Breastfeeding is a natural process, but it doesn’t come naturally to every mother and baby. Some may have the ideal feeding experience from Day One, while others have to work through issues like difficulty getting baby to latch, sore nipples, clogged ducts and more. When those problems arise, it’s normal to surf the internet to try to find answers, browsing the (very) many products you can have shipped to your door within a few days.
It’s also understandable why women may look for ways to make breastfeeding easier, more comfortable, or more efficient — a breastfeeding mom spends an estimated 1,800 hours breastfeeding in a year. By comparison, a full-time job with three weeks' vacation is 1,960 hours of work. So, yeah, if a product promises to make her second job easier, why not give it a try?
While many accessories and products promise to solve your problems, experts say you don’t really need them to breastfeed successfully.
“You don’t need a lot of gadgets, you just need baby and yourself,” said Lynne A. Grinold, BSN, IBCLC, nurse manager of Women’s Services at Baptist Medical Center Nassau. Grinold explained most breastfeeding issues occur because parents don’t have all the info they need, not because they have the wrong products.
“My biggest piece of advice is to take a class. I think most breastfeeding problems stem from lack of knowledge about normal newborn behavior and the normal progression of lactation,” she said. “For example, you don’t have to suffer through a bad latch and end up with a damaged nipple right out of the gate. If it hurts after a few sucks, stop and relatch.”
That said, there are a few things moms will need for their breastfeeding journies. Grinold explained you don’t need a high quantity of items, but you will benefit from high-quality purchases. She recommends:
- An electric pump that can be used on both sides at once
- A hand pump (some mothers let down milk easier with one of these, so it’s worth a try if the electric pump isn’t working for you)
- A comfortable, well-fitting nursing bra
- A soft, squishy nursing pillow you can mold to whatever shape you need
Grinold, along with other IBCLCs, says getting lots of support during breastfeeding — from your partner, family, friends, or a support group — is also a huge help.
Of course, not everyone breastfeeds their baby, and that’s OK too! If you or your little one are having trouble with bottles, formula, or anything else about feeding, be sure to call your pediatrician. Together, you can work through any mealtime issues you may be having.
If you plan to try breastfeeding, you can get in-depth education straight from the experts during a virtual Breastfeeding 101 class provided by Baptist Health.