Since before I ever got pregnant, I knew I wanted to at least try to breastfeed. When I finally got pregnant with River I even started having dreams of breastfeeding him (actually I dreamed he was a girl up until the day he was born, but whatever LOL). I think this has been a desire of mine because I am such a sucker for physical touch (excluded to family only), and breastfeeding is such an intimate time with you and your baby. Even if breastfeeding didn’t work out for me, I had planned to still allow him to suckle on my breast for the bonding.
Now that River is 5 months old, and has been exclusively breastfed the entire time I feel like I have some wisdom to offer other mamas that are hoping to breastfeed.
First off, DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP if breastfeeding doesn’t work out for you. There are so many incredible benefits to both you and baby through breastfeeding, but I 100% believe that FED is best. Plus, I’m totally not into mom-shaming. Sometimes breastfeeding just doesn’t pan out for whatever reason, and that’s okay. It doesn’t make you anything less than an incredible mother to formula feed your baby.
However, if you plan on giving it a go, here’s my list of must-have products to get you through.
1. A Hakaa milk catcher
Oh. My. Word. This simple little thing is amazing! As a breastfeeding mom, you will soon find out that it is called liquid gold for a reason, and crying over spilled (breast)milk is totally a thing. We work HARD to provide these nutrients for our babies. Wasting it is not an option. Thus, the reason you need a Hakaa.
What is it? How does it work?
When you’re milk “lets down” on both sides and baby is only attached to one side, the other side’s milk is basically wasted into a breastpad or bra. And like I said, wasting liquid gold is not an option. The Hakaa suctions to the breast that your baby isn’t latched onto and catches the milk from your let down so you can save it. It’s amazing. Before my supply finally regulated (I struggled with an oversupply), I was actually able to get 2 whole ounces from just one breast with the Hakaa!!
2. A (nice) breast pump
I can’t tell you how important it is to not skimp in this area, especially if you’re a mama who will need to exclusively, or mostly, pump in order to go back to work. I’m grateful for the opportunity to stay home with my baby, but a nice breast pump was a must even for me. If you have any desire to have more than 2-3 hours to yourself in the next few months, you need a breast pump. I have the Medela breast pump, and it saved my life when I had a severely clogged duct. Also, most health insurances will cover a breast pump completely. Mine did! I only paid $75 to upgrade to the backpack for traveling convenience, but that wasn’t absolutely necessary.
3. Nursing bras
Nursing bras are a must. Please don’t try to skimp by without buying some for yourself. I think a good nursing bra could actually make or break your breastfeeding success. I recommend getting 2 or 3 of my favorite comfy nursing bra for when you’re at home. This one is a little more supportive than similar nursing bras that I’ve tried, but still super comfy. I’d also recommend getting at least one padded nursing bra from somewhere like Motherhood Maternity that has someone who can measure you accurately. Your cup size will likely be completely different than what it was before pregnancy. Accurate sizing is so important and can actually minimize your risk of developing clogged ducts or mastitis.
4. Nursing tanks
Okay, a word of advice – don’t bother buying nursing shirts. Dresses, maybe, but not shirts. There’s no need to go out and buy a whole new nursing wardrobe when you can easily use the two shirt method instead. Simply wear a nursing tank under your favorite tops, and you’re good to go! I also love this method because it doesn’t leave your belly hanging out while feeding your baby. These are my favorite nursing tanks because their stretchy material makes your postpartum belly feel a little more sucked in. They’re really great quality too.
Also, just because I had never thought of this before, you should know that most dresses just won’t work with breastfeeding your baby (unless you want to get naked). It’s kind of like trying to go pee while wearing a romper… it’s not easy access. You can buy nursing dresses if you want, but I’ve just come to the conclusion that I’m just a pants kinda lady for this season of my life. Unless it’s a wrap dress. Those work great!
5. A Boppy pillow
You NEED a Boppy pillow. If you’re going to spend all day every day with something attached to your tit, you should at least be comfortable. A Boppy is especially great in the beginning to help you find good nursing positions for you and baby. Even now, though, I use it so that I can prop River up on it while he’s nursing so that I can have two hands to eat or do whatever else with.
And one last thing…
6. A heating pad
This one might surprise you, but there were a few occasions when I found it to be super helpful, like when my milk first came in and when I had a clogged duct. Both of those instances left me with very tender and painful breasts, and having a heating pad on hand helped soothe the pain and release the clogged ducts. You don’t have to get a super fancy one, but I think it’s a good idea to at least have one on hand.
Welp, that’s it!
Those are my 6 must-haves for breastfeeding mommies. If you’re new to breastfeeding, which I’m guessing you probably are, I wish you all the best in your breastfeeding journey! Find a lactation consultant and other breastfeeding moms to whom you can ask your questions and get support from when things get hard, because they will. But it is so worth it. I promise!