High up there on the list of things people never tell you about pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum is how difficult breastfeeding can be, especially in the beginning. In an effort to break the silence, I’ve been very open about my struggle to breastfeed my son during the first month of his life. Every problem you can think of, we had it: latching difficulties, poor latch, lazy eating, fussy eating, the list goes on.
Even though I had read books about breastfeeding and took all the breastfeeding classes our hospital offered, I was not prepared to handle all these issues. And as anyone who has a newborn knows, in these early days, every day feels like an eternity. If you are also struggling with breastfeeding, here are a few things that will make your breastfeeding journey easier (disclaimer: I am not an Amazon affiliate and will not be receiving any percentage of sales made through links in this article):
1. Lactation consultant. I would strongly suggest making an appointment with a lactation consultant if you are running into breastfeeding issues. Ours was a huge help and it was also good to have a professional who had specialized expertise in breastfeeding. Our hospital had an IBCLC counselor (who was also a labor and delivery nurse) on staff. Your doctor should be able to refer you to one, but you can also search for one in your area here. KellyMom also has a list of resources you can use to find breastfeeding help.
2. Nursing bras. Professional help aside, there are many items that make breastfeeding easier. A nursing bra is one of them. Ideally, you’ll need two – one at night, and one during the day. The most popular day nursing bra is the Bravado Seamless Silk bra, which I admit is fairly comfortable. I also highly recommend Kindred Bravely’s Seamless Sublime nursing bra and their nursing sleep bra.
3. Nipple cream. I’ve tried three different types of nipple cream, and my favorite is the Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter. It smells delicious and it doesn’t leave a greasy residue the way lanolin cream does.
4. Breastfeeding pillow. Boppy and My Brest Friend are the two most popular brands. I preferred My Brest Friend over Boppy because it was firmer, but they are both good and MUCH better than using regular pillows (which I tried as well).
5. Nursing chair. I tried to save money by not getting a nursing chair, but when I was struggling to breastfeed on our bed or on our midcentury couch, I realized how important a comfortable chair is. Now, 4.5 months in, it’s easy for me to breastfeed on the bed or couch if I wanted to, but when you’re tired, recovering from childbirth, and you and your baby are getting frustrated from your breastfeeding efforts, a comfortable chair is necessary! We ordered ours from Wayfair.
6. Nipple shield. If your baby is having trouble latching, nipple shields can be a huge help. My son was only able to nurse with a nipple shield in the beginning (beginning meaning five weeks!). If you are determined to breastfeed, a nipple shield can help you preserve the breastfeeding relationship until you are able to wean the baby off of it. I used this shield from Medela.
7. Nursing pads. Nursing pads are another lifesaver for the modern mom. You place these inside your bra so that they absorb any milk that may be leaking from your breasts. It prevents your shirt from staining and saves you from any embarrassing situations! After doing lots of research, I found that the Lansinoh breast pads were the best disposable pads.
8. Vitamin D drops. Breast milk has low levels of vitamin D, which your child needs. Your doctor will ask you to give your child a vitamin D supplement daily, either inserted with a syringe or mixed into his bottle (if you are bottle-feeding pumped breast milk).
If you are pumping, whether it’s because you need to go back to work or because your doctor wants you to pump to increase your milk supply or so you can get a break once in a while from breastfeeding, then you’ll need a few more supplies. I will cover what you need for pumping in my next article.
On a final note, if you find yourself looking for guidance in the middle of the night, Breastfeeding Basics and KellyMom are excellent resources when a professional is not immediately available for consultation.
About the author
Michelle Lin is the founder of The Rad Dad Box, a monthly subscription service providing care packages to new dads and their children. She and her husband have a four and a half month old son. You can find them on Facebook and Instagram.