Breastfeeding, while often celebrated for being "easy" and "low-maintenance," requires planning, time, patience, support, and, sometimes, a lot of "stuff." Whether it's for comfort, practicality, or modesty, it's hard to know where to start when considering what, and what not, to purchase. With all the gadgets and products aimed at supporting breastfeeding mothers, where does a new mom begin? If you're not sure, or have no clue about all the breastfeeding stuff you'll need if you're nursing for the first time, worry no more. We (read: the experts) have you covered.
While breastfeeding is often described as "natural," it's hardly an easy, innate experience. In fact, it's common to endure more than a few complications that can make nursing anything but "easy." And sometimes, without the proper help or specifically designed products, it's difficult to make it through the first nursing session, let alone months and months of breastfeeding. First-time mothers don't always know what's necessary and what's unnecessary hype, though, which can make setting oneself up for nursing success all the more challenging.
A lot of new moms will tell you that breastfeeding can be hard in the beginning, but if you have a support system, a plan, and a lot of patience, your chances of making it over those initial hurdles are high. So truly, the best "stuff" you could give yourself when you're nursing is knowledge, support, and self-care. But if you're looking for some material goods that may assist you in reaching your breastfeeding goals, here's all the stuff you'll need for your first time nursing.
Parents offers a lot of breastfeeding tips, including ways to make sure your nipples are cared for. For first-time mothers, breastfeeding can be uncomfortable, to say the least, so you'll want to sooth your nipples after that first feeding. Parents suggests using a natural, hypoallergenic nipple cream or essential oil. Otherwise, you could experience dryness or cracking.
Finding the right position that will assist your baby in latching, and ensure your comfort, is key. The Bump has a great list of breastfeeding positions to help you find your comfort zone while nursing. Having a supportive pillow can help take the pressure off your arms, back, stomach, and anywhere else that may be strained thanks to a specific nursing position, too.
If you're looking for other pillows aside from the classic Naked Boppy (shown above), BabyCenter has a list of "favorites" selected by moms who've used, and loved, the pillows for their own breastfeeding experiences.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, The Mayo Clinic suggests you pump, and pump often, after your first breastfeeding session. It helps your body produce more milk so subsequent sessions are successful. If you aren't sure where to start, a simple hand-pump for self-expression will do. If, on the other hand, you're in the financial position to spend a pretty penny or two, Medela has an intricate Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump you can take anywhere.
Before you nurse for the first time, you need a hearty meal. Joy Kosak, founder of Simple Wishes, a hands-free pumping bra, tells Shape you can burn upwards of 380-600 calories per feeding session. This means you need to take care of yourself so you have the energy to nurse. So eat a full meal and have snacks on hand.
While it is within your rights to breastfeed in public sans cover, not every woman is comfortable doing so. And hey, that's OK! You don't have to put yourself in a situation that will make you feel awkward. A great cover-up can go a long way with helping you build the confidence to do this incredible thing called breastfeeding around other, usually intrusive, human beings.
While The Bump has you "covered" with a list of every breastfeeding cover imaginable, this 4-in-1 cover by Kiddo Care is a multi-purpose as a car seat cover, baby car seat canopy, and nursing cover, so you don't need all the additional items.
Once you've nursed for the first time, you might experience a little leakage. Nursing pads, like Bamboobies, will keep any excess breast milk from soaking through your bra and shirt. Both regular and overnight pads are available which, according to Bamboodies' site, are thin and comfortable. If you prefer to do a little more research before committing, there are plenty of lists highlighting other nursing pads moms love.
According to Parents, breast engorgement happens when your body makes a little too much breast milk and can, unfortunately, be painful. There are a few things you can do for relief, such as nursing, pumping, or taking a warm shower. But if none of the aforementioned options are available, you can also rely on cooling relief packs such as Lansinoh 3-in-1 Breast Therapy.
You can absolutely go bra-less, or pull a tank up or down to suit your first time nursing. So I wouldn't say a nursing bra is "essential." But if you'd like to invest in a functional, comfortable nursing bra for future feedings, Babble has a fairly comprehensive list of mom-approved bras. Leading Lady Loving Moments also has a wide range of bras to help you navigate postpartum, breastfeeding life.
No matter how many products you have when you're ready to nurse for the first time, there's nothing like being surrounded by all the love, encouragement, and support you need. Of course your support system doesn't have to be right there with you every time you nurse, but just knowing you have a group of people cheering you on can make all the difference in the world.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.