I want to share what I felt were Must Haves for Breastfeeding. Definitely utilize the lactation consultant in the hospital while you are there to help you hands-on and see if your pediatrician office also has a LC, mine does and it was helpful to go see them after being home a week or so. Especially go if you are having any supply issues as there are many things that can help with that. I hope this is helpful to those of you wanting to breastfeed!
1. Nursing Bra - I have 4 or 5 of these Bravado Nursing Bras and they are wonderful and very comfortable even to sleep in. They are the only nursing bra I wear. They must be worn by lots of mamas with all the reviews/stars they have. My SIL uses this brand too.
2. Nursing Pads - you can go with Disposable Nursing Pads or Reusable Nursing Pads that you wash. It is nice to have the disposable ones early on when you go through multiple pairs a day but I've liked the reusable ones now that I'm down to just one pair a day. And they can just go in with whatever laundry you are doing.
3. Nursing Pillow - People usually either go with the My Brest Friend Pillow or the Boppy and I like the former because it felt more secure around me and supported the baby easier with 2 humps for baby's head (one for each nursing side). If you get a boppy too don't get rid of it though because it can be great for tummy time or for support when visitors are holding the baby...we have one for those reasons.
4. Gel soothies - In the midst of delivering early, I forgot all about these Gel soothies and about 1 week postpartum my SIL reminded me about them and had an extra unopened pair. They were amazing. You keep them in the fridge in between uses. I had 3 pairs of these and used them for about a month or so. You can use them for longer than it says if you wash them and take good care of them.
5. Vitamin D drops - If you are breastfeeding your baby needs vitamin D which is already present in formula as recommended by my lactation consultant and pediatrician. We use these and it is just one drop a day and there is enough in the dropper for a year.
6. Nipple cream - Breastfeeding causes sore nipples mostly in the beginning when you are trying to get a good latch and may have to unlatch/relatch several times, etc. I didn't like the smell of the lanolin they had in the hospital and I was so glad I had some Motherlove nipple cream once we got home. Plus it is all natural! You can also use coconut oil, which is what I use on my pump flanges.
7. Nursing cover - My mom made me two nursing covers as a gift but if you don't want to DIY, here's one with great reviews. It was nice in the beginning when I was in public and it was hard to get him to latch quickly etc. Nowadays I don't use one much and because he gets hot under there and doesn't seem to like it. I've learned how to be fairly discreet and if people don't want to see it they don't have to look :) The cover is still great if I need to pump in a public place.
8. Nursing wear - I don't think you have to go crazy with nursing wear but having this Undercover Mama tank was nice because I could use it under any shirt and not expose my stomach and back while nursing.. especially nice if it is cool where you are nursing. It's one layer so you don't have another bra in it like a lot of nursing tanks. I have a couple of Target ones but I don't love them... the bra part is tight compared to the rest of the tank. I have a few shirts and a dress from Milk Nursingwear also which make it easy to breastfeed with secretly placed openings. This is really the only way to breastfeed in a dress unless you have a very low v-neck dress and even then you would risk stretching it out. I do wish they had a bigger selection and colors of dresses since a dress used to be such a go-to outfit for me.
9.* Hands free pumping bra - If you are pumping at all you will want this bra. I wish I had brought it to the hospital with me. When you are exhausted and having to pump round the clock, it is nice to not have to hold the pump parts in place. And it really does adjust for difference sizes.
10.* Milk storage bags - Again if you are pumping, you will need a way to store the pumped milk in the freezer. We have not had any issues with these bags and store them in cardboard soda boxes (a pinterest idea). They have a double ziplock seal at the top.
A a few things that you do not need to purchase but are must haves: Water, snacks and above all PATIENCE!
It was frustrating and exhausting the first 3 or 4 weeks when our son didn't have the sucking reflex down due to his early arrival but we kept trying and trying and I kept pumping and we would give him pumped milk. And then he learned what to do and it was SO much easier to just nurse... it felt like forever at the time but looking back now it really wasn't. That being said, there are cases where breastfeeding can't happen, just doesn't work out or the stress is doing more harm that good. While I'm a strong believer in breastfeeding, there is no judgment of other moms that are not. Don't beat yourself up about it if it isn't what is best for your family or circumstances. Everyone has to do what is best for their family.
*I didn't go into must haves regarding what breast pump or bottles are best because that can really depend on what is available from your insurance (yes, you get a free pump through insurance) and if you want your bottles to also go with the pump and which bottles/nipples your baby prefers. It may be best to get a couple of types of bottles to see what works. I personally have the PISA by Medela and their bottles have worked out for us well so far but I do also have a couple other bottle types to try in the future. I like the option to use the same bottles for pumping and for whenever we feed pumped milk. Even if you are an exclusively nursing, I highly encourage pumping even just a little once a day so you have a freezer stash when you want to have a date night or in case of an emergency. Eric and I have been able to go on a few dates or I can go do something for a few hours and pump in the car when necessary and there is freezer milk for the baby.