When I was pregnant I remember hearing “breastfeeding is the hardest thing you’ll have to do,” over and over on websites, in books and from other moms. I didn’t understand how something so natural could be so hard and I kind of scoffed at the thought of people giving up after breastfeeding after a few weeks or some not even trying at all.
Well, cue October 11, 2016 and the birth of my daughter. I don’t want to get into my whole breastfeeding journey because I’d love to save that #RealTalk for another post, but let’s just say I get it now. Breastfeeding is hard. I can easily see why women stop breastfeeding or why some women can’t at all. I am one of the lucky ones who has been able to continue breastfeeding despite multiple issues, visits to the lactation consultant and let’s be honest, many tears.
While breastfeeding can be hard, there are tons of things that can make it easier and even enjoyable. As a breastfeeding new mom, these are the things I have found to be the most helpful in making breastfeeding easier for me and baby.
Breast Pump – Breast pumps are expensive, like new designer handbag level expensive. I was lucky enough to purchase one second hand from a coworker’s girlfriend who had never even used it. I have the Medela Freestyle Pump in Style kit and I love it. The Freestyle is the perfect size and the fact that it has the option to be a double pump is amazing. Sometimes I will need to pump and know that I only have a short window of time to do it, so to be able to have an electric pump that pumps both breasts simultaneously is a major time saver.
The pump was also a lifesaver when my milk first came. I got so engorged my daughter could not latch. Thankfully, I had the pump at home and was able to pump out a bit of milk before each feed, making my breasts softer so it was easier for her latch.
Pumping after your baby is done feeding is also a great way to build up a small fridge or freezer stash so that you can have some free time or so your husband can bond with your baby and feed using a bottle.
Nursing Pillow- A good nursing pillow will take the strain off your arms, neck and back. A soft one, like the Boppy nursing pillow, is easily movable to help get your baby into a comfortable position for breastfeeding. The pillow is also handy for using when just holding your baby or when visitors come over who are a bit nervous to hold your baby, as this pillow does most of the work for you.
Nursing Tanks – I personally prefer just wearing a nursing tank top instead of my normal shirt and a nursing bra. I find it so easy to just unclip the nursing tank top to nurse or pump. My favourite nursing tank tops are the clip down ones from Motherhood Maternity. I have also tried the Jessica Simpson brand ones, which have a bit of padding in them, but I found the padding to get in the way when trying get baby into the proper position for breastfeeding and they just became more of a hassle than a help.
Nursing Bra – When I actually leave the house, I tend to wear my regular tops with a nursing bra underneath. My favourite one so far is the Momzelle lace nursing bra because its actually cute. It is the closest nursing bra I have found to a regular bra that works well for breastfeeding. It is wire-free, which is a huge plus because underwire bras can interfere with your milk supply and can be just plain uncomfortable, plus the lace makes you feel a little sexy in the very unsexy world of spit up and diaper blowouts.
Breast Pads – The not so glamourous side of breastfeeding is leaky boobs. Leaky boobs leads to crusty and hard nursing tanks and bras and ain’t nobody got time for that. If you’re new to this world of breastfeeding, breast pads are small pads with adhesive strips that fit into your nursing tanks and bras. They’ll absorb all your leaky milk and can be switched out as needed. You can also get reusble ones you wash in your washing machine, but again, ain’t nobody got time for that. I’ve tried the Lansinoh, Parent’s Choice, Medela and Philip’s brand pads and my favourite by far are the Philip’s Avent pads. I find the shape and absorbability to be the best of all the brands I’ve tried.
Water Bottle with Straw – Breastfeeding makes you ridiculously thirsty to the point where you feel like you need water in that instant. When you have a baby attached to you, this isn’t always the easiest of feats, but a water bottle with a straw is a life saver. While breastfeeding, I can usually either lean over or pick up my water bottle with one hand and take a drink through the straw. However, there is no way I could remove a lid while breastfeeding.
Netflix – When we brought my daughter Bria home from the hospital, a typical breastfeeding session could take almost an hour. Sitting and staring at the walls of her nursery for an hour is incredibly boring and there are only so many tweets or Facebook statuses you can read before you’re downright bored. An iPad with Netflix can help you look forward to breastfeeding, especially in the beginning when it takes forever and you’re breastfeeding every two hours day and night. This is an easy way to get your binge watching in.
Coconut Oil – For the first few weeks of breastfeeding my nipples took a beating. There are tons of nipple balms out there, but I found coconut oil to be the easiest and most natural. With the added bonus of being anti-fungal and clearly free from chemicals and unknown ingredients, its the easy choice. Coconut oil is also great for slathering on baby instead of a moisturizer and for lubing your breast pump flanges so your nipples don’t chafe when you pump (again, how glamourous!).
Pumping Bra – I just invested in the Simple Wishes pumping bra and holy game changer! Using a double breast pump without a pumping bra meant I had to hold both pumps onto my breasts. This meant I was virtually helpless. Now with the pumping bra, I am hands free. I can text, pop my daughter’s soother back in, wash dishes, write this blog post, you name it! My only regret is that I didn’t get one sooner.
Baby Tracker App – I used this app for the first four weeks of my daughter’s life and it was a lifesaver. Not only are you getting used to being a parent and how to breastfeed, you’re also completely sleep deprived. I used the Awesome Baby Tracker app to track which breast Bria ate from and for how long (you can start and stop a timer). This way I could see when she ate last and from which side so I could make sure I was feeding her at the right time and properly alternating sides. The app was also great for tracking wet and dirty diapers. This is really important to track at the beginning when you need to make sure your newborn is eating enough.
What are your breastfeeding must haves?