Breastfeeding is a constant part of your day when you are a new mom, and as such, is a constant part of your life. Initially you are overwhelmed … the associated ravenous hunger, pumping, clogged ducts, mastitis, etc. Here is a shopping list of the breastfeeding essentials:
#1: An EXPENSIVE, FANTASTIC Bra
No, the local department store’s discount thing that almost fits you won’t do. Fifty dollars, at the very least, should be spent to get the right support and a lot of shaping. You will be full and heavy, so support is a MUST. The last key to a good bra is somewhat up to individual preference. You will be much larger, so, in order to fit into the same shirts, you may want to go with a minimizing bra. You will be nursing, so you may want to go with a click-open nursing bra. I just go with a standard full-support, full shape bra (Victoria’s secret bio-fit, to be exact) I have found that the nursing and minimizing bras are too thin of material for a variety of reasons, primarily because after you nurse you tend to be much more ‘pronounced’ in the nipple region.
#2: Nipple Pads: Leak Protection
The other reason why a bit thicker bra is helpful is because it gives you a bit more leniency in the case of leaking. The paper-thin minimizing and nursing bras do not have the milk-stopping padding necessary to protect in the cases of surprise let-down. Your boobs are not built with a brain. They cannot differentiate your baby’s cry from another’s. So, even though you just fed your baby, they can and will let-down more milk if they hear another cry – especially when you aren’t prepared. By keeping either disposable or reusable pads stuffed in your bra, these surprise let-downs won’t be an embarrassment for you. And by having a bit of extra padding in your bra, if you forget said pads, you will have a bit more wiggle room in the case of leaky possibilities. Your body will get used to the let-down eventually, but make sure you are prepared with pads for at least the first three to four months. And avoid other crying babies.
For the first month of breastfeeding your first baby, you will most likely feel like your nipples are being ripped off. The new, constant sucking will chafe your nipples, and leave them sore and possibly even bleeding. They will toughen up, but until they do, lather those girls up! They make various kinds of lanolin treatments, but I liked the ones with pain relief best. It will get better, and after the first baby you won’t even have this issue.
#4: A GOOD Pump…not a hand one…
I have met so many women who, when asked if they have a pump respond “oh yeah, I’ve got an evenflo single hand pump, I’m good as far as pumps are concerned…” Unless you plan on using that thing as a paperweight, it’s pretty much good for nothing. You WILL need a (real) pump if you are breastfeeding. How often you need it may not be the same, but if you plan on spending more than three hours away from your child (which you SHOULD allow yourself to do every now and again!), you will need a pump. A good pump. An electric pump. Medela is my favorite. (No I am not a representative for them, but I should be, eh?)
#5: Hot Pad/Cold Compress, Antibiotics
If you are anything like me you will end up having clogged ducts and mastitis. Hopefully, unlike me, you won’t get them recurrently. If you ever begin feeling stabbing pain in your chest as you nurse, you can know that it is one of these two things. If the shooting pain is accompanied by flu-like, achy, sick symptoms, and red, hot, vine-like patterns around the area that is sore on your chest, you have mastitis, a breast infection, and can only be remedied with antibiotics. The symptoms can be lessened with continued nursing (despite the pain), hot baths (especially on the affected area), and massaging the sore section. Keeping your breasts empty will help resolve the infection, so the pump will be very useful.
If the pain does not have any accompanying flu-like symptoms, it is more than likely just a clogged duct. These are usually caused by inefficient nursing (i.e. the baby drains parts of the breast, but not other parts). Be sure to feed in differing ways, like the football or lay-down position if you are accustomed to the cradle position. It is a good idea to point the baby’s chin towards the area that is clogged, as this position tends to get the best drainage. The pain can be lessened with massage and heat. Antibiotics are unnecessary.
#6: Water and Snacks (for YOU)
Remember how the hunger hits you when you are pregnant? Multiply that by two (at least) and you’ve got nursing hunger. Right after you nurse (or sometimes right before) you are hit with the wave of anguished, ravenous hunger that must be quenched at all cost. So, rather than be forced to buy fast food frequently, have a couple granola bars, nuts, and apples stuffed in your bag. It will satiate your sporadic, unsolicited hunger without breaking your post-child diet and exercise plan, and be better for the baby as well. Oh, and ALWAYS have a water bottle on hand. Creating milk takes a lot of fluid from your body, so you need even more than the normal adult. Professionals recommend drinking about 2 liters daily.
#7: Nursing Cover
My son is getting to the point where he is too old for it now (and consequently just bats it away) but for the first five to six months, my nursing cover was my only connection to the real-world. It enables you to actually leave your house while breastfeeding, and not have to be on a three-hour return schedule. I have nursed many times in restaurants, grocery stores, at parks, and in my friends houses, all because of my nice, lightweight ‘udder cover’ – yes that IS it’s name. Again, I am not a representative. These covers are superior to blankets in that they tie around the neck (avoiding embarrassing boob-exposing blanket-falls) and they have boning to hold the opening at the top open, allowing you to look down inside at your baby (for positioning and repositioning- sake), without having to manipulate it with your hands (which are pretty full with your baby). It’s opening isn’t so big that others can peek in, however, which makes it absolutely perfect.
I think that’s about it. Always, of course remember to pack diapers, wipes, and toys in said bag of essentials, but in as far as breastfeeding is concerned, I think that these seven items just about hammer it to perfection. Happy breastfeeding!
Heidi Clarke is first and foremost a mom of two crazy boys. During her free time (ha!) she pretends to be an online blogger, writing about her escapades in healthy eating and juicing with her family at juicingpedia.com. She is the wife of a medical student, and holds a masters in education. Her goal is to educate the world about healthy living while also keeping chubby bums clean and little mouths fed.