Breastfeeding isn’t easy. It isn’t always a natural gift. It isn’t something everyone is interested in doing.

But for those of us who are, we’re often left with the feeling of sitting alone in a sinking boat in the middle of the ocean.

The support just isn’t there. The resources just aren’t there. Doctors aren’t always helpful. Nurses aren’t always helpful. You may only have a handful of friends with experience (and each experience is different. Likewise for your family members.

How to feed babies is somewhat of a mystery sometimes. How to care for a body that feeds babies might be even more mysterious.

So how does one prepare?

For me, I didn’t. I didn’t have a single nursing bra/tank/shirt when I gave birth. I had hope, and that’s it. You can’t really blame me, though, considering I was only six months pregnant.

But what would I have done to prepare? I had never heard a book recommendation that would help with breastfeeding. I’ve had the title for “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” drilled into my head for years, but I honestly can’t think of one commonly known title of a breastfeeding book. How would I know what’s good and what’s junk?

And the paraphernalia? Forget it. I picked up somewhere that the Target nursing tanks were nice, so I got those. I had no idea, though, that pump parts come in different sizes (same as nipple shields), I didn’t know about nipple care and prevention of yeast growth (yeast? on my boobs? what?), and I certainly had no clue I could get blood blisters from breastfeeding.

Wow. I’ll stop there before I frighten somebody.

My point is this: The commonly talked about resources suck when it comes to breastfeeding education.

I wish someone had pointed me to a list of must-have items to help me on my breastfeeding journey.

I need your help, readers. My first two months were spent with a team of lactation consultants at my beck and call (one perk of our NICU stay), so I’ve only had three months on my own. I learned just today that gentian violet, used to treat thrush/candida infections (which are apparently quite common) is a pain in the ass to track down. Had I know that, I would have bought some to have on hand just in case.

So what are your suggestions to help future breastfeeding mothers be prepared? Do you have a favorite book you learned from? Odd tips like keeping a vinegar-water solution nearby when pumping/nursing to wash off with? Do you know of any specialty items that are hard to find but awesome to have? Do you have a favorite clothing item that helped ease your efforts? Or did you fall in love with a giant water bottle that helped you stay well hydrated?

Help me out, readers, and I’ll put together a list to help future breastfeeding mothers who want to be prepared. Let’s try to kill that alone feeling for a few people, at least.

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61 Responses to For to-be-breastfeeding mothers

  1. Susan says:

    I can’t wait to read the responses! BFing O didn’t go very well at all and I was totally unprepared. This time I am determined to make it work, but have a million questions. Class is in July that I am hoping will help :) The only thing that I know is Medela makes some awesome quick sterilizing wipes and sterilizing microwave bags for pump parts. And I know it is freaking hard as hell.

  2. Brandy says:

    O honey I could talk on this for HOURS. Here are some quick easy things I learned in my journey:

    Blog post of first 3 months(a lot related to pumping/BFing) –

    Go to a LLL meeting. Find one near you and go when pregnant. I thought it was silly too but man was it worth it. I live in Cary, NC and they have a BF cafe on friday at noon and you just show up. You can use it to hang out with other moms, ask questions, get help, etc. I loved it because they could recommend me all these things you talked about, tell me what to avoid, and they all will give you their number to call 24/7. I also got to see women BF in public..and not all covered up. I even saw a woman BFing twins. IT WAS AWESOME. (hmmm makes me seem like i like boobs) I can’t recommend this enough…I tell every new mom around here about it.

    I know I am lucky in that my work had a lactation consultant on staff and are CRAZY BF friendly…but I used everything i could find. If you want my whole giant email I send to new moms, give me a buzz and I can shoot it over to you.

  3. Laura says:

    Nursing tanks are awesome. I have 3 from Target and just found this one that I LOVE. It’s made by Medela.

    I second the quick clean steam bags you toss in the microwave. I would also recommend the Medela storage bottles you can pump right into. They are 2oz I think.

    Have a comfy nursing bra. I have yet to find THE one, but I know I hate the ones with that mesh crap that hangs out in the cleavage. That feels creepy to me.

    Have a stack of clean pump parts ready for nightly pumping sessions.

    Also, if you have a fast-flow and seem to choke and drown your baby (ME) pump about 1-2 minutes BEFORE you feed–just on the side you plan on feeding on. Don’t save this milk. It’s frothy fore-milk that is harder to digest. The goal is the good hind-milk!

    Invest in a My Breast Friend pillow. I can pretty much BF with anything but that is the best supportive pillow for beginners and is really the most comfortable nursing pillow I own out of the 3. Boppys are best for tummy time and propping up floppy babies—not for BFing. IMO.

    Invest in a GOOD pump. You don’t have to buy the top of the line, but get a good one and don’t go cheap. You need one with good suction that will hold up. Starting with a bad pump can discourage you.

    Find a lactation consult. you can trust. We luckily have one at our pediatrician who is fabulous. Abuse her. That is what she is there for. She is full of wonderful insight and can help you achieve BFing success.

    Get a good nursing cover if you are wary about public BFing. I NEVER whip a boob out in public, but I have used my cover at MOPS meetings. My favorite one is this one:

    Drink plenty of water and eat enough calories to keep up your supply. I personally am horrid at drinking water because I am so sick of it. You need to consume at LEAST 64oz per day. Try tossing in frozen berries for some variety. They act like ice-cubes and naturally flavor your water without sugars and sweeteners. A few squeezes from lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, etc. help add some oomph to a boring glass/bottle of water.

    You may need to watch what you eat. Babies can have food sensitivities and allergies and what you eat comes through your milk. If you have an extra gassy or fussy baby talk with your pediatrician AND your LC about what could be causing issues. You can also keep a food diary and record when your baby is most fussy. This can help pin-point the issue.

