As a first-time pregnant mom, the list of things to learn can be daunting: Car seats. Diapers. Swaddles. Bathtime. Feeding.
The list often feels endless, and if you’re like me, the closer you get to your due date, the more unprepared you feel.
And this is coming from someone who actually labeled her nipples by their flow capabilities!
In the last weeks of my pregnancy, I was obsessed with nesting. I cleaned every tiny piece of clothing, even her 12-18 month clothes.
Looking back, I realize that was a bit overboard.
I’m thankful that I have clean clothes for her next year, but with the frequency in which I do laundry, it really didn’t matter anyway.
But for a lot of new moms, breastfeeding is something we know we want to do, but have no experience in.
I thought I was so prepared in so many ways for our daughter to enter the world, but as it happens, there were things I didn’t know I needed.
Especially when it came to breastfeeding.
In the hopes of helping other new moms navigate their first few weeks of breastfeeding, I’ve curated a list of the things that helped me, kept me sane, and some other nice-to-haves along the way:
1. Breastfeeding Robes and Loose-Fitting Clothing
The immediate days after I gave birth I had zero interest in wearing pants, but I did want to feel comfortable and not neglect my healing body.
I was thankful I invested in nightgowns and breastfeeding robes that had buttons at the breast. I didn’t actually think about the buttons when I purchased it, it just looked comfortable to wear.
But they ended up being perfect for quick nighttime feeds and they’re comfortable to lounge in throughout the day. Especially in the first week of postpartum life!
Sometimes nursing clothes are pricey.
Now that I’m nearly six months into breastfeeding, I don’t only wear nursing clothes. Loose-fitting and low-cut shirts and dresses do the trick just as well.
There are a lot of different ways to discreetly (or not if that’s your thing) breastfeed without clothes that are specifically made for nursing.
2. Pumping Bras
I may be alone in this one, but considering I’ve talked to a lot of new moms and yet-to-be moms, I think it’s prevalent enough to mention. When I first starting pumping my milk I was so confused as to why the flanges weren’t staying attached to me.
In my mind, they’d suction themselves to my breasts and I’d be free to do use my hands as I pleased.
I texted a mom friend: “How the heck do you keep these attached to you?”
She laughed at me and told me all about the pump bra. I purchased one and honestly, I’ve used it only a handful of times. There are clever ways in which you can use regular nursing bras to keep the flanges secure.
But unfortunately — or maybe thankfully — they don’t suction to your breast.
3. Organic Nipple Butter
Those first few weeks are a doozy when it comes to your tatas. They’re engorged, then deflated.
Your nipples start to crack and callous and become only a semblance of the nipples you once know.
Don’t worry though, they come back stronger and better than ever!
In the first few days after birth, nipple butter saved me. It’s important to get some that won’t harm your baby too.
Remember, she’s eating from there so whatever goes on you will likely go in her.
But after using the nipple butter for a few weeks, my nipples were able to heal and I haven’t had any problems with them since my daughter was around 4-weeks old.
4. Have a Few Designated Seats in Your Home With a Table Nearby
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down to breastfeed and as soon as my daughter latches I become ravenously thirsty. My mouth literally is the Sahara.
Luckily, my husband helps with getting me some water or a cold drink. – but in those first few days, I always needed to have something cold to drink while I breastfed.
Breastfeeding takes a lot out of us. It burns up to 500 more calories a day. It requires us, moms, to drink even more water than we did in pregnancy.
Keeping up with our bodies when we’re focused on a new little human is challenging, but it’s helpful.
Something as simple as having a small table by your rocking chair to hold a glass of ice water is a tiny act of the self-care and body love we all need.
5. Find Your Tribe
The first weeks of breastfeeding are challenging, but they’re not impossible. Just a generation ago, breastfeeding wasn’t considered the norm, so it’s common that our babies’ grandparents didn’t breastfeed.
This was the case for me and my mom. While she was able to help in a lot of ways, she didn’t have the lived experience of breastfeeding.
While my mother-in-law did, it was decades ago and a lot of the information has changed.
So I reached out to moms who I knew were breastfeeding. At first, I felt a bit intrusive – I mean, here I am, asking friends about their cramping, boobs, and nipples after all.
But becoming a new mom means joining a tribe of women who are there to support. We’ve been through it so nothing seems too taboo to talk about it.
I was able to ask for help and advice when I didn’t know where to turn. Finding my tribe meant having a mix of friends and birthing professionals’ support.
Through that support, I was able to exclusively breastfeed my daughter and still do to this day.
Get Prepared Today
Let me know in the comments which tip helped you get prepared for your first breastfeeding session with your newborn!