Sooo the big *B* word!! Breastfeeding…yep we all love and hate this deep down…don’t pretend you don’t! It comes with its amazing bits but there are certain elements that we all can’t stand. Painful excruciating nipples anyone??? Definitely not just me. If you want to know the top 10 breastfeeding essentials I used to make things easier for me then read on.
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Top 10 Breastfeeding Essentials that every New Mum needs:
This blog post covers my TOP 10 BREASTFEEDING ESSENTIALS for a new mum! I compiled this list from my own experiences. Don’t worry if what you are doing or using is completely different. Every mother, every baby, even every breast is different. Just enjoy your own experience but of course feel free to try my recommended products for yourself.
Let me just say however, if you formula feed exclusively or partly, that is perfectly fine too. I am just going by what I have done/ am doing currently. At the end of the day the most important thing is that your little angel is fed and you are happy and content with what and how you are doing.
Now one thing to point out is that I don’t cover nappies, baby wipes and disposable changing mats in this post but you can read about my short and sweet tip on Saving Money on baby essentials.
(1) Breast Pads
To start off our top 10 breastfeeding essentials list, the number one necessary essential for any breastfeeding mum are breast pads. Your breasts will leak. Fact! Whether it is before an actual feed, during or after a feed – all breasts leak. My first experience with leaking breasts was surreal. At the beginning, my baby was on my breasts 24/7. My breasts never actually felt like they were leaking but when the time between feeds increased ever so slightly or if my little angel managed to sleep for more than 30 minutes, my breasts went crazy. They started tingling with a tight sensation like your breasts are about to explode. I looked at them only to find milk squirting out on its own.
The second time was when I was actually feeding my baby on one boob and again my other boob started tingling. If the breast pad is not in place correctly then milk will pour out. Tip for those that breastfeed lying down like me – the milk comes out the other boob on its own – watch out.
Moral of the story: breast pads are a must. Wear them inside your nursing bra at all times. I found that you have to wear them all day and night. You will probably want to change them if they are quite full or at least once a day, whichever comes sooner. My favourite ones are the Lansinoh brand (for my US followers here is the US Link). They are thin, discrete and comfortable. You really do not feel them at all. They come in a box of 60 and you get your money’s worth.
After watching too many Insta-stories from other mummy bloggers everyone in the US kept raving about Medela. So I decided to give it a try. Big mistake!! They were uncomfortable, chunky and not discrete whatsoever. As I had already bought a pack of 60 I decided to use them only at night or when I was at home. If I went out I used the Lansinoh ones as they didn’t bulk out from under my clothes.
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(2) Nursing Bra
We all know that a good bra is essential to any woman, that is why number 2 on our list of top 10 breastfeeding essentials is the nursing bra. If you do not have a comfortable, flattering and easy to manoeuvre nursing bra, you might as well cash it all in. Without the close-to-perfect nursing bra your breastfeeding, sleeping and waking times are over. You need to be able to sleep in a nursing bra comfortably with the breast pad fitted properly so your milk doesn’t leak.
Ensuring easy and fast removal for feeding
You need to be able to quickly and easily unhook the special fastens on the front before your baby screams the house down, or whilst your half asleep. If you get a bra that is hard to unhook with only half your brain on, and one eye closed (perhaps two if you co-sleep and breastfeed lying down) then your bra must unfasten super easy.
The material needs to be breathable, soft and non-sticky. I recommend going for cotton (100% if you can find it). When your nipples are sore, breasts enlarged and your annoyed, stressed and sleepy the last thing you need is your synthetic bra sticking to your breasts or itching and annoying you. This will only make you more upset, stressed and soo angry. I am speaking from experience because I nearly went crazy a few times with the first nursing bra I bought. My breasts were so large and painful. The weather was unbearably hot and my horrible nursing bra drove me crazy. I can remember it like it was yesterday. It made my early days of breastfeeding an awful experience.
I went through a lot of nursing bras, wasted so much money and ended up with a lot that I don’t wear and hate. Pick carefully, try them on and be prepared to have a few as you may not find one bra that ticks all the boxes. I have one bra for home and sleeping, one bra for casual trips outside and one pretty one that needs to be worn out out. At the end of the day, you still want to feel very sexy even if you are breastfeeding (especially in public).