    If you are having supply issues check out Mother Love products. I had to take supplements with my first. More Milk Plus worked well, as well as More Milk Special Blend. You can find many of these products at Wholefoods.

  4. Becky says:

    I’m so glad for this. My mom breastfed me for maybe 6 weeks and not at all with my sister. Support is very hard to come by.

    Get some pure lanolin before you have the baby. Apply it each and every time you nurse whether you think you need it or not. It doesn’t take long before you really need it and prevention is half the battle.

    I know your situation is different with 3, but with singles, nurse on demand. As much as they want it. It’s good for your milk supply and it’s good practice. It sometimes takes a while for you two to figure out how to work together.

    There is no set time in which babies shouldn’t feed through the night. Sometime after 6 months the pediatricians start telling you the kid doesn’t need it anymore. It’s up to you and your baby. At 11 months, mine still nurses sometimes twice a night.

    I found that the Gerber milk storage bags are much better than the Lansinoh brand. Lansinoh bags tear easily when in the freezer which makes for spilled defrosted milk when you least expect it. Start pumping and freezing when you’re back up on your feet. There’s no such thing as too much frozen milk. At some point your milk supply does diminish. Having a huge surplus is totally worth it. Related: frozen milk can smell really bad. It’s not spoiled. Don’t throw it out!

    Trust yourself. Trust your baby. Don’t let anyone discourage you.

  5. Shannon says:

    For me the number one thing I tell people is to feed on demand! (Single baby, I know it is different with multiples). Just because your baby ate an hour ago and wants to eat again does NOT mean they are not getting enough milk. They are getting bigger, need more milk and by feeding more they are increasing your supply.

    I wanted to punch well meaning people who asked me “He is hungry AGAIN!?!” during his 3 week and 6 week growth spurts.

  6. molly says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this. I think moms-to-be need to know that oftentimes, it doesn’t always happen naturally as some would have you believe.

    No, our bodies are different. Our boobs are different. Our babies are different.

    I could write a book on the trials and tribulations of breastfeeding. I have mentioned this fact numerous times.

    I have breastfed both my sons, neither exclusively and neither until the 1-year mark. But I breastfed, none the less. And I believe my experiences (and major challenges) could help someone.

    For instance, do you know about breastmilk jaundice? Something my son was diagnosed with and I had NO FREAKING CLUE what to do. I didn’t even know it existed. Long story short it led to me quitting early. I had no support to get me through.

    The second time I took a class because I felt like such a failure the first time and I beat myself up for formula-feeding my first son. There was no way I was putting myself through that again.

    My second son latched like a champ. But 3 weeks in I developed two huge lumps in my breast that wouldn’t go away. Turns out, two cysts had developed into MRSA-filled abscesses. So at 1 month postpartum I found myself in the emergency room having emergency breast surgery to drain the lumps. The recovery was more painful than popping out my baby! I was stumped as to how this could happen but bound and determined I kept breastfeeding until I was forced to quit due to my medication needs.

    Above all else, I believe that moms need support. I felt like I had no one to turn to. Find someone who has breastfed and ask them EVERYTHING keeping in mind that your experience very well could be the exact opposite of what they just said.

    Also, follow your instincts when it comes to your baby and your boobs. Everyone, including lactation consultants, told me that I must breastfeed my baby on both breasts for each feeding. Well, that overwhelmed me so I decided to have my second son nurse on one side for each feeding. It worked for us and that is ALL that matters.

  7. Jocelyn says:

    I was fortunate in that breastfeeding worked very well for me when my daughter was born, she latched on right from the start, and I had an abundance of milk supply. I, too, was clueless going into it, save the fact that I knew I wanted to try it.

    Here were my must-haves: an easily-adjustable nursing bra or tank (she was born in August so it was hot and I lived in those tanks when I was off work; tanks from Gap and Destination Maternity; bras from Destination Maternity, their brand –; unlined sleep bras (I never needed these before I nursed but fell in love with them instantly once that milk came in); Lansinoh lanolin nipple cream (a MUST especially those first couple weeks); Lansinoh disposable nursing pads (I opted for these over the reusable kind and was very happy with them); a good double electric pump (I got the Medela Pump in Style Advanced and it has been a god-send, especially once I returned to work); Medela Quick Clean wipes for the pump and pump accessories (essential for pumping on the go when you can’t just throw the parts in the sink to wash them off when you’re done); a glass/bottle of water (I always got extremely thirsty while nursing/pumping); burp cloth to tuck in the bottom of your bra to catch all the dribbles while baby nurses and then throw on your shoulder; your iPhone or other device to play on and pass time while nursing. :)

    Sorry for that jumbled long list. Hopefully you can read it ok and something in there helps somebody!

    • Jocelyn says:

      Sorry – I thought of a couple others. Depending on the type of pump you have (if you use one), pumping into bottles of that brand that attach right to the pump are easiest. Medela has redesigned their milk storage bags, though, so that they are much easier to attach to and remove from the pump. These are excellent for storage when you know you won’t need a bottle right away.

      I agree with the other commenters too – feed baby on demand when nursing. It is good for both baby and your supply. And start freezing pumped milk as soon as you can. Like someone said above, you definitely can’t go wrong having a surplus in reserve. That will start coming in handy sooner than you realize. Just mark the date pumped on the bag and use up the oldest bags first.

      This were 2 sites I frequently referenced when starting out and helped me a lot: and Medela also has good resources on their site.

  8. Suzanne says:

    I nursed my first exclusively for 15 months (until I was pregnant with #2) and I’m nursing my 5 month old right now, with plans to keep going until at least 2 years (or another pregnancy). The MOST helpful thing was a lactation consultant followed by a breastfeeding support group. Without both of those I never would have made it past the first 4 horrible nipple-shield-thrush-engorgement-biting-baby months.

