Trying to figure out exactly what you need before the arrival of your little one can be a mammoth task in itself – remembering what you might need for breastfeeding can often be forgotten or only thought of at the very last minute.
We have compiled a breastfeeding essentials checklist for consideration with items you might need during your breastfeeding journey & the options you have to make your breastfeeding journey that little more comfortable & easier.
A comfortable space at home
One of the most important yet overlooked necessity when it comes time to breastfeed your little one. Creating a comfortable space that has your breastfeeding essentials nearby is an absolute must.
A new born baby will usually feed between 8-12 times a day for the first month with each feed lasting anywhere between 20-40 minutes (sometimes even longer!). This equates up to 8 hours each day that you will be dedicating to nourishing your baby.
A few key must-haves for your breastfeeding space should include;
- A comfortable feeding chair or recliner
- Breastfeeding Station – wheely carts are the most ideal for these however you can use a large tray with handles so it is easy to manoeuvre around if needed. Having a little station gives you everything you might need, all within arms reach. See here for what a breastfeeding station is & inspo on how to create your very own.
- Blankets & Pillows for yourself & a comfortable but supporting breastfeeding pillow if you choose to use one.
Saving that precious liquid gold is somewhat strangely very satisfying (or is that just me?). Using milk savers to collect breastmilk that would have ordinarily been lost into your maternity bra or nursing pads will give your stash that extra boost – you’d be surprised just how much you can save just by catching a let down on the opposite side!
- Manual silicone breast pumps are a great way to collect or gently pump if needed however due to the suction it creates, this should be avoided until your milk supply regulates at around 4-6 weeks to avoid creating oversupply.
- Breast Milk Collection Shells are the easiest way to collect breastmilk – pop them in your bra or on the side that you are not feeding on, forget & collect.
A good nipple balm
The first few weeks can be a little hard on your nipples while you and bubs are learning to breastfeed together. Pain is the number 1 reason why mothers give up breastfeeding with sore and cracked nipples being a huge factor of discomfort.
A natural, feeding safe nipple balm will help nourish, protect & heal your nipples – providing you with more comfort and confidence to continue breastfeeding.
Reusable breast pads
While I have had a few mummas actually go out and about with our milk collection shells (they are quite slim) – having a few pairs of reusable breast pads is the go-to for helping prevent those embarrassing leaks in public. Easily interchangeable – just swap out with a new pair as when they start to get damp. Store in a wet bag until you are ready to wash them with your normal wash routine.
Look for breast pads that have at least 3 layers. A soft and gentle layer to sit against your skin, an absorbent middle layer to draw the moisture in & a waterproof outer layer that sits against your bra to help stop liquid getting through.
There are 3 main types of breastfeeding covers that you will find.
- Breastfeeding shawl – shawls are large and usually slightly stretchy lengths of material that you pop on over your head and feed bubs underneath. These are great if you prefer not to fluff around too much with positioning
- Breastfeeding scarf – scarfs are also popped over your head however do not have as much coverage or give to the fabric as a shawl. These are great space savers and can fit easily in your nappy bag.
- Breastfeeding apron – aprons (yep, just as the name suggests) goes on like an apron. These are easy to use and easy to take with you however some can have limitations once bubs start to get bigger and start kicking and throwing their hands around, taking the apron with them.
Alternatively – keep a muslin wrap / blanket in your nappy bag so you can throw it over your shoulder, tuck in the corner into your bra strap & feed when needed.
A good comfortable but supportive nursing bra should be easy to put on, undo, and unclip. Some clips can be hard to undo one handed so be sure to try on your bras and test before you buy. Nursing bras should have soft cups, no underwire and have increased rows of clasps to allow your bra to have room to go up and down in size.
During breastfeeding, your breasts will be large, full & heavy – having a good nursing bra can help hold up the extra weight and distribute the weight a little more evenly helping reduce back pain. Nursing bras also provide support to the Cooper’s ligaments which can help prevent your breasts from sagging.
Breastfeeding friendly clothes
There are some seriously amazing and very clever brands out there that provide breastfeeding women comfortable, stylish and functional nursing friendly clothes. Many have hidden zips, extra stretchy fabric or hidden pocket openings.
One of my personal favourite brands is Mama Clothing – an Melbourne based company that caters for women from sizes 6-26.
Breast milk storage bags & containers
Breastmilk storage comes in all shapes and sizes.
- Breastmlik Pouch Bags – these are the easiest to get your hands one, whether it’s at your local chemist or the supermarket. They are also the most cost effective & don’t take up much room in the freezer. Unfortunately these are mostly one-time use products.
- Breastmilk storage containers – these are reusable and usually come in round containers and can be stored in the freezer very easily with a dedicated space for them to stand up in. These are more environmentally friendly and can have other uses once your breastfeeding journey has finished.
Breastfeeding Pain management
A small period of swollen or sore breasts & nipples can be very normal, especially in the beginning as your milk supply is regulating. There are a few things that can help relieve some of the discomfort and help you heal.
- Rite Aid Hydrogel Breast Discs – These amazing discs provide cooling and soothing relief to cracked and sore nipples. Pop these in the fridge for an even better cooling experience. These can be reused a few times over and are safe and non toxic to you and baby. Grab a box of these from any major chemist or supermarket
- Breast hot / cold packs – These sit in your bra and can help alleviate engorgement and the discomfort associated with it. Warm them up or freeze them before use depending on what type of management you are needing. Always pop the packs in the sleeve provided to avoid burns to the skin. Use them warm before feeds to stimulate milk flow, helping to relive symptoms of engorgement or mastitis. Use cold between feeds to reduce pain and swelling due to engorgement or mastitis. If you use these hot while pumping, these can also help reduce time spend pumping as the heat stimulates milk flow.
- Nipple Shield – a nipple shield can be a great way to give your sore nipples a break while continuing to breastfeed. These sit over your nipples while bubs draws milk from your nipples through the shield. Note that shields differ in teat shapes & sizes so we recommend trying at least 2 different types to see which ones work best for you & which ones will give bubs an easy transition back to your breast when you are ready.
Sleep deprivation can lead us to be quite forgetful in the fourth trimester. Late night feeds while we are half asleep also sees us battling grogginess while trying to remember which breast we left off on. Here are a few methods to help track feeds
- Apps – Apps like Huckleberry & Baby Tracker are super simple to use. They track which side you feed on & the duration of that particular side so it is easy to see where you left off and where you need to start. These apps also track nappy output, growth milestones and sleep.
- Breastfeeding bracelet – A breastfeeding bracelet (or even a hair tie!) is an easy way to remind yourself which breast to start on next. Just pop it on the side that you finished breastfeeding. At the next feed, start on the other side and swap the bracelet over.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful journey – looking after yourself during this time is so important to your own wellbeing and ultimately for the wellbeing of your little one.
Having these breastfeeding essentials can help you kick start your breastfeeding journey off to a wonderful start leaving you prepared, comfortable & confident in knowing that you have everything you need to focus on bonding with your newborn baby.
Big hugs, Mumma – you’re doing great!