Nursing our son was one of the most wonderful experiences I encountered during his first days and months on this earth. Many things contributed to our nursing success including a supportive husband and raw dedication. I highly encourage every mom to breastfeed.
Along with supporting the health of our babies, there is a magical emotional state we can experience as mommies through this bonding process.
Every situation is different and we all have varying experiences, but I found certain products to be wonderful assets in our breastfeeding evolution. This is the list of items that helped us in our nursing journey:
1. Nursing Pillow & Multiple Covers ($41.99) at Boppy
I didn’t know what a Boppy was until late in my pregnancy. A good friend gave me one of her “extras” along with a few cute covers. I then received a second pillow from my aunt. I really wasn’t convinced that I would use either. I used them both daily during our entire 14 months of nursing. Yes, both. One stayed in our nursing escape place (referenced in #6 of this list) so that it was always readily available and easily found. The other traveled around the house and with us in the car! There were multiple occasions when I was thrilled to have our Boppy available during outings. This wonderful invention also holds babies up for when you need both hands or when an exhausted parent falls asleep while “holding” their baby!
Nursing can be messy. Any mommy who has experienced the “breast milk spray hose” after their baby unlatches knows exactly what I’m referring to! It helped me to have multiple covers so that there was a clean one available while the breast milk drenched and spit up soaked covers were washing.
Lastly, these pillows are awesome for the time when your baby needs to work on tummy time or starts to sit alone. We supervised tummy time when our son was small, and we would drape his body over the center of the “U” shape. This helped to prop him up so he could see while he worked on lifting his head. As he got older, we sat our son in the middle. When he had his repeated “tip-overs” they weren’t so bad because he was surrounded by the pillow.
2. Gel Pads ($8.99) at Target
Soothies were my most glorious form of relief during the first few weeks of our nursing experience! There were times early on that feeding my son was outright painful. Just like most nursing moms, my nipples cracked and bled. I simply followed the directions on the box and applied these little pieces of gel heaven during the really tough days. They helped get me through the pain; and the relief gave me confidence to continue breastfeeding. I only went through 2 boxes but I suggest you keep them on hand. When you need them…you need them!
3. Nursing Pads ($6.99) at Target
Nursing pads were a total necessity for me. With a heavy milk supply, I didn’t ever know when or where I was going to “leak.” Believe me when I tell you that there is no hiding nipple spillage! I used these particular pads because I liked being able to move and adjust them as needed. Others have sticky strips but they were hard for me to place “just right” and even harder to adjust. I also liked being able to dispose of them and feel fresh with a new pair. I tried cloth pads and found them to be bulky, heavy, and less than protective. They would soak right through in less than half the time I could wear a pair of disposables.
4. Nipple Ointment ($9.99) at Target
Just like the Soothies, this ointment was a form of relief and comfort for my dry, cracked, or sore nipples. I picked HPA Lanolin because I felt that it did the best job of coating and lasting on my skin. Also, I was comfortable with the ingredients of this salve. I tried to always wipe my chest before nursing but felt okay about the tiny portion of this my son would ingest.
5. Tracking Tool
This is where my notebook came in. As an exhausted new mom it was hard to get through the first stages of learning to nurse our newborn. Our son latched immediately in the hospital and was a “good nurser” but breastfeeding was tiring and cumbersome at times. Early on, when we were feeding on demand every few hours, I kept a small notebook journal that included 3 columns and 1 reminder:
- Time of Day (I recorded the time we nursed.)
- Duration (I recorded how long we nursed.)
- Right or Left (I wrote “R” or “L” for the side we started on.)
- Reminder (Mine said, “Drink Lots of Water!”)
This alleviated my need to remember every last detail of our feedings around the clock. It gave me confidence in switching sides and adjusting our schedule. (Some mommies utilize nursing bands or bracelets to track sides but I wanted the extra information without having to remember it.) This helped me to identify feeding patterns and also served as a reminder to drink as much water as possible. We eventually switched to a steady nursing schedule in which I no longer needed to track our feedings this way. It was incredibly helpful in the beginning, however, to record this information and have it on hand.
6. Escape Place
Designating an “escape place” was one of the best things I did to set us up for a successful nursing experience. When I was pregnant I had read about this concept and took it seriously. As a new mom I wanted to do everything “right” and breastfeeding our son was no exception.
Even though I was dedicated and driven to be successful at nursing there were times when I was clumsy, sloppy, and uncomfortable with the company surrounding me.
Sometimes it would take me a while to get set up with the Boppy, burp cloth, and nursing cover. (It felt like ages when our hungry baby was crying.) I wasn’t always graceful at switching sides and there were some times when our baby would assist in removing our cover, leaving me exposed.
This is where the safe haven of a nursing escape place came in handy. I designated our son’s room as our private space. I would sit in a rocker that had a small stand on the side which held all of our breastfeeding supplies. Even if I didn’t shut the door all the way, I couldn’t be seen by anyone who wasn’t in the room. This was so helpful at the beginning when our house was full of people and I felt overwhelmed.