2020 Update: I was gifted the Belly Bandit® Bandita Nursing Bra (US link) and it is the softest and comfiest bra. I love it.
Going Out Out Bra
My ultimate favourite one for going out out is the H&M MAMA Nursing Bra (US Link). it is very pretty bra comes with a bit of lace on the band and also inside and is very flattering. Another one I really liked for my casual days out was the H&M Grey Nursing Bra (US Link). It’s great for t-shirts and the breast pads are discretely locked away with their special inserts.
Lounging and Sleeping Bra
I liked the seamless non-wired bra by Tu Clothing which I found accidentally during my weekly food shop in Sainsbury’s and wore it throughout my entire pregnancy. I purchased the bra in both White and Black and in all three sizes ranging from L to XXL. My honest opinion though: this was one of the bras that did end up annoying me in the warmer heat-wave summer months that we had. It is not cotton. But once the painful and stressful first month was over and I was more used to breastfeeding, they were actually quite comfortable. I am wearing them even now (into my fifth month of breastfeeding).
The Bravado Nursing Bras were also quite nice – I bought the Black one and Grey Yoga one too! US Links here (black bra) and here (grey bra). They were soft, comfortable and supportive – great for wearing at home and to sleep in as well. I will put together a product-review post specifically on the nursing bras I had purchased/ tried on with more info for you shortly. Watch this space.
Another cute thing I purchased from Amazon during the crazy heat-wave was a seamless Nursing Tank Top with removable pads. They came in a pack of 2 in beige and black. They were very soft to the touch but slightly tight, so do size up if you want a more comfortable feel. Amazon US does not have the exact same brand but here is a very similar version of the 2-pack Nursing Tank Top – US Link. I am yet to test them out so will review them properly in a separate post specifically on nursing bras.
(3) Nipple Cream
You cannot live without the third most important item on our top 10 breastfeeding essentials list! Let me stress this again YOU CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT NIPPLE CREAM if you are breastfeeding. This is a must. Your nipples will be soooo sore after each time your baby feeds. This is true for most nursing mother – I sure was. My baby was (and is) on my breasts all the time and some times he can be very aggressive and other times quite gentle but every time at the end of the day my nipples do hurt. Especially in the first 3 months. After that, I think your nipples get used to it or something.
My go-to product is the Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream (for my US followers here is the US Link). It is very gentle and oh so soothing on those cracked and sore nipples. You can apply it after each feed and there is no need to wash it off before the next feed. It is safe for babies once they are back on the breast. Buy it – you will not regret it I promise you!
I also tried the Mothercare Nipple Cream which I did actually like as well as it smelt quite nice and felt so silky smooth. It contains Vitamin E oil and olive oil. Again this was baby-safe and cheaper in some respects. In my opinion, the Lansinoh nipple cream was in fact more effective at reducing the soreness and pain and actually helped mend the cracked nipples.
(4) Breast Pump & Milk Storage Bags
Every woman who breastfeeds knows that the secret is to have a great breast pump to hand. No list of breastfeeding essentials will be complete without a breast pump. I use the Nuby Natural Touch Electric Breast Pump and don’t really have much to complain about to be honest. A similar one would be the Medela Breast Pump for my US followers – I have read and listened to a lot of mummy bloggers and this seems to be quite a favourite amongst them.
There are sooo many accessories and gadgets that can be used with this breast pump. I like to keep things simple so just do it normally without any crazy fuss. One thing I may do differently is to use 2 breast pumps at once (one on each breast) as it makes things faster and is apparently better for expressing milk this way. Using a breast pump, in my opinion, has a number of benefits.
Helps to relieve pain and early signs of mastitis
Mastitis is an inflammation of the breasts caused by an infection or more commonly clogged milk ducts and swollen breasts – which is sooooo painful owchhh! The best thing you can do to help yourself is to obviously nurse your baby. However, if you have just nursed or baby is sleeping, you can use the breast pump to express your milk. This will relieve any pain or heavy swollen breasts and helps open up any clogged milk ducts.
