Before you have your baby, you have certain ideas about breastfeeding. It'll be simple, so easy, you think to yourself. Just pop out a boob and away we go. And for some people, it can be. For others, not so much.
And what nobody seems to tell you is how complicated it can be. It's embarrassing at first to get your breasts out in public. Your nipples hurt. Your whole breast hurts. You get tired of having your baby latched on to you for what seems like all day, every day, and you want someone else to take over - just for a while. Your back aches. Your boobs leak. Yep, I've been there and done that.
In honour of World Breastfeeding Week next week, which is from August 1 to 7 around the world, I asked a few breastfeeding mamas for their advice on what helped make their breastfeeding journey easier.
Here's our list of breast feeding essentials to help you get through those first tricky weeks:
A water bottle you can open with one hand
You're going to need lots and lots of hydration, and there's nothing better than water. Of course, you'll need a good, non toxic water bottle, and it's really handy to have one that you can open with one hand.
You could just drink from a glass, but we promise you that you'll spill less if you're drinking out of a water bottle!
If you're looking for a one handed glass drinking bottle, with a silicone cover that won't break when you drop it, try the Contigo Glass Water Bottle ( you can see it here on
I love the Onya Stainless Steel Water Bottle (it's here at
Another great one handed stainless steel option is the Contigo Autoseal Vacuum Insulated bottle (see it here on
Your boobs will leak milk. They'll leak in the shower, they'll leak while you're shopping, and most of all - they'll leak when you hear your baby crying. In fact, some days, you're going to feel like a Jersey cow.
Which is why you're going to need breast pads. You can go with disposable breast pads, or you can go with reusable breast pads. Or you can do both. To start with, it's great to have some disposable ones so that you don't have think about extra washing in the first few weeks. Then grab some washable breast pads and you're good to go.
If you're choosing disposable, I'd always recommend organic disposable nursing pads - it's better for the environment and there's no perfumes or toxic chemicals next to your tender nipples. Some mums say that they prefer the disposable breast pads because washable ones can be rougher, which is tough when your nipples are already sore.
We like the
We love the Nature's Child organic cotton
US & UK readers, I'd recommend these ones on
A good, organic nipple balm
I hate to tell you this, but your nipples are going to be sore. Toe curlingly sore. You're going to need a good, organic breastfeeding cream that you don't have to wipe off (ouch!) before you feed your baby.
I used and loved the
A breastfeeding cover
I remember when I went out in public for the very first time with my eldest son. We'd been to friends' places, where I could sit in the bedroom and feed, but we hadn't been out publicly. We went to the local shopping centre, and of course, there was nowhere to breastfeed. I was mortified. I hadn't got the hang of the whole breast feeding thing, and the thought of whipping my breasts out in public was just so embarrassing. (Of course, by the second baby, you're the one embarrassing people with your complete indifference to having your boobs hanging out whenever and wherever!)
Fortunately, it's pretty easy to cover up if you want to and I think the easiest way to do it is with a muslin. You don't need a special breastfeeding wrap - go with something that's multipurpose.
You can also use the muslin as a towel for wiping up baby vomits, or the milk that (inevitably) gets sprayed everywhere when your baby gets distracted and looks away!
I love the
A breast pump
I can't tell you how much of a relief a breastfeeding pump is until your breasts are engorged. The sheer relief is beyond explanation. A breast pump is one of those things that you may not think you need, until you NEED it. It's worth investing in a simple, manual breast pump until your milk supply has regulated, and then you can review whether you'll be needing anything fancier.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association has a great article on how to work out which breast pump is best for you.
There are a couple of good, low cost manual options which work perfectly and are great to have as backup. I had a Medela manual breast pump which was all I ever needed. Find the
Another fantastic option is the Hakaa silicone breast pump and milk saver. It's super simple and easy to use and helps you catch breastfeeding let down milk. Find the
Cooling breast pads
Sore, engorged breasts? You'll love these
Another good option is the Lansinoh TheraPearl breast pads. You'll find them
Breastfeeding shields can be a lifesaver when you've got sore nipples. It can be a good idea to talk to a breastfeeding consultant to make sure that breastfeeding is going well in other respects before you start to use a nipple shield, though.
When you do, make sure that you choose a safe silicone one like the ones from Medela (
A breastfeeding pillow
You'll be doing a lot of breastfeeding. A lot. (And a lot of watching TV and checking Facebook, BTW.) And if you don't want to completely do your back in, you'll want a comfortable breastfeeding chair and you'll need to grab yourself a breastfeeding support pillow. Try these gorgeous ones from My Brest Friend (find them in
You don't have to go fancy with a breastfeeding pillow, though. A standard
I love that you can use this later, too - to prop baby up when he's learning to sit, to rest your laptop on, or to just chillax with.
Non toxic baby bottles
If you're expressing milk so that you can go back to work, or even just to get out for a while for a mental health break while someone else feeds your baby, you're going to want some non toxic baby bottles.
We choose glass - it's the safest material there is when it comes to non toxic feeding, and we love the non slip sleeves and the drop guarantee on the
I also love the
Breast milk storage bags
If you're pumping milk, you'll need to think about storing breastmilk. These handy dandy
Other options are the Medela breastmilk bags (find them
I remember when I finished breastfeeding, I felt like having a ceremonial nursing bra burning. I was so sick of wearing my three ugly but supportive breastfeeding bras day and night. Thankfully, things have changed on the breastfeeding bra front, too.
I love these ones from Hot Milk Lingerie (find them
You need comfortable clothes that are going to allow you easy access to your boobs. There's nothing worse than a hungry, screaming baby and you can't get them out fast enough. It's not necessary to buy special breastfeeding clothes - the best breastfeeding shirts are things like V necks, halter necks and low cut scoop neck tops.
Breastfeeding tea and lactation biscuits
Many breastfeeding mamas I asked recommended using a herbal nursing tea and breastfeeding biscuits (breastfeeding cookies to all you US mamas!). Breastfeeding teas use traditional herbal ingredients like fenugreek, fennel and caraway to help increase breast milk.
I'd recommend the
If you're not a tea drinker, try a biscuit!
If you're a baker (or know someone who will bake for you), there are plenty of recipes online for you to try your hand at.
Keep some easy snacks on hand because you're going to be hungry! One experienced breastfeeder said that she gives new mums lactation smoothie boxes with bananas, peanut butter, oats, LSA or flaxseed, and milk (plant based if you prefer). That's everything you need to whip up a healthy, filling smoothie that will help your breastmilk supply. What a great idea!
It's a good idea to keep the sugar down when you're nursing, so think savoury muffins, avocado and goats cheese crackers, and dark chocolate if you need a sweetness hit.
For breastfeeding support, you can't go past the wonderful people at breastfeeding associations.
Are you an old hand at breastfeeding? What are your essential breastfeeding products, tips and tricks? Share below!
Image credits: Depositphoto