My Breastfeeding Essentials (Takes More Than Your Boobs)
When I gave birth to my first child, I felt quite confident; I had dog-eared copies of What to Expect When You're Expecting AND What to Expect the First Year. What I didn't give much thought to was breastfeeding. I assumed I already had everything I needed (Boobs? Check!) and I just wanted to keep things as minimal as possible, like I did with maternity clothing . Needless to say, I was quite underprepared! Some of the breastfeeding "gear" I had initially balked at became lifesavers.
I never intended to pump. I was going to be a stay-at-home mom, so I had no need to. Besides, the thought of pumping made me feel like a cow! But during our first night back home with the baby, I felt the most intense pain of my life, spiked a fever, and was rushed back to the hospital. Ladies and gentlemen, my milk came in! The moment they hooked me up to the breast pump, I was in heaven. Pumping proved to have its other benefits– it increased my milk supply, and allowed me to occasionally leave my baby with a sitter.
I used the Medela Pump-in-Style Advanced, which was very convenient, efficient at collecting milk, and super customizable (a must– there’s no such thing as “standard-sized” breasts!).
These are essentially aprons that cover you while you nurse. There's an opening up top, held by a wire under the fabric. I was happy with my cover from Bébé au Lait: decent-sized, lightweight, and pretty straightforward to use. Other nursing covers tend to be too large and cumbersome. Some even double as a pashmina/scarf. I wasn't a fan of those multipurpose covers, as they seemed potentially suffocating for the baby without the wire opening.
LilyPadz are washable, silicone stick-on nursing pads. Rather than absorbing milk, they stop the milk flow and prevent leaking while you're wearing them. I've tried cotton breast pads, both washable and disposable, and I just can't get behind them! They don't absorb well enough, move around, and get a musty milk odor.
LilyPadz are a must-have during the first few months of nursing. While your milk supply is still regulating, you best believe you'll start spurting at the worst moments! Be prepared and do not leave home without these if you’re nursing full time. You can even go braless or go swimming with these on! They're more cost effective than disposables if you take care of them properly. To clean, simply wash with dish soap and lay sticky side up to dry.
Stretchy Black Camisoles
Confession: I never used nursing bras, and it wasn't the end of the world! I found that stretchy camisoles (such as this one by Cosabella) offered enough support to go sans bra. (But I must admit, I’m naturally on the smaller side.) The beauty of the camisole is that it gives you more freedom with your clothing options. Nursing tops tend to be too low-cut, or have weird flaps/button snaps that just SCREAM "breastfeeder!" With a camisole underneath, your midsection will be covered when you lift your shirt – so go ahead and wear that turtleneck!
Speaking of midsections, try a compression camisole. It helps tighten things back up postpartum. The trend these days is to use corsets, or "waist-trainers,” immediately after giving birth. I find them severe and uncomfortable. A compression cami underneath clothing is more discreet, and just as effective.
You can go even further and leave the nursing cover at home with my secret outfit formula: Camisole + Loose Crop Top (functions as the "cover") = Freedom
If you're nursing, you're going to soak your shirt at least once— it's inevitable, especially in the beginning. Think of it as a rite of passage. On that fateful day your milk supply recalibrates off-schedule OR your baby pulls away mid-suck OR you're out on a date and another baby starts crying nearby OR you wear your LilyPadz six hours straight without relief . . . the only thing you can do is wear a printed top. No one will ever know you're drenched if you distract them with polka dots.
Left your nursing cover at home? Forgot to wear a camisole under your shirt? Rather than struggling to cover your boobs and /or tummy, just cover your identity. (Currently lusting over this Warby Parker “Bird” pair … )
What are your breastfeeding essentials? Share your tips and product recommendations in the comments section.
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