As natural as breastfeeding may be, many a new nursing mom will tell you that breastfeeding doesn't always come as easily, for both mom and baby, as some may lead you to believe. A key to having a successful breastfeeding experience is to come into it equipped with the right tools. I found that these "10 tools of the trade" were essential to my own happy breastfeeding experience:
A Comfortable Spot - Breastfeeding moms often find themselves seated awkwardly and cramping up because they didn't plan ahead and create a comfortable spot for lengthy feedings. Take the time to make sure that the chair or couch that you plan to nurse in is wide enough to accommodate baby, a breastfeeding pillow, and that any necessary arm and back supports are in place to alleviate any straining and soreness.
Specially Designed Breastfeeding Clothes - Nothing is more frustrating than struggling with and yanking on your clothing while trying to feed an already upset baby. Do yourself a favour and invest in some quality nursing bras and breastfeeding tops so that you can comfortably nurse your baby both in public and in the privacy of your own home.
A Bottle of Water - Hydration is important for maintaining a sufficient milk supply. New moms should try to carry a bottle of water with them or keep one next to the seat they plan on feeding their baby in so that they can sip and rehydrate themselves quickly.
Books, Magazines and your Phone - Even before the baby comes, set aside some good reading material and magazines to keep yourself from becoming frustrated and bored during marathon feeding sessions. If you aren't already carrying your phone around with you everywhere, try to get into the habit of keeping it in your pocket or in a holster so that it's always within arm's reach. This way you won't have to interrupt feeding to answer a call.
A Breastfeeding Pillow - As mentioned in our first tip, a breastfeeding pillow is a great way to keep yourself and baby relaxed and comfortable during feeding time. Try different styles and designs to see which will work best for you.
Towels and Nipple Protector - When you first begin nursing your baby, having a towel nearby to catch any spit ups is essential. Having a silicone nipple protector will also come in handy as they'll keep your breast and nipples dry and healthy and prevent your nipples from getting sore, cracked or wounded over time.
A TV or Computer - Nursing is the ideal time to hunker down and catch up on some television shows or a movie (it may be worthwhile signing up for pay TV if you haven't already).
Temperature Control Devices - As you will be seated in that one place for an extended period of time, it's always a good idea to have a heater, a fan, or a blanket nearby to help ensure your comfort.
Nipple Cream - Nipple pain will decrease significantly after the first 2 to 4 weeks of breast feeding, but during that time make sure that you have on hand a high quality nipple cream that will help heal and sooth your tender skin.
A Positive Attitude - Staying positive is perhaps the most important 'tool' to keep handy at all times when breastfeeding. There's no question that breastfeeding can be incredibly challenging in the very beginning, but once you and baby settle into a steady regime you will both enjoy and benefit from this amazing bonding experience.