Breastfeeding can be a sensitive topic, so let me preface it with this: if you clicked this link and you don’t breastfeed, for whatever reason, and your baby is fed and loved: super. Hi, mama. Cheers to motherhood! If you’re hoping to breastfeed or currently breastfeeding, this blog could be helpful to you, and that’s why I’m posting it.
One other note: part of the items below that have to do with feeding baby breast milk from bottles as well, since I felt like most mamas will express milk or have extra milk at some point, and will be storing it and eventually giving it to baby. AKA the milk doesn’t always go directly from boob to mouth, and that’s how I have extra things below.
Before a single drop of liquid gold happened for me, I started reading books and building my breastfeeding community with mamas who have not just done it but enjoyed it. That research and encouragement greatly built up my confidence. I did have a rocky start. My little one was born with a tongue-tie, and had the procedure to correct it at one week old. That first week, she struggled quite a bit with her latch, and would get frustrated, take in more air, and sometimes chomp down on me *ouch* but her latch corrected with exercises and guidance of my lactation consultant and a craniosacral therapist. Definitely get help if you’re struggling, because breastfeeding should not hurt. The following items were super helpful to me, and still are!
1) Breast Shells
These things are AMAZING. It’s like your precious milk spout is just floating in air like Sandra Bullock in that space movie. During the first month, I wore these a whole lot because I felt so sensitive. And who enjoys peeling themselves from clothing when you’re sore? Aside from the friction-less wonder, they collect any leakage and you can save it. It’s also a discreet way to collect the let-down on the other side when you’re feeding baby. The part that touches you is soft silicone, and the plastic is bpa-free and food grade. There is a hole to let air in, and works as a pour-spout. Be sure to put that hole toward the top of you’ll have a very wet shirt haha. Here’s the link.
2) Manual Pump/Bottles
I chose Avent as my main bottle brand, so the manual pump I got was also Avent. If you’re going with a different brand of bottles, you can either get a pump of that brand or look up adapters. It’ll save you time and from having to wash yet another bottle *sigh* if you can pump directly into the bottle you’re feeding baby. These are the bottles I chose. Small note: I was given the advice to make sure every time I fed baby a bottle that was already expressed (extra milk, for example), to not forget to pump, otherwise, my brain won’t get the “time to feed the baby” cue and this could affect my supply. Take it or leave it! This particular pump has few parts (no tubing or batteries) and is definitely easy to cart around. When I was Dolly-Parton-engorged, this pump was a lifesaver. Here’s the link.
3) Haakaa Pump
I had only heard great things about this little cutie patootie pump, so when I received one to review, I was STOKED! Previously, I only had the shells, which serve their unique purpose, but the added suction of the Haakaa on the other side while nursing pulled easily 3 times more milk than what would normally leak into a shell. It is not as discreet as a shell, obviously, but very useful! Several mamas asked me how I use it: I fold back the flange and squeeze the bulb a bit, attach, and let the flange go. It stays put and fills up while baby is feeding on the other side. This pump also comes with the cutest little flower cap. 100% Silicone, easy to clean. Kudos to Haakaa USA for making a really neat product. Here’s the link.
4) Nursing Pillow
I’m gonna be very honest here and tell you that after about a month or so, I stopped using the nursing pillows altogether and just put any small pillow under my arm and fed cross-cradle. BUT… with a newborn, having a nursing pillow was very useful for me. I had both the Boppy (u-shaped) and My Brest Friend. I preferred the My Brest Friend first and foremost because of its name. Let’s just appreciate that pun for a moment, just for what it is. Other perks included a comfy cushion behind for me, it clipped tight, the foam is sturdy, and it had a pouch for snacks or a water bottle. The Boppy, in spite of its boring name, was useful beyond nursing, for propping up the baby to take cute pictures haha. You’ll just have to make the tough call here, I am torn between the two. I guess if I had to pick one for the purpose of nursing alone, it would be My Brest Friend. Here’s the link for the Boppy if you want the varied uses.
5) Bamboo Breast Pads
Another fun aspect of breastfeeding: more pads in our lives. I use bamboo pads and they are super soft. They’re backed with waterproof fabric to prevent awkward moments. I throw them in with the regular laundry, good as new. Beats disposable in my opinion. I have this set, and it’s contoured (the middle is kind of pointy), so it does show an outline a little bit if my shirt is too thin. This set is not contoured and comes with a little travel bag.
6) Coconut Oil (Organic, Unrefined)
I was using a pricier, thicker balm, but when I had broken skin from the chomping week, my lactation consultant steered me toward coconut oil instead. It worked just as well and it was more breathable for my skin to heal. Plus it’s good on baby’s bottom, on dry skin, in recipes, really on anything. Coconut oil all the things. Look for organic and unrefined, so you can get all the perks. You can get this at your grocery store, but here’s a link anyway.