    But here’s the advice I’d give anyone who wants to breastfeed:

    Get a pump, even if you never plan to pump. A little hand-held one is cheap and a lifesaver when you’re so engorged the baby can’t even latch or for the first time the baby sleeps for more than 4 hours and you feel like dying.

    Buy some nursing pads but DON’T invest in a million boxes of a single brand until you know you like them. First time around I HATED every brand besides the Johnson & Johnson ones (they sell them at Target). This time I like the thinner ones, like the Lansinoh.

    And MOST IMPORTANT: Ask your OB for a prescription for All-Purpose-Nipple-Ointment. Google if you want the recipe, or if your doctor doesn’t actually know what APNO is and needs the ingredients. A pharmacist has to compound it, so you’ll need to have it called in to a real pharmacy (my Walgreens does it, Target doesn’t). It sounds like a lot of work and you might feel silly asking for it but the stuff is MAGIC. It cures thrush, prevents thrush, soothes sore nipples and decreased inflammation. I went from impossibly sore and crying through feedings to the idyllic breastfeeding mother in less than 4 days. No joke, GET THIS PRESCRIPTION. It’s like the gentian violet times a MILLION.

    That’s exactly the sort of info that no one told me at all – not even my LC – until I spent two hours on the internet weeping and Googling “super sore red shiny nipples”.

  9. Tracey says:


    BF gets frustrating at times, especially if things don’t “click” right away. You can’t force a baby to BF – sometimes they have bad days (or weeks) too. I shed too many tears over trying to get Baby Girl to eat when she was on a nursing strike. I realized the sooner I relaxed and followed her lead, the more likely she would be to nurse.

    If you work, invest in a second set of parts so that you can alternate between them. I pump before, during and after work so I don’t have to worry about washing parts as I rush out the door for my commute.

    LLL can be a good resource, but they are only as good as the chapter leader. Some are really strident about BF-only but others are more realistic about it.

    I recommend expressing for the overnight feedings so that your partner can give a bottle. It’ll allow for them to bond and share in those quiet moments where Baby is eating and looking at you with total love. Plus it’ll allow you some extra and much-needed sleep.

    Even after all this, remember that not being able to meet the baby’s needs doesn’t mean you failed. Supplementing with formula is okay – you’re doing what you have to in order to feed your child. There will come a point when you can’t meet the baby’s demand or she strikes or self-weans. It’s okay.

  10. ellbee says:

    Oooh, I totally agree with Becky–pump as much as you can while your body is still figuring out your supply. I’m working my way through my frozen supply as what I can pump while my boy is at Grandma’s doesn’t begin to cover what he can eat anymore.
    Don’t be scared to use a nipple shield if you have to–during that first month or so I would wake up too engorged for my baby to latch on (plus, my nipple on the left side was pretty flat at first). I used the nipple shield without shame so that the little squirt could get some food, and then I’d pop it off when he had deflated the breast somewhat and could latch without it. We stopped using it about 6 weeks in, and never looked back! People will wave their hands in horror when you mention nipple shields, but my kid is almost 8 months now and nurses like a champ–there was never a problem with nipple confusion.
    Also, your mileage may vary, but I found that I started to perish of the thirst right about 30 seconds AFTER my baby latched on and began sucking. This, you may realize, is too late to do anything about it! Make sure you have your giant hospital-provided plastic mug on hand and FULL every time you sit down to feed or you’ll end up trying to feed a baby while staggering to your kitchen sink with your nursing bra trailing in the wind. (Not that I have done this, or anything…)
    Lastly, breastfeeding is, well, boring. You can only smile beatifically down at your baby for so long before you begin to wonder if he’s EVER going to finish. Have a book, TV remote or your smart phone at hand (right next to your mug) and take advantage of the peace and quiet to get a little relaxing in for you. (Also, it is possible to nap while breast feeding.)

  11. El says: was a tremendous asset to me.

    Other tips:
    If you can afford it, use the medela pump wipes. I was a working mom, nursing in the morning, pumping 1-2 times at work and then nursing 2 times in the evening. The wipes allowed me to wipe the pump parts off and then when I got home I tossed them in the sterilizer bag for cleaning. I stored everything in an open topped tupperware container with a paper towel at the bottom, so everything air dried thoroughly.

    In the beginning my milk supply gave me extra to freeze, but once she was on a schedule she ate everything I could make. The bigger bottles that you can pump in were a God-send.

    If you are pumping at work – give those 20 minutes to yourself as a gift for your baby. I often sat in the dark and focused on relaxing, or I edited photos of my baby… but I didn’t work, I didn’t talk on the phone.

    DRINK WATER. Mother’s milk tea is good too… fyi, too much can mess your stomach up.

    Good luck ladies!

  12. Mel says:

    wow, loaded question!

    My warning – breastfeed hurts during the beginning, and for me it lasted 2 weeks. I mean really hurts, i used to pinch myself to feel pain somewhere else while she latched on. But after that 2 weeks it didn’t hurt at all.

    Do not be lazy about missing a feeding/pump session this is how I would end up with clogged milk ducts.

    Use it to your advantage…if someone is holding your baby that you don’t want to or if (annoying) family is hanging around the house for too long, take your baby and escape to the back of the house to be by yourself!

    Treat breastmilk as liquid GOLD! This is something you need to make sure your husband and caregivers understand. This milk is tough to get – do NOT waste it or throw it away. Treat it with respect since you are doing so much work to get it.

    Last tip – I used to BF my daughter at her daycare on my lunch hour. At first I used a nursing cover but later got more comfortable and stopped using it. MISTAKE! When she was about 5 months old she was much more interested in all the excitement and activity of the room than paying attention to meal time. I would recommend to keep using a nursing cover in a public place so that your baby will focus and won’t be so curious to do other things.

