Breastfeeding Must-have: An Essential Checklist for new moms
Below is my list of breastfeeding must-haves that will help a new mom. Boy was breastfeeding difficult when I first started. Imagine this, your body is now weakened due to labor or c-section. Your body is surging with hormones and at the same time, you have to immediately learn to breastfeed your baby by trying to get the baby to latch on you!
That was stressful. But I will share my woes and mistakes on another post. There was one thing I’m glad I did before THE day, and that was preparing what I need when it comes to breastfeeding.
Honestly, I didn’t have everything I need. Some I had to go out and buy while I was in confinement. I also noticed there are some things I bought was not as useful as I thought.
- RELATED: BABY CARRIER REVIEWS AND ALTERNATIVES
- RELATED: FIRST BABY BOOKS UNDER 1 YEAR OLD
- RELATED: Baby sleep training and what it’s all about
- RELATED: Baby sleep training methods review
- RELATED: How I gain back time, energy, and sanity as a new mom
- RELATED: The 39 Practical advice that will save a new mom
My Breastfeeding Essentials
1. Breast pump
I believe this is definitely the obvious number 1 item for breastfeeding essentials. A breast pump is essential in many ways.
- It can help boost supply a little as you pump between breastfeeding sessions.
- It extracts breastmilk for someone else to bottle feed the baby, giving you breaks.
- For some women with high milk supply, they may begin to stash away excess milk through pumping. (but be careful not to overstimulate milk supply)
- If your breast engorges but your baby no longer needs to suckle, a pump can help relieve some engorgement.
- For women with inverted or flat nipples, you can use the breast pump to stimulate your nipple.
I use a Medela electronic pump, image below links to a set .
If you find the electric pump out of your budget ( I get it), there is the manual pump here which is more affordable.
But honestly, considering the state of mind you are in at the first month. I recommend to invest in an electric pump, it’d be good for your in the long run.
This bra is essential to pair with a breast pump, but it may not be as convenient as I thought it would. The bra is essential because it has little holes in for the cones to fit through. The breast shield could sit on your breasts handsfree. Without this item, you would be holding both pumps with your hands for the next 15-30 minutes.
Why do I say it may not be as convenient as I thought? This is because you can’t do house chores or anything that requires moving while pumping.
This is because the device needed to have good suction to work well. When you move too much, it will lose suction and not pump efficiently. Additionally, the bottles will become heavier, due to gravity. The gravity will pull the bottles down, causing the breast shields to lose suction again.
So it is best to sit in one spot while pumping. So I did a lot of social media on my phone, Netflix, or read a book while pumping instead of getting chores done. Well, at least my hands are free.
I use a Medela handsfree bra, check out the image for more details.
This is another obvious essential to have. This applies even if you plan to breastfeed exclusively. Why? This is because the bottles allow you to express your milk and hand the bottle to someone else. you may hand the reign to your husband, family member, babysitter, daycare centers to feed the baby! This means it frees you up a session of feeding since you will be feeding the baby 10-13 times a day in the first month!
I also used Dr. Brown’s bottles, which are known to reduce air intake during bottle feeding. Check out the image for more details. Bear in mind bottle nipples differ brand to brand.
Don’t forget to grab your FREE breastfeeding checklist.
These items are especially useful when you’re planning to return to work. The Medela storage bags are 5 oz. little plastic ziplock bags and the freezing block ensures the milk remains cold when you are transporting the milk home from work. I took a long sabbatical. So I use the breastmilk storage bags for when I go out longer than 6 hours and have access to a fridge, ie a training/course.
I’m so glad this exists! Basically this is a plastic concave cover with a soft flexible silicone base. The base has a hole in it to rest around your nipple. It has 2 main functions which is oh so important! If you don’t remember anything from this list, then at least remember this one!
Function no.1 – It prevents the clothes from chafing your breast. It protects your sensitive nipples.
Function no.2 – It collects leaked milk, preventing your clothes from getting wet. Perfect to use when you’re out.
The 2 issues above will be one of the banes of your breastfeeding journey. Having the right essentials before the problem occurs makes breastfeeding less stressful. I promise you that! I did not have this item handy and had to buy this mid confinement month. Advise to past on to the next unsuspecting mom!
