Like I mentioned yesterday in my breastfeeding story, breastfeeding came so naturally to me but that did not mean it was without challenges. In those first few days and weeks - and even today - it was so incredibly important to make sure I had the proper support - in terms of both people and supplies - around me when I needed it. Having this support at-the-ready meant I could be confident and comfortable and prepared for every nursing session.
I relied on a bunch of products and resources over and over again, so I created a helpful (though not exhaustive) list of my breastfeeding must-haves below.
Nursing Pads Most women leak for at least some time post-partum. Noam will be 1 in 8 days (!) and I still leak on occasion due to my oversupply. I tried a bunch of nursing pads and like Lansinoh the best. Bamboobies also makes super soft reusable ones.
Nipple balm These were extremely valuable to me in the first few weeks when my nipples were adjusting to breastfeeding and during cluster feeding and growth spurts when Noam nursed more often. I loved using them before showers, too, to protect any sensitivity from the hot water. My favorites were from Mustela and Zoe Organics.
A hot or cold compress Lansinoh Therapearl compresses were probably the MVP of my first week of breastfeeding. They're super soothing and you can put them in either the microwave or the freezer for hot or cold compress. I used them religiously while I was engorged and then again when I had mastitis.
A Boppy or other nursing pillow Some say you don't need any fancy pillow for breastfeeding, but the Boppy was so helpful to me for the first couple of months while Noam was still super little. It helped me position him well, saved my arms from having to hold all of the weight and saved my back by bringing him to me (rather than me to him). I've heard really good things about the Ergobaby and My Brestfriend nursing pillows.
Swaddles or blankets Noam didn't have reflux and very rarely spit up, so I didn't use burp cloths that much. But I loved having a soft, lightweight swaddle on-hand to clean up milk or wipe his face or cover him up while doing skin-to-skin. I love Modern Burlap's super soft, organic swaddles with awesome prints. And bonus: the high-contrast, black and white patterns stimulate baby's brain and enhance vision. (My favorite is the milk swaddle, naturally.) I'm also a huge fan of Numpfer bibs and blankets, and used them regularly to cover Noam or wipe up milk and drool.
A hand pump I received a free electric breast pump through my insurance - as most can now - and used it in the beginning to relieve engorgement. But much later, I decided to buy the Medela manual breast pump to use on-the-go (the impetus for the purchase was our trip to Newport, RI). Since buying it, I've used it several times and absolutely love it. I actually prefer it to my electric. But if you're pumping a lot - either because you work or prefer to bottle feed - I've heard really great things about the Spectra pumps.
A bottle system Though we rarely use bottles - Noam's been offered and taken one only a couple of times - I really like the Kiinde system. It's super easy to use, works with any pump and uses easy-to-store bags that go directly into the 'bottle' for very little clean-up.
Snacks I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a stockpile of healthy, nutritious snacks on-hand while nursing. The hunger that accompanies nursing is intense! I ate a lot of oat and fruit bars and nut mixes, which provided energy and helped boost supply (I like to think).
Water Having tons of water at-the-ready is also a non-negotiable. Not only is it important for your general health, it's absolutely necessary to stay hydrated to maintain a good supply. And the thirst that accompanies nursing is also extremely intense. Keeping a bottle of water at my side at all times helped me make sure I was getting enough to drink and never experiencing that dire thirst.
Vitamins Women should take prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, but it's important to also take postnatal vitamins following delivery if you're nursing. They help make sure you're providing all of the important nutrients via milk to your baby that you may not be getting through food alone.
Nursing tanks Since Noam was born in the summer, I lived in either bras only or nursing tanks for the first few months. It was the easiest way to be super accessible to him and comfortable while recovering in the heat of the dog days of summer. I stocked up on these Target nursing camis and still wear them to this day.
Nursing-friendly clothing There are plenty of options when it comes to nursing clothing, but I found what I preferred was just to buy clothing that was nursing-friendly. That meant button-up tops and shirts or dresses with stretchy/low necks. I've found some great options at Old Navy, Gap, Target, Everlane, and Athleta.
A cover I don't use a cover while nursing - though I have one or two times - because 1. I don't prefer it and 2. more important, Noam doesn't like it. But I have this multi-purpose cover from Covered Goods and absolutely love it. It's super soft and lightweight and can be used as a nursing cover, a shopping cart cover, a car seat cover, a blanket, and much more. If you do decide to use a cover - for whatever reason you choose - this is a great option.
A nuring necklace Once Noam got a bit older, he loved holding onto something while nursing. I'm a big fan of nursing or teething necklaces so that Noam has a designated object to hold that I'm wearing at all times (as opposed to, say, my hair).
A comfortable place to sit When designing our nursery, the first thing I decided on and bought was a glider. I knew I was going to be spending an inordinate amount of time in one chair, and I knew I wanted it to be comfortable. I ended up going with the Graham Glider from West Elm, but there are a ton of options out there - both rocking/gliding and non. Wherever you choose to nurse, make sure it's comfortable for you!
A blanket Despite the fact that Noam was born in July, there were plenty of times that I just wanted to snuggle under a soft blanket while nursing or cuddling with Noam as he slept on my chest. I absolutely loved a throw I bought from Restoration Hardware. I think the one I have is no longer in stock but here's a similar one.
Support And last, but not least - in fact this is the most important one on the list - is support. It's so crucial to have a solid support system when breastfeeding. It's tough and there are days when you'll question what you're doing and if you can continue, there are days when you'll just not know what to do. And there are days when all you'll want to do is cry. Having a stable, solid, comforting support system that can help you - help answer questions, listen to you, guide you or just comfort you - is so incredibly necessary. My support system was my mom and husband, my IBCLC, my La Leche League leaders and fellow members, Kellymom.com and other breastfeeding moms I'd found through activities with Noam. It truly takes a village. Build a good one.
I hope this was a helpful list for you! Did I miss any of your favorite breastfeeding must-haves? Share them in the comments below!