Breastfeeding + Pumping Essentials for the Modern Mama
What would a week dedicated to boobs be without a little breastfeeding real talk? Now that I'm a second-time mom, I'm basically a pro — right? Not at all, but I have learned a thing or two about a few pieces of the puzzle, and breastfeeding is one of those things. I'm the proud mama of two bright future boss babes, Anokhi (3y) and Indira (7m). I'm currently still breastfeeding my youngest, and breastfed my eldest for her first year.
Like every single thing related to birth, feeding, and raising your children, no one way is the right way. You've gotta do what's right for your family, what keeps everyone healthy and sane, and what works well with all the other million things you have going on in your day to day.
While I am a huge believer in the awesomeness of breastmilk and the bond you experience nursing your little one, there are plenty of other incredible ways to nourish and bond with your child. In fact, on this very list you'll see that I include formula as a breastfeeding essential — without it, it would have been downright impossible for me to breastfeed Anokhi for a full 12 months. But we'll get to that later. Onto the list!
A little selfie action about a week into being a mama of two!
Nursing Pillow + Pillows In General: I've used a Boppy with both my girls and it's been great, but the key actually is that we have throw pillows everywhere in the house. Anything can become a nursing pillow when you need it to. In fact, a puffy down vest or jacket makes an excellent nursing pillow when you're on the go ;)
Bras That Pull Easily to the Side: Official nursing bras have not worked well for me, so I like to go with super soft basically structure-less bras that are easy to pull to the side. When I tried using the ones that are underwire with a cup and then they unclip and pull down, I find that the cup is so awkward and I can't get quite as snuggly with my babe. My go-to non-bra bras are this Gap Breathe Bralette and Storq's Everyday Bra.
Foods That Promote Lactation: I have to admit, I haven't been the greatest at making sure to take Fenugreek every day, drink Mother's Milk Tea, and all the rest of it. But it IS a good idea and it definitely helps with production. If you can make the effort (or have a friend make the effort for you), Eat to Feed is an excellent book of recipes for breastfeeding moms, made by the founders of Oat Mama.
Muslin Towels: We have soft muslin baby towels everywhere in our house. On the couch, under the couch, on the floor, on the changing table, in my pocket right now — you get the picture. For spit-up, for snot, for milk that unexpectedly sprays out, tiny towels are your friends. We like these BabyBliss Muslin Washcloths mostly for the cute patterns. We've also used these super soft Microfiber Washcloths but find that they catch on Velcro so not ideal for your new Velcro-forward life.
White Noise: Depending on your baby's disposition and age, there's a chance she gets distracted easily. It can be so frustrating when you know your little one is hungry and you've got a boob full of milk, but they can't help but keep looking around, perking up at every little sound, and so on. When Indira is in a distractible state, I use the Baby Sleep Sounds app to drown out excess noise and it definitely helps her get in a zen nursing state.
When you've gotta pump, but you also need to be a rainbow skeleton.
The Right Pump: Oh man, I have legit tried seven different pumps in my breastfeeding life. For me, the most reliable one has been the Spectra S1 (it's rechargeable!). I can pump for 20 minutes or so, get a good dose of milk, and don't have to be plugged in. Even though it's bulky, it's been great for travel because you can get at least 5 sessions out of one charge. While I can't possibly keep buying breast pumps, I am very intrigued by the Motif Duo (SO portable!) and Elvie (wearable!). If you try them out, let me know what you think.
Pumping Bra: I've tried a few of the newer more modern-looking options but tbh, this Hands-Free Pumping Bra is the one that works best for me. I always use it without the straps so I can easily zip it on and pull up my shirt and regular bra without a big production.
Cooler Bag: If you're traveling for work and pumping on the go, you need a cooler bag. I've really liked the PackIt Freezable Cooler Bag. You put the whole bag in your freezer and it has built in ice packs, so you don't have a bunch of separate pieces to deal with. They're available in a few different sizes and, in my experience, keep breastmilk cool for up to 10 hours. Truth be told, sometimes I toss string cheese into the cooler to have as a pumping snack!