I used Medela Milk collection shells. Check out the image below for a similar item. Please be careful when purchasing the shells, there are many variations. So read the descriptions to make sure you get the right one. The one I recommend does not have holes on the plastic cover.
If you have a flat nipple like mine, you’d need something like this. However using the Hakka, or breast pump could be an alternative as well. This item sucks the nipple into a protruding shape. There are many nipples shaper, corrector, puller, pusher out in the market. So far I tried
Medela’s breast shell (it looks like Medela’s milk collection shell, but it works differently) didn’t work on me. The holes that were too big or my breast was too small, so it had no effect on me.
I then tried the Pigeon’s nipple puller and it shown result immediately. So I stuck to it. But, one thing about this puller is that it hurts, imagine a strong vacuum cleaner on your nipples. Yea I know, ouch. So if there’s another effective nipple corrector out there that inflict less to no pain, I’d like to try that out
Below is a Medela’s breast shell
This is another simple yet essential item! I love you whoever who created it! This is between a Milk collector and a breast pump. I call it ‘The Hybrid’. I use it in many instances! The silicone pump is known as a milk collector. It is used when you’re nursing.
You might wonder why do I need this if I already plan on buying the Medela’s Milk Collection Shells? The difference here is this item can also double up as a mini pump.
Hear me out, the Medela’s Milk Collection Shell would be perfect to use when you’re out. But when you’re nursing at home, you would want to collect as much breastmilk as you can in the first few days or weeks. This is because not everyone have huge amount of breastmilk, we have to work hard to stimulate the breast.
The silicone pump can yield more breastmilk, while the Milk Collection Shell collects. See the difference?
Then you may wonder, ”but I’ll be investing in a breast pump. So why would I need this silicone pump?” Very good question. I used to ask myself that too. But one day, I had an accidental discovery that made me love it even more!
See I had a hand-me-down from my sister-in-law, and later a gift from a fellow mom who also swore by it. So I ended up with 2 Hakkas.
On a lazy Monday night, I decided to use the Hakkas on both my breast instead of the breast pump, and I found its new purpose! A portable, cumbersome free, quick pump! I don’t have to set up my pumping cable, bra, or the whirring machine. I just stuck the two Hakkas on my breast in seconds and started tackling my house chores! And this time, I could actually do chores, unlike when I am all hooked up with the breast pump. I have so much more freedom and mobility.
But of course, you do not need to use this method if you only have 1. 1 is enough.
I used a Hakka Silicone pump, the image will link to more details.
You get more organized with the FREE breastfeeding checklist below.
I know this is an odd essential but bear with me. The oil is used to massage the breasts and stimulate the expression of milk. Basically, you’d be getting a breast massage to relieve engorged breast and blocked duct.
And why coconut oil? Because it smells nice and its good for your skin. You can use any oil at home. Not essential oil though. Use oils suitable for massages.
Immediately after birth, the milk will come in 4-5 days after labor. Some sooner, some later. Why I brought this up is because, when my milk started coming in, I immediately have a problem. My breasts engorged.
My breast engorged due to few reasons below:
- My milk came in the middle of the night. I do not breastfeed my baby because I rely on bottle-feeding through my confinement lady.
- My baby and I have not gotten the hang of latching properly (yes it takes practice, something people don’t tell). so in the previous few latching practices, the baby did not get much milk out of my breast.
- I was inexperienced. I slept with my engorged breast. Yikes! ><
I had to contact a lactation specialist the next day to resolve my problem. She taught us massage techniques to relieve my breasts, hence coconut oil.
So keep a bottle of oil handy! every mom experience engorgement one way or another.
Here is a convenient bottle of Coconut oil.
This is the utmost essential item for any breastfeeding mom! Any medium to big cushions you have at home that can prop your arm up for the ease of breastfeeding will do.
Why this is such an essential? It is because you’d be breastfeeding your baby for at least 30-45 minutes in the first months for 10-13 times a day!
And on top of that, the baby is small and cannot support its own weight. So you will be using one of your arms to support a 3kg baby for 30-45 mins, 10-13 daily.
This is how your arms quickly feel the strain and sore from breastfeeding.
