Most new moms who are planning to breastfeed for the first time all have the same imagery floating around in their minds during their pregnancy… those serene moments she’ll have quietly nursing her little one in a comfy chair, staring at her baby’s angelic little face as they suck themselves into dreamland. …And yes, eventually, you will get there.
But it takes time, patience, and ironclad dedication. Obviously, not all moms have the same exact experience. But you should know that for most new moms, breastfeeding IS painful at first! And it IS really difficult to get the right latch when you first start, especially when baby is so small and his/her appetite is ravenous! This can cause many issues to crop up: engorgement pain, cracked and/or bleeding nipples, plugged milk ducts, and mastitis, just to name a few. Unfortunately, these things will likely cause you to begin doubting whether or not you’re going to make it through to the light at the end of the tunnel.
But hang in there, mama! Just clench your jaw and buckle down! You’ll get there! (Check out my three simple tips to help you successfully breastfeed for as long as you want!) It took me nearly 2 months before my nursing experience finally and TRULY became painless, enjoyable, and serene like I had always imagined it would be. And I don’t think I would have made it to this point in my breastfeeding journey without the following seven items; in fact, I still use all of them on a near-daily basis (except for the lanolin, since I no longer experience sore nipples). If you’re planning to nurse your baby, too, then I highly recommend that you invest in these products for yourself… I can promise you will NOT regret it!
Your nipples are going to be very sore when you first start nursing baby. This is normal because they’re just not yet accustomed to the rasping of baby’s tongue, and the sucking/stretching of the skin. Put this stuff on your nipples before and after you feed baby, as often as you need to for your comfort! It’s totally safe for baby to ingest, so don’t worry about that. I tried a few popular brands, but most were too greasy or had a funky smell that I didn’t care for. The brand that I liked the best is fragrance-free, not too greasy, and applies painlessly and uber-smoothly (which is all-important when your nipples already hurt!).
You’ll leak milk… what feels like ALL THE TIME. When you wake up engorged in the morning, you’ll leak. When you’re nursing on one side, usually the other side leaks, too. When you hear a baby cry in public, you’ll leak. When you even THINK about nursing your baby… you’ll leak! So you’re gonna need something to soak up all those leaks. Disposable nursing pads are the easiest way to go. Just tuck ’em into your nursing bra and you’re good to go! Looking for a more environmentally-friendly option? Then these reusable nursing pads might be for you! You’ll just have to wash them in your laundry after each use. (I use the reusable ones all the time, and then just keep disposables on hand as a backup.)
Aside from needing burp cloths to burp baby while nursing… in the early days, your nipples may also be too sore to wear a bra (or even a shirt!). Go braless (or topless) around the house, and carry a burp cloth around with you to catch any leaks in the aforementioned scenarios. I still use a burp cloth when I’m at home to catch leaks from the other side while I’m nursing my little girl (who needs a bra when you’re at home?!). I actually love these super soft flannel ones, because they’re really absorbent (and not nearly big enough to be a blanket, so burp cloth it is)!
There will be times when you need to pump. Even if you’re not bottle-feeding at all, you may need to relieve some extra pressure when you’re still engorged in the early days. I LOVE the simplicity of my electric breast pump for when I need to pump both sides simultaneously, or if I need to pump a significant amount of milk in one session. In the middle of the night, though, if you only need to let off a little pressure from one side (perhaps just an ounce or two) and don’t want to bother with the hassle of setting up the electric one, then a small manual pump is perfect for the job!
Milk storage bags
You’ll need a place to store any milk you’ve expressed, in either the fridge or the freezer. These storage bags are perfect for this purpose, and very easy to use. I like the double seal, and the fact that you can write on the top tab.
Breast hot/cold packs
When your milk first comes in and you’re super engorged, cold packs can help with the pain. If you experience any plugged ducts or mastitis, hot packs (and some gentle massage) will help get your milk flowing again. These reusable hot/cold packs are designed for your breasts and can be either frozen, refrigerated, or heated in the microwave… so they serve both purposes! They were recommended to me by a friend, and I ended up using them in all of the scenarios I just mentioned. They’re great to have on hand!
Finally, once you’ve mastered your nursing technique, you may eventually be comfortable enough to (or find yourself in an inevitable situation where you need to) nurse baby in public. You might also be at home, but need to nurse baby in front of someone else other than your significant other. I received this super cute nursing cover at my baby shower, and I use it all the time! Not only are there a zillion patterns to choose from, but the fabric is light, stretchy, and breathable. (Bonus: it also doubles as an awesome car seat cover)!
What are some of your favorite breastfeeding products? Share in the comments below!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are completely my own, and I would only recommend products to you that I personally love! Thank you for supporting my family and this blog!