The baby had to be nursed, right?
This safe escape place gave me a break, privacy, and helped me feel protected. We also had family members who wanted to watch us nurse. They were perfectly comfortable but I wasn’t always. This nursing space gave me the opportunity to politely excuse myself. I got alone time with our precious child and felt comfortable with my body and actions.
No eyes were there to judge; no voices were there to interrupt; no opinions where there to disturb. It was just me and him bonding without the barrier of a cover and I loved every second.
This safe escape did something else for me. It started to serve as a trigger for my brain and body to “let down.” My milk would come in hard and heavy whether I was pumping or nursing when I sat in that chair. Training my body in this way made nursing easier for the following months, especially during the times when I was rushing to pump.
7. Nursing Cover ($32.49) at Target
This is the exact Hooter Hider I purchased and I loved it. It provided enough thorough coverage to keep me comfortable and the strap was easy to adjust. The plastic ring at the top opening allowed me to see what was happening and make eye contact without having to lift our cover. I often placed my bra pads in the pocket because I always did a great job of misplacing them in the pile of clothing, cloths, and blankets during feedings. Also, the material is light and airy so our son could see out and stay cool. He didn’t mind it as much as other blankets I had tried.
Devoting time as a nursing mom meant that no matter where we were, we were going to breastfeed when it was feeding time. This cover made that so much easier on me! It came with it’s own storage pouch and was easy to wash, pack, carry and store. Plus, I like the cute, patterned material!
8. Breast Pump ($224.99) at Babies R Us
The pump. I was blessed enough to end up with two incredibly wonderful pumps because good friends were willing to loan theirs. I know what you are thinking…gross! I thought the same thing. However, the pump itself never touches any part of your body or milk supply. All accessories can be sanitized or purchased and borrowing from friends was much less expensive than buying our own. I could have rented a pump from our local hospital, as well.
Just as was true for the multiple nursing pillows, I used both pumps on a daily basis. One stayed at home in our nursing escape place. The other traveled to and from work with me. When I went back to work part time I needed to pump throughout the day. This backpack style pump was incredibly convenient and the double pump system helped my sessions to go smoothly and quickly.
I would also pump during our morning feedings. (I was so pleased to learn this trick from a friend.) My milk was heaviest first thing in the mornings, especially when our son started sleeping through the nights. So, I would place him on one breast and pump from the other. I would then switch the baby and the pump. This helped me to create a surplus of milk that could be bagged, frozen, or refrigerated for the bottle feedings that happened in between our nursing sessions.
When it comes to your pump…don’t skimp! Purchase the best you can buy or make friends with people who have them. An electronic, double pump is the way to go if you are a busy, working, breastfeeding mommy.
9. Storage System Bags ($11.99) at Babies R Us
These are the particular bags I used because they were easy to write on and keep track of. We froze our breast milk, hauled it from place to place, refrigerated it, and took special care of it. I liked these bags because they have measurement markings. I was able to pour my pumped milk in at the right amounts so that one bag would make the perfect size bottle. They were easy to label and write on, as well. We didn’t have a fancy storage system but through date labeling and storing like months together in larger bags in the fridge and freezer; it was easy to cycle the milk and ensure there was never a shortage. These bags were the perfect way to keep our “liquid gold” safe and manageable!
10. Co-Sleeper ($145.50) at Baby Gifts Outlet
Having our baby at our bedside was a truly wonderful thing for our nursing months. For multiple reasons I wanted our baby near but not in our bed. This was the perfect way for our family to accomplish that situation.
This bassinet type bed actually hooks directly on to your mattress. It worked perfectly with our king size bed. I loved having the open side that faced our bed because I could easily see, hear, and touch our newborn. When it was time to feed he was immediately available. He didn’t have to cry for long and I didn’t have to get up and out of our bed twenty times each night. The sheer convenience of that as a C-Section mommy was priceless.
We borrowed our co-sleeper from my cousin but plan to purchase one for our next baby. I loved the pockets because they held our nursing journal, nursing pads, and lanolin. I used the zipped area underneath to store blankets, baby sheets, extra burp cloths, and Boppy covers. The bottom also adjusts to become deeper as your baby grows. We kept our son sleeping in his co-sleeper until he was 9 months old and it worked perfectly for our family.
Just like any time in childhood, our son went through phases in his nursing process and my body followed. Some of these items were not needed or necessary by weaning time but they all contributed to our nursing success.
Lastly, this list can financially add up, so I encourage you to register for these items if you will be having a baby shower. You can also borrow or purchase used items from this list in the cases that are appropriate. I utilized everything on this list often enough to justify spending money on each item.
For those of you who have nursed, what other items assisted you? Did you have a favorite burp cloth or nursing position? Where was your escape place? Did you use a co-sleeper?