If you've read my breastfeeding first impressions post you will know that I tried breastfeeding for a little while and struggled with it. In that short period of time I stumbled across a few items that made my life a lot easier. While everyone's essentials are sure to be different I'm hoping that my list may help a few soon to be feeding mother's prepare.
A breast pump* - There are several different breastpumps out there, my battle of the breastpumps post may help you to decide which is for you. You really need to think about how often you plan on expressing before making this decision, another thing to consider is would you want to solely express if breastfeeding didn't work out for you. If I didn't have my electric pump I think I would have given up expressing milk as the manual pumps can be difficult if you are constantly pumping.
Coffee & biscuits - They say that when you are breastfeeding you need extra calories as you burn so much energy feeding, the problem is finding time to eat and prepare these extra calories. This is where chocolate biscuits come in handy, easy to grab and quickly eat. As strange as it seems expressing became my 'me time', I would make a cup of coffee, tune into Netflix and eat chocolate biscuits while holding the pump to my breast, they were probably the most relaxing times during the early stages!
Comfortable nursing bras - You will likely leak milk quite often, including while you are sleeping, therefore you want your nursing bras to be as comfortable as possible for sleeping in. I bought this pack of two which were comfortable, did the job and didn't break the bank.
Breast pads - As mentioned above, your milk will probably leak. Make sure that you purchase decent breastpads, I tried a lot of varieties as we were given loads. A lot of the pads aren't very sticky and tend to fall off or move about, out of the pads that I tried Medela* really were the best.
Pump & Save Bags* - If expressing milk you need somewhere to store it. These bags are handy as they can be sealed, have the measurements on the front (though this isn't very accurate) and can be frozen.
A comfortable chair - Your baby may be on your breast for a long time so it is very important that you make sure you are comfortable when you begin. Personally, I wasn't happy to feed in front of people so used the arm chair in Aria's bedroom to breastfeed peacefully and privately.
A support group - As discussed in my breastfeeding cafe, a good support group really can make all the difference to deciding not to quit when you are going through tough times. Find a local support group and attend regularly, whether you need to or not. Just by going you may be helping yourself and others at the group.
Most importantly of all, patience. Breastfeeding can be hard, really hard in fact. It can be very stressful and you may feel like packing it all in, just be patient and persevere. Though if you do pack it in, there is no shame in that at all, I'm not ashamed to admit that I packed it in as it was best for both Aria and I.
Did you breastfeed? If so, what were your essential items?
Please note, these essentials are based on my own personal experiences. Everyone is different.