Breastfeeding is no simple task. Yes, it's one of the most natural things in the world, but that doesn't mean it will always come naturally or easily. And although technically the only two things you need to breastfeed are a pair of boobs and a baby, there are a few tools that will make it 10 times easier on you. In other words, don't start breastfeeding without these tools.
If I'm being totally honest (and why not, right?) the first few weeks I nursed my first daughter were rough. Even though she latched on during skin-to-skin time after delivery, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never held a newborn before, much less sat naked with a tiny human who I'd just pushed out of me and tried to feed it. In the following weeks we struggled with proper latch and painful engorgement, but eventually — with lots of patience, stubbornness, and a few helpful tools — we got the hang of it.
I don't think my story is that unique. Many moms struggle with issues far worse than poor latch or engorgement. But nonetheless, breastfeeding rarely looks like it does in our imaginations. Armed with a few of these tools that saved both my sanity and my breasts, you'll be a more confident and comfortable breastfeeding mama.
1. Some Nursing Pads
Although there are a million different brands and options for nursing pads like these ones from Walmart ($6), they're a definite essential. When your body is still adjusting and getting on a schedule, it's normal to leak quite a bit. Nursing pads will save you from embarrassing wet boobs and from annoying dried milk on all of your bras and clothes.
2. A Nursing Pillow
These pillows, like the Boppy from Amazon ($50), can be used for both bottle and breast feeding. They will save your arms and back from hours of holding your baby to feed.
3. A Comfortable Nursing Bra
4. A Good Attitude
As cheesy as it sounds, keeping a positive mindset about breastfeeding is one of your most powerful tools. It can be rough at times — little sleep, sacrificing your body for the needs of your baby, and more — but reminding yourself about the huge privilege that is motherhood and how amazing your body is can keep you hopeful on the hard days.
5. A Good Water Bottle
One of the most important things for breastfeeding mamas to do is to take care of their own health. Staying hydrated is huge for maintaining your supply and making sure you have enough energy. Investing in a good waterbottle, like these sustainably made ones from Swell ($45) will help to keep you drinking.
6. Some Soothing Nipple Cream
Your boobs may take a little while to adjust to this whole feeding another human thing. And while a little pain is usually to be expected, applying some nipple cream ($11) which you can get at Walgreens (or pretty much anywhere else) will help take the edge off.
7. A Healthy Dose of Self-Confidence
There will be days where you don't feel like "you." There will be days where you feel nervous to nurse in public, or pump at work. But guess what? Reminding yourself about how much of a kick ass mom you are can help nip (no pun intended) any self-doubt or shame right in the bud.