Heidi and I are only a few weeks away from reaching my goal of ONE WHOLE YEAR BREASTFEEDING. I’m super proud that we’ve come this far, especially since there were times in the beginning I didn’t think we’d make it to the end of that day. And while I agree that fed is best, I know so many women who weren’t able to reach their breastfeeding goals for one reason or another. I think every mom should be able to feed their baby in whatever way is best for them without judgement or opinions. So if breastfeeding is how you’d prefer to feed your baby, I hope this post can serve as a resource to help you not only prepare, but to enjoy, your breastfeeding journey. And don’t forget, if you’re planning on exclusively pumping, I have resources here and here for you!
Must Have Breastfeeding Items:
Haakaa: in those beginning months, the engorgement will be SO real that you’ll love having the Haakaa to help. Whenever I’d nurse Heidi, I’d attach this to the other side to collect my letdown. BUT the Haakaa does more than just “catch” milk; it does draw it out from your breast which is important to note in case you’re trying to avoid an oversupply. With the Haakaa, I was able to collect and store hundreds of ounces of breastmilk in the first few months.
Kiinde: this is my favorite system for storing breastmilk and feeding. The bags are amazing quality, have never leaked, and I love the screw tops. The system comes with adapters for the bags, so you can pump directly into them without having to worry about washing bottles/transferring milk when you’re done. And then you can use those same adaptors + the kiinde nipple/bottle shell to feed baby straight from the storage bags. The whole system is genius and amazing for cutting down how much bottle washing you’re doing. And you can use the adaptors to use nipples from other bottle systems such as Dr. Browns, Tommee Tippee, etc.
Nipple Care: sore, cracked nipples are just a part of the breastfeeding journey. You’ll most likely struggle with this at the beginning of your journey, and you may again when your baby gets teeth. My two favorite items to have to give your nipples some TLC are lanolin (I use the Medela brand) and these soothies. They really do feel great and soothing. I’d get both of these to have on hand for whenever the need may arise.
Hot/Cold Soothing Pads: I love these, especially when suffering from engorgement or mastitis. They can be frozen or microwaved — alternating between hot and cold can be just what you need when suffering from mastitis. You may want to invest in two pairs so you can use them hot when pumping to encourage milk flow, and then use frozen ones for right after to soothe.
Nursing pads: an essential item to avoid leaking on your clothes all day. As much as I wanted to love the reusable ones (more affordable and environmental friendly), they always made me feel wet. I much prefer the Lansinoh disposable ones. And stock up!
Nursing Bras: the comfortable nursing tanks and bras are great for sleeping or if you’re not leaving the house. But I personally love to have some “cuter” more shaped ones for wearing under my “let’s leave the house” clothes. Target has these that I love, and Hotmilk lingerie makes some BEAUTIFUL nursing bras that I actually feel sexy in.
Pump: your insurance will most likely cover a free pump. Let me save you the research and just go ahead and tell you to get the Spectra S1 or S2 (the main difference is the S1 has a battery so you can pump away from any outlets). I’d also invest in a good hand pump (medela is my favorite). Since I stay at home and Heidi refuses to take a bottle, I nurse 100% of the time, so I’ve actual never used my electric pump this time around. But I do use my hand pump every night. It’s just easier and more convenient than pulling out the huge electric pump with all of its buttons, sounds, and tubing. However, if I were going back to work or pumping more than I was nursing, an electric pump would be more essential.
Items I didn’t use hardly at all: nursing pillow, nursing cover, nursing caddy. I think these are items that some people will swear by and others will have no use for. If you want, you can have them on hand, but don’t be surprised if you rarely every use them!
Snacks and Recipes to Help Boost Your Supply
Boobie bites: these are SO GOOD and freezable, so you can make a huge batch and store them in the freezer for weeks.
Smoothies: I also like to make these in bulk and freeze. Then I can take one out whenever and simply add my liquid of choice. I freeze a whole tub of Greek Yogurt into this silicone food storage tray. Then I also freeze peanut butter in the same tray. In each individual smoothie bag, I add about: 2 cubes of greek yogurt, 1-2 cubes of peanut butter, 1/4c rolled oats, 1tsp flax seed, half a banana, and about 1/2c of frozen berries.
Lactation Cookies: another recipe you can freeze! The first time I froze these after baking them. The next time I froze them in dough balls and baked as needed — I much preferred the taste this way!
Oatmeal: so easy, supply boosting, and I like to add fresh fruit and vanilla almond milk. My person favorite is the Trader Joes frozen Brown Sugar and Maple Syrup steel cut oats
Water: I hate water, but there’s no denying that it boosts my supply when I’m keeping up with drinking it!
High calorie, nutrient rich foods: while there may be certain foods or drinks that people swear by as supply boosting, at the end of the day, doing your best to eat nutritious foods and plenty of it (along with water) is a great way to keep your supply up! Ingredients that you’ll note are supply boosting are typically: flax seeds, oatmeal, brewers yeast, barley.
Supply & Demand Reminder
It’s important to understand that, first and foremost, your breastmilk supply is all about supply and demand. Your supply is established in the first 3 months of breastfeeding, so that is when it’s vital that you’re signaling to your body how much milk to make. This is when an oversupply or undersupply can potentially be established – you’ll want to avoid both. However much milk is being removed from your breasts during this time is how much you’ll “teach” your body to produce. Ideally, you’ll nurse your baby on demand – this is the easiest way to signal to your body exactly how much it needs to produce. If you happen to be giving baby a bottle as a feeding, you’ll want to still pump during that time so your supply doesn’t drop. But be wary that adding in “extra” pump sessions in addition to nursing full time will signal to your body to produce more milk with could result in a painful oversupply.
After that three month mark, your supply will be established. This means that, if you’ve been pumping at times during the day to keep your supply up, you can start experimenting with dropping these pump sessions. Keep an eye on your supply, but if it doesn’t dip, then you can start dropping those extra sessions without hurting your supply!
Join a facebook group to find support and a safe place to ask questions. I personally love the Sarah Wells VIP group. You could also find a breastfeeding mom facebook group for your city.
A lactation consultant is a great resource to help get your breastfeeding journey started on the right foot. You could have them come to your house or do a virtual meeting. They can talk with you about establishing your supply, helping you achieve the best latch, teaching you different nursing positions, and help you make sure baby is eating enough during a feeding.