In the long run, you will not be able to support your baby’s weight if this issue is not addressed!
In fact, I had a very bad sore running down from my neck, shoulder, and arms. It hurt even when I sleep.
Getting a good cushion and support will definitely ease the strain in your arms!
There are plenty of breastfeeding cushions out there.
The one I use is calledBreastfriend. It has a clip at the back, a flat base to place the baby, and a small pocket to hold your phone.
Out of all the cushions, I find this the most practical because
I can attach it to my waist and walk around with it. On top of that, the pocket comes in handy for me to quickly access my phone.
The only downside is, it does takes an extra step of preparation before breastfeeding.
This is how a breastfriend look like.
This is for covering yourself up when we are breastfeeding in public. Depending on your location and beliefs, you may not need a cover when breastfeeding in public. But I live in Asian and am conservative. So I need it. I used a BIG whale patterned swaddle as a cover. I love my whales. And it’s a perfect way to ‘wear’ it!
I love this swaddle.
Here’s an example of a breastfeeding cover.
11. Breast pads (non-disposable and disposable)
These are little circular pads that you’d put in your bra to absorb any leaks. The leaks will happen all the time in the first month! It is great to stock up on both disposable and non-disposable breast pads.
The washable, disposable breast pads are great to use at home and a great way to save on money. Because your breast will leak frequently, sometimes you will change out of the breast pads 3 times a day!
The disposable breast pads are useful when you are out. It also comes with a sticker on one side to secure onto the bra, so it wouldn’t move. Since you’d be changing quite frequently like a sanitary pad, you can just toss it when it’s full.
Why would I buy these breast pads when I plan to buy a Medela Collection shells?
It is up to you, these are merely recommendations. I like variety and options. There are days I don’t feel like having a rigid plastic on my breast, but still want to be comfortable without accidental leaks. I will also use these for when I go to bed.
Here’s the Disposable breast pads
Here’s the non-disposable breast pad
These are special bras with a detachable clip on the bra strap. It allows you to remove the bra pad to breastfeed. I’ve always been a person that would apply as many use to an item as much as I can. That’s why I love items that can double as a skirt or a dress.
But, I realize a normal bra just couldn’t cut it during my breastfeeding days. I tried to fold the top of my normal bra down during breastfeeding sessions. But it bothers my baby girl. Sometimes she would pull away and back to the breast again in a quick swift. When that happens, the fold would pop back up and interfere with her attempts to latch, causing her to fuss. It happened too many times.
A fussy baby makes a stressful mom. I initially had 2 nursing bra before birth, later I topped up 2 more. You don’t need to wear the nursing bra all the time. You only need to wear them when you’re out with the baby and the baby needs to breastfeed.
The list of things is getting longer. Use the free breastfeeding checklist below and not miss an item.
Why this is essential for breastfeeding? Because it is easy to access the breast without exposing too much skin. Look for the kind that is flexible. This is so you can pull down the top from above down to your breast to breastfeed. If you wear a normal top with sleeves, you will need to pull the top from bottom-up, revealing more skin on the side. Not to mention you’ll feel the wind or air on your exposed skin. Of course, this can rectify with a cover, swaddle, or a cardigan. My favorite pairing would be a spaghetti top and a cardigan.
Make sure to choose the kind of spaghetti-strapped that is easy to pull down form the top.
This type of clothing has a special flap you can open on the side of your breast. Sometimes, it has an extra layer that you can lift without revealing too much skin. All these are sewn in as 1 top. This may not be as essential to some. But it is definitely a breath of fresh air from the daily combos I wear. This at least offer some variety of design to look fashionable yet practical to breastfeed on the go.
The images below are some of the few variations you can get.
Click on the images for more details.
What I wish I had
This is something I didn’t even consider at all when I was setting up my nursery room. This is because I didn’t realize how physically demanding it is to breastfeed. Hence, I underestimated the need for the right nursing chair. It had cost me sleepless nights of sore arms and strained neck.
