Planning on breastfeeding? While nursing can be one of the most challenging parts about becoming a new parent, there are definitely some ways you can prepare before your baby is born. This will make things a little less overwhelming in those early days and weeks of the newborn phase.
If you are feeling unsure about your breastfeeding journey, our free online course Breastfeeding 101: From Prenatal Prep to Pumping sets you up for success from Day 1. Plus, below we’ve rounded up parents’ top 7 breastfeeding items to have on hand when you get home from the hospital.
- A Breast Pump. Whether it’s for work, a day out, or date night, many breastfeeding parents enjoy having the freedom to leave their baby with someone else — and pumping gives you that flexibility. Pumping allows you to start building a small stash, which enables someone else to feed your baby expressed breast milk through a bottle. Finding a pump is a personal choice — there are so many different kinds, and options to choose from. And, insurance coverage can vary depending on your provider. To research pump options and find out what your insurance coverage options are, head to PumpingEssentials.com.
- Baby bottles. Once you start pumping, you can also introduce a bottle — again, allowing someone other than you to feed your baby! Many families find they need to try a bunch of different bottles to see what works best for their baby, so it’s a good idea to have a couple of options (with different shaped and sized nipples) on hand so you can see what your baby prefers. Some parents prefer using bottles such as the Comotomo baby bottle which has a wider neck that many find helpful for babies who have trouble transitioning from nursing to bottle feeding.
- Nursing Bra. If you choose to wear a bra while nursing, consider one with a few key features. A good nursing bra will provide the support you want (without being too constricting), and allow easy access for nursing and for pumping. Bras such as the ones from Simple Wishes are underwire free, and many of them double as hands free pumping bras!
- Nursing Pads. During the early days of nursing, leaking is normal as your body figures out how much milk is needed. Many women use nursing pads —either reusable or disposable absorbent pads you place in your bra — in the first few weeks to absorb any of that leaking milk and stop it from soaking through to your clothes.
- Nipple cream. Many new breastfeeding moms contend with sore nipples in the first week or so. There are many different brands of nipple balm, cream, ointment that are safe for breastfeeding moms and their babies ranging from purified lanolin to coconut oil and a million things in between. Remember, sore nipples are different from cracked, blistered or painful nipples! If you have a painful latch, it's best to seek assistance from an experienced lactation consultant — breastfeeding should not hurt!
- A Nursing Pillow. Nursing pillows have unique shapes that help support and position baby during feedings. There are a lot of different nursing pillows out there, even ones made specifically for twins. Ones like the Boppy Original Feeding & Support Pillow can even be used during awake-time for propping, tummy time and sitting support.
- Bottle Warmer. Every baby is different: some babies are fine drinking cold milk from the fridge, but some prefer their breast milk warmed when drinking from a bottle since this is most like nursing. If this is your baby, know you should NEVER microwave breast milk or use a traditional bottle warmer that only uses steam heat, as it can destroy nutrients in the milk and create hot spots which can burn a baby’s mouth. A better way to safely warm breastmilk is with a bottle warmer that warms using a warm water bath. Parents like the Baby Brezza Safe + Smart Bottle Warmer because it uses a warm water bath (instead of steam) to warm breastmilk.
- Nursing-friendly PJs. For those middle of the night nursing sessions, you’ll want something that is super comfortable, moisture wicking in case of leaks/spitups, and allows super easy access to the breast. The Magnetic Me Magnetic Nursing Pajamas set is a great option. Their pjs are made of modal, lightweight, and have a magnetic fastening top that makes nursing convenient and cozy.
Having the right supplies is one way to prepare yourself for your breastfeeding, but you'll also want to make sure you are educated on what to expect in the first days and weeks to set you and your baby up for success. In our FREE Breastfeeding 101: Prenatal Prep to Pumping online course, our certified expert breaks down everything from need-to-know milestones for the first 30 days of breastfeeding (including diaper expectations, poop color and more!), how to get a proper latch, how to establish and build your milk supply, tips for troubleshooting common challenges, as well as how to pump and store breast milk.