Breastfeeding Essentials

Image By Lily Sophia Photography

You’ve probably been warned that you will buy a ton of stuff for your baby that you will NEVER use. I can’t even begin to explain how true that is.  You’ve probably seen the very expensive, very bulky 4Moms “Mamaroo” that every website says is a “must have.”  Well, guess what?  Lily hated it, Maverick hates it.  What about those 10 swaddle blankets we bought in all different patterns before Lily was born? Well, Lily hated to be swaddled and we only needed one for Mav.  The trouble is, every baby is different and you don’t know what products or gadgets will work for your baby until you try.  Breastfeeding is different, though.  If you’re a breastfeeding mom or especially a pumping mom, the gear you get will be well worth the investment.  Luckily, you’re reading the blog of a mama who has over two years of experience with nursing and pumping with two different children.  Also, don’t forget, I’ve faced my fair share of nursing challenges so I am all about finding ANYTHING that makes my life easier. Since my last pregnancy, I’ve done a lot more research and I’ve purchased or been gifted a bunch of new goodies to try out and some of them are game changers, you guys!  Excited to share what I’ve found!

Hy-Dr8 Water Bottle– Hydration. Hydration. Hydration!!! Drinking water, ideally 96 ounces daily to be exact, is quite possibly the most important thing you can do for yourself while breastfeeding. Remember those amazing cups you get in the hospital with the big bendy straw?  The BEST, right?  Well, you can buy the same one on Amazon (or take home the one from the hospital!) and keep it with you all day (or have one upstairs and downstairs like me!).  I know that you know by now hydration is KEY while nursing. You’re going to be hungry and starving all day long! Yes, even hungrier than you were while you were pregnant. If you want to make more milk, drinking water is even more important!  No, not coffee, not juice..WATER.  Fill this bad boy up at least 3 times a day so you can keep track of how much you drink, the numbers on the side make it easy!

Sunflower Lecithin– Plugged ducts are one of the worst things to happen to a nursing mom.  Let them go untreated long enough and mastitis is headed your way! Sunflower lecithin is a dietary emulsifier that can be used to prevent clogged ducts.  Though there is there isn’t definitive proof of why it works, it’s thought to decrease the viscosity of the milk by increasing its polyunsaturated fatty acids.  That’s a lot of words just to say: it helps the milk be less sticky so it doesn’t back up and eventually get stuck in your ducts.  I take Legendairy Milk brand sunflower lecithin twice daily for maintenance and 4 times daily if I have a clog!  Lecithin REALLY helped me when I was nursing Lily.  I didn’t take it every day with her but it always helped when I got a clog!

Hofish Nursing Bra– It’s time to kiss your sexy little Victoria’s Secret bra goodbye for a few months!  You are going to be nursing every two hours or more and you want your girls to be comfortable, well supported, and NOT smushed. These are cheap and SOFT. Sure, they’re not the prettiest things in the world & they’re certainly not the cupped bras you’re used to but they’re great for these early months!  I’ve tried a bunch of different nursing bras some expensive, some not but these are my favorite so far! I wash them in a garment bag and hang them to dry. I would recommend getting at least 5 or 6 because you may be a “leaker” and we all know you don’t have a lot of time for laundry these days!

LaVie Lactation Warming Massagers, LaVie Lacation Massager, LaVie Lactation Roller– Bless this company. Seriously.  I cannot thank them enough for making these wonderful products. Heat and massage are two of your BREAST friends while you’re nursing and pumping.  The more you massage and warm your breast the more milk you get out.  If you’re an undersupply mama this can help you make more milk and if you’re an oversupply mama you can better empty your breasts to avoid plugged ducts, engorgement, and mastitis.  I use these products every single day.  The warming massagers go in my bra every night before I pump so my breasts can be empty before I go to bed, therefore allowing me to get MORE SLEEP. Yay. The roller I use every time I pump to help get every last drop out.  The regular massager is great for plugged ducts!  It has a round tip that allows you to get into those backed up areas and allow for more drainage!   Bonus: ALL of these products will be some of your toddlers’ favorite toys!

Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump– This might be one of the best products I’ve ever purchased.  Seriously this simple piece of silicone has saved me SO much time and so much stress.  If there is one product I would recommend to any pumping mother, it would be this!  I would especially recommend buying at least two of these if you are an oversupply mama who needs some relief in a hurry!  Now, I’ll be honest.  When I was pumping with Lily the Haakaa didn’t work for me but I have a feeling it was because I was using it wrong!  If I had only known how many minutes of sleep I could have gotten back with this one little device.  Okay, have I convinced you yet?  Let me tell you why it’s so great: No pump, no flanges, no extra pieces, no assembly required, easy to clean and easy to use.  You simply fold back the lips of the Haakaa squeeze its base, suction it on your nipple and fold the lips back over.  That’s it!  A lot of mamas use this on the opposite breast as they nurse to catch their letdown but I use it before I feed for just 2-3 minutes to get my foremilk out so Maverick can get the fatty good stuff (hindmilk).  I also use it in the middle of the night if my full breasts wake me up before he does.  To think with Lily I would have to plug in my pump, put on my nursing bra, strap the flanges and bottles on, make a bunch of noise and usually wake her up, wash all the parts out, sanitize them and get them ready for the next feed.  With the silicone pump I put them on, massage my breasts, pull them off and wash them all in less than 5 minutes.  My only downside with these is that milk expression can take a little longer and that they can easily fall off your breasts in which case you can lose some of your liquid gold!  That’s why it’s a good idea to focus on the task at hand while using a silicone pump.  One day I lost 8 ounces! I know you can feel my pain.   Regardless, these are still well worth the money!

Nook Niche Nursing Pillow– I have tested 4 nursing pillows and hated them all except this gem!  As you know, I have serious breastmilk oversupply.  Typically, I’ll recline or lay flat on my back while I nurse so I can slow down the flow for my little guy.  But, it’s not always possible to find a nice comfy couch or recliner to get on!  While Andy was out of town I needed to entertain both my 2-year-old girl and my baby boy so I spent a LOT of time in her playroom with the Niche nursing pillow around my waist and my baby at my breast.  If you’re a breastfeeding mom, you know there is nothing worse than not having any arm support for those long nursing sessions.  The Niche gives you the support you need while being comfortable, stain resistant, machine washable, sustainable and made with the finest organic materials!  It was even voted the best nursing pillow in the “Best of Baby Awards” by The Bump!

Silverette Nipple Covers– The early weeks of nursing can be REALLY tough.  Between frequent nursing, nipple chafe, possible bad latches, tongue ties and thrush your nipples can be in rough shape!  I remember the first time I saw my IBCLC when I was nursing Lily and my nipples we’re bloody and infected!  I heard about the Silverette Nipple Covers when I was pregnant for the second time and knew I needed to try them.  I remembered the pain of newborn nursing vividly and I wanted to do whatever I could this time to prevent them!  I started wearing these a few days after I delivered and didn’t have ANY nipple pain. I was so relieved!  Maverick has a good latch which obviously helps but I noticed when I got lazy and forgot to wear the Silverettes for a few days in a row my nipples started to get red and sore!  When I’m wearing them consistently the only real pain I get is from plugged ducts. Check out their website and learn why the silver in these cups make them so effective!

Bamboo nursing pads– I’m not much of a leaker which is totally surprising considering I have so much milk! Even during my letdowns most of the time I barely get a couple of drops out.  The only time I really leak is during the first few weeks postpartum or if I started pumping and stopped before I was empty.   I was using the typical disposal pads because I thought they would be easier to deal with but I realized they were driving my nipples CRAZY and the plastic lining on the outside can contribute to thrush. When I wasn’t wearing my Silverette cups I noted that the disposables we’re making me chafe.  I grabbed these bamboo nursing pads on Amazon and they are SO much better. They aren’t the softest material but they are much more comfortable than the disposable and they BREATHE which is huge! They come with a bunch of sets so washing them isn’t as annoying as it sounds!

A Pea in The Pod Luxe Nursing Cami– In the first 6 months you nurse your baby A LOT! Like, a lot a lot. So, you’re gonna need easy access to those boobies at all times!  I swear I didn’t wear anything that couldn’t unclip or be pulled down easily for SO long with Lily. Unfortunately, a lot of nursing tank tops are UGLY and uncomfortable.  The ones I used all the time with Lily were made out of a spandexy material that was so uncomfortable.  I found the Luxe Nursing Cami from A Pea in the Pod while I was pregnant and I fell in love. Not only can they fit a big ol’ pregnant belly but they are soft and perfect for nursing.  I’m about to buy doubles in the black and white colors because I wear them so frequently! Pair them with a soft sweatshirt or long cardigan and you’re fashionable and functional!

Motherlove More Milk Plus– You’ll be shocked to read this since I’ve talked about my oversupply over and over again but at one point I actually didn’t have enough milk! About 5 or 6 months after I had Lily we finally had a nanny and I finally got some freedom.  Turns out, I had a little too much freedom because I constantly asked Andy or the Nanny to bottle feed her during the day.  I did, after all, have a chest freezer full of milk! Apparently we bottle fed her a little TOO much (also- I was a little lazy about pumping to replace those feeds) and my milk started to decrease.  After I got my period for the first time it PLUMMETED.  My doula recommended this tincture and it worked almost instantly!  It didn’t give me a ton extra but it was just enough to feed Lily as much as I needed too. Once I got back on my regular feeding schedule my milk regulated and I didn’t need to use it!

