You should be prepared for breastfeeding before your little one arrives to eliminate any potential issues and complications that may arise. This way you can focus on nursing, bonding, and caring for your baby instead of worrying about the health of your breasts and body.
Initially breastfeeding can be very painful. The first few weeks of your baby latching are painful when the baby first latches on. The pain should disappear in a few seconds as the feeding continues. If the pain doesn’t subside during the feeding there are other issues at hand and you should seek the help of a lactation counselor! I say this because the pain can be very deterring from nursing and would make any woman stop right then and there. But if you can get through the first week or so the pain will subside and feeding will be easy and natural. After your first baby, you probably won’t have any pain nursing your new babies.
A few things you should have before the baby comes:
Lanolin: Most lanolin is now not toxic for the baby and can be applied directly after a feeding. The baby can still nurse if you have the cream on your nipples and not be affected. The cream will help soften your nipples, ease any issues with cracking or soreness. Lanolin is sold at most stores and you can also find some at the websites below!
Cloth diapers: Even if you aren’t cloth diapering your baby, find some good pre-folds! A large pre-fold is best as a burp cloth and much more absorbent. A smaller pre-fold can be folded up and put in your bra. The small ‘pads’ that are sold in stores do not last more than 3 minutes the first few weeks of feeding when your body is making excess milk. So you can either replace the small pads every three minutes or just use a cloth diaper. Some stores carry different cloth nursing pads and those may be more absorbent but the cloth diaper seems to be the best bet for the first month.
Nursing pads: you can get disposable or cloth to wash. The cloth seems to be more absorbent and less wasteful but it also depends on your body and your production. Try some of both to see what works best for you. You also have an option of cotton, hemp, bamboo and many more.
Pump: if you are going to be home with your little one a full time pump probably isn’t necessary. A single hand pump might be a good idea for a few reasons. Pump on one side while you are nursing the baby on the other to catch excess milk, decrease swelling and engorgement, and have a small backup supply. If you have excess milk throughout the months, you can pump a small amount of the initial milk off so the baby isn’t overwhelmed by the milk flow. If you are going to work you will need an electric pump and will probably not need a hand held pump.
Storage: If you are going to get a handheld pump you will also need a storage system. Try some bags that are sealable instead of bottles to save space. You can also get some mason jars and sterilize them. Save milk in small amounts that are similar to what your baby is eating at the time. For example, at first you will only need to save 2-3ounces since that is what your baby will eat at each feeding. If you store 8ounces and then re-heat it, you will have to use the full amount or toss it since you cannot refreeze thawed milk.
Ice/Heat: get an cold/hot pack to help decrease engorgement and pain. You can use a regular pack or get a special breastfeeding pack like the ones by Nuk. You won’t know what feels best for you until the baby is here so make sure to have this on hand!
There are many other things you may find you need such as a nipple shield, nursing cover (you can always use a blanket), and a nursing bra or tank top (buy one but know that your breast size will most likely drastically change and you may not know what size to invest in), but wait to buy some of these items until the baby is here so you know what you and your baby need to work together.
Here are some links to supply stores. I am not sponsored by any of these companies but by reputation and using their products I am confident in recommending their products.