You're pregnant with your first baby and you have no idea what breastfeeding will be like. Questions float through your mind at midnight as you try to get comfortable enough to fall asleep...
Will it hurt? What will it feel like? Will my baby nurse right away? What if I don't know what to do? How will I position the baby? Will it come naturally...?
The good news is that it IS perfectly natural. Breastmilk is perfectly created to sustain and nourish newborn babies - and your body is uniquely designed for the task.
The "bad news" is that it might hurt, it might take some getting used to, and sometimes you'll feel like throwing in the towel and calling it quits.
But don't give up. Even if society tells you otherwise. Breastfeeding has so many benefits - for your baby, for you, and for the environment.
As you get ready for your baby to make his or her debut, I recommend having the following items on hand for the first days and weeks postpartum:
Nursing Bras: I've heard that you should shop for nursing bras in your third trimester because your size probably won't change significantly after that. I think that's good advice. Pick a day and go bra shopping or, if you prefer, shop online. I would recommend getting 3 bras for starters. You can always buy more later - after the baby comes and you figure out what "styles" (underwire, wired, sleep, sport, etc.) and brands you like best. Surprisingly, my favorite nursing bras (in terms of comfort...) are from Target. I also like my bras from Melinda G.
Nursing Pads: My favorite are the Lansinoh Ultra Soft Nursing Pads, but any brand should be just fine. Buy two or three boxes of disposables for the first few weeks. You can get the washable kind later if need be. I'm not a "leaker" so I stop using pads after the first few weeks, but every woman's body is different.
Lansinoh Lanolin: Yes, you want a tube of this. Or, in my case, you want four tubes of this. Lanolin cream soothes and treats sore nipples - and is completely safe for baby to digest. It's "miracle cream," really.
Shower Hug: This little wonder product seems unnecessary, but you'll thank me when you get in the shower and realize that the jets of water feel like razor blades on your skin.
Breastfeeding pillow: The two most popular brands on the market are Boppy and My Brest Friend. I've used both and I think the My Brest Friend is superior (more back support, flatter surface, etc.), but either pillow will do.
Slouchy shirts and oversized t-shirts: Specially-designed nursing clothes are a luxury and are nice, but not necessary. Shirts that are soft and non-clingy, however, are a must. You can buy some tees (in the softest fabric you can find) that are one size up...or you can just wear some of your maternity tees or your husband's t-shirts for the first week or two.
The phone number of La Leche League, a local breastfeeding support group, or a lactation consultant: Just in case. Don't be too proud or too embarrassed to ask for help...and feel free to get multiple opinions. I promise you won't be the first one to ask if it's normal for your baby to prefer one breast over the other (it is) or to ask for a "demonstration" of the side-lying position (that's one you gotta know...). Any question is okay.
A friend (or two) who has breastfeed - preferably for 1 year or longer: Not everyone has a friend or sister they feel comfortable talking to about breastfeeding, but it's definitely nice if you can surround yourself with "breastfeeding-friendly" people - at least at first. My "breastfeeding-friendly" mentor was my sweet and super knowledgeable friend Sandy (pictured left).
Best wishes, friend. Breastfeeding may not be easy, but it is worth it...and I applaud you in advance for your commitment to it.
That's really important information and I've forwarded this link to my partner who is so scared of breastfeeding. I hope this makes things easier now.
My advise as I nurse my fourth daughter - you can get away with just purchasing 2 nursing bras, When I shower I take the bra in with my and wash it (I keep liquid laundry soap in a sports bottle next to the shampoo.) I wear the other, while this one dries in the shower. The other best product is a nursing bracelet to keep track of feedings and which breast you feed first on, the last time(see http://www.breastfeedingbracelet.com/)
The Melinda G nursing cami is the BEST! I would also add to new moms to not give up - there are a lot of traps out there, but you can do it! Great suggestion about support systems, too, I think that makes all the difference.
Awesome! I’m loving all this breastfeeding supplies stuff! Thanks !!
