There are a lot of benefits to breastfeeding—and if it works for you and your baby, that’s fantastic. But just like most things you experience as a new parent, even when things are going well, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re easy. Turns out, feeding another tiny human is hard, especially in the beginning when it seriously seems like all they do is eat (and poop!). Your life suddenly becomes “feed, pump, clean bottles and repeat.” It can truly feel all-consuming.
Then fast forward a few months, if/when you have to go back to work, and all of a sudden, you’re spending more time with your breast pump than anyone else. In a nutshell: Breastfeeding is beautiful on so many levels, but it can also be brutal. Thankfully, there are a few simple items that can help you save time, energy and heartache—and make nursing way less stressful for both you and your baby. Here are our six must-haves for nursing moms:
A supportive nursing bra:
The two most important words to remember, when it comes to breastfeeding, are “easy access.” Your baby will let you know when she’s hungry, and the sooner you can get milk in her mouth, the better off everyone will be. Look for nursing bras and/or camis that offer enough support for whatever you’re doing (light at night; heavier during the day), are sized appropriately for your postpartum cup size, and again, make it as easy as possible to unhook and expose your breast to your baby. You’ll also want your nursing bra to be soft, breathable, adjustable and comfortable—just like any other bras you own.
Nothing is worse than being in a meeting, or at lunch with a friend, looking down and realizing that breast milk is leaking through your shirt. But trust us, it happens all. the. time. Even if you don’t think it’s going to happen to you, better to be prepared. Nursing breast pads offer a little extra protection, just in case. We like the soft, organic ones that you can wash and reuse over and over again, but the disposable ones are good in a pinch, too.
By all means, if you want to breastfeed your baby in public without a cover, go for it. However, many new moms simply want a little more privacy. Or just don’t feel comfortable breastfeeding in certain places… or in front of certain people. Having a nursing cover on hand for those moments can be super helpful. Plus, a lot of covers now are designed to double-up as carseat and shopping cart covers as well.
You won’t need this forever (thankfully!), but in the beginning, while you and baby are both getting used to breastfeeding, it can be a lifesaver. And since baby will be eating so frequently (whether your nipples are sore or not), you’ll want to look for a cream that is organic, non-GMO and safe for nursing, with no lanolin, petroleum or parabens added. If it ticks these boxes, you won’t need to wash it off before baby nurses, which … who has time for that?
Hands-free pumping bra:
You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish while you’re pumping—check emails, catch-up on your reading…or your favorite Netflix show—so long as you have a hands-free pumping bra on while you’re doing it. We like the ones you can wear all day long, so you don’t have to swap bras every time you need to pump, but the traditional one tends to have a more snug fit that perhaps might lead to better pumping. These bras are seriously a game changer, so consider ordering this must-have ahead of time so you have it on hand when you’re ready for it.
Milk storage bags:
Even if you’re breastfeeding, you should still try to introduce bottles fairly early on (like 3 or 4 weeks) so your baby can start to get the hang of it. At some point, you’ll want some help with feedings, and the only way to make that happen is if your baby will take a bottle. Pumped milk can be stored in the fridge for three to eight days and in the freezer for about six months. You’ll need plenty of bags that are sterilized, BPA-free and freezer-safe to store it all in.
Freelance writer/editor and contributor at MamasUncut. West Coast-based, East Coast-raised. Doubled down on the parenting gig last year, with two kids under the age of 3—plus a 2-year-old black shepherd/lab mix who thinks they’re actually his babies. A good day: run, bake, eat, repeat.
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