I may have had training on the theory and benefits of breastfeeding down before starting this journey but the practical end really did come as a shock to the system. It took some getting used to for both baby H and I and took the help of a lactation consultant and our midwife to get us on track after a bit of a speed wobble in the beginning. For this post I have gathered my top 8 breastfeeding essentials that have helped us along thus far on our breastfeeding journey…
My Top 8 Breastfeeding Essentials:
- Breast pump and breastfeeding friendly bottle teats:
Many months before Baby H arrived I spotted a breast pump on a great deal on One Day Only and snapped it up. My advice would be to go with an electric pump but decide based on your needs and budget, consider checking in with a lactation consultant and bear in mind Medela do have a service offering breast pump hire.
For one horrendous day we cup fed baby H – what a nightmare, poor little guy gulped so much air and ended up with such a windy tummy, it was a nightmare. He was miserable, we were miserable, everyone was miserable! We were luckily told about the Medela Calma teats, designed for expressed breastmilk with a vacuum system causing milk to flow as with breastfeeding to maintain babies natural sucking rhythm, which we use on occasions where I am working away from home and baby H needs a feed.
- Feeding cushion:
We have a Snuggle Time feeding cushion from Baby City – this nifty cushion is great for breast or bottle feeding, can be used for tummy time and also as a support when baby is learning to sit.
- Nipple cream and breast shells:
Our speed wobble at the beginning had a lot to do with cracked bleeding nipples – nipple cream and breast shells were a necessity, I used the Medela Purelan and Medela Breast Shells. The shells protect sore or cracked nipples from friction before and after breastfeeding, giving sensitive breast tissue time to heal. And the cream soothes and protects and is safe for baby, so you don’t need to remove it before feeding. I have since discovered that nipple cream works wonders for cracked heals and also makes a fabulous lip balm (who knew).
- Breast pads:
Very nifty things to prevent leaking on baba or when out and about if not using breast shells.
- Nursing bras, tank tops and/or a nursing cover
My pre-baby wardrobe (and in fact even the bulk of my maternity wardrobe) are wholeheartedly unsuitable for breastfeeding. In both cases my clothes consist mainly of dresses…Really hadn’t thought through the logistics on that at all. I would recommend you set yourself up with a few nursing bra’s and tank tops before baby arrives (shopping will be last on your mind in those first few weeks) that can be worn with shirts & jerseys or wrap/button-down dresses. I have later down the line now also bought a nursing cover.
- Great support (and I’m not doubling up on the nursing bras point here):
It is really vital that you and your partner are on the same page with your feeding plans, along with your family and close friends supporting you, this is key to success! I have been very lucky that my whole support network have been on board all the way, providing a fountain on strength to get us through the tough spots!!!
We also would not have made it without the help of our midwife and our lactation consultant along with her weekly support group. Resources to find a lactation consultant or for support:
International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA): professional association for International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs). Find a lactation consultant.
Gauteng Breastfeeding Forum website or like their facebook page.
La Leche League International: a voluntary organisation which provides information and support to women who want to breastfeed their babies.
La Leche League South Africa: with contact details for local support.
- Towelling Nappies:
I bought these 4-packs from Woolies. They come in SO handy for mopping up baby spit up, drool, breastmilk, you name it – no need to go into too much detail here – but when you have a newborn you’re likely to be just a little damp at all times – a stock of absorbent towels can be a real help! I have these on our nappy changing station, in the nappy bag, by our feeding chair…
- Comfy spot to feed with easy access to water and snacks:
There is nothing worse that being pinned to a spot in an uncomfortable position with nothing to eat or drink! In the beginning each feed would take us around 45 minutes so a comfy spot with a water bottle and some snacks within reach was vital (breastfeeding is hungry and thirsty work)! I was very lucky to have my mom close by with a ready supply of lactation cookies – the oats, flax and brewers yeast combo is proposed to boost milk supply and honestly, in my opinion, there’s nothing quite like a choc chip cookie to boost moral at at 3am feed! Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean has a nice lactation cookie recipe you can try.