Expressing milk for later use
You can use a breast pump to express milk which you can save for later. You can either use it that day (or even a few days later) by storing safely (and correctly as per instructions on the packaging) in the fridge. Or you can freeze expressed breast milk for up to 6 months using these amazing Lanisoh Milk Storage Bags (US Link) . Breast milk can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days but the optimal recommendation is to use or freeze breast milk within 3 days of expressing.
Storing expressed breast milk in the freezer
This comes in handy if your milk supply comes to an end and you want to be able to continue breastfeeding your baby. Please do your own research and store breast milk safely to ensure the best results and use for your baby. One tip I have read so want to pass on to you is NEVER heat breast milk in the microwave.
Gives the mummy a break
Expressing your breast milk for later use allows you, the yummy mummy, to take a little break from the joys of breastfeeding. You can pass the buck to your significant other or family member (if possible) to take over for a few hours in the day. You can perhaps even go out one evening, get your nails done, or even just sleep for longer than 2/3 hours. I definitely could use that 🙂
Actually it is recommended that after 8 weeks you start giving your baby one bottle of either expressed milk or formula in a bottle every so often. This ensures your baby gets used to taking a bottle as there is a possibility (apparently) that he or she may not take a bottle if not introduced at the correct time. To be honest, I didn’t do this on time, but when I did give my baby a bottle of my breast milk he took it without a problem. All babies are different so do what you think is best and enjoy every single minute with your baby. Currently (at 4.5 months) I am trying to introduce a little bit of formula which so far he is not taking – so will need to continue and persevere. We will see what happens.
Helps when you return to work
If you have to return to work early and you are still breastfeeding, you will no doubt, want to express your milk and save the bottles for whoever takes care of your child. This means that whilst you are away baby continues to get the benefits of your glorious breast milk for months to come. You can even take a manual breast pump to work and express when needed (provided your workplace allows this and you have a comfortable place to do so – not very familiar with this so cannot provide too much advice or information here – sorry!).
I am using the Avent Single Manual Breast Pump (US link) at the moment and think its good. At first, I was sceptical about this product as I thought it would be difficult but its convenient minus and comfortable.
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(5) Breastfeeding Support Pillow
Number 5 from the list of top 10 breastfeeding essentials is the breastfeeding pillow. This wonderful pillow has definitely helped me breastfeed my little one from the moment he was born up until now. I can lay the baby down on it and it provides me with support for his weight so makes it easier to hold him whilst I nurse. I can also prop him up against the pillow next to me and play with him so he is not lying down. He really hates to lie down but cannot quite sit up yet either. This gives me a healthy middle so thumbs up from me.
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My nursing pillow
I registered for a Nursing Pillow with John Lewis for my baby shower and I couldn’t be happier. Here’s a link to a slightly similar design to the Nursing Pillow for my US followers. Check out my post covering my baby shower, my gifts and the decorations I found on eBay. Even though our parents and grandparents never needed things like nursing pillows and we turned out alright, it doesn’t hurt to take advantage of the wonders we currently have. Here is the link to the additional cover for the Nursing Pillow (plus a US Link too). Helps when one is in the wash.
Nursing pillow I wish I bought
I did end up seeing a nursing pillow with a different design that I did think may be better than what I had. It goes all the way around your back so gives you extra support which I think may be helpful as my back always hurt when breastfeeding for a long period at a time (especially the early weeks). Also, it had a great little pocket for keeping any essentials you need nearby like your phone!!! Here is the link (and the US link too). It seems the US price is cheaper than the UK version, probably coz it’s American so harder to source for us UK folk! Unfortunately cannot comment on whether it is a good pillow or not as I have never tried it so don’t hold me to it.
(6) Lactation Tea
If you are fortunate (or even unfortunate depending on how you look at it) to have a huge supply of milk coming in than good for you. But if you are like me and after a whole day of feeding there may be times when your milk supply has decreased, there are some herbal teas that have definitely helped with milk production.
