A friend is due to give birth soon, so I promised that I’d put together a breastfeeding kit list. Breastfeeding is hard work, but these few things made my life a bit easier. I’d also like to offer some advice, to all new Mums and that is: listen to your instincts. That is the best advice my midwife told me and it has been the most valuable to me in the past three years. People will offer you advice, but listen to your heart, and listen to your baby and you won’t go far wrong. Your baby is unique to you, and whilst you can always ask for help and tips, you need to adapt them to the very special and one-of-a-kind human being that you have just created.
Breastfeeding made my boobs feel horrid. Hot and sticky, uncomfortable, painful and milky. When I won an Emma Jane nursing bra my bosum finally felt as though it could breathe again. Though it says on the website that it expands to an f, I was bigger than that by a lot at one stage. The new generation nursing bra is cheap, extremely comfortable, keeps your milkers cool and was as supportive as some very expensive brand I had bought. It really does beat all the others, hands down. I went on to replace all of my more expensive bras with this one and they wore well and washed well.
My breast shells were given to me by a breastfeeding counsellor and they really were a life saver in the early days. All the advisers and medical folk tell you breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt, but all the mums I have spoken to that have successfully breastfed for a long time agree: Breastfeeding fking kills! Think about it: hard gums….soft body parts, let face it, it takes a while for you both to learn how to ‘do it’ and I think if you have not experienced pain then you are very lucky. Do, however get advice if it hurts because apart from the chafing and conditioning your nipples are getting, there can be other things wrong like the way you are attaching your baby and of course the dreaded mastitis/thrush/other lovelies. Breast shells keep your poor poorly nips away from your clothing and give them some air to heal. They will fill with milk, so beware bending forwards (milk puddles!!). Don’t worry, this stage doesn’t last that long. The best way is to walk round topless but for me it was winter and I lived on a busy walkway so that was not a very good option, though in my bedroom I got ‘em out wherever possible (no change there then, I hear you cry!).
Paracetemol. See above.
Breast pads, because for the first few weeks you’ll be leaking like a little waterfall.
The breast vest. This enables you to wear a normal t-shirt and breastfeed in public/in the winter without exposing a belly that may look a little like dough and getting cold for good measure. @Milkchic also sell breastfeeding-friendly clothes, though the breast vest and a t shirt did me just fine.
Confidence. You will gain this, and remember the Equality Act makes it illegal for anyone to discriminate against you for breastfeeding in public.
Patience. Breastfeeding is a round the clock activity for the first few months. To help with this, I recommend: go to the loo whenever you have the chance. By the place you most commonly feed, keep a book, a box of tissues a full glass of water (breastfeeding makes you very thirsty), some snacks (you will start to feel hungry), and empty glass (for emptying your shells into), and plenty of pillows to support you and your baby.
Dedication. Your pain is their gain. This is what kept me going. My son is so healthy and happy, content, no allergies and very rarely ill. Maybe it’s coincidence. La Leche have loads of info and support about breastfeeding.
A smartphone. And a twitter account. Twitter saved me, for the long periods of breastfeeding and the time afterwards when my baby fell asleep and I didn’t dare move. Not only to you get a virtual social life but there’s a massive support network out there and I met some lovely people who helped me in times of need such as ‘my baby has a temperature, what do I do’, or ‘I’m still breastfeeding at 3, am I the only one?’ and other vast and varied topics. You can also send off for you free stuff while you’re busy feeding. Bonus! Try here and here. The second link (martin lewis’s site is awesome for money-saving tips, I get the weekly email. Brilliant stuff).
A really excellent guide to breastfeeding is here, covering a huge selection of questions.
If anyone would like to comment with more tips, feel free! I didn’t have any luck with expressing. Someone on twitter recommended the medela swing but I decided to continue au naturel in the end.