It’s amazing how we think that breastfeeding would come naturally to us once we have a baby, right? I would look at the picture of a nursing mom and think, ‘Oh that seems easy!’. Just whip and shove!
The truth is, just like any other parenting skills, breastfeeding comes with a lot of trial and error. Nobody warns you about the sore, bleeding nipples or how gigantic your boobs get once the milk flows in. Don’t get me wrong! I love nourishing and nurturing my kids. I feel like moms should be informed about the breastfeeding struggles and be well equipped to deal with it.
It saddens me to see moms giving up on breastfeeding because they have no idea on how to make it work. Let me share with you all my favorite breastfeeding essentials that made nursing more comfortable for me. You don’t have to buy all of these before the baby comes, but at least you know that there are products available to ease your nursing discomfort.
Breastfeeding Essentials Checklist:
Your nipples are going to be sore, cracked or they might even bleed from non-stop nursing and cluster feedings. Do you know that your breastmilk is an excellent cure for sore nipples? Yes! Just squeeze and apply some breast milk lavishly over your nipples and let it air dry. You can also choose to use nipple creams. I used the Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter and I loved it.
Leaky boobs?!?! This was something that never crossed my mind. It was shocking when I woke up to a wet shirt and soaking sheets. You will leak a lot in those initial weeks until your supply gets stabilized. You will leak from one breast while your baby is nursing from the other. You will leak when your baby starts to sleep longer and when your chest becomes fuller.
What can you do about it?
Stick a nursing pad to your boobs! Nursing pads are made of an absorbent material (cotton, bamboo, etc.) that you just tuck inside your bra, and it takes care of leaky boobs. You can either use disposable pads like the Lansinoh disposable nursing pads or use reusable pads like the Bamboobies reusable washable bamboo nursing pads. I highly recommend using reusable pads because why throw away something that you can reuse.
Your breasts are going to be enormous once your milk comes in. Nursing bras are essential, and they are specially designed to support your ever-growing breasts and holds them in place without drooping. Nursing bras come in wider straps for better support for your chest and back. They also have cups with flaps that open up for quicker and easier access. I recommend at least four bras so that you have enough for rotation.
If you are brave enough to nurse without a cover publicly, then Bravo! You go, girl! I felt more comfortable using a nursing cover while I’m out and about. I also used them when I had guests visiting at home while I wanted to nurse but didn’t want to miss the company. But I know some babies just H.A.T.E being covered. As I said, wait till the baby comes and see what best suits you and your baby’s persona. If you like the idea of a nursing cover check this out.
5.NURSING SHIRT/BUTTON SHIRTS:
I did not like the idea of lifting my shirt every time I wanted to feed, so I bought some button-down shirts that I lived in throughout my glorious breastfeeding days. You can splurge on nursing tops if you want but I just picked up a few shirts from the clearance rack at Walmart. I didn’t want to spend much as I knew they are only going to bear sweat, spits, and leaks.
6. NURSING PILLOW:
Why not use a regular pillow? Do I need a fancy nursing pillow? Well, if you ask me nursing pillow was my life saver. I had an epidural and ever since then my back aches when I do not hold a proper upright position. Nursing pillow lifts the baby without me stooping in front thus providing a good latching position, and it also takes off the pressure from my back. Boppy Nursing Pillow is my favorite.
When my son was born, I was producing a lot of milk, and he wasn’t drinking all of it. So my nurse suggested that I pump or hand express milk every time I feel full in between feedings to prevent mastitis. Mastitis is horrible, and you don’t want your worst enemy to get it. I used Ameda Manual Breast Pump to relieve breast engorgement. But if you are planning to pump, frequently I suggest investing in an electric pump.
A well-balanced diet is essential while you are breastfeeding. What you eat is what your baby gets. So to make sure that I get all the nutrients I needed I continued with my prenatal vitamins. I took this pre-natal every day to ensure I was getting all the vitamins and minerals needed.
Those crappy uterine cramps are going to revisit you every time you nurse your baby. Breastfeeding produces oxytocin which helps your uterus contract to its pre-birth size. I had deadly cramps with my second baby, so my nurse suggested that I take some painkillers (Tylenol*) for the first few weeks.
A rule of thumb is you drink a glass of water every time you sit down to nurse your way. It is essential that you stay well hydrated. Water, Juice, Chocolate Milk whatever it might be, have a bottle by your bed and drink up. I love my S’well bottle. It keeps liquid warm or cold for hours.
Last but not least, those never-ending midnight nursing sessions are more tiring emotionally than it is physically. So look for local breastfeeding support groups or online groups and do yourself a favor by joining them. Those mamas empathize with you which encourages you to keep going.