I drink decaf tea when it comes to my morning cup of black tea. I have this with almond milk. Yes we English folk need this #sorrynotsorry. Plus almond milk is known to be good for milk production so double YAY!! A little later for my early after afternoon cup of tea, I have Pukka Motherkind Baby Herbal Tea [US link] this tastes very nice and gentle and really helps with milk production. The Pukka brand also do an Pregnancy Tea [US link] which I personally did not try myself but my friends who did really loved them so for baby number 2 will definitely be trying it.
For my early evening cup of tea I go for Fennel Tea [US alternative] on its own. I drink the Twinings brand and have found a great deal for multi-pack buy on Amazon (see links below). To finish off my night, I go for a cup of Chamomile Tea [US alternative] before bed for a calming sleep. The calming effect flows through to baby in your milk, which also helps them to digest their food.
Fennel or cumin seeds
If I find that my little one is experiencing colic or tummy pain, or hasn’t pooed in 24 hours, I brew fennel or cumin seeds and drink them warm. You can drink them cold if you want too – just depends on how you like the taste. This really does work wonders. Even helps you with your constipation if this is an issue you may be facing.
Related Post: Motherhood Tip: How to increase milk supply
(7) Breast Therapy Pack
I came across the Lansinoh TheraPearl 3in1 Breast Therapy Pack (US Link) accidentally when searching for some nipple cream by Lansinoh (linked above) and thought “my gosh that would definitely help when my breasts are on fire” so I purchased it. Did it really do what it says on the packet?? Not really but they did help a little. There are two packs – one for each boob.
You can put them in the freezer for a couple of hours (without the material cover). Then when your breasts feel like they are on fire, you can take them out, insert into the provided sleeves and apply to your breasts.
When you have a clogged duct and your breasts feel like rocks, you can heat the therapy pack in the microwave (with the material covers) for a few seconds and put into your bra to relieve the pain. Be careful with overheating as I burned myself a little at the beginning. Lesson: ALWAYS read the instructions and follow them carefully. I am just commenting on how I used them and you need to do it yourself.
I found that the heated pack helped more than the frozen one. But in both cases they lost their temperature quite quickly so had to either reheat or re-freeze frequently. Not a big bother to be honest as I focused on the bigger picture to ensure my clogged ducts were relieved and the pain was gone.
(8) Balanced Healthy Diet and plenty of water!
Everyone knows that the best way to ensure you have plenty of milk supply is by eating properly, frequently and drinking lots of water. My top tip here? have a bottle of water attached to your hip, just like your phone no doubt is. For me as soon as baby grabbed my nipple and started feeding, this crazy dehydrated feeling hit me like the Sahara desert. I screamed inside for water. It’s fascinating how the human body works and what feelings, cravings and emotions take over whilst breastfeeding. Wellbeing thirsty and hungry is a huge side effect of breastfeeding.
Some foods that help with the production of milk include walnuts, papaya, spinach, garlic, fennel seeds, oats/ oatmeal, salmon (but not more than once a week I would say), asparagus, cumin seeds and apricots to name a few. Please do note though that these are just things that I found helped me so please do your own research and use your own judgement before trying anything. If you would like more related information for breastfeeding foods or even pregnancy-safe foods – let me know below in the comments and I can put together another post covering your requested topics.
Top Tip: eat a healthy balanced diet of good food and an extra 500 calories as you burn more whilst breastfeeding, which I’m sure most of you love!!
Certain liquids that have been known to help with the production of milk include water, pomegranate juice, lactation teas as mentioned above and milk (whether it is cow’s milk or Almond milk. I have been told that to ensure your child does not have an intolerance to cow’s milk, you should drink it whilst breastfeeding. I myself couldn’t do this, to be honest as I feel unwell after drinking cow’s milk. For me, it’s Almond milk all the way.
I tried to stay away from caffeine, fizzy drinks, pop and of course alcohol. The only thing I ended up drinking sometimes was coca-cola 🙁 My usual Starbucks or Pret coffee or frappuccino was decaf! I have also been told that orange juice or any other citrus juices should be kept to no more than 1 glass a day.
