I'm so proud of Arlo and I today! We have been breastfeeding for 7 months and I'm sharing with you the 7 things that really helped me at the beginning of our breastfeeding journey. Like anything new you try, there are always obstacles and it takes a bit of time for things to fall into place and find your groove. I just want to start by saying that without a doubt the single most important thing to have when starting your breastfeeding journey is love and support. Find people who fit in with your way of thinking and understand what your goals are. Avoid those who make you feel like you're being a martyr just because you're having a rough day. Only you can decide when you've done all you can. Only you can decide what benefits of breastfeeding will outweigh what can be an initial struggle. I personally found so much guidance in online groups with breastfeeding mamas all over the world and I'm lucky to have an amazing family. We are loving the journey so far!
1. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding I spent my pregnancy slowly reading through this and prepping myself for what was to come. It was a massive help to already have an idea of the basics before Arlo arrived. For me, it was important to get in the right mindset for breastfeeding and this helped clear up some before baby nerves I was having! I kind of just submerged myself in the book and tried to absorb everything. Definitely a great way to start.
2. Soft Bras I tried a lot of nursing bras and most of the fancy shmancy ones stay in the drawer. Honestly I think the best bra is a stretchy one! They're great to pull down easily without fiddling with clips and straps. Some of the nursing bras I tried were so sore to wear, especially in the beginning when your supply is all over the place and prone to becoming engorged. Go with the comfy and stretchy.
3. Breast Pads These ones are great for soaking up leakages. I like these because they're washable and really soft. Also they can act as a barrier, especially when things are a bit tender in the first few weeks. Once my supply settled and I wasn't leaking so much, I started to wear just one on the opposite side to the side I just fed on. Great for those moments when you've forgotten which side to feed on next.
4. Muslin Cloths During the first few weeks, Arlo was so tiny and I would just stuff one of these down my top because for some reason my body thought I might need to feed a small army so I was super massive. I found it pretty hard to get my bra comfortably on too and by then it was time to feed again so I just didn't bother with a bra at all. The midwives thought it was great!
5. Coconut Oil Amazingly cooling and moisturising. I would put a bit of this on after every feed and it was the best thing for stopping any cracks or blockages.
6. Multi-mam Compresses These are like an intensive treatment for nipples if feeding gets very sore. They saved me on some of the long nights!
7. Breastfeeding App I know apps aren't for everyone but I loved this. It gave me so much confidence that I could track Arlo's feeds and be sure that he was feeding frequently and for how long. It helped me figure out what pattern worked best for us and helped me plan ahead a few hours, because I could roughly predict when the next feed would be. I used this until he was 3 months old.
Some things I found useful, but not overly essential were:
A breastfeeding pillow (this one is cute) which helped being handsfree.
A shawl or a cover is good if you feel like you need it (don't let anyone tell you to use one for their benefit!) I used a scarf a few times in the beginning as I was getting accustomed to feeding, but I did find Arlo liked to be in the darkness and a cover was good for that. I like the pattern on this one.
Something I wish I'd had was a little night light like this one which would have come in very handy for the night feeds!
Good luck to all you mums on your breastfeeding journey, I hope this helps!