Breastfeeding is no walk in the park. Something that seems like it should be second nature and so intuitive, definitely gave me a run for my money. My son had a tongue tie in the beginning and we struggled for several weeks before finding our breastfeeding groove. I go into more detail on my breastfeeding journey on my post Fed is Always Best.
Now that he’s almost 18 months and our nursing sessions seem fewer and far between, I’m looking back on the things I found most useful most during our journey and what helped me to reach my breastfeeding goals.
Here I will share the products I used and felt were imperative to my ongoing breastfeeding success.
Organic Nipple Balm
I don’t want to sound like a snob, but I preferred to buy something organic for my nipple balm. Knowing it was 1) going on my body, and 2) my child would be in direct contact with it by nursing. Nipple butter/balms were most useful to me in the beginning when breastfeeding was brand new and it was still very much uncomfortable for both me and my son. It soothed dry, cracked nipples that were very sensitive. Rubbing your own breastmilk on your nipples after every session is also a great natural way to help the healing process.
For something that I assumed was so natural and instinctual, breastfeeding can definitely be a challenge. I tried to read as much as I could to be prepared. But let’s be honest. It’s not until you’re sitting on the bedroom floor crying as your newborn is crying in your arms. You’re trying so hard to nurse and feed your baby. You’re in pain and you’re wondering if this is all worth it. It is, I promise. It will get better. But then again, you may very well have no difficulty at all! Breastfeeding is similar to birth because every woman has her own journey and experience. I recommend these books because they have pages and pages of top notch information, and tips and tools of the trade. There was months of reading reviews online from other new moms like me before finally purchasing and reading myself.
If you’re interested in more pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding books read my my post: 5 Must Read Books for the Crunchy Mama to Be. (You don’t have to be crunchy to find these books useful, but it doesn’t hurt).
I had a few different ones I liked. The simple cotton halter/racerback style were the best for days mostly spent at home. They were the most easily accessible for the purpose of getting a boob to my son’s mouth. The click down kind I felt were a bit more supportive when out and about.
These were a necessity for me, especially once I went back to work. I used these reusable ones as well as disposable ones. They fit great in my nursing bras and didn’t bunch up and look weird. I will say that the reusable kind were a better fit once I was well into my nursing journey. When I used them at the very beginning, they were quickly overly saturated and causing leaks. Also, if using reusable pads make sure to be careful about what kind of nipple cream you use — it could stain/ruin the pads. I kept a bunch of the disposable kind in every purse, my car, the diaper bag & my desk at work so I’d be covered no matter where I went if I either forgot to put some on in the morning or if a meeting ran late and I needed a fresh pair.
Breast Pump & Accessories
I used the Medela Pump In Style breast pump; mainly because that’s what I was given by my insurance. Since I went back to work 6 weeks after the birth of my son, I was pumping both at work and at home. For those first couple months of work I still rented the hospital grade pump. I didn’t want to have to remember to pack up my pump every day. The cooler pack was a great to keep the milk chilled on my commute home. All the extra bottles were perfect for storage both at work and at home. Check out my post That Pump Life to see how I managed pumping when I went back to work full time.
The manual pump was great to keep in my car for random times when I’d be away from my son and my electric pump and desperately needed to get the relief of a letdown.
Milk storage bags are a given for any breastfeeding mother. The first several weeks are a critical time to build up your supply, especially if you’re going to be going back to work. They’re easy to use and store great in the freezer for several months. Plenty of room to precise labeling too.
Bottles & Accessories
Everyone will tell you to avoid giving your baby a bottle when you’re first breastfeeding as not to confuse them or risk the success of breastfeeding in general. We waited about 3-4 weeks before giving my son a bottle. We held off as long as we could. He needed to learn how to bottle feed for when I got back to work. I was also desperate for some help in feeding the little milk monster. We went back and forth on a lot of different kinds of bottles. I really liked the idea of the glass bottles, but in the end went with Advent naturals. Bottles can be like cloth diapers, where you don’t want to put all your ducks in one basket. I recommend having a few different types with their different nipples and test them out to see which one your baby feeds the best with.
I loved the boon drying racks so much that I bought one for work and one for my mom to keep at her house (she’s my daycare). They’re super cute and work great. I love the accessories like the flower to keep nipples, shields and other little parts easily reachable. We’re still using ours as a rack for my son’s toddler forks and spoons and sippy cups.
You’ll definitely want to get a bottle brush with the extra nipple brush too. They’re a lifesaver to getting into all the nooks and crannies of a bottle and nipple. They’re also great to clean breast pump parts!
What are some of your ‘must have’ breastfeeding tools?