Breastfeeding Essentials From a New Mom

Breastfeeding essentials from a new mom – as I learned how to breastfeed, I found these items to be so helpful for saving my sanity and helping me continue to breastfeed!

breastfeedingessentialsfromanewmom

The Beginning of my breastfeeding journey

a smooth beginning

Before my son Abel was born, I did my best to prepare for life with a newborn, including breastfeeding. I went into motherhood with an open mind, knowing that the fewer expectations the better. To be a mom would be a brand new experience. I have eight little siblings and worked as a babysitter and nanny for years, but having your own child to care for 24/7 is different. It certainly was, and being flexible and going with the flow have kept us happy and sane.

Abel is three months old now, so we’re well into our breastfeeding journey and I feel like I’m in the right place to write this post now! Breastfeeding was so easy at first, and then harder than I could have imagined.

In the hospital, Abel latched perfectly and breastfeeding came naturally. One of the lactation consultants called me a cow, we were doing that great. (?!)

Trouble Latching

Once we got home, we had a little trouble, but it was on and off. I’d be at the end of my rope but then it would start to get better. Then in a day or two we’d be having difficulties again. Because I’m stubborn (not on purpose!) and it kept getting better and worse, it took me five weeks to go see a lactation consultant. Abel had a bad latch and my nipples were cracked and in so much pain. I didn’t think that seeing a lactation consultant would help. I’d already googled all the advice I could find, read every pamphlet, and if I went to see a lactation consultant they’d just tell me what I already knew.

But I was crying every time I fed Abel, dreading his feedings, feeling miserable all the time, and finally my nipples were bleeding when he nursed. Finally I went to see the lactation consultant. She helped me latch Abel on better and I was pretty dubious that it was that simple. But over the next few days my nipples started healing and the pain improved so much. It took five more weeks for my nipples to fully heal (and then I had nipple thrush… can’t catch a break!).

So in that time, I didn’t feel like I could write all my advice for breastfeeding because I was still very much figuring it out!

My biggest piece of advice for a new mom who is learning to breastfeed

Be patient. What I described above is not normal, so if you’re in pain like that please get help. Sometimes it takes a while to figure it out. You and your baby are both learning a new skill and you can’t expect to be experts right away. Have patience, get help as soon as you are struggling, and believe that it will get better.

During those newborn days I had plenty of time to google advice as I fed and held Abel. I found out that some women do have a hard time adjusting to breastfeeding but it usually gets better after a few weeks. Again; don’t hesitate to get help if it’s painful. But I knew that we needed practice and support and I believe that we would get better at it.

I set a ‘goal’ in my mind of four weeks. It would get better after four weeks. Maybe six. There were days I absolutely wanted to give up. Every good reason I had to breastfeed was there but it was so hard. I wanted a good reason to give up.

But I held on for those six weeks and guess what? It DID get better. Now, I enjoy breastfeeding my son and I’m so, so glad that I didn’t give up when it was difficult.

So if you really want to breastfeed but it’s difficult, just remember that you are learning, it will get better, and you can totally do it!

{I want to add – I know that not everyone wants to or can breastfeed. No judgement at all! I understand how stinking hard it is. This is my advice for those of you who really want to.}

Breastfeeding essentials from a new mom: How to stock a ‘breastfeeding basket’

breastfeedingessentialsfromanewmom

Lansinoh Lanolin Cream

Using this lanolin cream by Lansinoh at every feeding helped sooth my cracked nipples.. I skipped using this cream for one day, and my nipples were bleeding after that. Safe to say I began using it again. I don’t use it as often now that my nipples have healed, but I still keep it around for when I start to get sore.

breastfeedingessentialsfromanewmom

Breast Pads

Can’t live without these! I have used both disposable and reusable. The disposable ones are easier and more absorbent but the reusable ones work great during the day. To be honest, when I’m out of disposable breast pads but all my reusable ones are in the laundry, I just use folded up baby washcloths and it works great. Especially at night which is when I need more absorbency!

breastfeedingessentialsfromanewmom

Hydrogel Breast Discs

These are gel breast pads and they provide such great relief for sore nipples! They’re not cheap so to make them go further, you can even cut them in halves or quarters. I used these tons when I had cracked nipples.

breatfeedingesentialsfromanewmom

Nursing Bras and Tanks

I have a few nursing bras from The Warehouse and Kmart, and two nursing tanks – one is from Kmart. The nursing tanks are my favorite because I can wear a normal shirt with them and not worry about flashing my stomach to everyone when I’m trying to feed my baby. When I’m wearing a nursing bra, I have a few normal tanks that I can pull down.

