Breastfeeding. Why does such a simple word stir up such a wide range of emotions? Nursing a baby is often portrayed as this beautiful, organic relationship, one that just comes naturally if you’re a woman with breasts and an infant who’s hungry. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not ‘au natural’ in the beginning. Nursing your infant takes patience, troubleshooting and there maaaay be some tears. Picture snowboarding, for instance. Sure it looks effortless when you see people cutting through fresh powder, but do you know how many wipeouts and bruises happened before this point? So rather than hitting a black diamond without a lesson or two, here are a few helpful items to have on hand that will make your intro to breastfeeding a little easier on both and your baby.
Nursing Bras to Dress The Part
First, you can’t do the job if you don’t dress the part, am I right? Invest in a few good nursing bras to support you and your milk makers. I recommend having both a basic sleep bra style and then several day to day bras. In the beginning you’ll want to sleep in a bra and with little structure or support, the sleep nursing bras are made exactly for that. For daytime I recommend AVYN Nursing Bras because they’re basically what you wore pre-baby, just modified for easy boob access. Plus, they’re cute, colorful and you’ll feel less like a dairy cow. This article from Babylist has a few good options to explore. While you’re at it, pick up some washable reusable breast pads to help keep your new bras dry if you leak here and there.
Protect Your Nips with Nipple Shields
Nipple shields are really nice to have in the first few weeks of nursing, not only for protecting sore nipples, but also to help your baby get a better latch if need be. There are a plethora of brands making shields designed specifically for almost every issue that may pop up, like tongue-tie, flat or inverted nipples, or easing the pain those first few weeks. This is an item you may not necessarily need, but could be a total lifesaver if you do. Verywell Family has a comprehensive article on nipple shields here.
Soothe Sore Nipples
Let’s stay on the topic of nipples for a bit. They’re going to want some extra TLC in the beginning because they’re not used to 24/7 attention, sort of like building up callouses. Yeah, you read that correctly. Nipple ointment and cooling pads can be very comforting and prevent cracking. What to Expect has this article about ointments and my personal fave is The Honest Company’s Calm Your Nip Balm because it’s organic and non-greasy. Speaking from experience, nothing in the entire world feels better than Soothies Cooling Pads, applied directly from the fridge. Pure heaven!
Get Cozy With A Nursing Pillow
Save your back and get comfy with a nursing pillow. According to kidshealth.org, a newborn baby will breastfeed 8-12 times per day. That’s a lot of hours to be hunched over bringing your infant up to your breast. There are many solid options out there so just pick one (or two if you have a multi-level house) and don’t overthink it. The Snuggle Me earns bonus points in our eyes because aesthetically it’s less bulky and looks more like a cool throw pillow.
Emergency Formula Stash
Lastly, despite your best efforts, things might not go well at first and a hungry, crying baby just needs food. Consider having formula available even if you’re dead set on breastfeeding. Organic formula company Bobbie says that “83% of parents in the U.S. will turn to formula”. So whether you decide to sign up for some free samples or purchase a backup supply, either option can be donated if you don’t end up needing it. Make a backup plan with your OBGYN, midwife or lactation consultant beforehand so you know the best practices of introducing formula while working through your breastfeeding plan.
You got this, mama!