Before I had my son, I planned to breastfeed, but I wasn’t sure for how long. I REALLY struggled at the beginning for various reasons and every few months, new challenges would pop up (typically when his sleep schedule changed), but I’m so glad I’ve stuck with it. Now, it’s one of my favorite things on earth. I exclusively breastfed and/or pumped until he was 14 months old and then I introduced a non-dairy milk option but he’s still breastfeeding 2-3 times a day even at 19 months.
If breastfeeding is a good option for you, it has lots of benefits for baby and mom. It provides excellent nutrition for your baby, may decrease your baby’s risk of allergies and lactose intolerance, increases resistance to infections, decreases the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer, helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size, and more. But, it can be SO SO challenging and stressful at times. Trust me, I know. Add the stress on top of challenging postpartum hormones, and it can feel overwhelming. (This post has my postpartum essentials.)
So today, I’m sharing the items that made breastfeeding more comfortable for me, in hopes that they can make it easy and enjoyable for you too. My TOP recommendation is at the very bottom of the post – I saved the best for last. 😉
My Breastfeeding Essentials
1. Comfy glider
I was so surprised by how much seating mattered to me as I was breastfeeding. In fact, I am so hooked on our glider at home that I ordered a very similar one for our place in Boone. (We got the recliner option which we also love!)
Both are from from Pottery Barn and you can customize the fabric to match your nursery (here’s a peek of my nursery). I also recommend getting the matching glider since it’s the right size for the chair and looks cohesive. We didn’t do that, and I wish we did! Or, get the recliner!
2. Nursing Pillow
I love the My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow best. I packed this soft and pretty breastfeeding pillow in my hospital bag and it was TERRIBLE. And I was having SO many issues breastfeeding in the hospital, for a few reasons, but once I got home and used the Brest Friend pillow, things improved dramatically. The first one I used was soft and cozy, but did NOT help with positioning, so I HIGHLY recommend My Brest Friend Pillow. I ended up buying three eventually – one for upstairs, one for downstairs and one to keep in my car.
I have the Spectra S2 Plus Hospital Strength Double Electric Breast Pump with a cord, but I wish I had the battery powered option so I didn’t have to sit near an outlet each time. Take this with you to deliver your baby since the hospital’s lactation consultant can help you use it for the first time.
4. Nipple Shields
I used the brand Lanisoh. These can help if you have inverted nipples or latch problems that cause pain or bleeding. I wouldn’t plan to use these (because honestly they’re annoying) but it’s worth having a pack on hand in case you need them to troubleshoot challenges. I’d talk with a lactation consultant before you start using them, but know that they exist! When we stopped using them around 3 or 4 months, it made things SO much easier, but they really helped us in the beginning.
5. Pumping Bra
You will want one, I promise. I have this one from Amazon, which is functional and affordable but not designed to wear under your clothes. This is the one I wish I’d ordered since it has amazing reviews, but I never got around to it.
6. Nursing Bra
I am a HUGE fan of the Spanx nursing bra. I tried a number of brands, I liked this best for the first 6-8 months. Now that I’m only breastfeeding a few times a day, I just wear a regular bra and unsnap it, but when you’re breastfeeding a LOT more frequently, you’ll want a true nursing bra.
7. Nursing Tank
This Target tank was extremely helpful since I was fully clothed but could remove the tank strap to feed Thomas. I liked this option for modesty’s sake when I was out (I could pair a denim jacket with it and no one could tell!), and I’d also wear it all day around the house.
Here’s what it looks like on its own.
And here’s how I styled it with joggers and a cardigan – perfect for those early postpartum days!
8. Non-underwire bra
The key for this is a soft and stretchy bra, with enough comfort that you can pull it up to nurse. Underwire bras are slightly impossible to use for nursing without removing them completely (not ideal). I like this one.
9. Front clasp underwire bra
For when you DO want to wear a bra with underwire (hey, we all want to look feel a bit more pull together from time to time), make sure it’s a front clasp bra. This’ll make nursing 10x easier than a bra with a back clasp. I like this one.
10. Button-Down Tops
I love button downs even without considering nursing, but they do make nursing significantly easier when you want to look nice. For the warm months, this linen button down is my favorite because you don’t need to iron it and it’s super lightweight.
I love this top for a more casual option. Linked here!
11. T-shirts & tops that aren’t fussy
Simple is best. I have this v-neck tee in probably 10 colors, and this Abercombie tank has become an essential as well. They’re affordable so if/when they get stained with breastmilk, it’s okay to toss them!
12. Button Down Front Dress
Great for when I want to look nicer but need easy access. This is a very nice option for the spring!
And another easy dress. Ideally, I’d find a navy fabric belt to die the waist instead of a black belt, but you get the idea. Or, loose the belt for a looser fit (cute for pregnancy too!) Linked here.
13. Stanley water bottle + LMNT
If you can get your hands on the 40oz water bottle from Stanley, order immediately. The handle, the large size, the cup holder sized bottom and the straw make it the perfect water bottle.
I am CONSTANTLY thirsty while breastfeeding but even all the water in the world doesn’t satisfy my thirst. Electrolytes are also key for milk supply and it helps quench thirst. LMNT is my favorite brand. I buy two boxes of this at a time since I go through it like mad.
14. Lactation Supplements
The best thing you can do for your supply is to remove milk more often through nursing or pumping. However, some supplements can help support your supply. I like Majka hydration powder and lactation booster, Legendairy Lactivist and Legendairy Liquid Gold.
I love picky bars, Majka bites, and lactation cookies. I often woke up in the middle of the night and was so hungry. So I kept a picky bar in my nightstand! I also often make a batch of baked oatmeal that I can eat all week (and Thomas likes it too!)
16. Lactation Support from an IBCLC
Last but CERTAINLY not least: work with an IBCLC. One of the best things I did throughout my breastfeeding journey was establish a good relationship with two lactation consultants. Ideally, try to find International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® since they have more extensive training.
I worked with one local IBCLC (Hope Mikat) and another one virtually (Katie Pipinich) and they both had slightly different approaches which was helpful. Breastfeeding, like motherhood, is so wonderful but also so challenging at time. Having someone to support you who is appropriately trained to make recommendations can make all the difference.
If you have questions or need recommendations to troubleshoot, please leave a comment. I’ve dealt with lots of challenges along the way (clogged ducts, oversupply, undersupply, latch issues, timing problems around workouts, sickness, you name it). I’m NOT an IBCLC but I’m happy to share my personal experience if it’s helpful!
If you breastfed your babies, what essentials would you recommend to a new mom?