seven (postpartum) nursing must-haves

after four babies and a ton of trial and error I've (albeit barely) made it through the postpartum season of motherhood.  I feel like I've learned a thing or two about what you really need to be a successful nursing mama.. aside from loads of time and patience.. and WORK these are my top seven must haves for nursing.
a well fitting (nursing) bra.  
I will confess to not investing/researching/caring about a great nursing bra before and during my nursing experience with the twins.  after 13 months I was SO over the lack of support and discomfort cheap nursing bras offered (in my opinion).. after replacing my $15 nursing bra multiple times throughout that year I could have bought three of the higher priced bras! with Baker I was determined to find an awesome bra, which is when I fell in love with the Cake nursing bras.  I have also recently been introduced to the Bravado Designs silk seamless nursing bra while I was pregnant with Brady this time around and ya'll.. I LOVE IT!  so comfortable and offers support I need for everyday wear. 
creams and butters aren't something that is a long term requirement (thank goodness!), but those first weeks are tough!  getting acquainted with your newborn always includes cracks and really painful discomfort with nursing.  I have tried the common and very popular creams and ointments and really didnt like them at all and my babies didn't either.  I had a girlfriend bring this nipple butter from earth mama to me while in the hospital and I really came to love it!  and Brady didnt mind it one bit, either:)
comfortable nursing tanks/tees
I never really invested in any kind of special nursing tops or tanks in my other pregnancies.. I always just made it "work" and either lifted my shirt up or pulled it down.  button down tops and dresses are always helpful!  this time around I wanted to make my life easier, especially around the house the first month or so when I feel like all I'm doing is feeding a newborn!  after falling in love with the Cake nursing bras while pregnant with Baker, I came across the Cake nursing camisole (I'm wearing it under my postpartum hospital robe in the picture above) while shopping to replace my old nursing bras. it is seamless and easy to layer under clothing and the quick release clasps are the feature I loved most with their nursing bras and this cami has them as well.  it has a built in full support bra so I can wear with by itself both in and out of the house.  I had another mama recommend these nursing sleep tee shirts from Gilligan & O'Malley and I bought two and brought them with me to the hospital- they are the softest tee shirts I have ever worn! I wouldn't ever wear them out of the house because they have a side slit that runs all the way to the underside of your arm but they have made nursing at night SO easy.
I have a giant love.. and I mean GIANT love for BLANQI.  I wore their maternity support leggings which tremendously helped with carrying the weight of my third trimester belly and loved the maternity support tanks (I have them in both white and black!) to wear under sweaters or cardigans and even by themselves.  a seamless comfort that is hard to find while feeling so large at the end of pregnancy.  their postpartum "nursing" leggings have definitely met the standards I expected after having Brady.  I have worn them both around the house and out running errands and love them!  they are very high waisted with a rise that meets my bra line and offers a discreet way of nursing in public (especially when I am lifting my shirt to nurse) as well as supports the "loose feeling" of your postpartum abdominal area.
through reading many blogs..and having many other experienced mothers recommend them, I finally tried lily padz. where have you been all my life!  these stay put and actually stick to your skin so you can wear them without a bra (although for me that would be a giant floppy mess) and while swimming!  they will be perfect for summer and multiple trips to the pool ahead!  the pressure of the silicon pad prevents leakage and they are reusable through proper care and cleaning.
good breast pump.  
I have always used the Medela brand breast pump, so with all of my kiddos I have just gone with what I know.  I invested in the pump in style tote  four years ago in my breastfeeding journey with the twins and used the same pump with Baker.  I could already tell by the end of it with Baker that my pump was pretty much toast.  worn out.  beat.  basically used to death through three babies.  insurance has beefed up their breastfeeding support game and now offers FREE pumps to those pregnant moms wishing to breastfeed!  I decided to take this route to see what my insurance would cover and I found that they covered the Medela pump! it is SO EASY to get your free pump.  google "insurance covered breast pump".. I used edgepark.com because that was the first option that popped up.  I looked up my insurance, selected my pump, and about a week later my brand new pump landed on my door step.  usually you aren't able to order it until the last part of your third trimester, but shipping is usually next day so ordering it within just a couple weeks of your due date isn't a problem.  
healthy diet.  
I get so many questions about maintaining a healthy diet while breastfeeding along with looking for ways to cut out calories to lose some of that baby weight in the meantime. I work in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) about 4 days/week with teeny babies and often my care overlaps to the mothers trying to boost their supply while exclusively pumping to feed their baby.  a few things I always tell my moms (and follow myself!)
THREE most important things during breastfeeding: 
protein + calories + fluids
I can always tell a dip in my supply when I haven't gotten in enough water throughout the day.  I shoot for about 100 ounces (12-14 cups) of water/fluids and always have my water bottle nearby while nursing (especially through the night!) 
you need at least 1500-1800 calories every day.. average needs are closer to 1800-2200 calories.  since breastfeeding requires about 400+ calories you can still lose weight while consuming a good amount of calories and see little effect on your supply.
whole grains and healthy fats are key in promoting a healthy milk supply.  you should shoot for about 65 grams of (healthy) fat every day.. think peanut butter, avocado, flaxseed, olive oil, nuts/seeds.
I was introduced to Milkful lactation bars which offers a super easy and healthy way of boosting your supply through the magic of food alone.  I've been eating a bar about once/day as my afternoon snack- with about 250 calories and 11 grams of milk supporting fats, its the perfect pick me up with the added benefit of milk boosting ingredients.  I love all three flavors but their signature blueberry almond coconut is really delicious!


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