If you’re embarking on your first-ever attempt at breastfeeding, there are a number of ways to prepare yourself, from getting the best products to collecting the right information.
Here is what you will want to have as your start your breastfeeding journey:
When you are new at nursing, a breastfeeding pillow is a great accessory to have because it frees you up to use your hands without worrying about supporting the baby (here’s how to use a nursing pillow). There are a number of different brands and styles available, with the primary two being the Boppy and My Brest Friend. The Boppy is a good choice if you want a pillow that will transition to one that will allow your baby to sit on his or her own. My Brest Friend is a wrap-around pillow specifically for breastfeeding.
Reusable Breast Pads
You will want to invest in breast pads for those initial days when you are engorged and leaking breast milk. No new mom wants embarrassing marks on her shirt! Disposable breast pads are an option, but they aren’t nearly as comfortable as reusable ones. Since each brand is designed differently, it’s a good idea to buy a few and see if they work for you before purchasing a lot. Depending on the brand, they can run between $5 and $20 for six.
Nursing Bra/Tank Top
In the newborn days, nursing tank tops are great to have because it takes away the inconvenience of adjusting clothing while you and your baby get used to breastfeeding. Just like breast pads, each woman is different in her preference for nursing tank tops. If you go to a high-end baby store while pregnant, someone can measure you and gauge the right size for both tank tops and bras.
Another option is to go to a store like Target and buy one in a size you would typically wear pre-baby (e.g. small, medium, large). Brands at Target are cheaper than a specialty store and the fit is usually looser in the torso.
Read our list of the best nursing bras for large breasts.
Breast Pump Accessories
You probably won’t be using a breast pump in your early days nursing, but there may be a few instances you want to express your milk. Once you have your pump, purchase extra accessories such as membranes and valves, breast shields, and extra bottles. If you have a Medela pump, the standard hospital-grade pump, you can take the tubing and membranes home from the hospital kit since they can’t be reused.
Breast Care Items
The wear and tear of the nipples in the first week of breastfeeding can be rough, so make sure you have proper breast care items such as hydrogel pads and lanolin. The brand you choose is dependent on what works best for you. The most common brands are Medela and Lansinoh.
A breastfeeding class is one way to avoid some of the common pitfalls new moms face in the early days of nursing a baby. Seeing what a proper latch looks like (shallow latch is what causes cracked nipples), ways to hold your baby while feeding, and how frequently you should feed your baby are some of the things a class can teach you. Classes are also good for new dads because it helps them understand the commitment breastfeeding a baby can be.
Persistence and Support
As great as classes are, they sometimes don’t touch on how difficult it can be to get a baby to cooperate and nurse. While some newborns take to nursing right away, others are not so eager. Persistence and support are two things you must have if you are going to make breastfeeding work for you and your baby. Your hospital can provide you with resources for after you go home and there are national groups such as La Leche League to guide you along the way. LLL is an international organization but has local groups you can reach out to with any questions or concerns.
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