  13. I have a question… What if you are allergic to wool, what should you get besides lanolin??

    • Jocelyn says:

      I just looked, and Lansinoh actually addresses that on their site – scroll about halfway down this FAQs page:

      • thanks. im still leery to use it because i dont want my nips to react and at the same time don’t want to open a 10 dollar tube to test it out on my arm to find out i am allergic and then be out the money..

        • Jen says:

          You can also use something called Polysporin. It was recommended to me by the LC where I delivered. It is much gentler than Lanolin- tends to be a really thick ointment- and with sore nipples, no one wants to try to spread anything all over them!! I purchased it from Walgreens. I hope it helps!
          I also used the “All Purpose Nipple Cream”. I would have to say that it is pretty much magic. I had severely sore/cracked nips and they honestly were healed up in about 24 hours. It is a bit pricey (my insurance didn’t cover it), but for me it was totally worth it!

  14. Molly says:

    Ah this is so great- love that you are posting about this- I am a mother to twin boys 4 months who are for the most part strickly on my milk- we do one formula feeding before bed- but everything else is from me…so some of my ideas are as followed since I have been through it for 4 months now- I was in the same boat with the NICU, but only for 11 days- so from day one I started pumping and collecting as much as I could. The hospital gave me a huge thermal mug which I still take to bed with me each night as I am still getting up to pump in the middle of the night…so my mug is #1- then my fenugreek- it is an herbal supplement from GNC to help increase milk- THEY ARE AWESOME!! I take 9 a day- 3 at each meal. Then my handfree pumping bra- that has been a life I was changing both babies and pumping at the same time- it was nice. also I would say a nice book or magazine to read when you are pumping alone- I am still pumping at like 2 am or so once I am up for the feedings- those are my main thing- fenugreek would be my # 1 suggestion

  15. Lauren says:

    There are so many things I wish I had known! I keep about 6 water bottles in the fridge so I always have one ready (so I don’t have to try to fill a bottle while a baby is screaming.) Hands free pumping is the only way to go. Oh, be ready to pump, read about it even if you think you won’t need it. Because then you have a preemie and you have to pump for the first 4 weeks and then you get ready to go back to work and you have NO IDEA what a pumping schedule should be. Find a good LC before you give birth so you have a number to call when you are freaking out about bfing. It is a pain to try to find someone when you haven’t slept in 3 days or showered in 5.

  16. kelley says:

    I’ll never forget my second night in the hospital with my daughter – she was crying and I couldn’t get her to latch, so I called a nurse for help. First they brought ME food because apparently I wasn’t clear that I thought my BABY wanted to eat; then the nurse came back, took Kayla’s head in one hand and my boob in the other and tried to force her to latch on… hello uncomfortable! After about 10 seconds of that, her pager went off. She looked at me and said “well, just keep it up!” and left me with a wailing 27 hour old baby in my arms. It was awful.

    Things got better when we got home, until my milk came in. All of a sudden Kayla would unlatch and cry right after letdown, and I’d spray milk everywhere without fail! I had no idea about overactive letdown or anything like that.

    Finally I got in for an appointment with a lactation consultant at our hospital when Kayla was a week old. She showed me how to position the little one correctly using a boppy and all of a sudden something just clicked. She nursed like a champ, 10 minutes on each side. I was a ton more relaxed and everything went much more smoothly from there. A good lactation consultant is worth her weight in gold. I did still have to keep a burp cloth nearby for crazy milk sprayings for the next couple of months though.

    If I could do it all over again, I would definitely take a class before baby’s arrival; I was completely unprepared, thinking that “oh, it’s so natural, it will be easy!” It isn’t easy. It hurts – sometimes a lot (they’ll tell you that it won’t hurt if you’re doing it right. That’s a lie). But totally worth it if you can stick it out through the early stages.

  17. Ann says:

    I have to second the website. That site was a lifesaver for me when I was pumping after going back to work! There are research links to back up the information too which I found very helpful.

    I also have the book The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Dr. Jack Newman. That book was very helpful to have around the house as a reference. I have an older version and not the updated one. You can find it on Amazon.

    I started to build up a freezer stash when I was at home before returning to work. I highly recommend doing that since it helps take the stress off of pumping enough to keep up with the baby if you have an off day.

  18. Beth says:

    Get over being modest, at least for the first little while. Let consultants, nurses, and expert mothers help. That was hard for me with daughter #1. A home health nurse older than my granny finally set me straight (and OMG was that ever an experience!)

    Also, good pads to go in the bra helped protect my clothes, if possible, nurse, nurse, nurse as much as possible. Get in a comfy position where you can get a good grip on the baby.

    I pumped some, while I was working and I wish I had had a hands free bra! So if I were to do this again, I’d definitely be looking for one of those!

  19. Emily says:

    Breastfeeding is hard. It’s hard. It’s hard. I have 3 children, 3 and under. I have attempted diligent breastfeeding with all of them and have had a hard time with supply. My daughter, first born was 4 lbs 12 oz with growth restriction. She did not gain any weight, in fact she lost weight until she was 5 weeks old. I did not know I had low supply. A good friend of mine also had this problem and had found a wonderful solution to keep nursing but give the babe nutrition needed. The lact-aid was developed in the 70’s for women who wanted to breastfeed their adopted babies. It literally saved my daughters life. It’s a little bag that you put formula or BM in and a tiny tube that is inserted into baby’s mouth while nursing, stimulating milk production and feeding at the same time. I did it successfully for 8 months. More info can be found at The end all resource that I can recomend is He’s an expert on Breastfeeding. Hes harsh in my opinion with the moms, but has the largest collection of information, videos and support that I have ever seen. Lastly
    Find a good Lactation consultant. Find a good pediatrician that supports BFding, use a boppy or something to save your back for God’s sake! Get soothies from a LC. Most importantly, give yourself a time line. I would have LOVED to have the knowledge that breastfeeding gets significantly easier after the 8-10 week mark. If I had that time frame in mind during my first attempts, the pain & frustration would have been much more bearable. With my subsequent nursing experiences, I did just that. I gave myself a time line and at each milestone, I’d re-evaluate the BFding and how it was affecting me, my husband and my other children. Much easier to handle that way!

