Breastfeeding was always the plan for my kids, even before I knew I was pregnant. The benefits alone for their health are reason enough, but not to mention it’s also cheaper and easier to travel when you do. I also always thought it would be a piece of cake. You just whip a boob out and feed your kid, right? Boy was I wrong. Breastfeeding is a process that you and your baby both have to get accustomed to together. Now that my little girl, Naima, is almost 3 months old, we have finally found our groove and all is right with the world again. I’m lucky to even be able to produce enough milk to provide for her and I cherish every moment of the bonding experience. However, if I could go back in time I would have definitely taken a class or read a book on breastfeeding to prepare me for the journey, and I highly recommend all you mamas to do so. But now that I have all the tools I need, it’s a smooth experience for my little girl and I and I’m sharing that list of essentials to make all you breastfeeding mama’s life a little bit easier too.
- Electric breast pump – A breast pump is the first thing you want to look for and check with your insurance company first! I was so fortunate that my insurance company covered the cost of an electric one for me. With many brands to choose from I decided to go with Medela and I even got to upgrade to the Medela Pump-In-Style for a small extra cost. I was so nervous to use the electric pump because honestly I was a bit intimidated, but once I did I soon realized just how effortless it really was. I waited until Naima was 3 weeks old before I started pumping because I wanted to make sure my milk was coming in a steady rate first. I also didn’t want to start too late because I wanted her to get used to drinking out of a bottle early on. I’ve loved the pump-in-style because it comes in a convenient tote bag and includes a travel cooler inside to keep your bottles cold that I use ALL the time, even without the pump. However, I have stopped using the actual tote bag recently because I just received a Sarah Wells “Abby” breast pump bag and it’s freaking amazing. It’s super cute which makes me want to take it and use it everywhere and it has so many great compartments!
- Hands-free breast pump bra – I just recently bought this for my electric pump and I can’t believe I didn’t get it sooner! It was such a drag to hold each bottle as I pumped and this bra allows me to multi-task or just relax. Not only that, I found the perfect one for EVERY woman, the Simple Wishes Hands-Free Breastfeeding Bra. It comes with removable straps, has an adjustable velcro back, and an optional front zipper insert between the breasts. Game changer! There is literally no reason to look for another one.
- Manual breast pump – I never even thought about a manual breast pump because I had my amazing top-notch electric pump, but it wasn’t until I started to run errands and travel with my little one that I started wondering if there was an easier, faster alternative. My mom had mentioned that she only had a manual pump back in the day and how easy it was so I decided to give a try. I have to admit, mama is always right. I hardly even use my electric pump anymore because it’s just so much easier to pull out the hand-held one and pump away. I can fit it in my purse and pump anywhere! I have even pumped in the back of an Uber on my way home [don’t judge me]. I bought the Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump because it uses the same bottles from my electric pump and I’ve absolutely loved how simple it is to use.
- Pump & Save Breastmilk Bags – Pumping and freezing your breast milk is necessary if you want to be able to leave your little one or have dad feed them as well. I definitely recommend starting a stash early on because it gets used faster than you would think. I use the Medela Pump & Save Breastmilk Bags and love them. They even come with two attachments so you can hook the bags right up to your pump.
- Nursing pads [reusable & disposable] – No one wants wet spots on their shirt or bra. I bought the disposable ones while I was pregnant because even though it wasn’t much, my colostrum came in pretty early. The disposable ones were perfect because they are very thin [picked some up at Target]. Then after my milk came in fully I needed something more absorbent so I bought the reusable ones that are thick and washable. I definitely prefer the contoured bamboo ones because they didn’t bunch up inside my bra like the flat ones and the bamboo is so much softer than the cotton. I tried several brands before I found these Contoured Bamboo Nursing Pads and I love them. These even come with a mesh laundry bag to wash them in [even though I just throw them in with my other whites].
- Nursing bras [for daytime & nights] – Absolutely necessary no matter what time of day or where you’re at. If I’m at the house or going to sleep I wear the sleep nursing bras because they’re barely there and extremely easy to nurse in because they just slip to the side. I bought my Nursing Sleep Bra from Target and I loved them so much I bought another pair. They are so comfortable and extremely affordable for a pack of two. I hate wearing a bra and tried to at least sleep without wearing one but after I woke up with my shirt drenched a few times I quickly learned to have one on at all times, well most of the time. If I’m going out and about however I put on an actual supporting bra, which just click and un-click at the straps for easy nursing. I buy those at Motherhood Maternity.
- Coconut oil – This was my savior throughout pregnancy and continues to be throughout breastfeeding. I used coconut oil religiously all over my belly from day 1 of being pregnant and thankfully didn’t get any stretch marks after I gave birth [every woman is different]. Now I continue to put a small amount on each breast after the shower and when needed to keep my nipples from getting dry. I know there are so many creams out there for this exact reason, but personally I just wanted something all natural since my baby would be putting her sweet little mouth on it. However I don’t use it right before she feeds, more than anything I rub breast milk all over and it helps tremendously but the coconut oil gives my nipples a little extra moisture. I use this Organic Virgin Coconut Oil.
- Large reusable water bottle – You may or may not have this already but trust me you will need it with you everywhere. You get extremely thirsty when breastfeeding and need to drink a lot of water. I forgot my water bottle one day in Target and got so dizzy that I had to break open a water bottle in the store immediately. Now I always fill one up before I leave the house to take with me no matter where I’m going. Any water bottle you desire works, just make sure to use a reusable one [preferably a big one] so you’re not wasting so many plastic bottles. I use the MyBlend Sport Bottle because it hooks right up to the Oster MyBlend Blender and I can drink my smoothies or shakes out of it and simply rinse it and continue to drink water out of it all day.
- Nursing cover – This was something that I hesitated to buy because I didn’t feel like I really needed one. Breastfeeding is completely normal right? Even though it is absolutely the best thing for your child and completely the natural way, a lot of people still don’t think so [get with it people]. So I started to use a cover. I bought this Hi Sprout Muslin Car Seat Cover because it doubled as a nursing cover too and it was so convenient because I didn’t have to carry around an extra item for the little amount of times I actually used it. It is extremely soft, even better when washed, and I love that whenever I don’t need it I still have it to cover the car seat so my baby is protected from the sun or germs.
- Mother’s Milk Tea – I actually got the Organic Mother’s Milk Tea as a gift and have really enjoyed it. I drink it whenever I feel like my milk supply needs a little boost and it helps a lot. I didn’t like the taste at first but add some lemon & honey and it’s great, and now I’ve actually gotten used to it and don’t mind drinking it plain at all. It gives me peace of mind that after a stressful day, or a day of not eating well, I will still have plenty of milk. There are so many different variations of milk boosting products out there so choose the one that you like best if you don’t prefer this one.
Now that you have your essentials you’re all set for a successful journey of breastfeeding. Even though it is a very trying experience at times, especially for new moms, never give up. There were so many times when I worried if Naima was getting enough milk and I realized that I just needed to relax. Stress is the worst thing for you while you’re pregnant and also when you’re breastfeeding. So as long as your little one has a normal amount of soiled diapers and is gaining steady weight, they are just fine. Keep on giving them that liquid gold!