Olive Oil–  I owe this suggestion to my IBCLC.  I had to pump A LOT with Lily.  My oversupply was absolutely out of control, so to even attempt to feed her I had to take a little milk off with a pump so that she wouldn’t drown (as much).  My nipples were in SO much pain. Oh my God.  Luckily when I visited my IBCLC she suggested buying a high quality, organic olive oil and putting it on my nipples before I started pumping.  It works as a lubricant and is safe for your baby if a tiny bit gets in the milk.   I buy the Kouzini brand because they have high quality, organic TRAVEL SIZED olive oil that you can keep in your pump bag or your nightstand!

Lactase Drops– If you have oversupply or forceful letdown your baby may be suffering from “lactose overload.” This occurs when your baby is getting too much foremilk instead of the fatty hindmilk. They drink so much so fast of the lactose-heavy foremilk that it can make them fussy, have green acidy poops and want to eat more frequently because they think they’re hungry again. My IBCLC recommended these Lactase drops or the similar Colief drops. You put one on your breast each time you feed to help your baby process the lactose- of course, I’m also reading you should put it in your milk and refrigerate for 30 minutes before your feedings (but that wouldn’t work with breastfeeding). You can also do what I do, use a silicone pump for 2/3 minutes to get out the foremilk so your baby gets more of the good stuff! We haven’t noticed these drops making him any less fussy but we may have something more going on than just Lactose Overload!

Probiotics- The body’s microbiome is all the rage in healthcare right now. Science is learning more about how the health of a person’s gut microbiome affects every aspect of their health. The more a gut is irritated, the more inflammation; the more inflammation, the more disease. That is why a healthy diet, limited exposure to medications, ideally a vaginal birth (of course, that is always possible!) and antibiotics and the use of probiotics is SO important. Newer on the market is a probiotic called “Evivo.” It is the first clinically proven probiotic for babies. Evivo is unique because it contains the bacteria B. infantis that 90% of babies are lacking. This is a key strand of bacteria that “digest special nutrients in breastmilk and protects a baby’s gut”. We use Evivo every day for Maverick and we are thinking about giving it to Lily as well! We also give Maverick BioGaia probiotics recommended by friends and our pediatric gastroenterologist. We used Gerber’s “Soothe” probiotics when Lily was a baby and eventually switched to Metagenics which is what she is still on now.

DHA- Our bodies don’t make DHA and babies need DHA for brain, eye and spinal cord development. I take Prenatal/Postnatal DHA while I’m pregnant and nursing on top of eating wild salmon and salmon roe (eggs) which are rich in Omega-3s/DHA. I also give Mav and Lily supplemental DHA!

Vitamin D– Your baby needs vitamin d and because you can’t bring babe out in the sun quite yet (no sunscreen this young!) you’ll want to supplement. You can order probiotics with added vitamin d or you can buy a one-drop-a-day vitamin d supplement. I mix it in with our probiotics and DHA and use the FridaBaby pacifier medicine dispenser to give it to Maverick. I also take a vitamin d supplement daily!

Fomi Hot/Cold Breast Gel Beads-  These were LIFESAVERS when I had serious engorgement the first few days postpartum. Oh. My. God. I thought my boobs were going to explode.  You want to use heat to empty your breasts but cold can actually reduce your supply and help ease the swelling and discomfort of engorgement.  I popped these in the freezer and kept them in my bra! Of course, a good ol’ bag of frozen peas can do a similar job but these are easily kept in your bra and fit the shape of your breast!  They can also be heated, like the Lanisoh ones listed below so you can use them for plugged ducts too!

Lansinoh Therapearl– You’re probably curious why I listed these when the pads above look so similar.  Well, they are NOT the same! The Lanisoh gel pads are a different shape with a smaller opening so it makes them great for pumping!  If you warm these in the microwave and then wrap them around the outside of your flanges you will be sure to get a little extra milk out!

Soothie Pacifier– Once your breastfeeding relationship is well-established it can be really helpful to add in a pacifier! This is especially helpful for mommies with oversupply because your baby can’t suck on you for comfort like they want to! We introduced one with Mav and Lily after about 3 days. Our IBCLC recommended this specific paci because it is the most similar to a real nipple. Bonus: they hand these out at the hospital so you can get one for free! Just ask the nurse to not give one to your baby right away but that you will take it home for later!

