Before you have your baby, you have certain ideas about breastfeeding. It’ll be simple, so easy, you think to yourself. Just pop out a boob and away we go. And for some people, it can be. For others, not so much.
And what nobody seems to tell you is how complicated it can be. It’s embarrassing at first to get your breasts out in public. Your nipples hurt. Your whole breast hurts. You get tired of having your baby latched on to you for what seems like all day, every day, and you want someone else to take over – just for a while. Your back aches. Your boobs leak. Yep, I’ve been there and done that.
In honour of World Breastfeeding Week next week, which is from August 1 to 7 around the world, I asked a few breastfeeding mamas for their advice on what helped make their breastfeeding journey easier.
Here’s our list of breast feeding essentials to help you get through those first tricky weeks:
A water bottle you can open with one hand
You’re going to need lots and lots of hydration, and there’s nothing better than water. Of course, you’ll need a good, non toxic water bottle, and it’s really handy to have one that you can open with one hand.
You could just drink from a glass, but we promise you that you’ll spill less if you’re drinking out of a water bottle!
If you’re looking for a one handed glass drinking bottle, with a silicone cover that won’t break when you drop it, try the Contigo Glass Water Bottle ( you can see it here on Amazon).
I love the Onya Stainless Steel Water Bottle (it’s here at Hello Charlie). This one has an uncoated stainless steel body and the flip and flow lid which you can open with one hand.
Another great one handed stainless steel option is the Contigo Autoseal Vacuum Insulated bottle (see it here on Amazon). This one is perfect if you like chilled water.
Your boobs will leak milk. They’ll leak in the shower, they’ll leak while you’re shopping, and most of all – they’ll leak when you hear your baby crying. In fact, some days, you’re going to feel like a Jersey cow.
Which is why you’re going to need breast pads. You can go with disposable breast pads, or you can go with reusable breast pads. Or you can do both. To start with, it’s great to have some disposable ones so that you don’t have think about extra washing in the first few weeks. Then grab some washable breast pads and you’re good to go.
If you’re choosing disposable, I’d always recommend organic disposable nursing pads – it’s better for the environment and there’s no perfumes or toxic chemicals next to your tender nipples. Some mums say that they prefer the disposable breast pads because washable ones can be rougher, which is tough when your nipples are already sore.
We love the Nature’s Child organic cotton resusable breast pads, as they come in sizes. Not sizes for how big your breasts are, but for how much absorbency you need. Genius! We also love the Pea Pods bamboo ones, because bamboo is just so soft and so absorbent.
US & UK readers, I’d recommend these ones on Amazon.
A good, organic nipple balm
I hate to tell you this, but your nipples are going to be sore. Toe curlingly sore. You’re going to need a good, organic breastfeeding cream that you don’t have to wipe off (ouch!) before you feed your baby.
I used and loved the Nature’s Child nipple balm, and I also love the Badger Nursing Balm (if you’re in the US or UK, find Badger here). The Weleda Nipple Care Cream is another one that I love (if you’re in the US or UK, find Weleda here). All of these are chock full of organic, edible oils that aren’t going to cause you or your baby any problems.
A breastfeeding cover
I remember when I went out in public for the very first time with my eldest son. We’d been to friends’ places, where I could sit in the bedroom and feed, but we hadn’t been out publicly. We went to the local shopping centre, and of course, there was nowhere to breastfeed. I was mortified. I hadn’t got the hang of the whole breast feeding thing, and the thought of whipping my breasts out in public was just so embarrassing. (Of course, by the second baby, you’re the one embarrassing people with your complete indifference to having your boobs hanging out whenever and wherever!)
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to cover up if you want to and I think the easiest way to do it is with a muslin. You don’t need a special breastfeeding wrap – go with something that’s multipurpose.
You can also use the muslin as a towel for wiping up baby vomits, or the milk that (inevitably) gets sprayed everywhere when your baby gets distracted and looks away!
I love the HeyBaby muslins. They’re super soft and in gorgeous colours and I gave them to both of my beautiful sisters-in-law (who also love them!). If you’re in the US or UK, check these out instead.
A breast pump
I can’t tell you how much of a relief a breastfeeding pump is until your breasts are engorged. The sheer relief is beyond explanation. A breast pump is one of those things that you may not think you need, until you NEED it. It’s worth investing in a simple, manual breast pump until your milk supply has regulated, and then you can review whether you’ll be needing anything fancier.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association has a great article on how to work out which breast pump is best for you.
There are a couple of good, low cost manual options which work perfectly and are great to have as backup. I had a Medela manual breast pump which was all I ever needed. Find the Medela pump here if you’re in Australia, or here if you’re in the US or UK. Medela also do great electric breast pumps, too.
