Over three straight years of breastfeeding and few gadgets, “must haves”, and apparent life-saving breastfeeding supplies have stood the test of time. Not to say that you won’t need more in those first 12 weeks than the rest of your entire breastfeeding stint, but no need to load up or spend a ton of money on things you don’t really need. So what are the essentials for breastfeeding moms and what do the other mom friends forget to mention to you?
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Everyone tells you that you need a Boppy or a My Brest Friend, but what do you really need? Because those tend to collect dust after the first few weeks even if they do seem to give you the extra 6 arms to round out your octo-power skills to multi-task with poised panic.
In fact maybe you’re a first-time mom and you just read my post about scary breastfeeding truths and didn’t know the sand paper fact.
…And now you’re second-guessing this decision. Don’t fret. I have been there. And it gets better.
Almost 16 weeks of misery with my first daughter, 3 years of continuous breastfeeding, and several months of tandem nursing a baby and a toddler, and being the city coordinator for the Big Latch On, I have lots of breastfeeding stories.
And while, no, I unfortunately do not have any formal training yet, I’m passionate about helping moms (and dads) understanding the mysterious, difficult, and amazing world of breastfeeding. Talking the nitty-gritty details and go beyond the lists of essentials for breastfeeding moms that include pumps and nipple shields.
Because… well, those are unimportant in the grand scheme of breastfeeding when viewed holistically.
What every breastfeeding mom really needs.
A big basket of all things protein and fat.
Yes fat. Brain cells thrive on fat. So eat up all the walnuts, avocados, and whole-fat yogurts you can get your hands on.
Maintain the recommended 100g of protein from pregnancy to keep up with the demands of baby and your own body, but also to help curb your sugar cravings and nourish your body. And really, go ahead and eat all the eggs you can get your hands on. They’re nature’s multivitamin. (Oh, you’ll need those too).
The largest, biggest, most ginormus water bottle.
My husband bought me two camelbak water bottles that we filled with electrolyte drinks in one and water in the other. And I
loved still love them.
I guzzled. And guzzled, and became part camel as I chugged liquids faster than it could be brought to me.
An in-home lactation consultant in the early days.
Especially with a first baby, they can be so helpful to get baby to latch properly, help you learn about self-care for engorgement, and just be there to support you like no one in your family can.
They’ll tell it to you straight, help you troubleshoot problems, and they don’t carry the emotional baggage that your friends and family do.
Here it is. The one thing I never ever considered. Rough shirts on sore nipples. In fact, I never considered how not soft the average t-shirt is on freshly gnawed-on breasts.
But in the early weeks, the best shirt is no shirt.
As much skin to skin time as possible.
I’m talking day and night.
Not only does it help regulate baby’s temperature and breathing, but it helps regulate mom’s milk supply. Whether she has too much or not enough, spending that close time stimulates the hormones to work out what baby needs.
Clothes that can transition with you and baby.
With my first baby, lifting my shirt to breastfeed was the most awkward thing I could possibly do. And nursing bras and camis? Forget it. Trying to get them unclasped sucked in public.
In fact I felt like a bumbling fool every time and it made me feel like a walking circus for everyone to see.
But, praise the Lord for stretchy shirts I could pull down. And good golly, hallelujah for shirts I could wear backwards and sports bras that kept me locked, but milk loaded.
It feels really rewarding to be able to wear clothes that make me feel good and make breastfeeding feel as effortless as possible. Obviously over the years I have gotten better to where grown men can be standing in front of me and not see me give the nip slip to my baby. But it took gaining confidence with the right clothes early on.
The world will tell you to cover up and to stop nursing when it gets hard. Your family will tell you need a break. And your worrying mom heart will tell you you’re not making enough milk.
It doesn’t matter the truth.
Because those are the voices you’ll hear.
And they never seem to end.
Everyone has an opinion on breastfeeding and everyone has a different journey. So the breastfeeding mom has to prep herself for the storm of comments both good and bad that come with the ever-difficult, but ever-rewarding act of breastfeeding.
A great baby-wearing carrier.
Say what?! I know. It doesn’t seem like a breastfeeding item. But it is.
It’s the perfect incognito way to nurse in public or on the go. I have nursed while walking a mile to a subway station without skipping a beat.
I am a no-cover nurser for the most part because my babies are flailers and feel like they must see the world. All of it.
But nursing in a carrier makes for hands-free nursing even at home. To be able to get stuff done on the days when the teeth come in and baby just needs to suck to relieve the horrible pain sensation on their gums.
Maybe not all the time. But momma, please put down your phone.
Gaze into your sweet babe’s eyes and soak up all the oxytocin your spongy post-partum body can handle. Because the days are so, so long, but the years are short.
You won’t get those moments back and your are building a relationship from day one. So it’s not even about radiation exposure, but more about how screen time can interfere with mom to baby bonding.
Crave to learn more about breastfeeding?
The Secret to a Healthier Breastfeeding Relationship.
Why in the World Would Anyone Breastfeed a Toddler?!
How to Encourage Breastfeeding Moms.
Keeping your breastfed baby off a feeding schedule.
Natural Mastitis Remedies when you need them fast.
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!