The long and short: fed is best.
That said, if you choose to breastfeed, there are some specific situations you may find yourself in that you might not if you choose another feeding method. As you embark on the journey that is breastfeeding, here are some essentials to help you navigate the ups and downs successfully.
One of the most important things a breastfeeding mother needs is a way to stay properly hydrated. Your body needs a lot of water in order to produce the right amount of milk for your baby. You probably got a big plastic jug of water from the hospital, but if hauling it around doesn’t fit your lifestyle, you should prioritize finding a water bottle that does.
Insulated water bottles are fantastic for keeping your drinks ice cold for hours on end. The Hydro Flask, in particular, does an excellent job of keeping warm beverages warm and cold drinks cold. It comes in wide mouth or standard mouth varieties depending on your preference, and the standard mouth even has an optional sports cap so you can hydrate easily.
You can also stick a reusable straw in a Mason jar or large cup to keep your water accessible at all times. Stainless steel straws are easy to clean, and you can easily take them with you in your purse without worrying about them breaking or bending.
Another fantastic option for staying hydrated without consuming extra sugar or calories is to buy a pitcher with a fruit infuser insert. The insert full of fruit stays in your pitcher all day, giving your water a slightly fruity taste without any artificial ingredients.
Most breastfeeding moms have felt anxiety about their milk supply at some point during their breastfeeding journey. Lack of sleep, dehydration, sickness, some medications, or trauma (for example: a car accident) can all impact how much milk your body produces.
Some women have reported success in building up their milk supply by taking lactation supplements like Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle. Be sure to talk with your doctor before you try them because some supplements can interfere with certain medications. You can find lactation supplements in capsule and tea form.
If you don’t want to take supplements, you can always buy or make lactation cookies. They are full of healthy fats, milk-boosting oats, and flax seed, and they often contain brewer’s yeast – a natural powder that reportedly helps milk supply. They also usually have some chocolate element, which is a major plus!
Protect Your Breasts
Your breasts are your baby’s second and third best friends (after you, of course!), so you need to do everything you can to keep them healthy. Here are some essentials to keep you and your breasts happy:
- Lanolin cream: Lanolin cream or ointment will keep your nipples hydrated and clean to prevent them from cracking or bleeding.
- Nipple shield: If your baby has trouble latching, your lactation consultant might recommend a nipple shield for the first little while. This thin silicone cover will keep your nipple safe from those chompers while your baby learns how to nurse.
- Warm/cold compress: Sometimes babies have trouble nursing the right way, which can cause you a lot of pain and make your baby frustrated. If you’re not careful (and even if you are careful), you can end up with clogged ducts (painful) or mastitis (very painful). A warm/cold compress can help unclog your ducts and get the milk flowing quickly once your baby starts sucking.
- Nursing pads: Leakage is just a thing that will happen, so it’s best to be prepared at all times (at least in the beginning).
- Disposable nursing pads: Disposable nursing pads are nice because you can use them up and toss them out. They’re also easy to stick in your purse for when you’re out and about. The downsides are the amount of waste and that the fabric can be irritating to your sensitive breasts.
- Reusable nursing pads: These are awesome because they eliminate all of that waste. You just use them, then toss them in the washing machine with your other clothes. They come in all different varieties and fabrics, but these reusable nursing pads can contain up to 5 tablespoons of moisture and are antibacterial, anti-odor, and have a waterproof outer layer!
- Nursing bras: Your nursing bra can make or break your nursing experience, and there are a million different styles out there! Unfortunately, you have to try them on to figure out your preference, but we recommend the Curve by CacheCoeur. It is made from soft bamboo fibers and comes with Oeko-Tex certification. That means that there aren’t any harmful chemicals in the fabric that could impact you or your baby.
- Cover: Every mom has her own level of comfort when it comes to nursing. If you are one who prefers to cover up, your options include:
- Nursing scarf: This one is soft, stretchy, and incredibly fashionable.
- Nursing cover: A nursing cover has a band that goes behind your neck and a square of fabric to cover your baby. They often come with a stiff front panel at the neck so you can look down and adjust your baby easily.
- Muslin blankets: Lightweight muslin blankets also work really well if you’re a pro at nursing and want a little privacy.
Save Your Arm
Let’s be real – that little bundle of joy can get heavy! Investing in a nursing pillow is worth the expense because it eases the strain on your body. Those precious baby backs and bums can put painful pressure on your elbows, shoulder, back, and wrists, and that can make everyday tasks difficult. Two of our favorite nursing pillows include:
- Ergobaby Natural Curve Nursing Pillow: This pillow is washable, and the firm foam keeps your baby at the right height and position.
- Niche Nursing Pillow: The Niche Nursing Pillow is the Jack-of-all-trades for nursing pillows. You can use it as extra support when you’re trying to get sleep as a pregnant lady. Once the baby is here, you can use it as nursing or bottle-feeding support. Additionally, it is fantastic for tummy time activities and to keep your baby safe when she’s learning how to sit up by herself.
Choosing to breastfeed can be a little overwhelming, but there are plenty of products and resources available to help you be successful. Good luck!