Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to bond with your baby, but it’s not always easy! As the first of my friends to have kids and the first to try breastfeeding, I often felt like it was an uphill battle with no one to turn to and no idea which resources were best for breastfeeding.
In the end, I breastfed both of my kids for a total of 31 months. Once the babies and I got the hang of it, things eventually got easier, although it took a solid eight weeks for my son and me to figure things out.
If you’re thinking about breastfeeding, or even if you’re an old pro, here’s a list of resources (in no particular order) to help. Happy breastfeeding!
Resources to Make Breastfeeding Easier
Supportive nursing bras/covers
One of the first things you’ll want to get when you’re nursing is a supportive nursing bra. Your size probably changed after you delivered your baby (and will most likely continue to change as you breastfeed).
I highly recommend visiting a specialty store to get a proper bra fitting. Your hospital may even have a small shop with trained lactation consultants who will be able to help you select a properly fitting bra.
Specialty bra shops tend to be more expensive than other retailers. Every time I needed a new bra, I would go to a specialty shop, get fitted, and purchase one bra. I would then purchase additional bras in that same size and style on Amazon, where they were often cheaper. Before you go to a specialty shop, try looking them up and subscribing to their mailing list. Many shops send out coupons and notify you of upcoming sales.
I recommend getting two (possibly three) types of bras. Start by buying one of each kind. After you’ve tried it out for a week or two, purchase another. I don’t recommend stocking up on nursing bras because your size will probably change and you may find yourself needing a different type of bra.
1. Underwire bras
Although the wires in an underwire bra can poke you or cause blocked milk ducts, they’re so much more supportive than wireless bras. Also, depending on your size, underwire bras may be your only option.
If you select a properly fitting bra with well-covered wires, you shouldn’t have a problem with the wires. Also, bra experts recommend that you replace your bras every six months. As your bra stretches or your size changes, purchase a new bra.
My favorite underwire bras:
2. Wire-free bras
Wireless bras are perfect for sleeping and nighttime feedings. Although they’re not as supportive as underwire bras, the right fitting bra is super comfortable.
My favorite wire-free bras:
Anita Wire-Free Nursing Bra This bra didn’t come in my size, but I love the Anita brand and it’s so cute that I couldn’t resist adding it. My friend used it and loved it.
3. Non-nursing bras
If you plan on exercising and losing the baby weight while nursing, run to buy a sports bra. Make sure you find one that’s extra supportive and doesn’t compress you. I love the Panache Underwire Sports Bra.
4. Nursing cover
I could never master the art of covering up (my baby would always end up throwing off the cover, blanket, or whatever I tried to use). I tried the Udder Cover, but in hindsight, I wish I would’ve tried an infinity scarf. My friend was able to nurse in a park without an issue using her scarf.
Nursing pads/leak guards
When I was first breastfeeding, I attempted to go grocery shopping. It was my first excursion out of the house, and I was so excited to have some freedom! Then I walked into the freezer section. The icy cold air immediately made my milk let down and the front of my shirt was immediately soaked. Since it was summer, I didn’t even have a jacket to hide under.
After my freezer experience, I never left the house without extra nursing pads. Try keeping an extra supply with you, like in your car, purse, diaper bag, and in your pump.
Out of all the nursing pads that I tried, these were my favorites:
5. Disposable nursing pads
I especially liked the Lanisoh pads because they were thin enough to be discrete but they still did a great job of absorbing leaks.
6. Reusable nursing pads
If you plan on swimming or wearing a bathing suit while nursing (bless you), I highly recommend Lily Padz. They’re reusable and prevent leaks from starting. They recommend using a special soap to clean them, but I used antibacterial hand soap without an issue.
Most of the time when you’re pumping, you’re cloistered off in some dark office. My first instinct was to bring a pile of work to review or respond to emails, but I found that I was able to produce more milk when I relaxed. To take my mind off the stresses of the day, I used to read.
7. Parenting magazines
My favorites parenting magazines are Family Circle and Parents (you can often get a free or discounted subscription to both through ValueMags).
8. Parenting websites
KellyMom – Parenting and breastfeeding information
The Bump – Pregnancy, parenting, and baby information
BabyCenter – Pregnancy and parenting advice and support
9. Lactation consultant
While a lactation consultant isn’t technically reading material, the lactation consultant will become your new best friend. She’ll be able to provide you with tons of helpful information, both in print and in person.
Especially when you’re in the hospital, seek help to make sure that your baby is latching correctly, you’re practicing proper holding techniques, your milk supply is coming in, and more. Your hospital may have a lactation consultant on staff, but if not, contact La Leche League. They’ll be able to help you find a consultant in your area.
Even after I had been breastfeeding for a year, I contacted my hospital’s lactation consultant with questions about latch, milk supply, and allergy information. The consultant was able to help me over the phone and refer me to research available online.
When I first started nursing, I felt like I could’ve taken a bath in lanolin and it wouldn’t have helped. That said, I periodically used Lanisoh’s cream whenever I would get a little sore from pumping too much and it seemed to help. I also kept a few of the sample sized tubes in my pump to use when I was at work.
The Lanisoh Soothies were amazing. For the first eight weeks, my son had an incorrect latch. These soothies were the only product that seemed to bring relief. I also used them with my daughter when my milk supply started to decrease.
If you’re having trouble getting your baby to latch, you may want to try some breast shields. These Medela shields were helpful, especially in the beginning when my oldest had an incorrect latch. We were eventually able to stop using them, but it was nice to have an extra barrier. 😉
In the U.S., insurance companies will now provide you with a breast pump. Work with your insurance company to see if you have a choice of products. If you do, I highly recommend the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump. It lasted through two kids (31 months of pumping) without any problems.
14. Hands-free bra
If your pump doesn’t come with a hands-free bra, try this one. It made pumping so much easier, and I could actually read, work, and accomplish things while I pumped.
15. Pump parts
You might also want to purchase extra parts for your pump. I highly recommend leaving them at work or wherever you’ll be using your pump the most.
I once forgot my parts at home and let’s just say that the day was not pleasant! I bought replacements on Amazon. They worked just as well as the Medela ones that came with my pump, although they were much cheaper.
You may also want to get extra tubing for sanitary reasons.
Start by purchasing a set of bottles that work with your breast pump.
You might want to also try a variety of bottles depending on your baby’s needs. Don’t go crazy until you know what your baby will like, though. I loved the Tommee Tippee bottles because they had a wide mouth that I could easily pour frozen milk into, but my kids hated them.
We ended up using the Medela bottles that came with my pump and I bought more as my kids grew into the bigger sizes.
These are the products that I used and loved. I also eventually formed a mommy group, which was a wonderful way to find out what worked (and didn’t work) for other moms. If you’re struggling with breastfeeding, you’re not alone! Find someone to talk to, try out new things, and hang in there!
If you’ve been through the breastfeeding wringer, what worked for you? What would you add to this list?