Haaka Breast Pump

When my milk first started coming in, I would get 10-20mls of breast milk on one side while Abel nursed on the other. You can use this breast pump to attach to one breast and collect your let-down while baby feeds on the other side, or you can hand express. I haven’t expressed a lot of breastmilk, but I have a small stash in the freezer and this pump is great! The most popular brand is the Haaka, but I have this one from NatureBond and love it.

breastfeedingessentialsfromanewmom

Water and healthy snacks

Anyone else sit down to breastfeed and instantly feel so thirsty you could throw up? Yeah, if I forget to grab my water that happens to me. I’m so bad at drinking water so I need to get better at remembering! Before Abel was born I got a good water bottle to make it easier to drink water.

Healthy snacks are great as well – nuts, fruit, or bars are easy to grab and are good for you!

breastfeedingessentialsfromanewmom

Bibs and Washcloths

Abel is a bit of a spitty-uppy baby. That’s not how you say it, is it? Well, he spits up sometimes. Sometimes not at all, sometimes a ton. It’s totally random, but he’s a happy little guy so it doesn’t concern me. He always wears bibs so that I don’t have to change all his clothes when he spits up! There are tons of cute options on Amazon as well. Having a washcloth or burp rag on hand is great as well for catching any spills that come with their burps.

breastfeedingessentialsfromanewmom

Phone Charger, Remote, Book, etc.

When you have a newborn who takes an entire hour to eat, you need something to do. I would make sure I had my phone charger and tv remotes nearby when I would sit down to feed Abel. Now that he’s older he spends less than half an hour eating, thankfully, but it’s still nice to have something to do.

Random Little Things

If you are taking medicine, or your baby is, keep this in your breastfeeding basket, along with paper and a pen to make note of the time and amount of medicine (or use the notes on your phone). If your baby takes a pacifier, keep one here. A toy to play with them after they nurse. A hat to keep them warm, or socks/mittens so they don’t scratch your breasts. Lotion. Basically whatever you want to be handy to grab anytime.

breastfeedingessentialsfromanewmom

A basket to keep it all together

Of course you need to put all this somewhere, so find a good-sized basket that you can keep it in. This way any time you need to breastfeed, you can grab your basket and have everything that you need close by.

breastfeedingessentialsfromanewmom

Now that I’ve been breastfeeding for a few months I’ve found that really all that I need is a nursing bra or tank and breast pads (or just baby washcloths!). One thing I love about breastfeeding is that it’s so convenient. Anytime, anywhere, no stress about bottles and formula and clean water.

However, these things are all really helpful for keeping you comfortable and making breastfeeding more enjoyable, and they’re a lifesaver when you’re learning this new skill – especially in those early days when your baby has to nurse every hour!

Do you breastfeed, or are you planning to? Are you looking forward to it? If you do breastfeed, do you enjoy it? What do you wish you knew when you started breastfeeding?

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. This is a great post! I had a preemie so we struggled with everything breastfeeding related. Her latch. My milk supply since I was mostly pumping while she was learning. Then thrush. It was all just a struggle. I did love it but it was a struggle throughout for me. My goal at first was to nurse her for 3 months. We made that then I wanted to push for 6 months. I ended up nursing until just before her second birthday! One day she literally woke up and never asked for milk again. And I was so sad because I had really grown to love that connection.

    1. Great job! Thanks for sharing your experience with me. I can imagine that sudden weaning would be hard for you! I don’t even want to think about weaning Abel yet (we’ve still got ages to go, I hope!)

  2. We adopted our first, so he was formula fed. We held him for every single bottle. He is 7 now, happy, well-adjusted, brilliant, strong, and healthy. Formula is awesome.

    Then I had a surprise biological baby and I breastfed him for 2 years. My second son is happy, well adjusted, brilliant, strong, and healthy. Breastfeeding is awesome.

    My number one breastfeeding essential was the huge basket of candy my mother in law sent me. I would reward myself with a chocolate every time I latched my son on. There is no way I would have stuck it out without that.

    Breastfeeding was unexpectedly difficult, painful, and expensive. I had a friend tell me to keep it up for the first three months and it would end up being easier than bottle feeding. That did end up being true, though it took 4 months. I spent a lot of time and money on lactation consultants though! Plus I got mastitis so often that my doctor eventually just gave me an open prescription for antibiotics. Also my husband believed strongly that since I was breastfeeding, he should bring home steak and ice cream. So formula was actually cheaper than all of that!

