If you're planning to breastfeed your baby, then it helps to prepare ahead of time to ensure you're set up for success, and we're here to help. From the supplies you'll need to handy resources to be aware of, this is the breastfeeding cheat sheet you've been looking for!
__ A nursing bra
There are thousands of nursing bras on the market, and just like any other bra, it is important that you try it on before you buy it. Look for one that is at least one cup larger and one inch larger around than your breasts pre-pregnancy. After delivery you may have some swelling of breast tissue and extra water retention, but within a few days, your body will shed the extra water, and you can buy a bra that better fits your new figure. (MWT TIP: Make sure your nursing bra unhooks and allows your breast to be free of any pressure while nursing. Sports bras can cause plugged ducts and breast infections due to the consistent pressure places on your breasts.) Options run the gamut — here's a soft knit one, here's a more elegant one, and if you don't want a bra, here's a camisole option.
__ A nursing cover
If you're a modest breastfeeder or if you're going to be nursing in public, you'll want to get a nursing cover. This allows you to nurse with privacy. In a pinch, a baby blanket works as well. If you do want a nursing cover, here's an affordable one from WeeSprout, or here's one that bills itself as quite versatile — a nursing cover, poncho, scarf and more!
__ Nipple cream
Lansinoh is a great product for chapped or sore nipples. It is especially made for nursing babies, which ensures it is safe for a baby to nurse even right after it is applied. Medela also makes a highly-rated nipple cream. A great lanolin-free option is Bamboobies Nipple Cream.
__ A nursing pillow
A nursing pillow allows for easier positioning of baby for nursing, and it can be especially helpful after a C-section or if you have multiples. There are many nursing pillows on the market. Many moms have said they prefer a pillow that snaps in the back because it makes positioning the pillow exactly where you want it and it stay in positions easier. Some highly rated nursing pillows include Fridababy Adjustable Nursing Pillow, the classic Boppy nursing pillow, and My Brest Friend nursing pillow.
__ A breast pump
If you are planning to pump so that you can return to work or if you simply want to share the joy of feeding your baby with others, you'll want to get a breast pump. Look for a portable, lightweight, reliable and efficient pump that won't damage your breasts and nipples. We give thumbs up to the Medela New Pump in Style or the Avent Double Electric Breastpump. Both of these brands are highly rated and enjoy stellar reputations, so you can't go wrong with either.
Whether you're struggling with breastfeeding or you simply have a quick question about nursing, it's always nice to have resources available. Here are some reliable and reputable breastfeeding support resources.
__ La Leche League
La Leche League is an international nonprofit that works to promote the benefits and importance of breastfeeding. You can explore the La Leche League International website for resources, or you can find local resources near you on their location finding page. While LLL used to have in-person meetings, due to COVID, meetings now take place virtually.
WomensHealth.gov is a government-run website has not only useful breastfeeding information, but also links to additional resources.
Getting Started With Breastfeediing
As you and your baby get used to breastfeeding, there are some things you'll want to look for and be aware of to ensure things are going as they should. During the first few days, your baby will be enjoying the colostrum, which is a thick, nutrient-filled fluid that is produced before the milk comes in. During these time, your baby will likely only make a very small number of wet diapers — perhaps 2-3 per day. Once your milk comes in, though, keep the following things in mind:
- Once your milk comes in, usually around days 3 or 4, your baby should start making more wet diapers — around 5-6 a day. For BMs, look for 2-5 a day for the first few months.
- Baby should nurse 8-12 times per 24-hour period, and they will likely nurse anywhere from 10-20 minutes per breast — sometimes longer. Particularly in the early days, follow your baby's lead.
- Signs that indicate your baby is hungry include crying, rooting toward your chest, or sucking on their hands or finger. When you see these signs, it's likely time to nurse.
- Breastfeeding can burn between 500-600 calories per day. Keep yourself well-hydrated and eat healthy snacks between meals to ensure you're keeping your body in top shape to do this important work!
- Be aware of what YOU eat and how it impacts your baby. Sometimes foods you enjoy may not agree with your little one. It can be helpful to keep a food diary in the first few weeks to identify the things that don't sit well with your little one.