When I first started breastfeeding, I had one spot that I always went to nurse. It was the most comfortable spot for me, I could add some pillows around me, and it was nice and private (in baby’s nursery) so I could have some time to figure it out.
I had lots of family around at that time and although they probably wouldn’t have cared, I didn’t really want to pop a boob out when I didn’t know what I was doing yet.
Those first weeks were hard, especially as a new mom who has never breastfed before.
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I almost gave up so many times, but fortunately I had lots of support from my family, and from my husband, who knew how important breastfeeding was to me. Every time I wanted to give up I just told myself, give it one more week. Make it to this day, then re-assess.
I’m so glad I never stopped because it really was and is important to me. At the time that I’m writing this, we’re going on 5 months strong.
Now little man and I are a pro breastfeeding team. I can nurse him while running after the dog and grabbing myself a snack.
I don’t really like to, but sometimes you’re just that starving, and the dog needs to be run after.
Anyway, in those first few weeks, it was so helpful to have a nursing station by my assigned nursing spot.
Here are the things I had in my breastfeeding station, and that will definitely make your life breastfeeding a thousand times easier!
It’s no secret that breastfeeding makes you hungry. My grocery bill definitely went up after I started breastfeeding.
Actually, it went up during my pregnancy because pregnancy made me hungry too.
So, as we can see, snacks are necessary. While you’re cooped up cluster feeding like crazy on the couch, in your bed, or in the nursery, wherever you decide to nurse the first few weeks, you’re going to want to limit the need to get up.
Snacks in a basket near your assigned breastfeeding station will help you out there.
Also needed in your basket or near your breastfeeding station is going to be water.
Water keeps up your supply.
You can eat as much as you want, but if you are not getting enough fluids, your supply is hurt.
You’re always super thirsty anyway (just like you’re always super hungry… and yet you almost never have time to eat…ironic isn’t it?), so keep a few water bottles by your station.
Buying a nice, cute one with an infuser to keep filled up might be a good idea and a helpful reminder to drink up.
You deserve nice things anyway, you just gave birth and have given up sleep, money, and personal space for the next years of your life.
These babies are lifesavers, especially while your milk is coming in and everything is adjusting and stabilizing.
Most of the ones you will see around are disposable but if you want to help out the environment a little, maybe save some money, there are tons of reusable ones out there (I’ll be honest, I used the disposable ones).
Sometimes I still use them. My son likes to rip himself off me to check out every single sound he hears behind him and most of the time it just so happens to be when my milk is coming down.
Milk is sprayed everywhere – on his face, on me – so keeping those handy for grabbing and throwing on to stop the spraying is sometimes necessary.
Especially when your baby is still teeny tiny (and won’t kick a blanket off), it’s nice to wrap yourselves together for nursing cuddles. Skin-to-skin contact is so important, not only for breastfeeding success, but also for bonding.
If baby is cold or you are cold, you don’t want to have to stop the feeding to go grab a blanket. You want to stay as comfortable as possible.
Swaddle blankets are also great for swaddling baby up after for a nice post-feeding nap (hopefully for you and baby).
During my first week breastfeeding I went to see a lactation consultant. I just wanted some help with latching, and as helpful as the nurses were after my son was born, they weren’t as knowledgeable with the breastfeeding side of things as a lactation consultant is.
This was the best thing I did for our breastfeeding experience.
The biggest thing she taught me was the more comfortable and relaxed you are, the easier things are for both you and baby.
She propped up baby with some pillows, gave me a stool to put my legs up, and got me so comfortable and relaxed baby latched on wonderfully, with her help.
From that day on, I took the time to make sure we were super comfortable before starting. Strategically placed pillows helped so much. With some more time and practice, I didn’t really have to use them anymore.
But in those first weeks and months, my back and shoulders were saved, and we learned quicker.
Nursing pillows are also great for this. They keep up baby exactly where he/she needs to be.
You could probably look up how many hours the average mom spends breastfeeding and it would probably be a lot.
You could spend that time just looking down at your beautiful creation, but let’s be honest, you’re not going to do that. At least not every time, and especially with how much time you really spend cluster feeding in the beginning.
Props to you if you can get through those many (MANY) middle of the night feedings without staring at a screen to keep you awake.
I, however, could not.
So, I was on my phone for a lot of the time. It kept me awake and distracted while baby was nursing for hours non-stop in the evenings, and through the night.
Now, my son is very efficient with nursing and is usually done a good feeding within 15 minutes and isn’t nursing every hour on the hour, so I do sometimes take the time to stare down at his cute little face.
He even stares back up at me sometimes, and let me tell you, it is the best part of my day.
But sometimes I take that time to check my phone and scroll through social media.
So, don’t forget your phone charger.
BOOKS OR MAGAZINES
These will also be helpful distractions during cluster feeding times.
Babies love the comfort of being close to you, and for most babies, sleeping on or very close to you is the best way to get longer stretches of sleep.
Lots of parents say they’ll never bedshare. But you probably will, at least for a little bit. It’s completely natural for babies to need the closeness of their mom. Look up the fourth trimester.
And even if you don’t end up bedsharing per-se, you’ll probably have some tummy naps on the couch with baby.
If you’re not sleeping as well, you’re going to go through a lot of reading material because you’re not going anywhere as long as that baby is sleeping.
For obvious reasons.
Seriously though, babies are very gassy, and most spit up a lot. So, burp cloths are going to be very handy.
Not only for cleaning up baby, but for cleaning you up.
Honestly, you’re going to be doing a lot of crying.
I mean, I hope not for your sake. But I don’t know a single mom who wasn’t completely hormonal for at least the first few weeks. It doesn’t help when breastfeeding isn’t going well or you’re just getting sick and tired of being stuck to a seat to feed your baby around the clock.
So, have some tissues handy.
Contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding isn’t supposed to hurt. But it does take practice. For the first few weeks it may be painful, unless your baby is a miracle latcher right from the beginning.
Then I am so happy for you, and honestly, a little jealous.
If, like my son and I, it takes you a little practice, there may be some pain and discomfort at the beginning, and that’s totally okay.
Nipple cream will help you out there. It was a lifesaver for me for the first few weeks.
Eventually it should stop hurting and you may not need it anymore. If it doesn’t stop hurting, get help. Always get help.
PUMP AND/OR HAAKAA
If you are going to be pumping, you’re going to need your pump at your breastfeeding station. Some extra parts will be nice to have close by as well.
I just use this hand pump as I only pump for when I’m out for a bit and baby isn’t with me. I try to keep up with feeding him a bottle at least once a week so he stays used to it when I do actually need him to take one.
Other than that, I mostly just nurse.
The haakaa is great for this because it catches the letdown and collects milk without having to actually pump. You can use it on one side while you’re nursing on the other, and not have to take up any extra time pumping.
It works better for some, but I’ve only ever heard good reviews, and have only amazing things to say about it.
These will be needed for loosening up clogged ducts, or cramps. Yes, you read that right. Cramps.
While I was nursing in the hospital for the first few days, the cramps were crazy painful. Breastfeeding is great because it helps your uterus contract back to its normal size much quicker.
While this is nice to know, it’s not nice to go through.
Heating pads are also great for loosening up clogged ducts, or for loosening up milk ducts before you nurse to make the milk flow better.
Cooling pads are life savers for relieving engorgement and any pain or discomfort you may have.
There you have it – a few things you will want near your breastfeeding station to make life a little bit easier.
Because being a mom is hard enough. Breastfeeding is hard enough.
However you decide to feed your baby, make things a little bit easier on yourself with a little bit of preparation.