 years ago and I am sure they have made advancements in their pump since then. The Spectra is a hospital grade pump with a closed system so no more milk backing up in the tubing, YAY! These reasons and the stellar reviews were what led me to chose this advanced breast pump. Since using it I have found that it is pretty complicated with all the settings but a simple you tube search (thank you you tube) you will find how to use the pump to it’s full ability. Make sure you check with your insurance policy first because many health plans now cover the cost of certain pumps.
Spectra S2 can be found HERE ! Check it out and read the reviews. It is a really good pump.
Yes, coconut oil. I used this in place of the typical nipple cream at the recommendation of some very knowledgeable post-partum nurses. Those first few days will feel like a little gremlin is attacking your nipples while both you and they learn how to perfect the latch. Your nipples will be sore, raw and sometimes even bleeding. (Isn’t motherhood amazing?) I liked the idea of coconut oil because it is all natural and has a multitude of healing properties. Go with what feels good for you whether it be coconut oil or lanolin.
I love my boppy.. It not only helps provide support while you maneuver your baby to the best position on your breast but it can also be used later on to help the baby stay propped up when they have better head control. The cover is also washable which is great since your precious little bundle will eventually vomit on it or pee on it.
I personally never thought that I would leak. It took about 7 weeks before I started leaking when I heard my baby cry or when I was feeding from the opposite side. Hell, just thinking about my baby was enough to trigger a let down. It was certainly quite embarrassing when this happened for the first time while out in public and I was wearing a army green t-shirt (there was no hiding the leakage). These just discreetly tuck in your bra to help catch whatever leaks out. I have both the washable ones and the disposable ones. I like that the disposable ones have a sticky side that sticks into your bra to avoid sliding. The reusable ones are nice because they are washable and well because they are environmentally friendly.
My favorite are linked above by clicking the picture.
Another important product to have are cooling pads for when your nipples become raw and tender. These help relieve some of that soreness. My fav can be found HERE.
I had never heard about this nifty little contraption that helps catch the let down on the opposite side you are nursing from until the girls in my Facebook pregnancy group raved about it. Obviously I would never use this in public but it is perfect for home use to help build up a milk stash if need be. It suctions onto the opposite breast while you are nursing and voila milk collects in this.
Haakaa silicone breast pump can be found here.
A supportive bra
Nursing bras are great but make sure you get a supportive nursing bra. What will feel good for you will depend on your chest size and bra preference. So when you find what you like buy a couple at least.
Milk storage bags
These are super important to have on hand if you have an over supply and are pumping and storing milk. The first few days home I completely forgot about these and was scrambling to get some since I had so much milk that needed to be stored and nothing to store it in safely.
Click the image to be linked to breast milk storage bags.
If you end up being like me and either exclusively pump or switch back and forth a bottle with a nipple that mimics a relay breast is essential. My daughter prefers the bottles that feel like the real thing. We also like using bottles for anti colic because gas and babies do not make a happy combination.
These are my favorite bottles currently.
This was my secret weapon and changed everything when I began to use it. After a while, your nipples become a mess. Mine were cracked, bleeding and I was ready to give up. Popped this little guy on and it seriously changed the breastfeeding game. If you have never used one, get one now and try it out. Your nipples will thank you.
These are just a few of the essentials that I found helpful to have while breastfeeding this time around. Let me know what you found to make your breastfeeding journey easier in the comments below!