Breastfeeding Essentials (and Some Nice Extras to Have)

As I enter my 50th month of breastfeeding, preparing to welcome my third nursling, I’m thinking a lot about what I really need to nurse this child and, of course, some things that sure would be nice to have around.

I’ve come up with a list of my very favorites, and tried to consider some essentials for moms who faced different breastfeeding challenges from me.

The most important and crucial breastfeeding support item is…support. I utilized mama groups, La Leche League meetings, and an IBCLC. I can’t imagine what I would have done without these other women examining my latch, assuring me that some things were totally normal, and helping me work it out when we did have some problems. So if you are pregnant and haven’t located a mother-to-mother support group in your area, get thee to the Internet at once!

Something else that might go without saying is that nursing moms get thirsty. Like, wandering through the desert in the pounding sunshine thirsty. A water bottle with a straw top is so essential. Nobody wants to worry about unscrewing a lid or spilling a glass of water after knocking it over with an elbow or a baby’s foot.

Essential Must-Haves

1. Nursing Tank I never thought these were for me, because I have F-cup breasts. All the smaller-chested mothers raved about their nursing tanks and how lovely they were for covering up bellies while still offering the support of a bra. I can tell you there are nursing tanks out there to support even mamas with a full bust. And they are amazing.

2. Nursing Pillow Sure, a couch pillow or six will work in a pinch. But a firm nursing pillow designed for that job…you just can’t beat it. Positioned just so, a nursing pillow can let you nurse with one or zero hands. If you’ve got to drink from your straw-top water bottle or turn pages while you read a book to your older child, you’ll be all set.

3. Nipple Cream Even babies with a beautiful latch can leave mama’s nipples sore from time to time. Air and some breastmilk drying on the nipple are great, but a nice nipple cream can provide immediate relief.

4. Nursing Pads I am not a leaker, but most mamas I know are, and so nursing pads fall under an essential category unless you want to be washing shirts and sheets all day long.

5. Snacks Remember how I said nursing makes moms thirsty? Breastfeeding also makes moms hungry. I have never felt such hunger as I did when my babies were brand new. The worst part is that it’s hard to get up and prepare a hearty snack while home alone nursing a baby. I’ve already raved about these MomMe Meals Go Chews, and it’s worth noting again that these are awesome for taking care of nursing hunger.

6. Baby Carrier For me, wearing my children was an essential element to breastfeeding them. Once I had a big kid running around, I often had to nurse standing up while chasing after him, so finding a carrier that allowed me to do that was crucial. Wearing my kiddos kept them close and content so I could pick up on their nursing cues before they got upset. Plus, a carrier let my husband wear our babies around the house (and around our city) while I rested…or took care of my intense hunger and thirst.

7. Breast Pump I worked at least part-time through the first year of each of my kids’ lives. This meant I had to be away from them and express milk for them to drink. Even moms who stay with their babies find that sometimes, they need to express milk. A double-electric pump makes milk expression as easy as it can be, saving mamas far more time than a single or manual pump.

Really Nice Extras to Have

8. Nursing Cover Because I had so much support from other nursing moms, I developed a lot of confidence to just nurse my sons wherever they felt hungry. I know that for many women, a nursing cover allows them to feel comfortable nursing their babies anywhere from a church service to a Thanksgiving dinner. There are some really lovely nursing covers on the market these days, so if this is something that will help your breastfeeding relationship, check out these options. (I heard one mama say she made her cover into a pillowcase after her baby weaned because it was so special to her!)

9. Nursing Necklace My kids are fiddlers. They want to fidget with my shirt seams, my zits, my eyeballs and my other nipple while they are nursing. I bought a number of nursing necklaces for them to fiddle and chew, and these are often the only jewelry I wear. My personal favorite are the chunky beads, but my kids have also enjoyed the dangling donut beads.

10. Milk Saver Again, I am not a leaker. But many women who leak find that using a milk saver can build up their freezer stash of milk at a remarkable speed. Drip milk that leaks in between nursing sessions is not safe for baby, but milk that sprays from the non-nursing breast while baby is breastfeeding is fine to collect and save. These milk savers allow moms to gather this sprayed milk and transfer to a safe storage container. If you discover that you have excess spray, you might want to check it out.

What items did you find essential when nursing your babies? Leave us a comment to share your top items!

1 comment to Breastfeeding Essentials (and Some Nice Extras to Have)

  • Jessalyn G

    Excellent list. As someone whose resting size is an F-cup, even the new, larger Glamour Mom tanks couldn’t contain or support my lusciousness after giving birth. For other overly-endowed mamas, I highly recommend the Undercover Mama nursing tank. It hooks onto the the cup closure of a nursing bra, thus transforming itself into a nursing undershirt. It runs tight. It was my best friend after giving birth to a fall baby.

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