11 New Mama Nursing Essentials

Breastfeeding is hard. That is, until you figure out what you’re doing. I had this vision in my head while I was pregnant that nursing would be so natural and easy. You just pop the babe on and they eat, right?

When Matilde was born and they placed her on my chest for skin-to-skin, she latched on, no problem. I thought that was a good sign. But a few days later, once my milk came in, a new wave of problems arrived: back pain, mastitis, clogged ducts, engorgement, and leaking… ugh, leaking.

That said, I thought I would share a few of my new mama nursing essentials that helped me get through the first couple of weeks.

1. Camelbak Water Bottle

I read somewhere that you should “drink to thirst” when breastfeeding — that you don’t have to go overboard. But it seems like I am always thirsty, so having a water bottle around is extremely helpful. I like the Camelbak Eddy (purchased from Target for $15) and we make sure to keep it filled with cold water at all times.

2. Nursing Chair

Since we’re moving in a few months, we tried to be really minimal with the baby stuff. I didn’t think we needed a nursing chair, but boy, I was wrong. I was nursing in an over-sized arm chair (part of our furniture set) and it did a number on my back. I have a major knot from incorrect posture and bad positioning, making it that much harder to nurse. I was having to prop up 3 pillows behind me, pillows/blankets on each side of me, and use a nursing pillow to help prop the baby up. It got old having to “prep” to feed every two hours, not to mention the pain and muscle aches, so we gave in and purchased a glider with good back support.

One tip here: having a foot stool makes all the difference when nursing. Keep that in mind if you don’t get the matching ottoman to go with your chair. You can also use a shoebox or another way to prop your feet up. Also, Babies R Us accepts competitors’ coupons, so don’t forget your 20% off Buy Buy Baby coupon!

3. Cloth Diaper Pre-Folds, Wipes

Milk gets everywhere. EVERYWHERE. We bought a pack of pre-fold cloth diapers to have around the house because they’re multipurpose. I use one of these under baby when nursing to catch the leaks, cause you know… I hate leakage. I also use cloth wipes to clean up the milk mustache from baby’s face.

4. Lanolin, Nipple Cream

This is probably on everyone’s list, and for good reason. Lather up between feeds or pumping to prevent cracking, bleeding, etc. I use Lansinoh’s lanolin and Honest Company’s nipple cream.

5. Baby Tracker App

Brandon and I use the Baby Tracker app to track feeds, diapers, sleep, and pumping. We liked this app because we could sync it to both of our phones.

6. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime

You know, to keep you busy while baby eats. Also helpful to stock up on nursing-related things and have them shipped to you. Super nice when there’s a blizzard outside.

7. Nursing Bras

I don’t have a clear winner here, as I’m still trying to figure out which bras work best for me; however, I’ll tell you what I know. I went to a local motherhood store and was fitted for a bra there. When my body was still trying to regulate my milk supply, it seemed like this bra was too small (because I was engorged). It was painful, and I blamed it on the bra. Now, however, the bra fits fine and all is well.

I have the Medela Bravado Seamless Bra (runs about $50) in tan and black, and have also tried a handful of products from Target as well. I like that the Medela bra has the extra support and padding (for daytime and going out), but at night, I really prefer to shed the extra bulk. I just ordered a nighttime cotton bra to try and will update when I have more to share.

I’ve researched a bunch on “nursing wear” and what I’ve discovered is that everything is so… expensive. $60+ for one nursing top? What am I supposed to wear the other six days of the week? I have yet to purchase anything nursing-specific; however, what I have been doing is wearing a $1.99 Forever 21 cami over my bra and under my shirt, so that when I go to nurse, all I do is pull down the cami (yes, just stretch it down) and I still have coverage over my stomach area. I could care less that I am stretching out the cami — it’s $2 and allows me to wear more of my normal clothes!

