Breastfeeding - The Essentials

Breastfeeding requires a lot of dedication and perseverance, and it can actually be difficult to get the hang of it - for both mama and baby.  So anything which makes it that bit more comfortable and easy to manage can be a lifesaver, especially in the early days when you're dealing with engorged breasts, cracked nipples and hours upon hours of nursing. So for all of you mamas out there that are, or will be, nursing your sweet babies, here is a list of my breastfeeding essentials, which have really helped me when it came to nursing both my little ones.

1. Medela Swing Breast Pump 
Whether you want to introduce a bottle of expressed milk to your baby, build a stash for going back to work, or just relieve engorged breasts, the Medela Swing Breast Pump is my favourite of all the breast pumps I’ve used. Its small size means it's convenient to store (or fit in your handbag) and it's ideal for helping to build your milk supply. What I love about the Medela is the way that it mimics the way a baby suckles - fast in the beginning to stimulate the let down, and slower and more forceful once the milk is flowing. I once tried a manual pump and expressed absolutely nothing... then I used the Medela Swing Pump and was over the moon to pump 4oz just on one side. 

2. Undercover Mama Camisole 
I tried using a nursing cover a few times with Henry and didn't like it - it inhibited my view, left us both hot and I was constantly having to rearrange it whilst feeding. This time around, I knew I didn't want to be messing around with a cover, but I wanted to limit my skin exposure when nursing in public, for the sake of my own inhibitions.

I love Undercover Mama because it clips onto any nursing bra and transforms it into a cami, so if you need to lift up your top to feed, having this on underneath keeps your stomach covered, which is ideal for the immediate postpartum wobbly stage, plus it keeps you warm! I either wear them on their own around the house, or under non-nursing tops, which eliminates the need for buying special (and usually expensive) nursing clothing. 

3. Washable Bamboo Breast Pads
Breast pads that are soft and absorbent are so important to have on hand in those first few weeks, and as you continue nursing. Any breastfeeding mama that has forgotten to put in her pads understands the importance of these! Milk doesn't just let down when you're feeding. Random baby crying... looking at photos of your children... generally feeling happy... yep, here comes the milk! I love washable bamboo breast pads as they're super soft, extremely absorbent and not at all bulky. They come in packs so you always have some to wear whilst others are in the wash and they dry really quickly. For when I'm leaving the house and want something a little more secure, I rely on Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads to stay in place and keep me free from milk stains.

4. Burp Cloths
Neither Henry or Everly spit up a lot,  but they both had trouble with my fast let down, which meant a lot of spilled milk when they were learning to control the flow. There were also many times when Everly would pull off the breast, but the milk just kept on flowing! Nobody wants to end up with milk-soaked  clothes, so I always tuck a burp cloth underneath me as I nurse, to soak up any spills and keep both of us dry. Of course, it's also great to use as a burp cloth that you throw over your shoulder. These SwaddleDesigns Muslin Burpies are incredibly soft and absorbent and feature a reversible pattern. They're the perfect size for rolling up and popping in the changing bag, too.

5. BKR Water Bottle
Your body needs a lot of water, and breastfeeding is thirsty work. There were so many occasions with Henry when he'd fallen asleep whilst feeding and I didn't dare move and wake him - so I sat for hours, unable to reach my water although I was desperate for a sip! Having a water bottle close to hand means you can drink as you feed and stay hydrated. I love this glass BKR bottle which has a silicone sleeve and looks cute, too.

6. My Brest Friend Breastfeeding Pillow
After researching a few nursing pillows, I came across 'My Brest Friend,' which seemed to be the best of the bunch. Unlike most others available which have an open design, it clips around the waist, securely keeping it place and supporting the back, as well as giving you a place to rest your arm. Using the pillow made breastfeeding so much more comfortable and stopped the backache I experienced when I tried to nurse with no support.

The cover is removable and washable, and also has a little elasticated pocket on the side, which is a great feature for keeping any extras like Infacol, lip balm or a burp cloth nearby. Whilst I did stop using this after a few months once Everly was bigger, it was an absolute essential when I was getting the hang of nursing again. It really is worth investing in - I used it 8 times a day for the first 3 months with both my babies - it's definitely earned its worth!

7. Nursing Bras
Having to wear a bra all day and all night isn't so great (we all know how good it feels to take it off at the end of the day) so I was searching for a completely soft, comfortable nursing bra that I could also choose to sleep in. I love Emma Jane for all of those reasons – it almost feels as though I have no bra on. The band doesn't cut into my ribs, it gives minimal support but still keeps things contained and it holds a breast pad on one side for letdown during those nighttime nursing sessions! For more structure and prettiness, I can't fault Bravado, which gives great support and shape without any underwires.

Little Extras
Nipple Balm
Although somehow I magically never needed it, nipple cream proves invaluable to a lot of breastfeeding mamas, particularly in the early days when babies nurse pretty much constantly day and night. Lansinoh Lanolin Cream and Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter both get amazing reviews, and I always have some on hand, just in case.

Tracker App
Another lifesaver during those first few days and weeks. In the haze of sleep deprivation and countless feeds and nappy changes, a tracker app allows you to easily keep note of when you feed, which side, and for how long. I use 'BabyConnect' from the App store and it enables me to log everything from feeds, sleeps and nappies, to weight and length measurements. I absolutely love having all of that information in one place and in my phone, because I pretty much always have my phone within reach when I'm breastfeeding!

Ddrops Baby Liquid Vitamin D3
Baby Ddrops were recommended to me by the pediatrician, as they're specifically designed to support breastfed babies to ensure they're getting enough Vitamin D. Just one drop contains the recommended dose of 400 IU, without any other chemicals or additives. The best thing about these drops is they're so easy to administer - just pop a single drop on the nipple at the beginning of a feed once day!

Are you a breastfeeding mama? What are your nursing essentials?

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