This complete list of breastfeeding essentials has it all! Everything you might need to comfortably and easily breastfeed your baby. Such a helpful list, written by a mom who nursed three babies!
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I breastfed my first baby for eight months, my second baby for six months, and my third baby for 13 months. During that time, I figured out a lot of things that made nursing easier, and a lot of things that sounded cool, but really didn’t make a difference.
Since it’s always helpful to pass on information to new mamas, I wanted to throw together this list of breastfeeding essentials with all the things I loved having on hand for breastfeeding! Hopefully it helps a new mom who was just as unsure about what she needs as I was the first time around!
A Notebook and Pen
From the day we got home from the hospital to the day I stopped breastfeeding, I recorded what time and for how long my babies would eat. The doctor at the hospital recommended writing it down so I could make sure my first was eating often enough, and it was really helpful! I wrote down the times I started and stopped and what sides I started and stopped on (because I have a horrible memory!).
With my first baby, I also ended up recording when I gave him his vitamin D, when he had a bath, and how many wet and dirty diapers he had (only for the first few weeks). There is a lot to remember when you have a baby so writing down how often you nurse is really helpful. And I kept my notebook on a side table next to my chair so I would always have it handy.
Preferably a digital clock so you can be more exact, but this goes along with writing down how long your baby eats. Of course if you’re using your phone and the notes section on your phone, that would count for the clock, too, but it really helps to have a clock right there so that you can know how long your baby is eating. Sometimes they may eat for less and you might want to remember that so next time they can eat more.
Nipple cream is a lifesaver, especially in those first few weeks when your nipples aren’t used to breastfeeding. There are few things worse than a dry, cracked nipple.
There are two kinds of nipple cream that I like. Lanolin was what I used with my first two babies. It’s like super thick, almost waxy, lotion (that you don’t have to wipe off before nursing) and it saves you. I used a little tube of Lansinoh lanolin, and since you don’t need a lot when you use it, I only went through one tube for each kid.
With my third baby, I used Earth Mama Nipple Butter. It’s lanolin free, organic, and doesn’t have any parabens or artificial fragrance. It works just like the Lansinoh lanolin, but it’s a little more natural. Whatever kind of nipple cream you get, just get it before your baby is born because even if you’ve nursed before, you will need it as soon as you start nursing your new baby!
You definitely want to invest in a nice nursing bra (or two). I can’t imagine trying to breastfeed without one. I actually got a cotton one and then a regular underwire one so that I had one to sleep in and one that was more supportive during the day. I talked to a lot of other mamas and even compiled a list of where to find the best nursing bras that you can look at if you have no idea where to start!
When you breastfeed your baby, you will leak. It can be a lot or a little, but you definitely don’t want to be out in public and soak through your shirt. Nursing pads are absorbent little pads that you just stick inside your bra and they save you from embarrassing leaks. If you don’t know how to choose the right nursing pad, there are disposable and washable nursing pads. What you choose will definitely be based on your personal preferences. I personally like the disposable ones more, but I know lots of mamas who like the washable ones more. It’s good to try out both and then see which you like more!
A Comfy Chair
A few months before our first was born we bought a new couch and recliner set and they were so comfortable. We decided to put the recliner in our baby’s room and use that instead of buying a rocking chair because once I was done nursing him we could still use the chair. I used it to nurse all three of my babies, and we still have it today. You could also get a rocking chair, but repurposing it after you’re done nursing might be a little harder. And whatever you get, make sure it’s comfortable enough that you can sit in it for long periods of time!
A Tablet, e-Reader, or Smart Phone
With my oldest son, I loved nursing with my Kindle Fire by my side. By the time my youngest was born, smart phones were fancy enough that I just used that while I nursed. Nursing can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes (especially in the beginning). And just sitting there watching your baby can get old, no matter how cute and precious they are. Having a way to get online or watch a show is amazing! And it really helped me during night feedings because it helped me from falling asleep while nursing!
If you’re the type who isn’t comfortable nursing in public, you’ll want one of these. I made myself a nursing cover for under $5 and it was super helpful whenever we went places for more than a few hours. But if you’re fine pulling your shirt up whenever, that’s fine, too!
I used the same Boppy pillow to nurse all three of my kiddos. The few times we traveled and I didn’t have it with me, I tried using a regular pillow or nothing and it just wasn’t the same. Out of everything on this list, my Boppy is probably the most important of all breastfeeding essentials. The Boppy makes it so much easier because you don’t have to hold your baby up as much and you can have an arm free. And bonus, the Boppy can be used for tummy time and helping baby sit up too, so it’s got multiple uses.
Regardless of whether or not you’re planning on pumping exclusively, I would recommend getting a breast pump. A breast pump can really help alleviate the pain and discomfort that comes along with engorged breasts, whether that’s from your baby not eating much, baby sleeping through the night, or something else. Another reason why having a breast pump is handy because if your baby has baby food for a meal or you have to be away from baby during a time you would feed them, you can pump and help yourself not get engorged. The website Aeroflow Breastpumps is a great resource for getting a breastpump through your insurance!
Breastmilk Storage Bags
If you are going to be using a pump, you will need a place to store the milk, and storage bags are the ideal choice because you can easily put them in the freezer and save milk for a few months if needed. Plus, it’s gut-wrenching to have to pour freshly pumped breastmilk down the drain. I used the Lansinoh storage bags and they were perfect.
Note: Another cool product that I’ve discovered since breastfeeding to store breastmilk are Milkies Milk Trays. They let you freeze breastmilk in 1-ounce increments. Super helpful for when you only pump a little bit!
Burp rags are definitely a breastfeeding essential because if you have a baby who spits up when you burp them, you won’t want that getting all over your clothes. I also used my burp rags while I was nursing by tucking them into my bra so that if my babies didn’t quite get everything, it didn’t run down and get my bra wet. Burp rags are really handy and I definitely wouldn’t start feeding my baby without one close! I made a bunch of DIY burp rags for all of my babies, and they lasted the whole time I nursed!
So there you have it, my complete list of breastfeeding essentials! Breastfeeding can be awkward and hard at first, but it’s such a special experience and a great way to bond with your baby (not to mention a good excuse to go be alone for a few minutes!). And if it doesn’t work, it’s okay to stop breastfeeding. Formula exists for a reason!
This post was originally posted June 16th, 2014.