Breastfeeding Supplies – What Is Necessary?

I am often asked what supplies are necessary for breastfeeding.  Usually this comes from my pregnant mothers who are trying to plan what they may need for the baby BEFORE the baby comes.  That may seem like an easy enough question, right?  Isn’t there some kind of list that I can just hand out?  Not so simple.  To be honest, not much is needed to breastfeed.   Having a baby is a huge money business and society is prepared to have you spend a ton of money on things you don’t necessarily need.  Have you been in any store recently that sells baby items?  So. Many. Choices.  Truth be told, you don’t need much of anything at all.

All mothers are different and have different needs and personalities.  I have met some mothers who are content with waiting for the baby to arrive before they decide on a pump or any other supplies.  I have also seen mothers show up at the hospital ready to have the baby, and they are toting a pump, creams, nipple shields and a breastfeeding pillow.  Neither way is the wrong way; just do what is right for you.  My point is I don’t want any new or expecting mother to think that they have to have these things.

In a world where you can order something online on a Monday and it will be at your door by Tuesday or Wednesday, I am a proponent of waiting until you need something before you invest time and money.   However, if you really want to have a stash of stuff, I found this great list to get you started.  One of the things I really like about this list is that it specifies when things are NOT NECESSARY.  Nipple cream or a breastfeeding pillow – nice to have but not necessary.  Good support system and the phone number of a local lactation consultant – absolutely necessary.   So check it out and see what you think.  Can you think of anything you would add to this list?  Is there one thing that you felt like you couldn’t live without during your breastfeeding journey?  Share it with us.—-what-do-i-really-need


How long are you gonna do that for, anyway?

Anyone who has ever breastfed a baby past 6 months has probably heard this statement at least once. Probably more than once.  One of the most common questions I get is “how long should I breastfeed?”  Today, a wonderful breastfeeding mom asked me about benefits to breastfeeding past 15 months, so I thought I might add my 2 cents to this debate.

Whenever anyone asks about breastfeeding duration, I usually give them my stock response, which is to quote the AAP and WHO, both organizations recommending breastfeeding past 1 year.  If I really feel like adding some shock value to the conversation, I mention that around the world, breastfeeding duration is much higher, and it’s not uncommon to have a toddler breastfeeding to age 4, 5 or 6.  Unfortunately, we are not as accustomed to extended breastfeeding here in the United States, and when people ask me about it, it’s usually because they want to know how long they are “expected” to breastfeed their baby.  One common reaction is “but they have teeth!”  Yes, babies eventually get teeth.  Does that mean we shouldn’t feed them?  They still need to eat too. 

I remember when my first baby had just turned 6 months.  My mother stated (in that motherly way she has) “ok, it’s been 6 months, that’s enough now”.  Of course I continued to breastfeed.  When my son self-weaned at 14 months, I was crushed.  I wasn’t ready yet.  My mom was more than ready, and told me “he’s over a year, get over yourself”.  I did not come from a family where breastfeeding was the norm.  Really, this is what it comes down to.  If it’s something you are used to seeing, you wouldn’t question it. 

The benefits of breastfeeding beyond a year are abundant.  Health benefits for the active, growing toddler and increased benefits for the breastfeeding mom as well.  As if this weren’t enough, it really is between mom and baby, not mom, baby and society.  Women should not feel uncomfortable or shunned, and made to feel like they are doing something wrong if they continue to breastfeed after the first year.  I think we all remember the Time magazine cover from last year (I’m including the link just in case you don’t).  The funny thing is that this article in Time wasn’t even about breastfeeding, but about attachment parenting, and society was going nuts.  Even my husband had to defend me and my work to some of his co workers who were astounded that a mother would still be breastfeeding at the age of 3. 

So we can make this simple.  Extended breastfeeding is beneficial to both mother and baby, and definitely encouraged by lactation consultants everywhere.  It’s up to you, brave and devoted mommas, to normalize this already normal behavior.  I’m including a link to a great article outlining the benefits of extended breastfeeding, just in case anyone needs the ammo to back them up.

And that is my 2 cents (or maybe a little more).