In honor of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I wanted to share a few breastfeeding accessories that I felt extremely helpful during my 13 month run breastfeeding my son. I am also currently expecting my second child, who I plan to also breastfeed, so this list will serve as a great reminder of what accessories I need to stock up on ahead of time! This list isn’t all inclusive, as different people prefer different things, but I found these items particularly helpful to enhancing my breastfeeding experience.
1.Reusable Water Bottle
I thought I was extra hungry while pregnant, but that was nothing compared to my early breastfeeding days. I drank an incredible amount of water and found that having a reusable cup or bottle within reach at all times was really important. Here’s one I love!
2. Nursing Pads
Knock on freaking wood, I didn’t leak beyond the first month or so. I have several friends who had to wear nursing pads for 12 months! It can be embarrassing when your internal clock tips your girls off – luckily, it’s an easy solution. Based on your preference, you can choose either disposable or reusable and washable cloth pads.
3. Lanolin / Coconut Oil
Those initial days (er, weeks) of latching can be painful. I found that applying lanolin really helped with the discomfort I faced. I’ve also heard coconut oil or even olive oil work well. However (!) – nothing worked better than squeezing out a little breastmilk and letting it air dry for a few minutes.
4. iPad / Phone/ Book
Phew! Those initial nursing sessions are lo-o-o-ong. One thing that helped me get through them was a way to distract myself. I played lots of games on my phone, read more books than I thought possible, and binge-watched many TV shows on my ipad.
5. Breast Pump / Accessories / Storage bags
Even if you plan to exclusively nurse, it’s not a bad idea to have some pumped milk on hand in case of emergency, or just to allow someone else to feed the baby! There are many pumps to choose from – double electrics, manuals, even hands free! Remember, insurance companies in the US are now required to provide them to all covered mothers (there are probably a few exceptions to this rule, unfortunately). Important accessories include various bottles and breastmilk storage bags – these are my personal favorite (they lay flat to freeze).
6. Nursing Stool
The lactation consultant that I worked with tipped me off to this one. Gliders are comfortable, true, but the ottomans that typically come with them are too tall to get in an efficient, comfortable position. Here’s a great option.
7. Nursing cover
This one is personal preference, for sure, but I appreciated having a nursing cover in the beginning weeks before I learned how to get a quick latch without exposing myself. A lightweight, breathable swaddle blanket also works well. Once my son got a bit older, though, he hated being under the cover, so we didn’t use it beyond 5 months or so.
8. Nipple shield
My lactation consultant also recommended that I use a nipple shield temporarily to help my son get a better latch. There are definitely some downsides to using a nipple shield – so be sure to use it under the guidance of a lactation consultant, but overall I felt it really helped my son and I get into our groove. We discontinued use when my son was 4 weeks old.
9. Nursing Pillow
A nursing pillow is a must-have item for sure. They help hold the baby in a comfortable, ergonomic position to enhance breast and bottle feeding. They can also be used as a safe positioner – for propping, tummy time, and even learning to sit up. A Boppy is a great option but there are several other popular ones to choose from.
10. Fenugreek / Oats / Gatorade / Beer (!)
AKA – supply enhancers. If you feel as though your supply is dipping, a fenugreek supplement can help up your supply. Experts also recommend oats, gatorade, and even beer as methods to enhance breastmilk supply – just be sure to ask a professional, first!
11. Nursing Bras / Tanks
While you can certainly get by without nursing bras, I find them very convenient and comfortable. Nursing tank tops can also be very convenient when you don’t want to flash your stomach while getting yourself situated. After awhile, though, I just wore yoga bras / bralettes and regular tank tops.