Breastfeeding, nursing - whatever you call it - this is a must read if you're going to be a new mom and you need to know the essentials before beginning nursing.
This is just the first in a series of posts on nursing, so be sure to check in later to find out more about the challenges and triumphs of breastfeeding.
Let's begin with the basics you'll need for breastfeeding, and then add on from there.
Basics it is, and what is more basic than a bra, right? Well, the bra below isn't so basic. It's a nursing bra and it is going to get a lot of use throughout your breastfeeding experience, therefore you need to invest in at least two very good ones.
I know it's the last thing you want to spend money on, but it's a must. There is no way to nurse (without a huge hassle) without one! When I started breastfeeding I bought the old Target brand nursing bra and right away I knew it wasn't going to cut it. So, I invested in this bra below. The brand is Leading Lady (nice, I know) and it is lined and has an underwire. If you are against the underwire, I also have one that is unlined and un-underwired. It can be found on this website. I like this bra as well because it gives me a good lift, but be prepared, it's pricey!
Be sure to buy the bra when you are very close to your due date, so that most likely you will be the right size. When your milk comes in after you have the baby, you will think, AHHH, my girls are huge, my bra will never fit, but don't worry, those girls will go down and it will be fine. Now, let's move on to the next essential item, nursing pads.
Save youself the embarrassment of pesky leaks and invest in nursing pads. You can get disposable pads just about anywhere, but I purchased some homemade ones instead. I actually bought three pair from a seller on Etsy and I love them! You could easily make these yourself too. Now, to the pump...
Yeah, that's right, the breast pump. You may be thinking, I'll be at home all day, I don't need a pump, but think again. A breast pump can be a lifesaver. I went big and invested in the Medela Pump in Style Advanced version and it's been great. I researched pumps and this was always rated as the best. I shopped around and found it for around $250 at the hospital gift shop in town. Go figure. You can find them about anywhere, though, and sometimes insurance covers the cost, so check into that.
Now, back to the fact that the pump is a lifesaver. When I first started breastfeeding, I was majorly stressed and majorly full of milk. My daughter couldn't eat properly because I was so full and that's where the pump came in. I would pump for 10 minutes on each side and then the milk build up wasn't too much for her. I was so thankful to have it! I'm even more thankful to have it now. Why, you ask? Well, I can have milk ready in the freezer for times when I need to have some "me time". And believe me, you need it!
One thing about breastfeeding is you will always be on call, so do some pumping, that way your baby will learn to eat from a bottle, your husband can have the awesome experience of feeding your little one, and you will be able have a well-deserved break!
Note: I would go with an electric pump rather than a manual pump because you really won't have time to pump manually if you're like me. It takes about 30 minutes for me to pump 6 to 8 ounces. (both breasts being pumped)
Well, let's move on to the pillow, or the Boppy as some call it. This is not absolutely necessary, but it is wonderful to have in order to get your little one in the right spot for feeding. No matter if you are doing the football position or the cradle position, this type of pillow will be perfect.
Now, the pillow on the left below is one that I made. The pattern is from the amazing Lotta Jansdotter (the book Simple Sewing for Baby). This pillow literally took five minutes to sew. It actually took longer to stuff and it works very well. Just be sure to use a sturdy stuffing so the pillow doesn't get saggy over time. The pillow on the right is the Boppy brand and it works great as well. It was a gift from some friends. I decided to keep it so I would have one pillow upstairs and one downstairs. I love them both and I still use them every time I nurse.
The next item speaks for itself - the burp rag. You have to have these around when you're feeding or pumping to sop up those little spits or spills. Mine are nothing fancy, just Gerber brand cloth diapers and they work just fine. You can dress them up though, like, Heather, a gal I know does.
Well, that about sums it up for the essential breastfeeding items. I will add one more thing, though, and that's the phone number to the lactation consultant in your area. Believe me, it's an important number to have so don't just shrug it off. I'll tell you more about that when we move into the challenges of breastfeeding. Stay tuned because tomorrow I'll be posting about the items that aren't essential to breastfeeding, but they're great to have around.