Before I had Arthur, I didn't really know a lot about breastfeeding. I was one of those pregnant women that read all about being pregnant and giving birth but didn't actually read anything about what to do when my baby arrived. Luckily, when they say 'it comes naturally,' it really does. You learn on-the-go and your confidence in doing mummy things, like feeding your baby, grows and grows as the days go on.
Don't get me wrong, I hadn't a clue how to breastfeed when I was first handed Arthur and a lot of perseverance, patience and calm breathing was required to get it down but 11 weeks on and I feel like I've learnt an awful lot! Here's a few of the breastfeeding essentials that have helped me along the way...
1. Disposable breast pads
If you read my review of the bamboo washable breast pads, you'll know that as much as I like the idea of them, they weren't really practical for me. Instead I tend to use disposable breast pads and thankfully these Tesco ones aren't individually wrapped! No more tedious unwrapping sessions in the midst of drowning in milk. Praise the Lord! I tend to just slip them in but you can peel off the backing and actually stick them to your bra if you want to. Just be aware that accidentally getting the sticky side on your boob can be pretty painful!
2. Muslin cloths
You can never have enough muslin cloths. They're great for popping under baby, so your clothes don't get covered in milk, if they decide to spontaneously unlatch before they've swallowed! Muslin cloths are also perfect for mopping up baby and protecting your clothes, if some of their milk comes back up when you're winding them. You can buy them in all sorts of lovely designs. These particular ones are from Tu at Sainsburys.
3. Nursing bra
Nursing bras are basically bras with drop down clips that make it easier for you to feed. I've really struggled to find ones I like but so far my favourites are these nursing bras from Next. They're both pretty and practical. I also bought a couple from New Look (one of which is photographed above) but the material they're made from isn't as thin as the Next ones, making them slightly more awkward for folding down and feeding. Struggling to get the perfect fit? Check out this guide by Cake Maternity on how to measure maternity bra size.
4. Nipple balm
I definitely recommend picking up a nipple balm like the Mama Mio Keep Calm Nipple Balm. It will help to protect and soothe your nipples. This particular one is great as it doesn't need removing before a feed.
5. Spare top
I'm planning on doing a separate 'What's in my changing bag' post soon but I always make sure I have a spare top in mine. If you're leaking milk or baby possets (still find that such a funny word) on you, it's good to know you can quickly change when you're out and about and feel comfortable again! I tend to pack a strappy top as they don't take up much room and are also practical for feeding.
6. Bobble Bottle
For me, the Bobble Bottle is a breastfeeding essential but any water bottle will do! The key is to keep hydrated as breastfeeding is likely to make you thirsty. I know I wouldn't drink half as much water as I should if I didn't have this bottle by my side.
*Special Mention* Completely forgot to photograph my breastfeeding apron! I don't really use it at home, as I'm comfortable feeding in front of my family and best friends without it, however I like to pack it in my changing bag, just in case I feel like I want to use it when I'm out and about. I'm all for just whipping them out and breastfeeding whenever and wherever you like but if you're feeling a little nervous, this could give you the extra confidence you need to get baby latched on calmly and enjoying their feed.
So there we have my breastfeeding essentials! Please keep in mind that these are MY essentials and yours or another breastfeeding mother's may differ. For example, some women find it really useful to have a special breastfeeding pillow but for me, this isn't a must-have! I tend to just use any old pillow or cushion for support when feeding at home. You may also want to look into breast pumps like the MAM Manual Pump or Medela Swing if you want to express milk.
Hope you've found this post useful if you are thinking of breastfeeding!