Another fantastic option is the Hakaa silicone breast pump and milk saver. It’s super simple and easy to use and helps you catch breastfeeding let down milk. Find the Hakaa pump here in Australia, and here in the US and UK.
Cooling breast pads
Sore, engorged breasts? You’ll love these gel breast pads from BodyIce – they work just like a standard cooling ice pack. The reason you need these ones, rather than a standard cooling ice pack, is that they fit around your breasts and don’t touch sore nipples. You can even use these warm to help your milk flow more easily. Brilliant!
Breastfeeding shields can be a lifesaver when you’ve got sore nipples. It can be a good idea to talk to a breastfeeding consultant to make sure that breastfeeding is going well in other respects before you start to use a nipple shield, though.
A breastfeeding pillow
You’ll be doing a lot of breastfeeding. A lot. (And a lot of watching TV and checking Facebook, BTW.) And if you don’t want to completely do your back in, you’ll want a comfortable breastfeeding chair and you’ll need to grab yourself a breastfeeding support pillow. Try these gorgeous ones from My Brest Friend (find them in Australia here, and the UK & US here).
You don’t have to go fancy with a breastfeeding pillow, though. A standard U shaped one like this will do the trick, too.
I love that you can use this later, too – to prop baby up when he’s learning to sit, to rest your laptop on, or to just chillax with.
Non toxic baby bottles
If you’re expressing milk so that you can go back to work, or even just to get out for a while for a mental health break while someone else feeds your baby, you’re going to want some non toxic baby bottles.
We choose glass – it’s the safest material there is when it comes to non toxic feeding, and we love the non slip sleeves and the drop guarantee on the Cherub Baby ones.
I also love the LifeFactory glass baby bottles. You can find them in the US & UK here. One of the things that I love about glass bottles is that they’re safe for baby, but you can use them again when baby’s finished with them. They make the best salad dressing mixers!
Breast milk storage bags
If you’re pumping milk, you’ll need to think about storing breastmilk. These handy dandy breast milk storage bags from Cherub Baby are the way to go. They’re BPA free, of course, and pre-sterilised. What’s cool is that they’ll stand up on their own (handy for storing in the fridge or freezer), and there’s even a spot to mark your name and the date on it. They’re leak proof with the ziplock top, and they even have a measuring scale on. Super easy.
I remember when I finished breastfeeding, I felt like having a ceremonial nursing bra burning. I was so sick of wearing my three ugly but supportive breastfeeding bras day and night. Thankfully, things have changed on the breastfeeding bra front, too.
I love these ones from Hot Milk Lingerie (find them here in Australia and here in the US & UK), and these ones from Cake Maternity (find them here in Australia and here in the US & UK). Many of the mainstream brands have upped their game, too, so you’ll find good maternity and breastfeeding bras from the likes of Bonds, as well.
You need comfortable clothes that are going to allow you easy access to your boobs. There’s nothing worse than a hungry, screaming baby and you can’t get them out fast enough. It’s not necessary to buy special breastfeeding clothes – the best breastfeeding shirts are things like V necks, halter necks and low cut scoop neck tops.
Breastfeeding tea and lactation biscuits
Many breastfeeding mamas I asked recommended using a herbal nursing tea and breastfeeding biscuits (breastfeeding cookies to all you US mamas!). Breastfeeding teas use traditional herbal ingredients like fenugreek, fennel and caraway to help increase breast milk.
I’d recommend the Mama Body Tea Mama’s Milk Tea (Australia only), as well as the Weleda Nursing Tea (find it here in Australia, and here in the US & UK). Earth Mama Milkmaid Tea is super popular in the US and looks great, while Holle is another great choice and is popular in Europe.
If you’re not a tea drinker, try a biscuit! Franjo’s Kitchen here in Australia have a delicious, healthy and vegan range. In the UK, Boobbix have great ingredients and in the US, go with Milkmakers Cookies.
If you’re a baker (or know someone who will bake for you), there are plenty of recipes online for you to try your hand at.
Keep some easy snacks on hand because you’re going to be hungry! One experienced breastfeeder said that she gives new mums lactation smoothie boxes with bananas, peanut butter, oats, LSA or flaxseed, and milk (plant based if you prefer). That’s everything you need to whip up a healthy, filling smoothie that will help your breastmilk supply. What a great idea!
It’s a good idea to keep the sugar down when you’re nursing, so think savoury muffins, avocado and goats cheese crackers, and dark chocolate if you need a sweetness hit.
For breastfeeding support, you can’t go past the wonderful people at breastfeeding associations.
Are you an old hand at breastfeeding? What are your essential breastfeeding products, tips and tricks? Share below!
Image credits: Depositphoto