Diaper Caddy as Office Pump Station: My latest genius pumping move is using this Baby Diaper Caddy Organizer as a pump station. I keep my pump in one section, pumping bra, sanitizing spray, and milk storage bags in another, and the pump bottles and parts in the last one. It all fits nicely and makes it easy to pump at work without having to keep going back to your desk to grab something you forgot.
Scarf That Doubles as a Towel: When pumping in public (I've pumped in at least 20 Lyft/Uber-rides in the last four months), I like to bring along a scarf for covering up and also for cleanup!
No-Rinse Breastmilk Sanitizing Wipes + Spray: I keep a bottle of sanitizing spray in my trusty pump caddy at work, and travel with sanitizing wipes when I'm on the road. Medela makes both and they totally do the trick, making it easy to use your pump multiple times in a row without having to find a sink for washing everything.
Mamava Pumping/Nursing Pods: These pumping (and nursing) pods are finally in airports everywhere! Or at least in a LOT of them. Download the Mamava App to find a pumping pod in whatever airport you're in. It's a totally zenned out experience and you won't be interrupted (unlike the family-friendly bathroom). I've only used them for pumping, but imagine they'd be great for nursing if you want a bit more privacy or have a v distractible babe.
Photos + Videos of Your Baby: I remember learning this in a baby class at the hospital before having my first. If you look at photos of your baby, you will produce more milk. I thought this had to be bogus but it is totally true! I produce way more milk when I stare endlessly at photos and videos of Indira than when I try to multi-task.
For Your Bod
Pocket leggings, tiny baby bundled in, let's do this!
Pocket Leggings: Is it just me or is the innovation of pockets in leggings a total game changer? I mean, I don't love the look of the phone quite literally attached to my hip BUT it makes mom life a whole lot more streamlined. I swear by these Prana Becksa 7/8 Leggings and legit have them in four colors. Now that I see they have six colors, I probs need to buy two more pairs.
Thin, Soft Sweatshirts: A lot of ladies like to go with the button-down approach when breastfeeding, but I've found a thin, soft sweatshirt is easier and faster to nurse in. I am in a constant rotation between this Alternative Apparel Eco-Teddy Sweatshirt, this Prana Sunrise Sweatshirt, and this Clare V. x Every Mother Counts Sweatshirt.
Cozy Baby Carrier: This was key for the first 3-4 months after Indira was born. I wrapped her up in my Solly Baby Wrap and could easily breastfeed while carrying her around. Not to mention, this type of wrap is much easier on a post-partum belly. They also come in SO many fun colors and patterns!
Next Level Water Bottle: Girl, you're gonna get dehydrated. Trust me. Put water bottles everywhere you might possibly breastfeed so that you remember to hydrate while nursing (or pumping). And if you want to take it to the next level, we're huge fans of the LARQ Water Bottle that purifies your water so you don't get that icky mildew inside the bottle. I'm also a fan of the glass bkr bottle — I swear water tastes better out of a glass vessel.
Moisturizing Lip Balm: So that whole dehydration thing does a number on your smackers. My go-to lip balm is Kiehl's Butterstick, which also comes in a few light tints giving you a little pop of color along with moisture.
Loungewear: If you think you rocked athleisure pre-motherhood, prepare to take your love of comfort to a whole new dimension. The right robe is key, as is the right pair of loose but fitted lounge pants with a pocket. For a rather stylist silhouette, go for Storq's Lounge Set which includes a short robe, tank top, and pants with pockets. I also live in these Vuori Performance Joggers (my husband even bought a pair for himself — guess couples really do start dressing alike eventually!).
For Your Sanity
A baby, her big sister, and a canister of organic formula at the ready.
Formula: I know, I know — this is an article about breastfeeding essentials, why oh why are you talking about formula? The thing is, formula has been essential to my breastfeeding journey. Thanks to supplementing with formula, I was able to continue breastfeeding my oldest daughter long after going back to work when my supply started to diminish (in spite of pumping 3-5x a day and drinking all the tea, eating all the oats, taking Fenugreek, etc.). Earth's Best Organic Gentle Formula with Iron has been my current babe Indira's fave alternate to breastmilk.
What are your breastfeeding and pumping essentials? Any pro tips to share with our readers? DM us @britandco.
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