I stalked reviews and went on a limb with this sterilizer. There were several microwavable options, but something about microwaving plastic inside a plastic bag just didn’t settle well with me. Call me old-fashioned. I’m also not into boiling things that are inedible, so there’s that. Most sterilizers I saw lacked a drying feature and you’d just have to dry the bottles or wait indefinitely… no. I wanted a dry end-result. I gotta say I have no complaints about this sterilizer! You do have to load the bottles clean inside it, as it is not a dishwasher haha but it steams all the germ demons out of the bottles, pump parts, and pacifiers, and then dries everything. In an hour. Simple to operate, just put water at the base to the line and turn the knob. Easy to clean, just wipe the base when you’re done, with water or white vinegar. It’s also a great place for items to dry, instead of being all over the counter or a regular dish rack. I’m a big fan. Here’s the link.
I’m a big fan of Green Mountain Diapers in general, and they carry great choices for wash cloths that are simple and 100% cotton. The ones I have are all cotton terry. You could use any smaller washcloth for this, but I wanted a dedicated set to be in that gap between me and baby’s chin, catching all the dribbles before we both needed outfit changes. These are on Amazon, and they have different textures on each side. If you want to look at all the options, just go to the main GMD site. If only there were magic towels that knew when the baby would spit up and throw themselves in to absorb it before it landed on anything else. Haven’t been invented yet. Please, somebody.
9) Nursing Tops/Bras
I’m realizing slowly that most tank tops will do the trick, however, I’ve experienced a sharp increase in outfit changes (it’s hard to carry on with baby spit up or milk all over me) so the nursing tops I received from my registry are really helpful. Any tops that have a V-neckline are most likely forgiving enough for breastfeeding, so take inventory of what you’ll really need. Try on your clothes and ask yourself: WWFTL? What Would Free The Ladies? It’s also helpful to have a few nursing bras on hand in case you don’t want to wear a tank top under your shirt.
10) Milk Storage
If you are freezing your milk, you can use any storage. Bags are a nice for space-saving since they can be frozen flat, especially in case you donate your milk. I’ve seen it done in small mason jars, and in other types of containers. I like that the bags I have are graduated so I know exactly how much I put in before I seal it, and also that they’re sterile. Here’s the link for the ones I have.
11) Freezer Organizer
This is SO not a must-have but it’s worth mentioning. I have this and I don’t have to worry if my bags will freeze flat because it makes them so perfectly flat and stores them upright at the same time. Plus it keeps the milk in order so when you pull from the front, it’s the oldest date. Here’s the link.
12) Bottle Warmer
This is also not a must-have but my, does it save time. You can warm up a bottle in water, but I feel like it takes a lot longer and it’s more hands-on to do it that way. This simple gadget just does it for you and pretty quickly. Here’s the link.
13) Milk Tea
Not a must-have, but it helped me quite a bit. I drank it postpartum and my milk came in about 48 hours after birth, which is wild. I can’t guarantee it was the tea or not the tea, but I know that when I want a boost, my supply responds to this tea.
14) Bottle Brush
Not a must have either, since I could have gotten a sponge just for this, but the brush reaches in the bottles so well, it was worth mentioning. Honorable mention to the bottle brush. Way to do only your job and no other duties at all. Here’s the link.
Things to think about:
Will you be needing to pump quickly and hands-free (at work)? If so, you might need an electric double pump (could be covered by your insurance so check first!) and a hands-free bra. You can very easily make a hands-free pumping bra if you’re willing to sacrifice a sports bra you already have. I made one in about 5 minutes with just a pair of scissors. I put the bra on, put the pump flanges where they would go (had a wonderful Madonna moment, actually), then just snip snip carefully, just enough to let the flange connector part out. Voila, that was free. Then I spent my hands-free bra budget money on frozen yogurt because I deserved it.
Will you be transporting your precious milk in lava hot weather? If so, you might need a cooler. Any cooler that suits your fancy.
Will you be breastfeeding in places where you’d prefer to cover up? If so, you might want a cover. I find that the most breathable swaddle possible makes a good cover, just tying it in a knot so it becomes a triangle, and throwing it over my shoulder. I figured if I had to eat with a blanket on my face, I’d want it to be very thin. I so wish everyone understood the normalcy and innocence of breastfeeding, but hey, maybe we can influence the next generation to not flinch when a mama feeds her baby? Challenge accepted.
I hope this blog wasn’t a let-down. Ba-da-ching!