Want to meet your breastfeeding goals? Discover the 7 breastfeeding essentials to keep you motivated, no matter the obstacles you face.
I just about had it. The sore nipples, the hour-long breastfeeding sessions, the leaking—I was over it. I felt glued to my first baby and shot dagger eyes at anyone who suggested feeding him the second he would fuss. I was ready to give up.
And that was just five days in.
Breastfeeding is hard. Staying motivated with breastfeeding might need daily pep talks and reminders about its benefits. And one of the best ways to stay on track is equip yourself with breastfeeding essentials.
7 breastfeeding essentials to keep you motivated
You also don’t need much. These are essentials, not luxuries. Basics that would make breastfeeding much more successful than if you had to do without them.
1. Nursing pillow
Have you tried nursing with just regular pillows? Maybe you prop one on top of the other, or use some strange arrangement to make it work. Compare that with using a nursing pillow and you can see the huge difference it can make.
Whichever brand you use, I recommend keeping a nursing pillow nearby. Don’t rely on pillows or your arms if you can help it. This is especially important when your baby is younger. (The older they get, the sturdier they are and rely less on support.)
2. Nursing tops and bras
I lived in nursing tops all the months I breastfed my kids (confession: I still use them!). Again, if you’ve tried to use a regular cami or a shirt, you know how difficult it can be to nurse. A nursing top is much easier to use.
Nursing bras are awesome for when you want to wear something other than a nursing top. You can still wear your regular tops with the convenience of a nursing bra underneath.
3. Nursing pads
So remember how I mentioned those leaks? Nursing pads will have you covered with this one. Don’t stuff tissue paper under your bra or nursing top. You also don’t want to be in public with wet breasts. Plus, nursing pads help protect your sore nipples and add extra cushion for comfort.
4. Lanolin ointment
One of the biggest challenges with breastfeeding is the pain, particularly with sensitive nipples. Lanolin cream eases the discomfort, especially when your nipples feel dry and cracked.
Some moms breastfeed without using any bottles. But if you’re like me, you’re considering pumping as well. Whether you pump because you work, or to give others a chance to feed the baby, below are the basics you need:
Before you roll your eyes and think, “duh,” remember that not all pumps are equal. You have your manual pump which hardly anyone recommends because they’re labor-intensive.
Then you have the single electric pump which I started off with my eldest. At first I thought this would cut it. After all, I was cutting costs wherever I could. But not only did the pump break close to a year of using it, it also doubled up my pumping sessions. Rather than, say, pumping for 20 minutes, I now had to pump for 40.
I recommend a double electric pump like the Medela Pump in Style. With the twins, I rented the Medela Symphony, a hospital-grade pump.
6. Extra pump parts
Depending on your model, you’ll likely have pump parts galore. You can get by with just one set for all the parts except for the white membranes of the Medela pumps. I guarantee you that you will need more than what you have.
And if you’re unlucky like me, they will break when you’re at work and have no way to replace them. Plan ahead and buy a pack of those suckers to have handy at home, at work and in your pump bag.
7. Hands-free bra
Again, here I was trying to be frugal and thinking I could pump using just my nursing bras and tops. They have a clasp, I justified. And sure, they worked, if I was careful not to move. My tops got so stretchy that the pump parts wouldn’t stay in place.
So I bought a hands-free bra. The first time I used it, I beat myself up for not having bought one earlier. Pumping became more convenient. I didn’t have to worry about dropping the milk I had just pumped.
That first month with staying motivated to breastfeed was tough. I must have looked online to read the benefits of breastfeeding every single day. But the more I equipped myself with the essentials, the longer I hung in there. Long enough to meet my goal to breastfeed for one year.
At seven items (four, if you’re not pumping), this list is short. As it should be. Breastfeeding saves you so much money in the long haul. And, despite the first few days or weeks, it does get easier.
Your baby will feel less fragile and can nurse without a pillow. Your nipples will adjust and you won’t need ointment for long. With breastfeeding, you don’t need much. Just your breastfeeding essentials checklist and the motivation to keep going.
Keeping track of all your baby’s latest feedings and diaper changes can feel overwhelming. Get a convenient way to track feeding and diaper times with my FREE printable tracker! Download it below:
Get more tips about breastfeeding essentials:
- 6 Ways Dads Can Support Breastfeeding Moms
- What Every Mom Needs to Know about Pumping at Work
- 12 Breastfeeding Secrets Every Mom Should Know
- Do You Feel Guilty for Not Breastfeeding? Don’t.
- Breastfeeding Products for Nursing Moms
Your turn: What were/are your breastfeeding essentials? What were/are the biggest challenges with breastfeeding for you?
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