The Top 4 Breastfeeding Essentials You Will Need from the Very First Day
One of the things I enjoy most about breastfeeding is the lack of stuff. Anyone who has been around a baby know that babies require A LOT of stuff. Diaper pails, bottles, wipe warmers, swings, cribs, the list goes on and on. Breastfeeding is a fairly no frills process. Your breasts are the perfect bottle, the milk is the perfect temperature, everything is sterile, just add baby and you're good to go. With that said however, it doesn't mean you won't need anything during your breastfeeding journey. After exclusively breastfeeding 3 kids, I've pretty much narrowed down the list to the essentials you will actually need and use from your very first day as a breastfeeding mom.
While breastfeeding, you may experience some soreness and irritation specifically in the early days. Breastfeeding does not always come as naturally as one might imagine. Oftentimes babies will latch incorrectly or mommas won't insert their nipple deep enough into babe's mouth which will cause a lot of friction on a very delicate part of your body. That friction translates to a lot of irritation which causes plenty of discomfort for mom. (Even wearing a bra hurt me!)
Lanolin lotions are the number one way recommended by doctors and lactation consultants to soothe your aching nipples. There are many different brands to try however you want to look for one which is 100% lanolin and also BPA and BPS free. I personally used and highly recommend Lanisoh Lanolin Nipple Cream. Its completely hypoallergenic and natural and also free from parabens and preservatives. It doesn't even need to be washed off before feeding as it is completely safe for baby.
If baby's latch is not corrected and all of momma's irritation is not properly taken care, it can eventually lead to cracked, bleeding nipples. The pain of nursing an infant on open wounds is quite frankly excruciating.
Before I had my first baby, I knew that I absolutely wanted to breastfeed. I read tons of articles and books about it and prepared myself as much as I could however never once did anyone mention to me how painful those first few days would be. My son had a very shallow latch and I knew no better so I nursed through the discomfort. What followed was days of cracking, discharge, pus and bleeding. I used to literally scream and curl my toes in pain every time he latched on. while the pain would subside within 10 seconds or so, it was enough for me to dread each nursing session. While my baby and I worked through our latching issues the Medela Gel Pads were a lifesaver for me. You simply dampen these little miracle pads and place them over your destroyed nipples for literally instant relief. The coolness of the gel soothes your pain and the moist environment encourages healing. They stay on until the next time you feed when you simply peel them off, set aside, rinse your nipple and nurse again. Once you are done nursing they can be reused by dampening and re-sticking. They are amazing and for my next two children they were the first thing I packed into my hospital bag.
A Nursing Cover
There is no arguing that breastfeeding is natural and the best way for baby to receive all of the essential nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong. However, if you are anything like me, the idea of openly breastfeeding in public may make you cringe. It's not that I have anything against anyone who chooses to nurse out in the open, in fact, all the more power to you if it works for you, I really do wish I could be so free. For me however, the idea of exposing my chest always made me uncomfortable and I much preferred to nurse at first in private. After a while however, finding restrooms (gross) or a fitting room to feed my baby became old. Not to mention I was missing out on whatever was going on while I was hiding away. Especially once I had a baby plus older siblings, it became almost impossible for me to tuck myself away. I had to be present and draping my baby in a blanket wasn't working. He hated to be fully covered and since I couldn't see him at all I was worried that he couldn't breathe easily.
I searched for a solution and once I found the Bebe au Lait nursing cover, I was over the moon excited! These amazing cotton covers come in tons of different patterns and colors. The neckline is designed with a rigid piece and the strap is fully adjustable so that you are able to see baby while they nurse. You are completely covered but baby has a constant flow of air and direct sight to you (win, win!). The corners are weighted with terry cloth so that the cover won't flop up with every breeze and they create little pockets which allow u to stow away some tissues or a pacifier. It's machine washable and folds up small into your diaper bag, I never leave home without it. From restaurants to concerts and playgrounds to movies I nurse discreetly and comfortably anywhere.
The following video fully explains everything you could need to know about the Bebe au Lait nursing cover.
It was great to have this cover with me in the hospital as I had lots of family and friends visiting. It was so nice to not have to ask everyone to sep out while my little guy nursed.
You are going to spend a lot of time, and I mean a lot, feeding your newborn. Babies need to nurse every two hours in the beginning and that's counted from the beginning of the nursing session not the end. Factor in that babies typically nurse for 20 minutes or so on each side, and you can understand how much time that little bundle is going to spend latched onto you. A good support pillow will save you back and your sanity. There are so many different kinds, but I always used the Boppy pillow. The Boppy is designed to wrap around your waist and give your baby a place to rest while you nurse. Dad and other caregivers can use the Boppy too when giving a bottle. It does not need to be adjusted at all, you simply pop it on and off. This is an awesome attribute when faced with a wailing infant who wants to eat. There's simply no time to be fussing with adjustments! You can buy tons of different slipcovers in all sorts of adorable colors and patterns for it so it can be matched to any decor. The pillow and the covers are both machine washable which is so important when baby will be spitting up on it quite a bit. The best part of the Boppy is that it grows with your baby. It can be used as a tummy time pillow and as a support pillow for when baby is first sitting up down the line. All in all it's a pretty great baby purchase and actually has quite a bit of uses outside of just breastfeeding.
Finally, don't forget to ask to speak with a lactation consultant, someone who is trained to help you with any breastfeeding questions or issues you may have. With the help of a professional and these items in tow at the hospital, you will be setting yourself up for breastfeeding comfort and success. The smoother your beginning the easier it will be to stick with your breastfeeding relationship.