    My favorite things about breastfeeding were being able to donate to a friend who had a baby at 26 weeks and (according to my ob-gyn) reducing my risk of breast cancer.

    1. I love this! If you look around a room full of people you can’t tell which ones were breastfed or formula fed. Both are great ways to feed your baby and it’s wonderful to live in a time where we have options.

  3. Awesome little blog post tilly. Isnt it crazy how thirsty you get?!!
    I have been breastfeeding Pierre for 10.5 months now and the goal at this stage is to get to 12 months, then we will see how we go. It has been quite the journey. I really struggled in the beginning and went through a similar journey with cracked nipples, and eventually saw a IBCLC. It turned out Pierre had a lip and tounge tie, so bad his tounge couldn’t come out of his mouth and his jaw and neck where super tight. Thankfully he started to fed better after a couple visits with an ear nose and throat surgeon and a visit to a chiropractor to release his jaw. My milk supply had dropped dramatically so had to go on medication to increase it and supplement Pierre with donated breastmilk, this brought on mastitis and the dreaded nipple thrush, which it SOOooo hard to get rid of 100%.
    But with continued prayer, pain and patience we have made it to 10.5 months and I love it. I love that nursing it so comforting for both of us and the bind that we have.
    Keep it up Tilly x

    1. Thanks Chloe! You and Pierre have been through a lot! So glad you are doing well now.

  4. So glad you were able to overcome all problems!!

    I breastfed my daughter for 18 months – then my milk dried up as I was pregnant once again – she paused until my son was born and after two weeks started nursing again (she was just two yrs at that time) – so I breastfed two kids for about 8 months – then my daughter stopped…my son turned 3 yrs last week and still nurses in the evening to fall asleep – no idea when he’s going to stop, but I don’t really care…we love breastfeeding and we’re in no hurry to wean 🙂
    We had rough times as well – no big problems at all, but rough times when both were super clingy, nursing throughout the night, for hours at a time, babies nursing while asleep, me awake all night…but in the end it all worked out – and I’m getting a bit sentimental when I think about the end of my breastfeeding journey – which I’m pretty sure isn’t too far away now…
    we might have another baby…but if it never happens…I’ll breastfeed for the last time probably sometime later this year…it sure is bittersweet!

    1. That’s so sweet that you’ve been able to breastfeed both your children for so long! It’s such a special connection to have.

  5. Feeding your baby yourself can be such a blessing because you don’t need to sterilise etc. But, as you have said there is a great need for patience and help along the way. I worked outside of the home and fed and it was far from easy. After two premmies it was pure joy to feed my final and only full term child.

    I would like to say find someone you trust and go to them for help. Too many opinions might well become very confusing. For example I have heard people say my milk was thin and weak. Yes at the beginning of a feed milk is more watery and the hind or last milk is fattier and richer. Understanding physiology of feeding might be helpful for some. Take a few moments after every feed to take care of you and if needed prepare for the next feed. Water etc make it all so much easier for you. But if you can’t feed please do not feel you have failed. The goal is to have a happy and healthy baby and a happy mummy is important as well,

    1. Thanks for your comment! I agree so much! It’s so helpful to have someone you can talk to, and to be educated about breastfeeding. I 100% understand that some people don’t get to breastfeed, for whatever reason, and that doesn’t make them any less of a mum!

  6. My kids aren’t babies anymore, but I loved reading your suggestions for a breastfeeding basket.

    I breastfed all three of my kids, but had to pump and supplement with a high-calorie formula for my second, who was very premature. My first also had formula for several months when my milk dried up when I got pregnant with number two. Formula is perfect when necessary, although I found breastfeeding to be so much easier in general (minus the first couple of weeks which were always painful).

    Two suggestions I have for the basket: MotherLove Nipple Cream–someone recommended this with my second, and I liked it much more than the Lansinoh cream that I used with my first. Second, put two chapter books in the basket, one that it what you want to read, and the other a good read-aloud for the baby–a storybook Bible, Winnie-the-Pooh, or anything, really. You’ll enjoy the reading, and so will he! Read sometimes for yourself, sometimes to him, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can read while feeding a baby!

    1. We’re so blessed to have options these days if breastfeeding doesn’t work out, for whatever reason!
      That’s a great idea. I have a hard time reading unless I have a long period of time to focus, unless I’m already really into a book. I used to read tons but don’t as much anymore!

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