When I started breastfeeding, well, I didn’t know anything about how it all worked, let alone what to use (have you seen how many things they sell for breastfeeding?!).
I underwent a period where I binge bought a bunch of stuff, and later didn’t end up needing it.
So, I decided to compile a list of things that I actually needed (and used) along with how to use them (because I know some of you are like me and don’t have time to read through instruction manuals).
Here you are, 13 breastfeeding essentials that every first-time mom needs to have (and a how-to, to tell you how each works!)…
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A friend of mine recommended this suction flask and I later heard mommas bragging about them on mommy forums.
What ends up happening is that when your baby feeds on one breast and a let down occurs (this is when milk flows passively from the milk ducts in your breasts), it occurs in both sides.
Therefore, while the baby is suckling on the one side, the other side is also dripping valuable milk with only your bra or tank to catch it.
This is where the haakaa comes in.
You position the flange around the areola and then gently press the bulb so as to put your nipple into a vacuum suction.
As you breastfeed, milk will collect and you won’t have any waste!
It’s totally worth it and some moms claim to collect up to 2 ounces!!
What’s also cool is that you can use it as a manual pump also as the suction if able to effectively draw milk out of the breast, especially when you combine it with manual expression techniques.
That same friend also brought over these and I instantly fell in love!
I wouldn’t have discovered these on my own, honestly.
These are meant to be used after nursing.
You place the gel part over your nipple area before putting your bra back on.
It soothes irritated nipples (your nipples area will be painful if baby’s latch isn’t correct so this will be essential as latch is perfected!) and prevents further irritation that can be caused by the rubbing of your clothes against the sensitive area (you can also obtain nipple shields that do exactly what their name suggests, I just always preferred the added soothing comfort offered by these gel pads).
3. Breastfeed-Friendly Bottles (and Pacifiers)
This is essential if you want to avoid the possibility of nipple confusion.
Look for bottle nipples and pacifiers that most resembles a nipple, I use these specific Playtex bottle nipples (I replace the nipples of my glass bottles with these as I prefer glass vs plastic baby bottles) and MAM pacifiers,(I used the MAM for the newborn phase but eventually switched to this Natursutten BPA-Free Natural Rubber Pacifier) as recommended to me.
However, there are also other brands that could work (like Evenflo Ultra and Elite or Gerber ComfortLatch).
Make sure that you get a SLOW FLOW nipple, especially, as this is where the preference arises.
Talk to your lactation consultant to in regards to feeding position, and, when you feed, try to resemble the feeding at your breast (in other words, don’t have the bottle tipped downwards too much or else gravity will do all the work for your baby and that’s what they’ll expect from your nipple).
Your boobs will now be like leaky faucets and if you don’t want to have loads of laundry, then these are a good idea!
All you have to do is put them over your nipples, in your bra, and you’re good to go.
Just make sure to purchase at least two packs of reusable nursing pads or else you’ll be doing a lot more extra laundry just to keep up with the demand.
A pump is a huge must if …
1. You’re planning on going back to work. (pump for baby during work hours)
2. Want to keep/increase your supply. (if you don’t remove milk, it will dry up, similarly removing more milk causes breasts to produce more milk)
3. Want to create a stash. (pumping on top of breastfeeding can allow you to build an extra, “when needed”, supply of breastmilk)
If you have insurance you might qualify for a free pump.
I would like to recommend the hospital-grade Medela pump if you could get your hands on it (it’s incredibly pricey but worth it, I got it by physician order so I got to use it for free through my insurance), but I also heard the Medela Free-Style is also great and much more convenient (still pricey, so check with your insurance to see if you qualify for a free one!).
I got it by having my baby’s pediatrician to order it for me because my baby wasn’t getting enough milk in the first days.
So, definitely check in with your doctor to see if they are able to prescribe the hospital-grade pump.
Your pump will come with flanges (you will need to make sure these fit you; your nipple shouldn’t touch the sides of the flange when pumping), a manual pump connector and bottles to store your milk.
Put the flange over your nipple area. Start the pump at low intensity and work your way up.
A general pumping session is between 10-20 minutes on each side.
If you’re pumping then you’ll need these.
They are plastic (make sure they’re BPA-free) and perfect for storing your liquid gold.
It’s recommended to fill each only about 3-4oz.