8. Nursing Pads

I’ve tried several kinds of nursing pads (disposable and re-washable) and the ones that I like the best are the Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads. I absolutely hate being wet or damp, so any pad that didn’t contain the leak got the axe. Occasionally I’ll use an organic cloth nursing pad, but those don’t have the leak-proof backing, so if I don’t change it right away, it soaks through. Brands I wasn’t a fan of for nursing pads: Medela & Nuk

9. Nursing Cover

I have been on the hunt for a nursing cover, but was hesitant to purchase any because I was having a hard time figuring out how much coverage each cover would provide and whether or not I’d easily be able to see the baby. I scoured the internet looking for reviews and photos that would help me decide, but didn’t find much at all. My requirements were: all around coverage (including back), ability to see baby, a simple/pretty design that didn’t scream, I’M NURSING MY BABY, LOOK AT ME! and wasn’t a chevron or floral print.

While nursing and browsing Instagram, I came across the Native Wilds account and fell in love with the brand’s simple design, beautiful colors, and slogan, “wear motherhood well”. I reached out to the owner, Susanna, to ask her a few questions and to see if she had any photos of how the nursing scarf wore on the back. She was kind enough to send me a cover to try for myself. After a few days of using the nursing cover, I’m excited to say that this is the cover I will recommend to future mamas-to-be!

The nursing cover comes packaged in this adorable muslin bag. The first thing I noticed when taking the cover out of the bag was how incredibly soft the fabric is. The covers are made with premium, hypoallergenic bamboo material, and it feels amazing on your skin.

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The cover is essentially an infinity scarf, so I put it over my head and draped it over my shoulders, as if I were wrapping myself in a blanket. It felt like I put on a luxury robe. I picked M up and covered her with one side. The material is very lightweight and breathable, which is nice when it can get a little warm under there.

Being able to see M while nursing is important to me, and I didn’t want the cover that has the plastic ring around the neck. Before I tried this cover, I would tie an Aden + Anais swaddle blanket around my neck to cover up, but that only covered the front part of me and made it really hard to see what was going on underneath. With the Native Wilds cover, it’s super easy to see baby and lift up when needed.

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As I mentioned before, the cover provides full coverage all the way around, so you don’t have to worry about your back, sides, or tummy showing. And it doesn’t look like you’re nursing… just that you have a beautiful sweater/blanket/cardigan on.

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When M was done, I just held her wrapped close to me and she fell asleep. She looks so comfortable and cozy. I loved that the nursing cover is so functional and versatile that I could use it as a wrap for me while keeping her close to me. It will be perfect for when we travel back to Arizona next month to keep me warm, and her tucked away from all of the airport & airplane germs.

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Last week, I went on my first solo outing with M to a doctor’s appointment. The last place you want to take your newborn is to a doctor’s office filled with yucky germs and who knows what, but I had to do it. I took the nursing cover and turned it into a car seat cover by stretching it around the car seat, then tying a knot with the ends on top. It was perfect. Not only did it keep out the cold winter draft, it kept people from looking at (and touching) the baby so she could stay sound asleep.

A photo posted by Tiffany Tcheng (@tiffanytcheng) on

When the cover is not in use, it can be worn as a scarf or tucked into your diaper bag or purse without taking up a ton of space. I’m sure we’ll be using it as a swaddle, a blanket, and much more later on. Thank you, Susanna & Native Wilds, for helping this new mama feel a little more put together with your beautiful covers.

10. No Bake Energy Balls

Being up every two hours and burning a ton of calories when breastfeeding means that you’re always hungry. It’s a good idea to keep snacks nearby your nursing station so you can sneak in a quick bite while baby eats. When we were prepping for labor, we randomly found some granola cluster snacks by Paleo People that are super yummy.

My sister also made me these no bake energy ball bites that are delicious, easy to make, and healthy. We double up on the recipe so we always have them available.

11. Support

Ask questions. Ask for help if you need it. I met with the lactation consultant in the hospital, as well as a consultant in my home, to help me with proper positions and latching.

I am also beyond thankful for all of my friends and family that helped support me by answering my crazy questions, offering words of encouragement, and letting me know that “it will get better”. It’s true, it does get better. For me, it started to get a lot easier after the four week mark, so if you’re feeling frustrated or down, keep on swimming!