  20. mjb says:

    I’ve found very helpful, as well as our local lactation consultant and breastfeeding support group. I also ask detailed questions of every mom I know who has pumped. It took us an hour each time until my son was 4.5 months, and now he eats in 15 minutes or less, which has made all the difference for us! Having two sets of pump parts has been helpful, as well as a holster for the pump, but I didn’t need any lanolin or special breast pads.

  21. mjb says:

    Oh the other thing, is that I love nursing tanks, but I had no idea how much my wardrobe would need to change – barely any of my dresses work any more!

  22. LCW says:

    You have a lot of great advice to start…I won’t overwhelm you with more, but I ditto a lot of the suggestions you have thus far.

  23. Sarah-Anne says:

    whoa. not gonna jump into this discussion, but can’t wait for part 2!!

  24. Stephanie C. says:

    I loved the book “So THAT’ What They’re For.” Super good and I referenced it often. I still have it in case I have questions again when baby #2 comes.

  25. amber says:

    Um, thank you thank you thank you for doing this. I really appreciate it. :)

    A hopefully soon-to-be breastfeeding mama

  26. Ann says:

    This book recommendation by the breastfeeding center in washington dc

    Breastfeeding made simply
    7 natural laws for nursing mothers

    and I second or third or forth

  27. jen says:

    for a book reference, I loved The Nursing Mother’s Companion.

    and here’s a tip I learned the hard way. I cheaped out and never bought a nursing tank. BIG MISTAKE. life would have been so much easier if I’d just gotten the damn thing.

    La Leche League is a good resource and if you’re in the Los Angeles area (or even if you’re not!) then is another great help.

    Most of what else I’d say has been covered! Great comments!!

  28. Meegs says:

    This is a great idea!! I’m so blessed to still be nursing my daughter at 15 months. It wasn’t always easy, but it was always worth it.

    I wish people would tell you that it is going to be difficult at the beginning, but to stick with it and it does get easier!

    For resources, I recommend: and both are wonderful and full of info.

    Find the number for a lactation consultant before you have the baby, that way you have it on hand if there is a problem. Also, when you are doing your childbirth class, see if your birth center or hospital offers a breastfeeding information class too. Ours did and it offered some great tips.

    I’m a huge fan of most things Medela… they have great pumps, great pumping supplies, and great stuff to clean and care for your pump.

    I recommend having a pump from the start too, even if you don’t plan to use it until a few weeks out. We had a night when baby girl just would not latch on one side! I was so so engorged the next morning. I broke out the pump, and emptied that side and thankfully she was able to latch find after that.

    I second the Target tanks.

    Anyway, you already have tons of info here… but I look forward to reading it when you put it all together, and maybe I’ll have more to add then!

  29. Kelli says:

    I could go on and on, but the one trick that turned things around for us (after struggling for 5 weeks) was to line babies NOSE up with your nippe, not their mouth! Them, when they open wide and you pull them in, you will automatically get that “up and over” technique desired to get the majority of the upper side of the areola in their mouth. By lining up their mouth with your nipple and pulling them straight towards you, you are more likely to just get the nippe, and not the areola.

  30. Elizabeth Miracle says:

    I’m almost 9 months into nursing my second child and i totally agree about the lack of resources. Some things that are must haves in the beginning…

    1. nursing bras
    2. Lanolin (I personally like Lansinoh’s brand)
    3. Nursing Pads (also used Lansinoh)
    4. A tervis tumbler Big T drinking cup with the straw and lid (crazy but it takes lots of hydration, these cups are huge and they are insulated..perfect to set next to you while pumping or feeding!)
    5. A boppy or a breast friend (I used the boppy but I have heard the breast friend is awesome)
    6. A DECENT electronic pump..if you plan to pump, spend the extra money. It’s a good investment if you tend to be in for the long haul. I used a Medela
    7. An Itzbeen timer or some kind of log to track how long a feeding takes place and time between feedings
    8. La Leche League has an ENTIRE book on breastfeeding. I can’t think of the name right off and I actually lent it to a friend. It wasn’t something I read cover to cover but liked having it as a resource when I brought my first baby home from the hospital. It covers about everything.

    Those are my big ticket items…can’t wait to hear about everyone else’s

  31. andrea1124 says:

    Oh, this is awesome. AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME. I’m going to spill my guts as if I were spilling it to a close friend and I have not read any of the previous comments…so some of this may already be covered 100 times. My FIRST and most important statement is this: Breastfeeding is by far one of the most difficult things I have EVER done in my life, and nobody told me that it would A). Get much easier and B). That the never ending black hole of solitary and sleep deprivation would not last forever. In the whole scheme of things…it is such a short snippet in time…a time that looking back on…wish I would have savored more and slowed it down. Now that we are expecting #2, I’m making a promise to remind myself that it will get easier and it won’t last forever, and for those reasons…I need to soak in every minute of that tiny little being.

