If you plan on breastfeeding I highly recommend researching lactation consultants before baby arrives. Breastfeeding is one of those things that no one tells you can be really frustrating and difficult in the beginning. The first 7 days of breastfeeding were really hard for me. I almost gave up because I was in so much pain and baby wasn't latching correctly. If breastfeeding is something you want and can do all I can say is stick with it. It takes a little while for you and baby to get your rhythm. I promise, IT GETS EASIER.
I had a lactation consultant come to my house for my first AND second son. Lactation consultants do home visits, that's what they do - you email or text them and they set up a time to come over. They help you and baby with latching techniques and so much more. They are a great source of information & emotional support. They will give you a form to fill out at the end of the session that you can then mail in to your insurance company and get reimbursed for the cost. (Depending on your insurance). Most, if not all lactation consultants have a policy where once they come to do a house visit, if at any point in the future you have questions that can be easily answered via phone or email all that stuff is free. Good lactation consultants also help not only with nursing, but with pumping and basically any question you have pertaining to breast milk in general.
Finding the right one is key. With my first son I didn't research lactation consultants at all and then he wasn't nursing so I had to hastily google to find one who could come over immediately. She was nice but definitely not anywhere near as good as the second lactation consultant I had with my second son.
There are a bunch of them out there, ask for a personal recommendations from your friends, pediatrician, mommy message boards etc. I used Katherine Lilleskov and adored her. But again, it's all personal preference and who you vibe with.
First thing's first. Did you know you're entitled to a FREE BREAST pump? Follow the link to claim your pump. There are a limited amount of styles to choose from but if you plan on pumping a lot it's always nice to have more than one breast pump. One you keep at home and one that is portable and travels without. It's super easy to get your free pump, do it!
PUMPING ON THE GO:
Make sure to get a portable pump, it'll come in handy on set when there aren't always available outlets! I've used both the Medela Freestlye & the Spectra S1 and they both have pros and cons. It really comes down to personal preference. The Medela freestyle is cheaper than the Spectra. The Spectra (and all it's pump parts) really start to add up, but a lot of people say that the Spectra does a better job of extracting the milk.
I currently have this one and use it for on the go pumping with my second son. It's lightweight & cost efficient (as far as portable pumps go). Since it's so portable, that also means it's not as strong. It was suggested by my lactation consultant that I use this in conjunction with a hospital grade pump that I keep at home to keep my milk supply up and avoid plugged ducts when I go back to work. (see last pump - the big boy, Medela Symphony)
I had this one with my first son. It was easily portable, not super loud, and gentle. I had a problem with plugged ducts so ultimately this one was still not strong enough for me to use exclusively, but it was great for on the go pumping situations. A drawback is that this one is bigger/heavier to lug around, probably because it's more powerful.
MEDELA SYMPHONY: HOSPITAL GRADE, STATIONARY
Something that happened with my first son that I didn't expect was that because my work hours were so crazy he eventually stopped nursing and preferred the bottle. I was hellbent on feeding him only breastmilk for the first year (which now when I look back was just a lot unnecessary pressure that I put on myself). Anyhow because he stopped nursing I had to turn to exclusive pumping which honestly was a nightmare. One of the biggest reasons it "sucked" (ha!) was because I was constantly getting plugged ducts. If that happens you should seek help from a lactation consultant, don't suffer through it! One way of keeping milk supply up and preventing plugged ducts is to rent a hopsital grade pump. They are hella expensive to buy, but you can rent them from $70/month from WORLDWIDE SURGICAL
You're going to need a pump bra, so your hands can be free to email, text, or eat while you do your thing. I got two of these from Amazon - one in laundry and one in use at all times.
You might not have access to a sink when you are pumping on the go so having these will be awesome.
To keep the milk fresh you'll need a mini cooler. This one is compatible with Medela pump containers. If you choose a different brand I think they all have their own version of this.
If you think you might be pumping or breastfeeding in public these hideous pump covers help. I found them better than just a plain piece of fabric or scarf because these have a structured neckline that holds the cloth away from the body, allowing you to look down and see what you're doing, ha!
**Bonus is if you wear a shirt that buttons up the front so your backside is covered as well as your front. If you end up pumping in a car, closet, bathroom, room with windows etc this will be helpful.
Yup, once you start producing milk your boobs will leak in between feedings. In order to avoid having wet circles on your shirt you can use breast pads, i.e. - maxi pads for your bra. I like these ones from TARGET and these LANSINOH ones as well. Don't get the Medela ones, those are bulky and I hate them. You can also get cloth/non-disposable ones. I tried those too, maybe I didn't try the right brand or something but I wasn't into them. You can also use these NURSING CUPS which collect the leaked breast milk and keep fabrics from chafing against your nipples if they are sore in the beginning.
If you're nipples hurt this LANSINOH cream helps and it's safe for baby when nursing. I like the multipack because I kept one near my bed and one in my purse etc. You can also try using a NIPPLE SHIELD - I've never used them but I know people who have and they seemed to help.
If you plan on freezing your breastmilk to stock up for when you return to work these LANSINOH bags are fantastic.
I am also no expert so if you want to hear the right way to do all of this check out PUMP WORK REPEAT for tips on working & pumping. I read it...it's good. Some of it doesn't apply to us and some of it does. It's written more for moms who have an office and more of a full-time/office type environment but there were definitely some helpful hints.
All my friends loved this NURSING PILLOW for some reason I didn't like it...
And if you decide that breastfeeding is just too much or your body isn't able to, there is seriously no shame in supplementing with or using formula entirely. Seriously. Do what you have to do and don't feel guilty for a minute. When I was waiting for my milk supply to come in (it took about a week after baby was born for my body to produce enough milk) I supplemented with this as per my pediatrician's recommendation. Everyone has their own preference for baby formula, I'm sure they're all good!
I like these MUNCHKIN brushes with the soft foam top to clean the bottles. Also these MEDELA sterilizing bags for use once a week. And then this BOON drying rack which comes in different sizes. This TRAVEL DRYING RACK also comes in handy for....traveling, ha!
This is a double edge sword. We used a bottle warmer with our first son because he ONLY wanted warm breastmilk.....yeah then we were stuck warming up his bottle for 2 years after that.
Here are some of the best reviewed warmers from 2018
NURSING BRAS (and shirts):
I didn't want to spend a lot of money on these. I bought (and threw) away a lot of bras in this process...wasted so much money agghhhh!!! In the end I found that THESE H&M BRAS worked best for my price point, my body and the neckline of my clothing. I liked this one from AMAZON for night time and this one from TARGET and when I wanted a bra with a more unstructured look.
THESE TANK TOPS are really helpful to wear under your already existing button down or easily liftable shirts. Instead of buying a whole new style "nursing" wardrobe with shirts that lift, snap, zip, etc. I also bought a couple versions of THIS TSHIRT too. I found that a lot of clothing that advertised itself as "nursing friendly" was still difficult to maneuver or was just straight up fugly. These clothes are so temporary it was hard for me to justify spending any real amount of money on them.
In general I found H&M to have the best variety of styles at reasonable prices. (ALL below Images from H&M)