Then, for the best way of freezing, get as much of the air out of a bag filled with milk, and lay the milk flat in the freezer.
You can also use old containers as both a convenient flat surface for freezing your milk and nifty storage for the rest of your bags!
This is one of those, especially for my busy mommas.
This bra gives a handsfree option of pumping while you finished doing what you need to do.
Usually, I use this bra to pump while drying my hair and doing my makeup, when I’m pressed for time.
What you can also do is make your own handsfree bra by taking an old sports bra and cutting out holes for your flanges.
Work like a charm and is a cheaper alternative!
Another “nipple-care” necessity on the list because, trust me, you’ll need it!
I wish I took using this more seriously at the beginning of my breastfeeding journey, but I slacked off and, vua-la, my nipples become terribly cracked (thank God no bleeding, from what I hear regarding how bad it could get).
So, be smart, lather plenty and take care of your nipples!
I usually take a dab of nipple cream on my fingers and put it liberally just on the nipple, avoiding the areola as much as possible.
In my case, the nipple cream actually irritated my areola.
Oh, and avoid lanolin nipple creams, as they’re known to contribute to thrush, and some babies just find it repugnant!
This is to remind you to drink often.
Breast milk supply depends a lot on water intake, but it is honestly difficult to keep up and remember to drink enough water. Y
ou’re thirsty every time you start musing, however, if you don’t have a bottle or cup nearby or no one is in the vicinity to bring you some, you won’t get that much-needed water.
So what I do is fill up my 32oz Hydroflask (this one has been my favorite but any would do) and carry it around with me.
You never have to be without water, and, if you’re low, refill it!
I actually had the Boppy, I had gotten it from my baby shower.
I found this one to be the closest to the ones used by lactation consultants themselves.
Support pillows, in general, are SUPER helpful in the first stages of breastfeeding in that they do just as they say, they provide support for momma and baby during the feeding.
Otherwise, you might end up slouching and sitting very uncomfortably, like I ended up doing.
Sit comfortably and clip the pillow around your stomach area.
Afterward, lay baby down on the pillow (or have someone lay baby down on the pillow for you), stomach touching momma’s and facing nipple, then latch and feed (I know it’s easy said than done, but practice makes perfect!).
This therapy pack is very helpful in both preventing and treating engorgement and mastitis.
How it works is that you heat it up in the microwave, as instructed, and then, after ensuring that it isn’t overheated, you place it over the pumping flange as you pump.
The heat stimulates milk let-down and unplugs clogged milk ducts.
For a cheaper alternative, you could also just take a hot shower before pumping.
However, these will definitely save you the time and get the job done!
12. Lactation Tea or Cookies
These are exactly what you think they’re for.
They’re supposed to increase your milk supply because they contain herbs (or grains) that promote lactation (like Fenugreek.
I have heard that oatmeal, in general, really helps boost milk supply.
There aren’t really any studies that confirm these, but many moms swear by them!
Instructions on preparation are listed on the items themselves.
In regards to the tea, I was told by my lactation consultant to brew multiple bags (I was recommended to make 4-6 servings for the entire day to noticeably increase milk production) in the proportioned amount of water (1 tea bag per 8 oz or 1 cup) and pour it into a flask and drink all day (it will be harder to forget to drink it).
You could do this instead of preparing fresh tea each time.
13. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil can help keep your skin hydrated, increasing its elasticity and thus reducing the likelihood of you developing stretch marks on the delicate skin of your breasts.
This will be especially helpful if you happen to get engorged!
I would also recommend using coconut oil when pumping.
When you pump, your breasts are literally being milked.
That means there will be some uncomfortable stretching and squeezing.
If your skin isn’t lathered and moisturized, you might also get some unappealing stretch marks this way as well so watch out!
It goes to show that something as natural as breastfeeding in our day and age can need some extra help.
Sure you could do without all these items.
I mean our mommas did it!
However, if there’s an easier way to do things, then I say why wouldn’t you take the shortcut?
If You Enjoyed Reading This, You Might Also Like…
- Essential Tips for Successfully Breastfeeding a Newborn
- Breastfeeding Survival Guide
- How I Went From Supplementing to an Oversupply
- 27 Helpful Charts for Breastfeeding Moms
- 40+ Breastfeeding Snack Ideas for Breastfeeding Moms
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Until next time mommas!