    As far as pumping and breastfeeding must-haves go, I think the Medella Freestyle was the best idea EVER for a working mom like myself. To have a hands free battery pack pump was awesome (could pump in my office, in a moving car, while holding a baby, etc…). I also used the Medela wipes to wipe down all pump parts between sessions vs. having to go and wash down everything in an employee break room. I loved the Lansinoh freezer bags and would constantly stock up during sales at Target. That is all I Have for now, as I’m sure the comments above have covered anything else I may have wanted to add. Again…what a great idea and I look forward to seeing the final product to pass along.

  32. Lindsey says:

    A MUST HAVE is WASHABLE/RE-USEABLE breast pads to prevent leaks. I started out with the throw-away ones the hospital provides and yuck. The paper stuff would stick to my chapped nipples and tear off, get stuck, etc. The washables are SO soft and don’t stick. Just be sure you change them often so they don’t have dried milk on there. I was only able to breast feed for 3 months. I developed Mastisis twice and was only able to produce a maximum of 5oz every 3 hours. That was barely enough to feed my growing girl!
    The one thing I wished I had known more about was the warning signs of Mastisis. It happens when a clogged milk duct isn’t worked out and infection sets in. Some of the symptoms are full body aches, vomiting, fever with sweating, followed by freezing chills. The infected breast will feel REALLY hot to the touch. It makes you think you have the flu, which is what I thought I had! Until I realized my breast was hurting really bad and the skin around the clogged duct was HOT AS FIRE. It is treated by medication (which doesn’t hurt the babies milk). When the second clog developed 4 weeks later, it wouldn’t go away. I had to have a needle put into my breast so they could draw out the clogged milk. SO PAINFUL :*(

    • laura says:

      I found using the disposable breast pads helped decrease the chance of infection. The Dr. told me to get the disposable kind so the bacteria wouldn’t live in them as long and clog the milk ducts.. just a suggestion for next time.

  33. Ashley says:

    I did tons of research before hand, but I didn’t fully comprehend how HARD breastfeeding really was going to be. And we’ve had relatively few problems. It’s just difficult at first. It hurts. It hurts BAD. But it gets so much easier, and I’m glad I stuck it out. The 2nd week I cried through every feeding. But by 6 weeks it was a piece of cake. I’m still going strong at 10+ months and now I’m so so so glad I didn’t quit when it was tough and I wanted to.

    My favorite book was The Nursing Mother’s Companion. is also an amazing resource.

    Buy a pump, and pump often. I was really lazy about pumping in the beginning and now I regret it. I can barely pump anything and my freezer stash is almost nonexistent. But I didn’t think I would have any problems, because in the beginning I had a huge oversupply and was able to pump 8oz in just a few minutes, and I thought it would always be like that.

    Lanolin is your best friend. And those Soothies – keep them in the fridge. Set up a ‘BFing station’ with a comfy chair, a boppy, and lots of snacks and water within reach.

    Lastly I would just say ignore all of the negative opinions you hear. I have no idea why, but it seemed like EVERYONE was telling me about how I was going to fail and that was hard to hear those early weeks. I almost quit, but thankfully my husband was there to support me and reminded me about how much I wanted to do it and made me feel strong enough. The comments never end, though. First it was that I would never make it two weeks, then that there’s no way I would survive the 6 week growth spurt, then they said I would quit the second he got teeth. Now I just get a lot of ‘you’re STILL breastfeeding?’ comments and side-eyes. But I learned a long time ago to just ignore it.

    If you want to breastfeed, know that it is a LOT of work (in the beginning), but it is so rewarding and empowering. It’s not easy, but you can do it. And once you get over that hump and you & baby figure out what you are doing it becomes so easy and you’ll be so glad you don’t have to buy formula or mix bottles at 2am.

  34. Christine says:

    I would like to reiterate The Nursing Mother’s Companion as THE book to get. It doesn’t contain nearly as much opinion as some of the other books. Buy it before birth. Read it before birth. They seperate out a “common problems” section for each stage and it is so helpful.

    I also want to second/third/fourth It was my other Bible.

    Breastfeeding isn’t easy. My first son was is in the NICU for the first five days of his life. He had bottles of formula and as much breastmilk as I could pump. We had huge problems with nipple confusion when we came home. That book helped me SO much.

    One other thing…don’t feel like you have to stick to the positions the books show. I made up one of my own that worked MUCH better for both my son and me. It’s a modified cradle hold and it was the only way he would latch in the beginning.

  35. M says:

    Websites: and
    Watch the videos on the Newman site–they show you a good latch and good drinking. Seeing the real thing is so much more helpful than hearing a description, even from the best lactation nurses.

    Breast pads for those early weeks when you leak.

    A few good nursing tanks and bras–Target ones are great.

    Lanolin or Jack Newman’s All Purpose Nipple Ointment (this is prescription only, but it’s amazing. Anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and analgesic all in one healing cream).

    A good pump with lots of spare parts–order the spare parts kit.

    If you plan on freezing for storage, order extra storage bottles so you don’t run out.

    Avent bottles–these are the closest thing to nursing a baby when you bottle feed.

    Figure out your “let down” early. Pay attention to the sensation, how long it takes, how patient your baby is. I thought mine was just a crummy nurser–she was tugging, kneading, and frustrated until one day I actually felt the tingling of a let down and realized my milk was taking several minutes to start flowing. Once I figured it out, I focused on my body and let down cues, and got it to start flowing much faster.

    When you pump, massage your breasts when your flow starts to slow down to get the hindmilk and empty your breasts. Massage will also help prevent infections and clogged ducts.

    Engorgement will kick in after a few days. This sucks, but you can pump and nurse to establish a good supply early. Don’t waste that extra milk.

    When you pump, go for at least 10 minutes. You might get another let down and empty your breasts even more.

    If you’re trying to establish a good supply, nurse and pump as much as you can. It’s exhausting, but you’ll have extra in the freezer and a better supply in the end.

    Cluster feeding WILL happen to you. It’s exhausting, too, but necessary to boost your supply.

