Audio version can be found here: https://anchor.fm/sophie-burrowsIBCLC/episodes/What-do-you-need-to-breastfeed-eb0j5a

Supplies list time.. or is it?

While pregnant you might be thinking what could you possibly need and want to help with your breastfeeding aims.  You google search things like “which breastfeeding pillow is best?” and “What breastfeeding supplies do I need?”.  I expect you are here for the ultimate lowdown on the best products out there.  After all that’s what we do, we research an investment and then often buy what we determine is the best option.  I urge you to think “what would cave woman do?” when considering buying any products relating to infant feeding.  Remember also, babies are huge money makers in terms of advertising for product to sell, we have baby shows for that very reason.

What you truly need to breastfeed is an understanding of how breastfeeding works.  I could use this space to explain that but what you would find more valuable is searching out information about that if you want to read and learn about how breastfeeding works. There is an excellent resource to read through here: La Leche League breastfeeding information

Source out where the skilled breastfeeding support is and link up with it BEFORE your bundle of exhausting joy arrives, if you can.  Using the services of an IBCLC and following as many of them on social media as you can will also help you to begin to learn about the process of breastfeeding.  Many IBCLCs will do a pre baby (antenatal) breastfeeding session, most will excitedly jump at the chance of supporting you to understand how things work and what things to be cautious of and help you identify any potential issue before your baby comes that other services often wouldn’t have thought to check on. 

For this blog I asked my personal Facebook for their thoughts.  The fun thing about the “lactation world” is the link ups you get. It means the following comments are excellent and truly true from mothers who’ve experienced the tough side and the not so tough side of breastfeeding.  You might be a little surprised at their answers!

Charlotte: Patience! Comfy clothes!

Tors: Accurate knowledge and support from some one fully trained in breastfeeding and a breastfeeding helpline number.

Stephanie: A block on Amazon for 3am purchases…..  (this is a personal favourite response, also note here your prolactin levels are highest around the early hours of the morning so you tend to produce a healthy volume of milk around this time hence why you and every other new mother in town are awake feeding in the early hours and Amazon is rolling in the £££££)

J’Nel: an IBCLC, not a need, but good to have the fund available as a contingency.

Pamela: a baby!

Beccie: patience, self-belief and support from ‘your village’

Sarah: A sling.  So you can still be part of things.

Kathryn: Boobs and a working pituitary gland.

Lizzie: Milk ducts!?

Mim: Help straight after the birth continuing for the next few days.

Clare: Self belief and determination.  Mummy friends that will listen but not deter.

Tessa: Flexible goals, Skilled support, Cake (so true)

Caroline: Learning your babies’ cues and habits, being flexible (and this person doesn’t mean yoga type flexible), patience and understanding you both can make mistakes, the willingness to ask for help when you need support or advice, a thick skin.

Elaine: Truly understanding how breastfeeding works and new born behaviour.

Aine: Confidence! …Believe in your body and trust your instincts.

There were some useful interjections of insulated coffee travel mugs and water bottles you can open with one hand too.  So, yes, there are a few things you can buy that will help but perhaps not quite what you expected.  In fact, what you should think when you search for your list of goodies to buy for breastfeeding is yourself and its doesn’t have to be a brand-new gadget that’s going to be your saviour.  Especially not a breastfeeding pillow, if you want a pillow, go for it but remember that babies grow and pillows don’t and using the “what would cave woman do?” question here she wouldn’t use a cushion because we don’t really need one.. there are circumstances where perhaps one is useful but most of the time they are not and your baby would be better suited with your body leaned back and taking their weight rather than your arms and pillow especially when your baby grows and then all the angles are a bit “off” with regards to the pillow.  Often mothers of multiples find a breastfeeding pillow helpful in the early days but again not essential.  High value items like a breastfeeding chairs are also not really necessary but may be part of your whole décor idea. So, yeah, I get it if you are excited to get one and can afford it, get it but truly, a comfy place is as good as any and you don’t want to be stuck to one place solely feeding your baby, it can get very boring and lonely.  Also be weary of products touted to you and ones that solve breastfeeding problems like pain and supply.  Nipple creams are useful at times but truly not essential and there have been a number of instances of users being allergic and it making things much worse.  You can also get lots of different supplements that say will create an abundant supply of milk, try them if you like but don’t be overly stuck on the idea that they will make everything better.  Skilled support does that.  A total understanding of how it all works does that ; breastfeeding is not a magic pill taking thing it’s a biological process that requires a pituitary gland as Kathryn said above and effective milk removal!

So, to summarise, you don’t need a “5-star review” type blog of gadgets to buy to breastfeed, you want five-star skilled support, a hot drink every now and then and to ask the question “what would cave woman do?”

Blog disclaimer

I use the word mother (and other types of word like this) within my work.  This truly doesn’t mean I exclusively see those who birth as mothers/ female only.  I am accepting and welcome the use of all other terminology and try to give a neutral tone throughout my work.  I acknowledge I have much to learn in this area but I am accepting of any identity of human including those who wish to give human milk to their human baby.  Chest feeding is a term I fully accept a respect.  My mission in life and therefore my work is to help others feed their babies human milk hopefully, from their birth parent and sometimes from another human milk donor, to allow that parent meet their goals.  Nourishing a human infant can take many forms, I will support all of those forms to the best of my ability my blogs and work are written with this in mind but I accept I use mother etc often and I am sorry if this in any way causes dysphoria. 

I have dyslexia and writing in itself is quite an exceptional effort for me punctuation is even harder.  It can take me twice as long than others without my disability, to write a working sentence especially if I cannot spell a word and have to change a sentence entirely for it to “work”. This means deviating from wording and at times it can be mindboggling for me.  I welcome your discussion with me and thank you for your understanding.

What do you need to breastfeed?