When Jayden was born, I forgot to pack the nipple cream! He cracked my left nipple the first night. I'd say it took about a month to get used to breastfeeding. After that it no longer hurt and the cream was no longer needed. The pads, omg I just stopped using them. It's about time I stopped leaking through my shirts! Actually I've formed a habit of holding the other breast while he nurses, that way I don't leak.
haha thats to funny.. Wow how did yu forget the cream?
This is a great list! One that I would have really appreciated about a year ago! :o) I think the most important part of your list (and the part I somehow missed) was that breastfeeding is not easy for everyone (in fact, almost everyone has one challenge or another), but we should persevere! (And Megan's advice for a 6-week goal is awesome!)
I found the My Brest Friend to be SO much better than the Boppy for my teeny baby because she often fell through the gap between Boppy and belly. :-( Plus, it's nice, flat surface allowed me to trim her nails, or read or whatever while she was nursing.
For nursing in public, I've found my Hooter Hider nursing cover to be invaluable. SERIOUSLY! It's SO much better than a blanket! Baby can't tug it off, the wind can't blow it off, no one can see her but me. I love it.
I'd like to echo Megan's advice for a nest of sorts, because once you sit down and baby latches on, you're there for a while! :o) I always had water (in a bottle with a spout so I didn't need 2 hands), a book for me to read, books to read to the baby, nursing pads (I needed extras, ahem), snacks for me, a burp cloth, a blanket (in case it was chilly on my bare chest), kleenex, a clock (since I had to time her), and a nightlight...all surrounding a comfy chair.
And, finally, I still wear my nursing tanks daily. I'm not well-endowed, and tanks are the best thing for this nursing mama. I love Target's tanks for the price and durability (I bought 4 a year ago, and they're doing great!), but I'm tall and don't like that they aren't really long enough. http://www.mom4life.com sells an extra-long tank by Glamourmom. My uniform this last year has been a rainbow-array of tanks and cardigan sweaters. :o)
Thanks again, Stephanie, for this list. It is awesome!! I'm gonna send it to a few expectant moms I know. :o)
Thank you so much for this post!! I am looking for everything that could help me achieve my desire (my desperate want) to breastfeed with my second child. Things went all wrong the first time but I am determined to make it work this time.
Stephanie, this is a great post and for me, much needed right now. Giving birth to my 2nd baby this July and since nursing regretfully didn't work out with my now 3-1/2 yr. old, I'm determined to make it work this time. However, I'm concerned that I'm "too" concerned about it working out. Isn't that silly? I want so bad for it to work out that I'm afraid I'm setting myself up for failure again. *Sigh*
the la leche league helped me so much, what a wonderful resource they are!!
I have never heard of the shower hug but you are right about showers when you first start breast feeding. If I have to start over for the 4th time I'll look into this!
I think it is worth a mention that a nursing tank for nighttime is good. For the first month I usually slept with it unclasped to get some much needed air!
Girl, you've got great things on this list, but you forgot a giant jug of water. I could not go anywhere while I was breastfeeding (especially at the beginning) without ridiculous amounts of water by my side. If it wasn't going in, it wasn't coming out.
Fantastic list Stephanie.
I recommend all of those items as well.
And I also suggest having at least 4 comfortable nursing bras. I found I leaked milk like crazy for the first several months and since I hate doing laundry, I wanted at least 4.
Also, I like those nursing pads for disposable ones, but for daily use around the house, I preferred cotton washable ones. I found them the most comfortable and affordable. I used those disposable ones when going out.
And yes, Lanolin cream!
I LOVE nursing and I'm so sad that I'm almost done. Baby #2 is 18 months and I'm starting to wean her because of me needing to travel. I nursed Baby #1 until 25 months. I don't plan to have anymore babies and missing nursing is going to be the hardest thing.
Ironically, I never thought I would have liked nursing and the ONLY reason I did it was because it was healthy for my babies. But I soon realized how much we both loved the bonding time.
Nursing is priceless and you need to endure the pain and troubles of the first few weeks to get to the wonderful, simple beauty of breastfeeding.
I thanked God for my Lanolin cream. Seriously don't know what I would have done without it. You've really peaked my interest in this shower hug... I will probably come asking you what that one thing was that you talked about when we get ready for baby #2. Remind me that it was a shower hug.