    There are lots of recommended positions and techniques. Find the ones that work best for you and your baby and screw the rest.

    A Boppy or other nursing pillow can make things more comfortable.

    Invest in some good books, tv, movies, or other things to do while breastfeeding. It’s intimate and wonderful, but honestly, gets boring after a while.

    Stay off Google for every little thing. It’s good to find help/resources/other moms to feel supported when things get rough, but don’t read or believe EVERYTHING out there. There’s so much conflicting information. It just confused and frightened me. Your baby is unique and there’s nothing wrong with her just because she’s doing something a little different.

    Mother Love herbs helped me boost my supply. Also Mother’s Milk tea helped when my supply dipped (when my period returned) and to keep my supply up.

    Ask for help–lactation nurses at the hospital, La Leche League, other moms. Don’t let yourself get isolated–it’s lonely enough with a new baby and nursing round the clock.

    Most important: if you ever supplement, or if you decide breastfeeding isn’t for you, DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP ABOUT IT. You’re doing your best to feed your baby, no matter the method.

  36. Emmy says:

    1 week and 4 days into BF…I need this post!

  37. Megan says:

    People are going to think I am so gross. And if you have a baby that is premature or has any sort of issues I wouldn’t do this.

    But I don’t wash or sterilize my pump parts between sessions. I pump about 3 times a day at work and I just use the same parts, un-washed, un-rinsed and un-wiped. My thinking is that if you can leave milk out in a room for 5-7 hours, then the milk on my pump parts should probably be okay for that amount of time too.

    Also, I never sterilize the parts in the little bags or anything. They just go in the dishwasher and then finish drying on that Boon drying mat that looks like grass.

    Oh yeah, and if my baby doesn’t finish a bottle at a feeding I put that sucker right back in the fridge and re-heat it at the next feeding. I only do it one time, though. Like I wouldn’t offer it again at the second feeding.

    So there are my nasty tips. I’m horrible, but my 4 month old baby is thriving.

    Oh! And in the beginning I’d nurse him from one side and pump the other at the same time. It seemed to get me used to pumping because for a while I couldn’t get much with the pump. I started doing that and now I can pump like a mad woman.

    • Brandy says:

      I did the same thing with cleaning the pump parts. Just packed it all back up in the fridge. I was pumping 4 times at work…screw washing every time. LT is perfectly healthy here at 21 months.

    • M says:

      you are so not horrible. I did the same thing with unfinished milk. ANd if I pumped 2 hours apart, I didn’t wash the parts either–for the same reasons you gave. Also, my dr. told me that nothing in the baby’s world is sterlized once you leave the hospital, so there’s no need to sterilize the parts. A good, careful wash is all you need.

      • tobasco says:

        There is nothing wrong with anything you’ve said. It is perfectly acceptable (and recommended, so that you don’t waste any) to put an unused or unfinished bottle of BM back in the fridge. You can use it one additional time, and then after that you do need to dispose of it.

        I also put my pump parts in the fridge between uses and washed them with soap once a day. This isn’t gross, this is recommended. Plus, cold pump parts feel good on sore nipples, lol :)

  38. Becky says:

    One other tip I used with all three of my kids. You need to start on the opposite side of the last feeding. I always wore a simple hair rubber band on the wrist of the side I needed to start on next. When you’re feeding round the clock, you won’t remember what from when. Simple and inexpensive reminder.

    I’ve had a 10 lb baby, 7 lb baby and 4 lb baby. The smallest was the hardest to nurse because she was so small. The lactation nurse described it as a “sandwhich” but she took my breast squished it like a sandwich and shoved it in. Kid took right off. I’ve had one other friend have a LC tell her the same thing. So if you’re having trouble latching, try the sandwich.

  39. Stefanie says:

    Thanks for all the advice. I’ll be a first time mom very soon and plan on breastfeeding. I just finished the breastfeeding class offered by the hospital last night and it was helpful but I still don’t feel super confident about this. This info and resources will be helpful!

  40. Ruthie says:

    Nursing-wear advice for ladies with small bodies, but big boobs. I was told at a national maternity chain in my 35th week that my boobs wouldn’t get any bigger when my milk came in and they recommended to buy bras then. Total lie since I went from 34DD to 34G! Shocking that they don’t allow returns. I should have known better.

    1. Buy one or two “sleep bras” before baby’s arrival. They’re soft and should expand with you. They’ll be enough for your first week or two.
    2. Go to a bra specialty store and get measured once your milk has come in. See what they can order for you or have in stock. If they can’t help much go to — they have a great selection of high quality nursing bras in larger sizes. I only had 2, since they were expensive. Rotate daily and wash very gently.
    3. Loved the Bravado nursing tanks. Highly supportive and the tank is long to cover the belly. Available on Amazon so returns are easy. They come in specific band and cup sizes, not just S-XL. If you can, order a couple different sizes before baby and wait to see what fits. Otherwise wait until you get measured and order. Very true to size.
    4. I wore underwire bras the entire 9 months that I nursed and never had problems. I think the key is that they fit well.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Totally agree about Nordtrom. It’s worth spending the extra $ to have someone take the time to measure you and find bras that fit. I use them all the time now..nursing or not! Plus, always keep your receipts from Nordtrom. Their return policy is SO lenient and if something doesn’t hold up to its quality, they’ll gladly take it back.

