I like to say that all a baby needs is Milk... and Love. But in reality for a new mum starting out with breastfeeding there are a few essential items that make breastfeeding so much smoother.
Firstly, What Things are Non-Essential for Breastfeeding?
You don't need a special chair, most women don't need an electric pump in the early weeks, and most women don't really need a nursing pillow either. In fact, having too many things can get in the way of attaching at the breast properly and can impact bonding with your baby and following your babies cues.
Timing and tracking everything on a breastfeeding app can be helpful when you're struggling to follow cues, but your baby will tell you when they're hungry, and just like an adult, they can be thirsty or hungry at any time, not just when the routine says they should be!
The 2 Most Important Things for Breastfeeding Success
1. Establish your Breastfeeding Support Team
The best thing you can do for your breastfeeding success is to have a great support network. Go to La Leche League SA for reputable advice from lactation experts (join their Facebook group too), go to a breastfeeding workshop or lactation expert in your area and encourage your partner to understand the benefits of breastfeeding and how they can support your breastfeeding.
2. Encourage your baby to try the Breast Crawl in the first hour after birth
The second most important thing you can do for your breastfeeding relationship is to encourage your baby to self attach in the first hour after birth with a "Breast Crawl" and enjoy undisturbed time skin to skin with your baby.
This helps your baby establish the right attachment from the very beginning, and helps to avoid many potential problems. If you are having trouble in the first hour after birth then ask for a lactation consultant! Having a professional help get the attachment right at the start makes all the difference!
In conversation with real moms what their favourite breastfeeding essentials are, and they had a wide and varied list, here are the items that everyone agreed are essentials for new mums.
1. Reusable Breast Pads
What are breast pads I hear you ask?! They are pads of material that go in your bra to catch any leaking milk. Some women leak more and some don't leak at all, but in the first 6 weeks it is likely that you will have quite a lot of milk leaking at random times through the day, and from the other side when you're breastfeeding.
You can get disposable breast pads which are great for using when you're at the hospital after birth, and when caught short, but we recommend investing in some reusable breast pads to use whenever you can.
You will save money and the environment by washing and reusing your breast pads.
These cotton ones are highly absorbent and easy to wash and use, whether you use them part time or full time.
2. Silicone Breast Pump/Milk Collector
What about all that milk that keeps spurting out the other side when you're breastfeeding?? Well, some clever folk (probably Mums), designed this genius milk collector. It works using suction, so you squeeze it and attach it to the other side and it collects the milk while you're breastfeeding.
Recommended by Lactation Consultants and loved by our customers, the silicone breast pump is not only great for collecting milk, but is also good for making sure your breasts are fully drained and helping to prevent mastitis. Easy to use and clean it is a great price point as well.
3. Comfortable Nursing Bra
Having quick and easy access for breastfeeding is SO IMPORTANT! When you have an upset, hungry baby in one arm and you are trying to open your top and unhook your bra the last thing you want is a fiddly clip that doesn't open properly, or a synthetic fabric that doesn't breathe! We love natural cotton fabric, and an easy breastfeeding access clip that you can undo and redo with just one hand (the One Hand Test!)
Just as important, make sure that your nursing bra doesn't cut in at all as this can cause blocked milk ducts and mastitis. We love the Carri-Gel bra's that mimic underwire bra's (especially for larger breasted women) and gives the support of an underwire bra without the actual wire. It can provide extra support for larger cup sizes or during exercise, but whatever style you choose, make sure it isn't digging in, or cutting off milk ducts.
All the bra's on our website have been developed in conjunction with lactation experts and nurses.
4. Breastfeeding Friendly Clothes
When you're breastfeeding on demand having easy breastfeeding access makes life a lot easier. Similar to your nursing bra, we recommend looking for beautiful pieces with easy nursing access.
Having breastfeeding tops and/or some nice breastfeeding friendly dresses can make life a lot easier!
5. Lactation Bars
Hands down, one of our most popular products! When you're suffering from lack of sleep and your body is devoting its energy to producing milk for your baby, it is incredibly important to nourish your body with high quality food.
These yummy lactation bars were developed by a mom who had herself immense nutritional challenges during her breastfeeding journey. Designed specifically for breastfeeding mums. With high quality ingredients such they are healthy and delicious to snack on with a cuppa.
The Yummy Mummy Booby Bars have all the ingredients to help support your milk production, plus at the time of this article they were submitted to the medical board so as to make it a deductible expense from your medical aid savings account.
Nice To Have Products for Breastfeeding Mums
While these are not essentials, it is still nice to have these things when you're a new mum! They also make great gifts for a new breastfeeding mum! Some moms need it, and some don't - it is as simple as that.
Not everyone needs a breastfeeding cover, but when you're just getting started with breastfeeding, or if you're self conscious then a breastfeeding cover can give you some extra coverage while you get your attachment right and can help you have more confidence breastfeeding in public.
The boning on the top of the breastfeeding cover helps with airflow and allows you to see what your baby is doing without fussing around with extra fabric. You can also use them as a baby carrier cover when you're out and about, BONUS!
Protein Shakes by Yummy Mummy Lifestyle
When you have a new baby one of the hardest things to do is to eat well, but it is so critical to look after your health and to nourish yourself properly. When you get really tired you tend to reach for high sugar, high carb snacks that give you a quick boost of energy. Unfortunately those types of snacks cause you to become even more tired when the quick boost wears off.
If you can try to include protein in your snacks and meals it tends to have a more sustained energy release, and similarly it is good if you can reduce your sugar intake.
Try adding smoothies to your easy snack list. You could even make up a heap of smoothies at the start of the week so you have a quick and easy snack to grab when you needs it. If you throw together a smoothie, you can add this delicoious collagen protein shake to your smoothie to help support your breast milk supply and to increase your protein intake as well. Winning!
GINORMOUS Reusable Water Bottle
Breastfeeding Mums need litres of water All. The. Time. You're making milk, your body needs fluids. We recommend a LARGE reusable water bottle that you can take with you everywhere so you can keep your fluids up. It is one of the easiest ways to increase your milk supply too. If you're getting dehydrated it is much harder for your body to make milk.
You can even have a couple of them on the go. One in the fridge, and one with you, so you always have cold water.
Hot/Cold Breast Packs
These hot/cold breast packs are cleverly designed to fit around your breast and sit inside your bra. Why do you need Hot/Cold Breast Packs? These are PERFECT to keep in the fridge in the early days of breastfeeding so that when you are engorged you can whip them out and put them in your bra to help cool everything down.
If you are trying to help your milk flow then using them warm (e.g. while you're pumping), can help your milk to let down and flow. Using them warm can also help to unblock milk ducts. As a bonus they smell so much better than the cabbage leaves that were recommended back in the day!
A nursing pillow
I used with each one of my babies. While yes, you can use a regular pillow, in my opinion, one designed for nursing is much easier and more comfortable. We like this inflatable one so that you can simply take it with you wherever you go. When you do your first trip with baby, you will soon realise just how much stuff needs to go with and lugging around a nursing pillow seems like a major hassle, but you really want it.
This one may not be inflatable, but it is a winner with great support. It even has pockets for your phone or a snack bar.
Whew! That's it! What have you found helpful as a new mum?
Leave a comment below to let us know!