All I had was a makeshift nursing area on my ikea kivik couch. It was not a very effective couch for nursing because it has a very low armrest. I was trying to make it work by using many pillows to support my arm while I breastfeed. But it was such a loose set up that the support would give way very quickly if the baby struggles or when I move. Sometimes, someone will move the things around the couch. I will need to set up the pillows all over again in my next breastfeed. I wish I have an armchair for myself and have all the things where it belonged for the ease of breastfeeding.
You don’t need an expensive nursing chair sold in the baby stores. They are definitely high tech, look very comfortable, but they were also pricey. It was out of my budget, that’s why I didn’t consider buying a specific nursing chair.
But that said and done, it is IMPORTANT to prepare a special nursing chair for you. The most important thing you need to look out for is a comfortable cushion and a good height armrest. It should be able to support your elbow during a breastfeeding session. You may add pillows, blankets or a side table to make it comfortable later on. But securing a cushioned, well-supported chair for you is most important.
If I could buy a nursing chair, I will get theWindsor Glider and Ottoman. This chair has everything I need. From a good level cushioned-armrest to having an ottoman. To top it all off, both glides! Bliss.
Things I purchased and did not need
1. Nipple balm / cream / butter
This is a cream that relieves the nipple soreness and encourage quick healing.
I was fearful of nipple cracks and sore before my due date.
So this was the first item I purchased out of all my breastfeeding essentials. Turns out I did not use it as much.
Your breastmilk is filled with antibody and healing properties.
That’s why when a baby is sick or has jaundice, the solution is to breastfeed the baby even more.
This function applies to you as well if you drink it, or in this case, apply it on your own nipples.
So I rely on that instead. It was super convenient.
Plus, since I have my Medela Collection Shell, I used them a lot to prop up my shirt from my nipple.
On top of applying whatever breastmilk on the nipples, one of the best ways to heal the nipples is to leave it alone.
Avoid touching, chafing, rubbing, or baby sucking on it.
This is a special thin silicone that placed over your nipples to help the baby latch better. This is my single most regretful decision I made in my early days of breastfeeding. This is because I learned that there is a specific way of applying it, when to use it, and when to take it off! There’s a process to follow and it made sense! So why I had such a hard time is because I wasn’t using it right to begin with.
So I’ve mentioned I have a flat, slightly inverted nipple. During my stay in the hospital, the nurses would come in and help me and my baby to latch. And oftentimes it failed. When the nurse offered me the nipple shield, I accepted it. And that was when my struggle in my breastfeeding journey began.
After doing some research I realized there are a few things that went wrong:
- Firstly, the nurses did not give very good instructions on how to use it. On hindsight, I don’t think the nurses knew how. You need to pull back the nipple shield and have it encase your breast and nipple before the baby latches. All they did was place it on my breast loosely. And of course, the latching failed which created more frustration.
- Secondly, there are sizes. And I believe they gave me the wrong size. Causing the attempts to latch ineffective because the nipple shield did not ‘hold’ my nipples. It created sores, cracks instead. There was no stimulation to the areola to produce any significant amount of breastmilk.
- Thirdly, you don’t need a nipple shield unless your nipple is severely inverted. Mine was more flat than inverted. If I have worked harder and not give up too early on my latching attempts, I may have gotten around to it eventually. I don’t blame the nurses because they were trying to help. Although I wished they’d know better.
So not only did the latching failed with the nipple shield, but it also created nipple confusion to my poor girl. Nipple confusion is a term used when the baby begins to show a preference towards a bottle or silicone nipple over the mom’s breast or vice versa.
If you do have severely inverted nipples, the hospital might provide you one, if not, you may click the image below to check it out . Make sure you research in detail before purchasing one.
Last note on breastfeeding must-haves
So there you have it. My list of 14 essential items, 1 should-have-got-it-item, and 2 did-not-need-it-as-much-items for breastfeeding. Not all the items listed above might be essential in your opinion. Similarly, an item I did not find useful might be indispensable to some. I hope my sharing would provide you a clearer picture of what you need to make your breastfeeding experience pleasant.
Do you have any essentials that are not on this list? Share it in the comment, I’d like to know.
Are there any essentials I struggled with that was effective and made breastfeeding a breeze to you? I’d like to hear about your experience.
New Moms Related Posts:
Baby Sleep Training Related Posts:
Self-Love Related Posts: