Genevieve of Mama Natural and I chatted at the Wellness Family Summit about how breastfeeding can be more overwhelming than one might expect. When I was pregnant with George, I spent so much time reading about labor and delivery and soaking up advice for having a natural birth in a hospital. I honestly figured that nursing him right away would be a simple thing. Just put the baby on the boob and that’s it, right?
It works that smoothly for some people; but for most moms, it’s not so smooth a transition. I highly recommend meeting with your hospital’s lactation consultant during your stay, even if you think you are a total pro at this nursing thing. They can take a look at your baby’s latch early on and help give you awesome pointers for the weeks ahead. Additionally, I would have been lost without my local Le Leche League leader (hi, Michelle!). George had a terrible latch in the beginning, and having their solid support really encouraged me. You can find LLL leaders in your area by visiting here. Finally, having great breastfeeding tutorial books on hand (because it really isn’t always as simple as putting the baby on the boob) with pictures and visual guides can be a lifesaver during those 3 a.m. feedings when you’re really not sure what’s going on. I like this one and this one.
What I came to learn is that, for the mama who plans to nurse her baby, there are a lot of items to have on hand that can aid in the breastfeeding/pumping process. These items/methods are what I keep around for all my ta-ta food-making needs.
*I know you’re no dummy, but I have to remind you that I’m not a doctor and I’m clearly not intending to treat, cure, or diagnose. Always talk to your doc about everything. I’m just sharing what’s worked for me 🙂
- Lanolin – As I mentioned here, this is a soothing cream that many moms use. I really liked it a lot for convenience sake during the first two weeks of George’s life. Then, I wanted to move to some thing a bit more natural …
- Beauty Balm – This balm is intended to nourish the skin and lips, but you can use it safely on your nipples to help prevent cracking and bleeding. I love love love this stuff. Or, if you’re into DIYs …
- Homemade Sore Nipple Soother – Once I didn’t adjust after two weeks postpartum like I’d hoped, I knew I needed to incorporate more remedies if I had any hope of continuing to nurse. Following Genevieve’s lead, here’s what I got in the habit of doing: I would mix a bit of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar with 16 parts filters water (I used 1 Tbsp ACV and a cup of water and kept it in the fridge between uses). After each feeding, I would soak some of that mixture onto a cotton ball and dab it on the sore area. This helps get rid of any bacteria! Then, I would apply a baby probiotic powder and coconut oil mixture onto the nipple and cover with a nursing pad. Coconut oil is great for skin hydration and repair, while probiotics are awesome for the baby’s gut development and can also help with colic. I use this coconut oil and I rotate every three months between this probiotic and this one. Rotating probiotics keeps the gut and immune system guessing and on its toes 😉 For the mixture, I would mix about a Tbsp of coconut oil with a tsp of powdered probiotic. This technique brought so much relief on those especially difficult nursing days!
- Plugged duct remedy – Plugged ducts can really rain on your parade. I had a few in the beginning, and I wanted to jump on it right away before it turned into that-which-shall-not-be-named-but-rhymes-with-bastitis. Want to know what kicked my plugged duct every single time within 7 hours? I kept nursing on that side, massaged the duct with warm water in the shower, and applied lavender and geranium essential oils. Bingo.
- Stretch mark balm – I like to use a mixture of coconut oil, shea butter, lavender, geranium, and Gentle Baby essential oils, and vitamin E oil. All have nourishing and healing properties. Also, adding gelatin to my diet has helped get rid of stretch marks on my tummy and chest very quickly. I add gelatin to my cup of morning tea.
- Hot/cold gel packs – These babies can be warmed up or cooled down according to the type of relief you need.
- Nippled shields – I only used a nipple shield once in the hospital, but I know they are vital to many new moms, so I wanted to include them. Nipple shields help with latch issues while still allowing that good skin-to-skin contact between mama and baby.
Nursing Bras and Pads
- Everyday Nursing Bra – I try to stay away from underwire bras as much as possible while nursing as they can cause problems with milk ducts if they don’t fit properly. I like these because they still provide good support without the underwire, and they’re comfy.
- Nighttime Nursing Bra – Two words: easy access. This is perfect for the middle of the night nursing sessions when you’re half-awake.
- Underwire Nursing Bra – These are great for when you’re going out on the town and want to give the girls a little extra support 😉
- Reusable Nursing Pads – I really like these cotton organic nursing pads. Using reusable nursing pads aids frugality and saves space. But, when my milk first came in, they couldn’t absorb as much as I was outputting, in which case I turned to disposable nursing pads.
- Disposable Nursing Pads – Quick, convenient, effective.
- Nursing Cover – I really like this nursing cover because it has the D ring that allows easy eye contact/monitoring of baby while he nurses. But, of course, Aden and Anais swaddling blankets can serve double duty as a nursing cover.
- Breast Pump – I really like my breast pump. It’s definitely a little pricier, but God-willing, we’ll be having more little ones, so I know we will get good use out of it. This pump comes with everything you need including bottles, a little cooler, and a few milk bags.
- Milk Bags – I like these because they’re BPA free and are pre-sealed to ensure sterile transfer.
- Bottles – You may have to experiment for a while to see which kind of bottle your baby takes the best. We lucked out and scored big time with our first try. I love these bottles because they’re BPA free and the nipple design is practical for itty bitty babies, too.
- Bottle Cleaning Brushes – You’ll want to keep a bottle brush and a nipple brush on hand. Some parts of bottles are hard to reach with a regular kitchen sponge, and milk can get lodged into the nipple, in which case you’ll definitely need a little brush.
Some Ways to Increase Milk Supply
- Eat Healthy Fats (like coconut oil, almonds, avocado, and grass-fed butter)
- Lactation Cookies
- Mother’s Milk Tea
- Zija and Moringa
- Nurse frequently, skin to skin, with no time limits
For those mamas who are not able to nurse …
We haven’t forgotten about you! First, kuddos to you for laying down your own desires and visions for the sake of your little one. This may be one of the first hard lessons of motherhood for you. Wanting to breastfeed but not being able to for whatever reason can be difficult on the heart; so know that you are a marvelous mom, your baby thinks you hung the moon, you will not lose bonding time with your baby thanks to the benefits of skin-to-skin contact, and your baby can still receive great nutrition through quality homemade formula.
Now it’s your turn to share …
What are your must-haves for nursing? Share below!