We’ve all heard the old saying that breast is best… of course there is a tonne of research to prove that breastmilk is a smart choice for your baby. I’m not going to be one of those who says it is the only option though as I’ve had to turn to formula myself for various reasons. I’ve managed to continue breastfeeding and I love that I have. I’ll talk about the perks and the difficulties another time, but here’s my roundup of twelve things you need if you are planning to breastfeed.
1) Breast pads
Believe me when I say you will need them… lots of them… initially i used lansinoh on recommendation from a friend. I had to start wearing them at 28 weeks so went through a fair few. I was later recommended Asda’s own brand of reusable, washable pads. Three pairs cost just £1.20, come in a handy box with a washing bag. With a baby you will wash every day I kid you not… so it really is no extra hassle to wash breast pads. I bought three boxes (9 pairs) which has been more than enough and they are so much softer on sore nipples. If that doesn’t convince you enough… those three boxes cost just half the price of the box of lansinoh disposable pads, which not only result in a lot of waste but crinkle in your bra like the ears on a Lamaze toy… oooft!!!
A what?! Basically it’s a soft silicone pump. No electricity, no wires, no noise. The idea is you attach it to one breast whilst feeding from the other and it catches your let down. That’s not necessarily true, it doesn’t just catch, it works by vacuum so it does gently pump.
I use the mother sucker and some feeding sessions I get more with that than I do in a double pumping session. It was only £8.99 from Amazon and it’s been amazing!
The naturebond has a handy stopper so perhaps they’re better. Make sure you invert it for a better suction.
As before, a friend recommended lansinoh the first month, at £10 a tube it’s not cheap but it will last you through those first weeks until you establish pain free feeding. I haven’t used it since around six weeks. I now use it on my cuticles as it’s one of those things that can be used for all sorts. Think of it as a sensitive version of Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Rescue Balm
I actually held off buying one as I had a pregnancy support pillow. That was just too long and not quite supportive enough. I got mine for £9 from Asda and it’s been a godsend. I don’t actually put it under Alexander, I put it under my elbow as due to his reflux we have to keep him upright for feeds. It’s also brilliant when young children or elderly visitors want to hold baby as they can do so more comfortably.
Many moons ago I worked for oBaby when they were a nursery wholesale supplier. Whilst there we were approached by Medela to stock their pumps. At the time they had just been awarded the NHS contract. I was impressed with their range of products but also the fact they came and trained us to sell them. They really did care about the customer service side of things. Medela has always been the name that came to mind when I decided to get a pump. The medela swing is one of the best. I opted for a single one but a double would have been the best choice. I also ended up hiring the Symphony from Medela direct. It was an expense at £47 for the first 14 days and then £47 a month. It was an investment in my supply though and helped me to keep breastfeeding when my supply dipped.
I didn’t know the name of these little things, but I’d seen them adorning teenage glittery phones for a while. Basically it’s like a mini stand on the back of your phone but you can pull it out to hold your phone better. If you’ve got a large phone, such as the iPhone 8plus, and holding it in one hand or your less dominant hand becomes a pain (I had a blister from the charging socket rubbing my finger where I tried to support its weight), then a pop socket is a godsend. You can get personalised ones from www.popsockets.com. I got mine from Boots.
It goes without saying that you are going to spend a lot of time, sat down with your hands tied. Netflix is your friend. Box sets are your friend. Working Moms, Dirty John and The Crown are my favourite so far.
Muslins, muslins everywhere… buy muslins, buy more muslins and then buy more just to be sure! I have a variety from Primark to Aden and Anais… large and small. I love the silky soft Aden and Anais, they’re the best for covering up when out and about if you need to, using as a blanket if needed (exposed boobs can make you chilled), rolling up as a cushion etc. They get softer with each wash and are safe in the tumble dryer. I also have smaller A&A muslins which are great for burp clothes and tucking over little ones with reflux. Primark ones are great too and fab value.. the only ones I don’t recommend are Boots… they seem to shrink with each wash and I have to iron them to get them back to a decent size. I mean seriously, who has time for that?! It’s bad enough I have to iron tiny clothes never mind muslins!
9) A water bottle
Breastmilk is 88% water so it goes without saying that you need to stay hydrated in order to produce enough. Aim for at least two litres a day and remember to cut caffeine. It can be hard to reach for a glass when you’re supporting the weight of baby so a bottle is easier to wedge down the side of you and the sofa. I use an SHO bottle but there are so many similar ones you’re sure to find one easily.
You will get hungry whilst breastfeeding, there’s no doubt about it so stock up on protein bars, nuts, popcorn, fruit and anything else that stops you raiding the biscuit tin with every feed. Remember that nursing mums need an extra 500 calories a day but that should be made up of snacks which help you reach your calcium needs too. A smoothie made with fruit, flaxseed and milk can help (especially if you add peanut butter and banana, yum!).
11) A nursing bra
There really is no need to buy a whole new wardrobe (though it’s a great excuse to), you can adopt the “one up, one down” method in which you wear a stretchy vest top over a nursing bra, pull the outer top up, the stretchy cami down et voila! Nursing bras are a godsend for easy access and discreet feeding. Mothercare sell packs of 2 for around £30 which are supportive and comfortable. The beauty of nursing bras is, being non-wired you can chuck them in the washing machine worry free! You probably will need 2-3 for daily use. For sleeping I can’t bear to wear a bra but hate leaking and feel unsupported. I found lounge bras from George at Asda are so comfy… and at only £6 each they’re great value too!
This is in no way meant to put you off, breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world and still way easier than working out the best way to make a bottle up IMO. However, there will be times you need courage. Courage to tell someone to shut up, no you don’t need to give your child a bottle thank you very much. Courage to look at the couple across from you who are whispering about the audacity of you feeding in public- smile sweetly and do it all the more! Courage to tell your mother in law that cluster feeding is perfectly normal and no you are not starving your baby (I don’t have a mother in law so stole this from a friend). Courage to understand your own babies needs and your own body. Courage to ask for help when needed. You will get there. I’m now four months into my breastfeeding journey. It’s not been easy, there have been tears (mine and his), sore nipples, a tongue tie and due to lack of weight gain I was told I had no option but to top him up with formula. Eventually he was diagnosed with CMPA. I worked at it and he is now almost exclusively breastfed again. It’s the most wonderful thing though so I really do encourage you to try 🙂
If you’re breastfeeding- what’s your must have item or top tip? Comment below.