Thankfully, besides breasts and your baby, not much else is needed in order to breastfeed. However, here are a few breastfeeding items that might make your journey a little easier, along with some info on how to go about choosing from the very wide range available.
Nursing bra’s: These are designed with cups that open giving you easy access for a hungry baby. A good feeding bra should support the breast from beneath, even when the cup is open. Avoid bra’s that are too tight as well as those with underwire as this may obstruct your milk ducts, making you more susceptible to plugged ducts which can lead to infections.
The easier it is to open and refasten the flaps of a feeding bra, the more likely you are to be able to feed discreetly. If possible, test opening and closing a feeding bra before purchasing . You should be able to open and refasten with one hand.
Some women like to wear a nursing bra at night as they help to keep breast pads in place. A soft, crossover feeding bra is generally the most comfortable for sleeping.
The general rule with sizing a nursing bra is to buy at least one cup larger and one size numerically larger than what you would wear pre-delivery.
3 is a good number of nursing bra’s to start with (one in the wash, one being worn, and a spare in the draw) obviously, the more you have, the less you have to worry about washing.
Breast pads: These are circles of cloth / padding which are placed inside your nursing bra to collect leakage of breastmilk and are a must for preventing embarrassing marks. Both disposable and washable breast pads are available on the market, each comprising of their own pro’s and con’s. A good breast pad is shaped like a cup and will follow the contour of your breast giving you a ‘snug’ fit and preventing ‘bunching’ on the sides. Most mother’s have no need for breast pads beyond 6-12 weeks as your milk production settles into your baby’s routine.
Nursing Pillow: Comfort is key when it comes to successful breastfeeding. One wouldn’t think that a tiny newborn could ever feel heavy in your arms but after a couple of feeds you will be looking for some form of support. A good breastfeeding pillow will go across your tummy and curve around your hips to support your elbows. Some pillows are more squishy and others quite firm. Try them out in the shop before purchasing and see which suits you best. Remember that baby should be brought up to your breast when feeding and not your breast going down to baby, so consider this when looking at feeding pillows.
Many breastfeeding pillows will have the dual function of propping baby up when not feeding, lying baby over the pillow for tummy time and supporting baby when he/she begins to sit.
Breast pump: Not all mother’s make use of a breast pump, however if you are returning to work, wanting your baby to benefit from your milk when you are not around or even just wanting Dad to do some of the feeds, then you will benefit from a breast pump.
There are many different pumps on the market and making a choice can be quite overwhelming.
Hand Pumps: These require you to pump or squeeze a lever which creates suction and extracts milk. Hand pumps will empty one breast at a time and many require both hands to pump which can be time consuming and tiring. If you are only planning to express on the odd occasion, then a hand pump’s simplicity and convenient size may interest you. However, if would like to pump more regularly and efficiently then a higher grade electric pump is your best bet.
Electric Pumps: Top-end electric pumps are a popular choice for moms as they combine the efficiency of a hospital pump with the convenience of a more portable pump. These pumps are fully automated with adjustable suction levels. Some electric pumps also have a double pumping feature meaning that you can pump off of both breasts at the same time. Newer models of electric pumps are made to mimic a baby’s suction pattern (starting with short quick motions and moving on to long, deeper motions) making pumping more comfortable and less aggressive on your breast. Electric pumps are easier to use and much more efficient at extracting milk than hand pumps. If you have decided to go for an electric pump, then it is worth looking at your top brands rather than settling for a cheaper version.
Lanolin: Most people will tell you that nipple tenderness is caused by an incorrect latch. The truth is that there are many contributing factors when it comes to nipple tenderness. Your breasts have never been used for this function before and its going to take a little getting used to – no matter how well your baby is latching. A sudden surge of hormones can also contribute to nipple soreness. Choose a reputable brand of grade A, feed safe, pure lanolin and use after every feed during the early days of breastfeeding.
Cover-up: Discreet feeding does not come naturally to all and most women find it helpful to practice feeding in front of a mirror until they feel confident enough to try it in public. Some manage to breastfeed discreetly with something as simple as a receiving blanket draped over their shoulder. Others require a little more assistance. There are many different types of aprons, shawls, straps and other forms of cover-ups on the market. Some baby slings may even have the dual function of covering up whilst feeding. My advice would be to go for something that will cover you up, but remains open at the top. This will allow you to easily look in on baby, adjust baby’s latch and it also allows baby to look up at you while feeding. If possible, try a few out or at least try them on before purchasing.