One of my most common things I get asked for is recommendations on Breastfeeding Must Haves and feeding babies. I have been pregnant or breastfeeding for the last four years now. I am not a lactation consultant, just a seasoned mama who has been there and gets it first hand. I have had ups and downs and good success, I hope I can inspire you, empower you and be your cheerleader because this job is hard.
One of my biggest pet peeves lately is when a blogger/influencer posts a must haves list for breastfeeding or baby while they are pregnant with their first baby. Honestly, I had no freakin’ clue what breastfeeding was like nor did I know what you really needed until I had made it through a journey of nursing with my first. I continue to learn new things and lean on my experts, lactation consultants and fellow mamas. I promise you, I use all of these products and recommend them because I truly love and use them. I have purchased everything and have not been paid to write these reviews. However, some of these links are affiliate links so that I can get paid for my time putting this together for you. I appreciate your use of the link, we receive a small percentage commission for the sale.
Now, did you know that we know more about wine that mother’s milk? Yes. You heard that right. There is not enough research out there and we are still learning and growing as a society to support lactating mothers. I had no idea what it would be like to feel so isolated and alone but so undeniably connected to another little being. I did not have the guts right away to feed my baby on the go when they were hungry, did not know how lonely it would be to stay up all night in the glider nursing or have to go into a different room at thanksgiving than everyone else and sit alone to nurse. I did not know what it would be like to be at a bachelorette party and have to leave alone and go back to the hotel and pump and try to meet up with everyone again. I did not understand what it would really be like to have to move your milk every 2.5-4 hours for two years.
“If you do the math, a year of breastfeeding equates to a conservative estimate of 1,800 hours of a mother’s time.” – Inc.
Other sites suggest anywhere from 1,800 – 2,300 hours in the first year. Did you know that working 40 hours per week for 52 weeks is 2,080 hours? Okay so if you work full time and breastfeed/pump for one year that only leaves you with about 8 hours a day to eat, sleep, cook, clean, work out, have relationships, do yoga, meditate, fill in the blank! I had no idea how much this would be a part of my life and really be what dictates my life.
“Have you ever heard the one, where breastfeeding is free? Pretty funny. Because it is only free if we do not value women’s time and energy.” – Katie Hinde
Check out Katie’s incredible TedTalk here for more jaw dropping wisdom.
1. Learn from the best. Read Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Ina May Gaskin and take a class from your local hospital, birthing center or motherhood support centers.
2. Find a Lactation Consultant you like prior to giving birth. Even after reading everything and empowering yourself with all the wisdom.. you or BABY might not get it right away. Have no fear my love, there are amazing professionals that can help you. Find one to have in your back pocket for postpartum.
3. Look into your options for Breast Pumps with your Insurance and/or Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Some health insurance provide covered options for you – ASK!
4. Know your State and/or Federal rights as a Breastfeeding Mama. Establish a plan for your return with your employer prior to giving birth. Examples of questions to ask: Will I be provided time to pump? Will I be paid for this time? Will I be provided an adequate and private space to pump? Does this space include an outlet, chair, fridge, light, privacy and locked door? Will I be able to establish my own pumping schedule and I will be able to go when I need to?
5. Embrace being naked during the newborn haze. Skin to skin is great for establishing a milk supply and connection with your new baby. Learning how to breastfeed naked is much easier than with clothing. Use the cotton gaze blankets to cover you, babe and absorb letdown milk. Stay in bed, get cozy and snuggle up skin to skin.
6. Create a nest. Use pillows, blankets and stuff you already own rather than buying a specific nursing pillow. This will save you money and you only will use that pillow for a couple months anyways! During the first couple months of baby’s life nursing will take up a good chunk of your time and you want to be comfortable. I had a little table set up near with water, a book, snacks, my phone and anything else I might need. I had countless times where baby would fall asleep after nursing on my chest and I would feel like I was on a deserted island having to pee and nothing to do except stare at the ceiling fan. Create that comfortable nest with everything you both need in arms reach and just own it. Everything is temporary and this phase will not last forever.
7. Get a good nursing bra. If your boobies are comfortable and happy, you will be happy, happy mama equals milk! The functionality of the nursing bra can really make your life easier or more complicated too. My favorite bra is Bravado Body Silk. I have been wearing them for about four years now and I love them. The best part is the thin inner strap that exposes more breast for easier access breastfeeding and less milk spills on your bra.
8. Boob blankets and swaddles for the win! My all time favorite saying is “All you need is a boob and a blanket”. Some of these things are nice “must-haves” but the ultimate breastfeeding must-have is a good “Boob Blanket”! I call them boob blankets because you drape them over the breast that is letting down while nursing. Double as a burp blanket (we all know that those burp towels are way too small).
9. Drink Oat Milk and ditch the dairy products. Oats help with lactation and dairy can cause reflux in babies. Oat Milk is incredible too if you have not tried it yet. Delicious!
10. Find a support group of other Breastfeeding Mamas. We can not do anything alone. We need a village and support!
This picture was taken 5 weeks into nursing my first baby. I was so nervous still. I did not feel comfortable nursing in front of other people yet or with clothes on! I remember thinking, oh no how am I going to do this during our newborn photography session? I did not think she would take pictures of us nursing, but I am so glad that she did. Looking back, I have come a long way and so can you if you want to! It takes time mama.
Please know that a lot of this is not up to you, you can do all the things, have all the things, read all the books.. and still, breastfeeding does not click or work for you and that is okay. Fed is best. Exclusively pump, exclusively breastfeed, supplement with formula, exclusively formula it is all okay. Again, fed is best. You’ve got this mama.
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Images by Jessica Holleque & Colleen Eversman 2ndTruth