You may not have given much thought to breastfeeding before you got pregnant or became a mother. It was just one of those things you’d figure out. How hard could it be? It’s totally natural and instinctual, right?
Unfortunately for many mamas that is simply not the case. Even the best experiences come with some pain (and bleeding nipples… yeah we said it!). Mom and baby are both learning this new skill, and there can be some bumps along the way. We highly recommend taking a breastfeeding class while you’re pregnant (we love this online course by Lactation Link) to get the basics down as well as being in close contact with a good lactation consultant once baby arrives.
Those two things, plus all the items in our breastfeeding survival kit, will have you breezing through those first few tough weeks of nursing. Read on to hear more about what new moms need to stock up on before starting their breastfeeding journey!
What Do You Need for Breastfeeding?
Here are some of the breastfeeding essentials to help get you through the first few weeks of nursing:
- Gel pads
- Breast pads
- Water bottle
- Healthy snacks
- Nursing pillow
- Nursing tank
- Nursing cover
- Lactation aids
- Breast pump and accessories
Below we give more detail on some of the breastfeeding items listed.
Gel Pads: We recommend bringing these to the hospital and using them from the very first feed. Try keeping them in the fridge before applying to get maximum cooling relief. Our favorite gel pads are from Lansinoh and are backed with fabric to help protect your sensitive nipples from rubbing against clothing.
Lanolin: Lanolin is a natural product that is produced by a sheep’s wool — it helps their coats repel water. For breastfeeding moms, this natural wool wax is a magical nipple cream that can help soothe sore nipples. We’ve found the Medela brand lanolin to be especially smooth and easy to apply, which is much appreciated in those early days. It’s safe for baby, so there’s no need to wipe it off before nursing.
Breast Pads: Once your breast milk comes in, let’s just say it comes in with a vengeance. You’ll probably be finding milk splatters from those first few weeks or months. Instead of going through carton after carton of single-use, disposable nursing pads, we love our Itzy Ritzy Glitzy Gals™ Washable and Reusable Nursing pads. They are machine washable and lined with several layers of super-absorbent bamboo rayon, so you’ll never leak through your shirt!
Water Bottle: One of the best ways to keep up your milk supply and feel your best is to make sure you are staying hydrated. Many moms experience an intense thirst right as their baby latches on and starts to nurse, so make sure you always have easy access to a full water bottle. We love this fun tumbler with straw from ban.do — no reason not to stay hydrated in style!
Healthy Snacks: Just as important as staying hydrated: staying well-fed! It is so easy to skip meals or flat out forget to eat when you are in the throes of newborn sleep deprivation and figuring out breastfeeding, but it is more important than ever to keep your body nourished! A few great easy-to-grab, one-handed snacks we love: almonds, grapes, hard-boiled eggs, cheese sticks, lactation cookies and energy bites. Throw your snacks into a reusable Itzy Ritzy Snack Happens™ Snack Bag and into your diaper bag and you’re all set for on-the-go snacks, too!
Nursing Pillow: These pillows help provide support and comfort for both babies and nursing moms. The Itzy Ritzy Milk Boss™ Infant Feeding Support is ideal for positioning baby at the perfect angle while breastfeeding or bottle feeding to help reduce the chance of reflux or gas. And when feeding is over, Milk Boss acts as a rest for baby while on his or her tummy getting burped. Unlike some other breastfeeding support pillows, there are no cumbersome latches or straps needed for use — it simply slips on and off the arm to make feeding and holding baby simple and comfortable. It’s a must for every mama!
Nursing Tank: A good nursing tank is a lifesaver for a breastfeeding mother. Throw your cozy robe over the top and you’re ready to breastfeed any time, or for our favorite nursing-wear trick — layer it under any shirt or sweater and you can easily lift your top and nurse without exposing your tummy. Not all nursing tanks are created equal, though! We love these from Cake Maternity; they are made of compression fabric that hold everything in and provide great support.
Nursing Cover: A cover can help new moms feel more comfortable when they are feeding in public. Getting out of the house may not happen often at the beginning, but practice makes perfect, and once you get the hang of nursing, a cover can help you feel that much more confident. The Itzy Ritzy Mom Boss™ is four amazing products in one — a nursing cover, car seat cover, shopping cart cover and infinity scarf. It comes in three beautiful prints and will become your best friend during baby’s first year and beyond!
Lactation Aids: At one point or another, the vast majority of moms start to wonder if they have “enough” milk for baby. It’s actually pretty rare for mothers to have an undersupply, but sometimes if you aren’t hydrated enough or haven’t eaten enough, these things can affect your supply. It can be helpful to have a few lactation aids on hand in these instances. We love the Oat Mama Lactation Bars — they are so easy to grab as a quick and healthy snack that will also help boost your milk supply. You can also make (that are shockingly husband-approved), take a fenugreek supplement if things are a bit more serious, and there is even tea you can drink to help with milk production.
Breast Pump & Accessories: We find a good breast pump to be an essential part of breastfeeding. It can help provide relief from engorgement when your milk comes in (you don’t need to pump a lot, just a slight amount to help relieve the pressure). And once you get the hang of it, the breast pump becomes a helpful tool to let you have some much-needed time away from baby and let your partner take bottle feeding on.
If your breastfeeding journey doesn’t start off easy and you’re experiencing some issues (you’re certainly not alone), check out our post on common nursing problems and tips to help.