It’s so funny when I see articles like this, because my usual reaction is “Yawn… boob, baby, boppy… what else do you need?”.
Then again, I had a very easy time breastfeeding my babies, and my only major problem was engorgement.
But I started talking with friends of mine that had a VERY hard time nursing.
Some had latch issues, some had supply issues, some just had a hard time getting the hang of it.
So between them and the issues that I had, I came up with these basic accessories that are very helpful to moms who breastfeed – whether they have over or under supply issues!
1. Boppy Or Similar Nursing Pillow
I am not kidding when I say I LOVE Boppys and similar cushions.
They can help you get your baby into the right position for nursing, and they give you a way to rest your arms during the 12th nursing session of the day.
It’s amazing how heavy an eight pound baby can feel when you’ve been holding them all day – the Boppy gives your arms and shoulders a break.
I actually have a My Brest Friend – it took the basic Boppy styling and improved on it by adding a waist strap to hold it in place around mom, contours to raise the baby’s head a bit, and even a pocket to slip must have items like a burp cloth or snack for mom.
2. Breast Pads – Cloth Or Disposable
I’d love to say “just use cloth!” in every case, but if you’re a very milky mama, you’ll soak through your cloth supply in no time and be out of luck until you do laundry again.
You might not be a leaky person, and if that’s the case you can get away with just cloth pads – if not, or if you’re going to be away from your baby for a while, get a package of disposable breast pads.
Your bras and shirts will thank you.
3. Milkies Milk Saver Bags
This goes along with the breast pads – if you’ve determined that you’re a leaker, at some point you’ve said to yourself “I sure wish there were a way to save all this milk! It seems a shame to waste it!”.
Some brilliant person thought the same thing – Milkies are bags that attach to your breast with adhesive and sit right in your bra.
If you start letting down, the Milkies bags will catch and save your milk!
Then all you have to do is pour them into a bottle or storage bag and refrigerate.
4. Breast Pump
If you need to spend any time away from your nursing baby, if you’re trying to build your supply, or you have a baby who can’t nurse directly just yet, you need a pump.
Insurance will often pay for all or a portion of a high quality double electric pump, like the Medela Pump In Style, but there are other options available.
Ask your insurance what pumps they cover, and how much they will pay towards the purchase.
If I had my pick of all pumps on the market today, I’d choose the Freemie electric pump – it’s a double pump, but instead of having to hold the bottles and flanges in place with your hands or a special bra, it has collection cups that sit right in your regular or nursing bra!
There are manual pumps available too, but most are only good for one side at a time, doubling your pumping time – they’re really mostly good for occasional use, like a short trip away from baby.
5. Thermal Gel Breast Packs
A few companies make these pads and can be used on the breast either warmed or cold.
If you have a plugged duct, you want to use heat on the affected part of the breast.
If you’re just engorged in general, you want to chill your breasts to help take down the swelling.
These are great for both – microwave for heat, chill in the freezer for cold.
Slip into your bra and feel the relief!
6. Lanolin Cream
If your nipples are sore, the lanolin cream will help protect them so they can heal, but it’s a safe ointment for your baby to ingest – that means you won’t have to scrub your sore nipples before every feeding.
There are lots of brands – pick your favorite, and apply after each nursing session.
Give your nipples as much air time as you can along with the lanolin cream, and unless there’s a serious underlying latch problem your nipples should heal quickly.
7. Supplemental Nursing Systems
If you have a low supply problem or your baby is having trouble getting the milk out of your breast, an SNS may help you get to a point where your baby can nurse exclusively.
It consists of a small bottle filled with either pumped milk or formula that you hang around your neck, connected to tiny tubing that you attach to your nipple.
When your baby latches on to your nipple and starts nursing, they receive your milk and an extra supplement from the SNS, so you don’t have to give a second feeding with a bottle later.
This is best used with the oversight of a lactation consultant (more on that later).
8. Nursing Bras Or Camisoles
You will need support for your breasts, even if you USED to be small on top.
My own mom was a B cup before giving birth to me, and literally overnight went up to a DD cup!
(Her comment? “Now I know why cows moo.” It’s the kind of story that lives on in family legend.)
And even if you don’t experience major growth like that, you’ll still want something with easy access for nursing sessions that can hold your breast pads in place.
The nursing bras will offer more structured support, while the nursing camisoles will offer a more relaxed support with tummy coverage, which is nice when it’s cold out.
Some moms like a simple sports bra that they can pull up or down for feeding time, but those of us who have bigger boobs might not be able to manage that.
Whatever style you choose, make sure there aren’t any tight or binding spots, as those can lead to clogged ducts and possibly mastitis.
9. Fenugreek Tea/Oatmeal
Both of these are considered galactologues, meaning they increase your milk supply.
If you’re struggling to make enough milk for your baby, drinking fenugreek tea and eating oat-based products like oatmeal may help improve your supply.
There are prescriptions you can also take if you’re really struggling with your milk supply, but these are some simple steps you can take on your own before resorting to medications.
10. Water And Snacks – Duh?
But really, any hunger I ever had while pregnant was NOTHING compared to the hunger I experienced as a nursing mom.
And I was frequently slacking off on drinking enough water, which made me more vulnerable to mastitis and supply issues.
If you can set up a little basket of snacks and water bottles next to your favorite nursing spot, you’re going to help yourself in a big way with your milk supply.
And it’s just a good idea to take good care of yourself, so you can take care of your baby!