It's Not Your Average List
As with most things in my mothering life, there is really only one thing to do when I am questioning what I really need to make it through any parenting task: Turn to the experts, who are, of course...
Experienced mommas who know.
Yes, I've been there and in the thick of the breastfeeding ranks of mothers, but can I also admit something?
I'm actually not very good at it. I mean, I pulled it off enough to the point that my babies were always off the growth charts and they are obviously still kicking today, but I was never one to seamlessly pull off the public breastfeed or to pump at work without spilling half a bottle of breast milk all down my scrubs. Frankly, I could use all the help I can get. Which is why I'm so grateful for all the mothers who passed on their advice for the best breastfeeding gear, tried and tested. Ready?
What breastfeeding moms really need
The Boppy pillow
I know, I know, you probably have all heard of this one, but if you happen to be a lazy breastfeeding mother like I am, if you get nothing else, get the Boppy. And at least two cute covers, because you know, babies aren't exactly neat, if you get my drift. I've also heard good thing about My Breast Friend pillows (it's the brand Michelle Duggar uses), especially if you will be nursing twins.
A one-handed reading device
Ha! Fooled you, didn't I? You thought this was going to be all responsible and Mother Earth-like, didn't you? My friends, if I may let you in on a little secret of mine and tell you: Breastfeeding is an amazing time for guilt-free reading, Netflix watching, or blog browsing. If you don't have yourself a smartphone, e-reader, or some other kind of one-handed scrolling device, get it now. I have the Nook and it's withstood the test of time and three kids so far.
I admit that I totally had to go look this one up, because what the heck are Soothies? (Also, does anyone else strangely want a smoothie now?) Soothies are apparently a "soothing" cooling gel pad thing for your nipples, which now that I think about it, sound wonderful. "Received them from my lactation consultant after my son was born," said one mother. "Best things ever!" (Amazon.com, $8)
A nursing sleep bra
Again, I have to admit that I had literally never even heard of a nursing sleep bra and I feel so silly for not ever thinking of it. My solution for sleeping? Stuffing a nursing tank top full of nursing pads that will inevitably become dislodged during the night and waking up to a pool of milk every morning. Not fun. A nursing sleep bra would really make much more sense now, wouldn't it? (Motherhood Maternity, $17)
Oh, I'm getting tricky again! This little tip comes from the labor and delivery ward and is backed by the mother-tested seal of approval. To prevent cracking in your nipples, or help heal cracked nipples, express a little milk after the baby is done feeding and let your nipples air dry without wiping the milk off. Nature's own moisturizer.
Here is another area of nursing where I failed miserably. Although I have breastfed in public, I've never mastered the art of doing it gracefully. I actually dread leaving the house and feeding a baby because all I've ever used is a blanket, and guess what? Babies kick and the blanket goes with it. I also hate that I can't see anything if I'm trying to use a blanket without it slipping off, so one would think I would have been smart enough to wise up and purchase an official nursing cover, but no, I still haven't. A quick online search will yield you tons of results, but I'm personally leaning towards an Udder Cover because they have the rigid band at the top that allows you to see what the heck you're doing. (UdderCover.com, $35)
Lots of tank tops
If you happen to come across some sort of random tank top sale at your favorite store, take my advice now and buy them all. Tank tops to a nursing mother are as messes are to a toddler: totally necessary. One mother even recommended donning two tank tops for nursing, "one to pull up and one to keep down" to cover the stomach, thus eliminating the need for any nursing cover. Personally, I still like a bit more coverage, but I will say that I never, ever get dressed while nursing without a tank top, because we all know that no one wants to see the flab that once was my mid-section when baby's getting her mid-morning snack [shudder].
A lactation consultant on speed dial
Truth: No two babies are the same. You may have mastered breastfeeding with your last baby only to be smacked in the face with a baby who won't latch, spits up, or in general refuses the breast. Prepare early on to at least have a reference to consult should something go wrong, and you will save yourself a lot of turmoil.
It pretty much goes without saying that if you plan on ever leaving your baby for more than two hours, or even if you don't but want to stock up on milk, you'll need a breast pump of some sort. Hands-down, I recommend the Medela double electric pump. But what you might not think of — and what hadn't occurred to me until a wise reader recommended it — is purchasing a car charger for your pump. Honestly, it's genius. I can't count the number of times I've needed a place to pump and couldn't find one, including one particularly painful incident at a friend's wedding when I plugged in on one side of the bathroom, crammed in a stall, and kneeled on the floor in order to reach the pump. So, yeah, car charger = smart. (ToysRUs, $30)
Hands-free pump holder
And speaking of pumps, how great is the thought ofhands-free pumping? Honestly, I loathe pumping, if only for the 20 minutes of boring, boring time that seems more excruciating by the fact that I can literally do nothing more than hold the pump in place. Jenny Erwin, a nurse from Michigan, has the solution for that. "For working moms... the breast pump holder bra. I would go on break, hook up my pump, eat, make phone calls, and chart, all hands-free with it... definitely a must!" (BabiesRUs, $34)