Parenting and Kids

10 Nursing Essentials to Give You the Best Breastfeeding Experience

Nursing Essentials

Hey, friend! If you are reading this post for yourself, congratulations on your nursing journey with your little one! I hope you find it to be rewarding as you and your baby grow in this area together. Like anything in this life, nursing takes practice and is a process.

If you’re anything like me, though, you have already realized that taking this path isn’t necessarily easy by any means. 

Thankfully, I’ve compiled a list of things that made both of my nursing journeys easier, and they can do the same for you, too! 

I should add that using these items allowed me to nurse my babies to 17 months with my first and still going strong at 21 months with my second! 

If you’re a friend of a new nursing mama who wants to find ways to help, I want to personally thank you so much for being  a supportive voice. The fact that you’re here to learn more of what can help a nursing mama is really encouraging. 

The MOST important thing newly nursing (or nursing again) mamas need is people who will support and encourage them through their journey. 

You ready? Let’s get comfy, and get started!

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Nursing and Breastfeeding Essentials

1. Haaka

I all of the credit to my largely increased milk supply for my second child to this little device right here. I ordered this other brand called NatureBond from Amazon , which was less expensive than the brand name Haaka, and it did not disappoint! 

In order to use it, you latch it onto the breast you are not nursing on before nursing your child. This slowly sits on your breast and suctions out both the let-down from nursing AND any extra milk to help build your supply in those early days!

2. Breast Soothies

I could only find one set of these in Wal-mart after my first birth, but they are 100% worth the expense. Friend, breastfeeding is HARD on your unseasoned nipples. These breast soothie cooling pads feel like HEAVEN on them after you child noms them raw. 

3.Nipple Shield

If I had to choose only three things to recommend to you in your breast-feeding journey, the first two items and this one would make the cut. 

My children, bless their hearts, were terrible latchers. In the beginning, I was severely engorged by fluids and breastmilk, which led to a completely round breast, and they had tiny little mouths like 6 pound babies normally do. This usually meant for a frustrated baby and an engorged and in pain mama. 

Thankfully, the lactation consultant at the hospital gave me a nipple shield like this to try and it allowed them to latch on and nurse like champs! 

She recommended the Medela brand over other brands because the nipple of these shields were closer in shape to a natural nipple. However, I have used other brands like Lansinoh’s nipple shields that I could find at Wal-Mart when I would misplace these, and my kids never suffered from nipple confusion. I say use whatever you and your baby prefer best! 

4. Nursing pump

Thanks to the Obamacare era, insurances are required to supply one breast pump per pregnancy for either low cost or free– which is amazing! Contact your insurance to see what they will cover!

 If you don’t have health insurance, contact your local health department and see what options they may provide or what resources they can refer you to. 

I received a free spectra S2 plus through Edgepark (an online medical supply company) when I was pregnant with my son, and used it once or twice with my daughter. 

Side note: I honestly hardly touched my electric breast pump with my second child because I was home more with her than I was my son, AND I had my handy dandy Naturebond

I have also heard great things about the Medela pump, which is one of the gold standards in breast pump brands.

5. Cup of water or Water Bottle

Without fail, every time I sat down to nurse, my body would suddenly cry out for water as if I hadn’t drank for days. Eventually, my husband got tired of getting me a glass of water every time, and invested in a water bottle for me to keep close to where I nursed. 

Obviously, you can use pre-bottled water, or water from the tap in a cup as well! You will want to be hydrated while breast-feeding, so remember to get this EVERY TIME before you get comfortable. Your body will thank you.

6. Nursing pads (disposable or cloth)

Regardless of your milk supply, there will be times where you will leak. 

True Story: when my son was about a week old, I left him with my husband and I went with my mom to go shopping for bathing suits. As I was taking my shirt off, I leaked all over the department store fitting room floor! I was so glad that I had nursing pads on hand until I got home so my breastmilk didn’t spill onto my clothes. 

There are two varieties of nursing pads- disposable and washable. I always used disposable in the beginning because they were cheaper, and I hardly ever finished the entire box. 

If your let-down is really strong and you’re away from your baby for significant amounts of time, you may want to invest in washable reusable pads which will save you money in the long run, and are better for the environment!

Pro Tip: If you use the disposable ones, your nipples may be sensitive to the feel of these like mine were. If that’s the case, slather a good layer of lanolin or nipple butter on before applying the pads!

7. Nursing bras (that fit!)

That last part is SUPER important. I have had mastitis twice in my nursing career, one of which sent me to urgent care with a fever of 103. I believe at least one of those reasons was due to an ill-fitted (i.e. TOO SMALL) nursing bra.  

It is absolutely no joke. If you’re a larger breasted girl like myself, you will need to do some serious looking into getting fitted for a special order nursing bra that won’t squish the girls. The subreddit ABraThatFits is an AWESOME resource for how to get properly fitted for a bra. 

Otherwise, if you’re able to fit into a more common bra size, you might look into getting the clip ones for daytime use and the nursing pull over sleep bras for night-time use. Because the less work you have to do in the middle of the night, the better.

8. Nipple Cream

Lanolin, a substance made from the wool of sheep is the general golden standard to help sore and cracked nipples heal. It’s also safe for baby if you happen to apply it before you nurse, which is always a plus! 

I don’t recommend lanolin if you or your baby have an allergy to wool. Instead, I would recommend a Lanolin-free option such as Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter.

9. Pillow (Boppy or sleeping)

I used a Boppy nursing pillow with both of my children, but for different reasons. 

With my first child, I was really sensitive due to my stitches from my second degree tear. I sat with my rear on the Boppy pillow while I held him on an actual sleeping pillow to nurse him. With my second child, I used the Boppy pillow for it’s intended purpose of holding the baby while I nursed. 

If I’m honest with you, a regular sleeping pillow could serve the same purpose. However, if you tear or have hemerroids (which I also had with my first birth), it’s an AMAZING alternative to keep you from sitting on your wounds, and I highly recommend it for that reason alone. 

10. A good TV Show

With those very late nights and very early mornings, it will be so easy to drift to sleep while nursing your baby. In order to stay awake long enough to nurse my kids on both sides, I would turn on a TV show that I looked forward to watching. 

My two particular shows that I chose to watch in those moments were CSI: Las Vegas and The Super Mario Brothers Super Show on Netflix (both were on at the different times of my births). 

Don’t worry about not being able to go back to sleep if you have screen time- you will. You have a newborn that will make sure you’re exhausted, and nursing releases hormones that can make you sleepy.  

Breast-feeding your baby can be a difficult journey, but it is such a rewarding one to embark on. Hopefully, these tips will help make those sleepless newborn nights and exhausting days a little bit easier. 

Friends who have nursed babies before, was there anything in this list that benefitted you that I forgot to mention? Please, share your wisdom with our newly-nursing friends in the comments!

I am so very glad you chose to spend time with me today. You are such a blessing. Take care until we meet again, friend.

The Ultimate Guide to Nursing Essentials

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