  41. Liz McKinley says:

    I totally agree that BF is totally like being trapped in a dark room! Mostly everyone gave me a bunch of reasons they thought I should quit, and the older my son got the more the reasons piled up (I still held out for 11 months despite everyones “advice”) I also agree that Target nursing tanks were my favorite. I thought they gave the best support. I also bought 3 Medela nursing bras, and while at the time I thought it was a huge expense, I wore those three bras down to the threads over my sons first year. My son hated nursing inside a “hooter hider” so I got good at pumping in the car on the way to public events and feeding him from a bottle. Water makes all the difference in milk output. Drink more than you want, and then have one more glass after that! There are alot of bad days- battery gives out in your pump, infections, leaving out 20oz of milk overnight on the counter, the list goes on. But all the bad things end quick and you just have to keep powering through.

  42. laura says:

    I loved to use Soothies (refreshing gel pads) to put on in the beginning when your nipples are getting used to breastfeeding. I used to put those in the fridge and then they were nice and cool when I was done feeding my girls. If you are going to pump, I suggest a hands free pumping bra so that you don’t put all that strain on your back by bending forward and holding the pump in place. Also, I like the Bubba water jug, perfect to fill up and make sure I drank 1-2 jugs a day, helped me keep track of how much I was drinking, I tried to drink one jug from when I woke up till lunch and the next from lunch to when I went to sleep, sometimes more depending on the day.

  43. Love love love this post! I’m putting a big star on it so that I can re-read this & all the comments once I’m pregnant! Thanks as usual for great posts.

  44. Ash says: was my BF resource, especially once I went back to work and started pumping.

  45. Krista says:

    The best book on breastfeeding (IMO) is The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, which is put out by La Leche League. It has so many awesome tips and tricks and so much information, much more than I could ever post here!

    Unusual breastfeeding products I love:

    -Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter: It’s hard to find in a store (I order it on, but it feels soooo much nicer on sore nipples than lanolin. I found the Lansinoh to be so thick and sticky that it actually hurt my nipples worse to apply it. The Nipple Butter goes on smooth like…well, butter.

    -Bamboobies reusable nursing pads: Again, I order these from Amazon and have never seen them in an actual store. I have sensitive skin and the paper/disposable nursing pads were horribly itchy for me! Other cotton reusable pads feel cold when they get wet, and they can also stick to your nipple (ouch!). These are the softest, most absorbent nursing pads (one pair lasts you all day). They have thinner pads for daytime, and very thick overnight pads. They’re pricey ($30 for 4 pairs), but worth it if you have sensitive skin/nipples, and/or if you leak a lot.

    -Itzbeen baby care timer: You can buy this at Babies R Us or good ol’ trusty Amazon. This is not specifically for breastfeeding, but it has helped me tremendously with breastfeeding. Just hit the button when you start to feed your baby, and it will show how much time has elapsed since you last fed. You can also move an indicator to L or R to remind yourself which side you last started on. There are 4 buttons, so you can time 4 different things…I use them for feeding, diaper changes, and medication times. Would be good for pumping as well.

    And one last piece of breastfeeding advice…don’t let naysayers get you down! Go to LLL meetings for support from other women (look up meeting times in your area on their website Arm yourself with a few important facts (like that the AAP recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months, or the WHO recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 year) so you have something to defend yourself with when your mother, grandmother, in-laws, friends, or whoever start to make snide comments about you breastfeeding. And if no one in your life is making unsupportive comments about breastfeeding, then count yourself very lucky!

  46. tobasco says:

    I didn’t read all of the responses so I apologize if this is repeat advice. I read “So that’s what they’re for” while I was pregnant. Extrememly helpful book and without it I would never have been able to breastfeed my daughter. I had major supply issues, and if it hadn’t been for this book I wouldn’t have known that there were ways to fix it. Also, pregnant woman are more than welcome at “le leche league” meetings. Go early, get knowledge, and get prepared. Plan to have lots of naked time once your LO is born. Don’t worry about nursing bras or tanks until you’ve got the latch down. It is way too hard to figure out how to latch with a bunch of straps in the way.

    My biggest piece of advice is READ READ READ and find support. I was prepared and I am so thankful that I was.

  47. tobasco says:

    Oh… and I forget. Don’t forget to include your DH/boyfriend/whoever in the knowledge. I can’t tell you how many times I was crying out of frustration and hormones when my DH, obviously more clear-headed, would remember something to help me out.

  48. elizabeth says:

    Sigh. Breastfeeding, once you get the hang of it, it is so easy. It takes a while to get to that point though.

    Everyone tells you it shouldn’t hurt, but in the beginning it does. For first time mothers, you don’t know what you are doing & hormones are blazing…it is a difficult time. I know I felt so violated after my son was born with nurses and lactation consultants grabbing and squeezing my boobs and watching me nurse. It was horrible. I didn’t feel at ease until I got home and even then I thought he wasn’t eating enough or latching correctly. At about 6 weeks I was feeling comfortable with nursing, but it took until 12 weeks to finally feel like a pro. So it takes time, be patient. I called the LLL and asked questions, used google, &…but I never went in for another consultation. I couldn’t be poked anymore.

    Beware of yeast and blocked ducts…it happened 3x to me. BF-ing is work. There are a lot of nay sayers out there that will tell you to quit. But don’t it is the best thing for you and baby.

    As far a latching, the best advice I got was to squeeze your boob like you would if you were biting into a hamburger and jam it into the baby’s mouth. Just like if you were going to eat something, you would squish it down and put it into your mouth in the same direction. Once I got that concept down, latching was a breeze.

    I could never nurse in public with a blanket over the baby. He just wasn’t down with it. So I pumped and pumped for 8 months. Having bottles was nice, other people could feed him.

    Target has great nursing tanks. I also recommend at least 2 sleep bras. Target nursing bras without underwire were great, but I think I would invest in something more shapely next time. They were nice in the summer though since they were cotton.

    I felt like the best nursing pads were the think ones by NUK. They always felt clean. Kind of like a panty liner for your boob.

    & don’t worry, you won’t have a extra large chest forever…once you are finished nursing there is nothing left.

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