I LOVE YOUR BLOG.
My sister found you and sent me the link (I have no idea why), and I love it!! I'm currently due in October with my second, and my daughter will be 27 months when this baby is born. I'm starting to get obsessed with all things pregnancy and baby again, so I will be bookmarking you! :)
Good list! I think having a friend really helps.
Fantastic list, Stephanie! YES to the Lansinoh. Life-saver.
I like to make myself a nursing nest in those earliest weeks and surround myself with bottled water, snacks, burp rags, gas drops, diapers, wipes, and changes of clothes. It's nice to just nestle in and not have to worry about getting up once things get going.
My best advice is give yourself SIX full weeks to get the hang of it. The first few weeks can be a messy, milky, and yes, sometimes painful mess. I think if you make six weeks your first goal, you'll find you are much more comfortable with moving forward from there.
My first daughter nursed until two and my second is still going strong at nineteen months! It's such a blessing.
that is a great list! Its nice that you included a friend aswell. We have some great products on our website too, plus with the exchange rate it makes great buying! We are a little WAHM company here in New Zealand, who are big breastfeeding supporters as you can tell from our company name. Good on you though!! http://www.breastmates.co.nz
thank you for this! thanks a million times over! (no i am not a mom..yet..but i am scared to death over this issue! so thanks!
Great list! Those first few weeks and sometimes months can be rather daunting. I think having a friend or family member who has breastfed successfully is very important. That's what got me through the rough spots.
I must say though, that I heard the same advice about buying nursing bras in your 3rd trimester. I would add to that to only by 2 and not to buy expensive ones because if you're like me then post baby your chest will reach insanely large proportions and you will be going back for more bras.
I am breast feeding my baby girl and I so enjoy it. I honestly have no idea how we would have soothed her when she was first born if I hadn't been nursing. We use it as much for comfort as food. I love it.
Bleh. I totally meant to put that last comment on your other post! Sorry. :(
My favorite place to shop for nursing bras is http://www.birthandbaby.com/. It's really a lifesaver for larger-chested women (me and my FF/E cup can't just go shopping at any ol' store down the street, you know?)
My current favorite is an Emma Jane brand (which it looks like Birth and Baby isn't currently carrying) seen here:
It's got good support, but spares me the annoyance of underwire and really stiff fabric. The design just seems more flattering than other bras I've tried, as well.
My runner up is Bravado's Lifestyle Microfiber bra:
It's super comfy and easy to use, but doesn't offer as much support and does tend to make me look a little more uni-boobish. If you know what I mean. ;)
It's not always easy, but it's so worth it! Case in point, my 12 month old "baby" caught a stomach virus from his older brother this week. Big brother had 2 days of vomiting, and a week of diarrhea, and a fever + no appetite for a couple days. But my 1yo who still breastfeeds for most of his nourishment is hardly fazed- he's got his fair share of messy diapers, but is otherwise fine. The breastfeeding keeps him both hydrated and well-nourished, and he's fighting off those nasty bugs a lot more easily.
As for supplies, I'm definitely one who preferred the cloth breast pads to disposables - I leak for a full 3-4 months after each baby, and I hate the crinkly disposables. I *love* Lansinoh!! And I couldn't live without my Boppy for the first few months... though, I've never tried the other pillows. And even if you never really need advice, it's still great to make sure you have an experienced bf'ing friend, who understands what you're dealing with and who you can talk to easily.
this is a great list. With my first baby I was very fortunate and had an excellent nurse at the hospital who had breastfed her own five babies and who gave me the best advice I received from anyone. Also - my baby breastfed easy, my milk came in on time and aside from some pretty sore nipples for about two weeks I didn't have much trouble at all!
Baby number 2 will be here soon - I hope nursing him goes as easy as nursing my daughter went - but if it doesn't it is nice to know that I have resources and people around me to help me through it.
I would add that I love having a nursing camisole for the first few weeks, especially. I love having one to wear to bed, as it allows you to keep nursing pads in place for catching the leaks, but is so much comfier than wearing a bra at night.