It really helps to take your vitamins. I personally take the Pregnacare Breastfeeding multivitamin pack (here is the US Link). This ensures I receive everything and in the correct dosages as baby strips me of all the goodness I intake. Everyone knows at this point your hair falls out, teeth go bad and skin dries up. I didn’t feel such side effects when I was pregnant but I sure as hell felt them whilst breastfeeding. In month 2, just like my hairdresser warned, my hair started falling out excessively. I actually have quite thick hair so it wasn’t crazy noticeable. But still noticeable enough to see that I was shedding like a cat in the Spring. I was quite upset about this. My baby was taking all my vitamins and I had to just let him 🙂
The Pregnacare brand is quite good as I used them during my pregnancy (US Link) (and even before during conception US Link). I found that they really did help me. My skin didn’t break out like it usually does when I take a vitamin so that was reassuring. Plus I looked positively glowing!
(9) Nursing classes and/or consultation with a lactation consultant
From my personal experience, I didn’t do either. Therefore I really recommend that you go to a class or have a session with a lactation consultant or health advisor.
Ensure baby feeds correctly
This ensures you are doing it correctly. Even though my baby was feeding very well from the moment he popped out, my breastfeeding experience in the first 2/3 months was very bad. My breasts and nipples hurt sooo much I really wanted to give up and move over to bottles. My mum, however, asked me to bear with it a little bit as the baby would get a little bit bigger. He would be more able to take the nipple/ breast properly and somewhat better as its mouth would be bigger. This did make sense. How can a small tiny baby with its tiny mouth take in the whole of my enlarged breast??
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Ensure the baby takes the whole breast
Up until now, my baby does not like the whole breast. He’s too lazy and wants the nipple only. He even somehow made it work for him and the nipple produced enough for him to eat and grow. Maybe if he had taken the whole breast at each feeding he would have been fuller for longer. Perhaps even slept longer in one go, and wouldn’t have fed so many times. But hey ho it worked out for both of us. But it is all fine now. No pain. Only some at the occasional blocked duct or engorgement or even cracked nipple.
Moral of the bullet point: get some professional advice early on so they can show you how to do it. You need to know how to make sure the baby takes the whole breast each time. It’s not enough to show you once. Your baby needs to get the hang of it and do it the right way every time.
(10) Baby Routine App and Baby Development App
Welcome to the modern age when we have apps for pretty much anything. You must agree they do make your life easier in a way (minus the addiction to your phone and internet). When I was pregnant I used a couple of apps to track my pregnancy such as the Baby Center. Once I had the baby I searched for some apps to help me with baby tracking.
I use two apps with my baby:
“The Best Baby Tracker“
This tracks the baby’s sleeping, feeding, bathing, walking, diapers, activity habits and more! It can also track weight, height, baby firsts, head size, temperature, vaccines, doctors visits but some of these are premium features. I haven’t subscribed to these as the free features are plenty.
This app is handy as it saves everything so you can refer to it in a chart summary afterwards. It also predicts what side breast you need to give to the baby on the next feed! I found it easy to use, pretty and adaptable. I recommend having such an app to keep track of your baby’s schedule. When my little angel was very small setting up a schedule or routine made no sense. He pretty much did anything he wanted even fed on demand. But in any case, it’s still quite handy to know what we do and for how long.
This is a baby development app. It suggests different little exercises to do with your baby to help their development and ensure your baby is meeting all the milestones. Some exercises may be a little too advanced but most of them are on spot for the baby’s age. My little angel seems to be acing most of the expected milestones and development blocks aimed at his age. It’s not complicated to use.
You go to the app, select “Play with XX [baby’s name]” and each day attempt the number of exercises they recommend doing. Each day you get a handful of different exercises. At times the exercises may seem straightforward and easy. The whole point of this is to ensure your baby can do the exercises. It helps you keep your mind on the goal of where your baby should be at each month.
So there you have it…..these are my Top 10 Breastfeeding Essentials for New Mums. This is not an exhaustive list. There are other products or techniques you use that I haven’t mentioned or tried. This is just a list I compiled through my own experiences.
Which ones are most important for you? Do you use something I haven’t mentioned?
Let us know below in the comments, we would love to hear from you.
XoXo til next time XoXo
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