By Michelle Clookie
Let’s face it, as tender and intimate as breastfeeding might be, it can also be a major challenge. Even mamas having an “easy” experience can use some support. Often this comes in the form of knowledgeable friends (you know, the one who’ll answer your 2 a.m. questions) or working with a lactation consultant like myself, but every new mama deserves a handful of indispensable tools that will give her the best breastfeeding experience possible. Here are the top five things I recommend to new mamas.
1. Latch: A Handbook for Breastfeeding with Confidence at Every Stage
I have read a lot about breastfeeding in my education, and in my own journey as a mother of three, and this book is my absolute favorite. It covers all you need to know spanning from the first weeks after birth to weaning. Author Robin Kaplan does a remarkable job presenting information in a way everyone can understand, and she does so with a tone that conveys nothing but support—you won’t find an ounce of judgment in this book. Plus you can simply flip to the chapters that make the most sense for your experience. Baby brain is real, and we need the least overwhelming, most trustworthy advice we can get.
2. Nourishing Food
I know, I know, this isn’t something you can buy on Amazon, but if you are going to feed a baby, you need to be fed. It has nothing to do with what you pass through to your milk—you could eat In-N-Out 10 times in a row and your baby will be just fine. This has everything to do with you—your energy, your healthy mindset, and taking care of the body that just birthed a baby. When we are nourishing ourselves with healing, nutrient-dense foods, we will be much more equipped to handle this new journey, and our bodies will heal much faster. Preparing freezer meals in the weeks and months before baby will leave you with a stockpile of healthy, ready to eat dishes, and asking people to bring meals that can be frozen, is also super helpful. You could even ask each of your baby shower guests to bring a meal that you can freeze until baby is born!
3. Haakaa Breast Pump
This little silicon sucker is amazing! Some moms, especially in the first few weeks of breastfeeding, can leak or may find that they have an abundance of milk. We recommend holding off on pumping unless recommended by a medical professional such as a lactation consultant, but this “pump” isn’t electric. It’s best used to help catch (and add a little draw to) that liquid gold leaking from one side, while nursing on the other. This can be a huge perk to those planning on returning to work, or foresee wanting to step out for some free time once baby is taking a bottle. For more information on proper milk storage and handling guidelines check out this handy little handout from Kellymom.com (all her stuff is great!).
4. Clothes You Can Nurse In
It is not super convenient to have to completely undress in order to feed your baby, so I highly suggest stocking up on some breastfeeding-friendly clothing that you feel good in. Investing in some favorite pieces during pregnancy that can also be used for nursing is always a win—my favorites are anything with a zipper or buttons. I also love flowy, breathable clothing because that amazing postpartum body is shifting, and those hormones may have you feeling a bit warm. Throw in several nursing tanks and nursing bras as well, just make sure they’re stretchy—we want to avoid anything that is too tight, or with an underwire in those first few weeks and months.
5. A Firm and Supportive Breastfeeding Pillow
A breastfeeding pillow can be really helpful for moms, both new and seasoned. At times, it may feel like we need three arms to help a baby get a good latch in those first few days and weeks, and a supportive breastfeeding pillow can help. My favorite is the My Brest Friend. I really love the firm service and the strap that helps keep the pillow in place and also helps keep baby high to breast level, which takes pressure of C-section incisions. Plus, the cover is washable!
Michelle Clookie is a lactation consultant, and also works for the Postpartum Health Alliance supporting families in their parenting journey. As a Lactation Consultant, Michelle works to help families reach their unique goals for feeding their babies, and is passionate about normalizing all things motherhood. Michelle also works to raise Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMADs) awareness by providing families and clinicians with education through the work she does with the San Diego Postpartum Health Alliance. Before shifting her work focus after her first born, Michelle spent nine years in non-profit working as a training and development director. Michelle lives in San Diego with her husband Jeremy and their three children.
You can follow her on Instagram or visit michelleclookie.co.