Dr. Browns Bottles– If you ask around for the most popular breastfed baby bottle, you’re likely to hear Dr. Browns.  It is the bottle recommended by most IBCLC/LC’s and tons of parents have great success with them.  When we were pregnant with Lily we bought 5 or 6 different bottle brands so we could test them all out with her.  We started with the plastic Dr. Browns at the advisement of our IBCLC and it was the only bottle we ever needed!  She took it right away and never gave us any trouble with it.  It claims to help babies with colic but honestly, it never seemed to help her fussiness.  The only downsides to the bottle is that it’s plastic (we tried the glass with Mav and it leaked around the side of his mouth the entire feed) and that there are a LOT of pieces to wash.  Don’t let the downsides deter you, though, there are many moms who can never find bottles that their breastfed babies will take so if you can find a good one, go with it!

Medela Milk Storage Bags– Although I don’t use a Medela pump anymore, I really like their milk storage bags. They are easy to use, don’t leak and can be stacked flat so you can make the most of your freezer space. Tip: be sure to measure your milk in a storage bottle first before transferring it to the bags! because the bags are flexible they don’t always accurately show how much milk you’re putting in!

Simple Wishes DLITE Hands-Free Breastpump Bra– If you’re planning on pumping with an electric pump you NEED a hands-free pump bra.  Truthfully you can just grab any old sports bra and cut two small holes near the nipples, but I like my sports bras too much to ruin them!  This bra is comfy and easy.  You’ll want your hands to massage your breast while you’re pumping & if you’re anything like me…to eat, change the channel, text, read emails and to pet your dog!

Nursing Timer & Log book– These were so helpful in the early days of nursing! I think its really important to track your nursing sessions so you can look back and tweak anything if your baby starts having issues! Also, many pediatricians will ask you how many dirty/wet diapers and how much a baby is eating daily so using these can help you be specific!

Products with great reviews that I’ve purchased but haven’t used yet:

BeauGen Breast Pump Cushions–  Okay, so I haven’t used these yet like I said but I have heard great things about them! They are small silicone cushions that slide inside your pump flange and protect your nipples as you pump!  Your nipples can get super sore and irritated if you’re pumping a lot, so definitely try these out!  I’ll update my review once I’ve used them!

Simply Herbal Organics Lactation Drying/Reducing Formula–  My IBCLC recommended this to me as the most effective way to reduce my supply (or dry it up if a mama was needing to do so).  I do plan on using it eventually but I’m waiting to reduce my supply until I know whether Maverick has any sort of food intolerance.  If he does, I’ll need to pump extra milk that doesn’t have whatever food in it that is irritating him so I’ll want the extra supply!  This is a blend of extra potent herbs with milk-drying properties.  I trust my IBCLC so if you’re looking to reduce your supply or dry your milk up, give this a shot!  I’ll update my review once I’ve used it.

Legendairy Milk “Bestseller Bundle”–  I bought these while I was still pregnant to keep as backup in case I didn’t have enough milk this time around.  I LOVE this company.  They love their customers and just all mommies in general.  Their Instagram page @legendairymilk is amazing.  They share tons of free advice from specialists, experts and researchers to help all breastfeeding and pumping moms!  I have heard nothing but amazing things about their products and if my supply ever dips I am taking these immediately!

Spectra Pump & Spectra Bottles–  I haven’t needed to use my Spectra pump yet because my silicone pumps are doing the job but I have been told over and over again that Spectra is THE brand to get for an electric pump.  With Lily I used a Medela “Pump in Style” and liked it just fine but I recently read about the Medela being an “open” system which can allow for mold to build in the pump. I know! Disgusting, right?  My IBCLC recommends the Spectra and said it is super user-friendly and effective.  It has a few more settings than my Medela but there are a ton of tutorials on YouTube and Instagram to help you decide which settings are right for you! I don’t use the bottles for feeding, just for milk storage! I usually keep about 9 on hand so I don’t have to bag milk & wash bottles constantly if I’m doing a lot of pumping. When in doubt I would always buy some extra stuff to save you some grief! I have 3 sets of flanges as well!.

I’ll be sure to keep you updated if I try anything else that I love (or hate)! If you guys try any of these products out or have any other suggestions please let me know!

*Some of these products have been gifted to me but opinions are all my own. Please ask if you have any questions!

*I am not a medical professional (obviously!) Please check with your healthcare provider before stopping or starting any new routine, supplement or medication

Nursing with the Nook Niche Pillow
Mavi holding the LaVie warming massager

Silverette nursing cups
The Evivo 30 day starter kit
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Comments

  1. April 1, 2019 / 9:45 PM

    You are a breastfeeding guru! Thanks for sharing this comprehensive list. I’m looking forward to breastfeeding our second and will add some of these to my must-haves! That LaVie massager looks amazing!

    • Katie Levitre
      April 2, 2019 / 9:29 AM

      Thanks for reading, girl! The LaVie massagers are amazing. Can’t wait to hear what you think & to see your little squish soon!

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