Breastfeeding success hinges on getting off to a good start.
Breastfeeding isn’t easy. In fact, it can be frustrating, exhausting, and even painful at times. Especially in those first few weeks.
Many women lose confidence, get overwhelmed, don’t get the support they need, and end up quitting breastfeeding early on.
I want to close those barriers and give you the proper tools to help you be successful at breastfeeding.
These 7 essentials will help you get off to the right start in your breastfeeding journey.
7 Breastfeeding Essentials
You will need some nursing bras, but don’t buy too many before baby comes, as your bra size may change.
I preferred these sleeper nursing bras, and honestly, I wear them all the time. They are super comfortable, have easy access, and you don’t have to deal with those obnoxious clips when you are halfway asleep trying to pull your boob out at 2 am.
Breastfeeding is natural, sure, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require any learning from baby and mom. It will take some time to get the hang of breastfeeding, and your nipples have to take the bullet for that.
Your nipples will be sore those first few weeks, and it may be tough to breastfeed at times, but having baby to breast is the only way your body is going to know how much milk to make.
Having a good nipple cream is a lifesaver in order to get through those tough first weeks. I loved Earth Mama’s Organic Nipple Butter (and so did my nipples!).
If you are in extreme pain while nursing or experiencing pain after the initial weeks, be sure to meet with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and have your baby’s latch evaluated.
Soothies Gel Pads are another lifesaver during those first few weeks. I liked to put mine in the fridge or freezer, so they were nice and cold when putting them on my nipples. They brought such relief!
Unless you don’t mind having wet circles where your boobs are out in public and going through more bras and shirts than needed, then you will need some nursing pads, because there WILL be leaks.
I love these reusable bamboo nursing pads. They are super comfortable, unlike those itchy and irritating disposable ones. Plus, they are good for the environment and cost effective. Win, win win!
Breastfeeding makes you THIRSTY! Plus, staying hydrated is so important for keeping your milk supply up.
You’ll want to keep a large water bottle near you at all times. Get one with a straw because you aren’t going to have two hands to unscrew a cap. 😉
The hubby and I had a pretty good system worked out for when baby woke up at night. He would change her diaper, and I would go to the bathroom and fill up my water bottle and then come back to nurse to her. My husband also did a great job of making sure my water bottle was full at all times during the day. (See dads can be involved in breastfeeding!)
Manual pumps are perfect for traveling and work great for a lot of women who don’t respond well to electric pumps. Plus, they’re super handy for when you just need a two minute pump to get some relief from engorgement.
Just be sure not to pump too much though, otherwise it could lead to an oversupply, which actually is not a good thing and create several breastfeeding issues on its own.
Babies are so tiny and helpless those first few months. You basically have to do all the work for them, and unless you want to be holding baby every time you nurse (sometimes for hours at a time during those cluster feedings!), then you’ll need a good nursing pillow to help support your baby.
The Boppy works perfect for a nursing pillow, and you also get the most bang for your buck, because it can be used for so many other things, like propping baby up, tummy time, and helping baby learn to sit up.
It really came in handy for our reflux baby, as we had to keep her propped up for 20-30 minutes after each feeding. We did place a folded blanket under her back to help support her spine.
One More Key Thing
This post should really be called 8 essentials for breastfeeding success, because I am actually going to add in one more, and that’s a SUPPORT SYSTEM. This is a big one for most breastfeeding moms.
Having a supportive husband and family can make a HUGE difference in your breastfeeding success.
Surround yourself with supportive people by joining your local La Leche League Facebook Group, attending breastfeeding support groups, and finding a local postpartum play group. Be sure to tell your husband and family how important this is to you that you succeed.
Breastfeeding is truly a bonding experience like no other, and I hope these tips will make your breastfeeding experience successful and enjoyable.
What About You?
Did you find this post helpful? Share your favorite tools or tips that made your breastfeeding journey a little easier in the comments below and be sure to share this post with all of your expecting mom friends.