You knew that breastfeeding a newborn would be a lot of work, but once your little one is on the outside, you may be surprised at just how much time (and energy) you’re spending breastfeeding. It’s pretty much constant: you finish up a 45-minute feed, do a diaper change, and yup, there’s another feeding cue – the boob is back out.
One way to make the whole thing easier is to create a breastfeeding station, an area that is all set up with useful items to make your feeding experience easy and more convenient. Many mamas like to do this in their baby’s room, but wherever you find yourself feeding the most is perfect, be it by your bed or on the couch.
Making your station as useful as possible will help you focus on these moments of bonding and feeding, instead of “Oh crap, my phone is about to die. Where’s my charger?!” or “I. Am. So. Thirsty.”
Here are our essential items for your nursing station. (Note: these items can be just as useful to have at a pumping station, too, whether you’re pumping occasionally or are exclusively pumping.)
The Ultimate Breastfeeding Must-Haves for Your Nursing Station
Phone and charger: You’re probably already glued to your phone these days. We get it—who wants to miss photographing one of those elusive newborn smiles?! Your smartphone is a must-have to keep you entertained during all of those marathon nursing sessions, too. Make sure you never get below 20% battery with a superfast lightning charger.
Healthy snacks: Stock your station with healthy snacks that fill you up—we’re talking protein and fat, macronutrients that also help build your breastmilk and assist in your recovery from birth. Real food energy bars (especially ones with milk-boosting oats!) are a great option. Sliced veggies and fruit in reusable containers are also useful to have for a boost of fiber.
Water bottle: Hydration is so key when you’re breastfeeding, so make it easy to get the ounces you need by always having a full water bottle at the ready. Choose a sturdy reusable metal water bottle of at least 32 oz. Bonus points for choosing one with a straw lid, which makes drinking one-handed a breeze.
Headphones and a bluetooth speaker: Sit back and tune out the rest of the world with a nursing meditation from Expectful, played on a pair of wireless earbuds. A portable Bluetooth speaker is another good option for music and meditation, especially our nursing meditations.
Nursing pillow: Newborn babies are adorably floppy, so support them with a breastfeeding pillow. It’s also beneficial for you, as the right pillow can make breastfeeding considerably more comfortable—from your baby’s actual latch to the effects on your back and shoulders. Choose one that provides sturdy support for both your baby’s body and your own back. The more support the pillow provides, the easier it will be to try new positions.
Handheld pump: While you’re probably trying to get your baby to eat as much at the breast as possible, it’s never a bad idea to have a pump nearby, especially if you’ve been advised to pump by your pediatrician or a lactation consultant. And while electric pumps are great to maximize milk removal, an easily portable handheld pump is perfect for a nursing station. A classic manual pump will work wonders, but the newer silicone suction pumps are also incredibly useful to catch and save milk.
Nipple cream: In the early days of breastfeeding, a good nipple cream is vital to keep your nipples soft and moisturized. Lanolin-based balms/creams are the standard, but you can also go for a plant-based herbal blend. Bonus: many of them can also be used as lip balm or to soothe rough spots on your feet and hands.
Nursing pads: Nursing pads serve two purposes—they protect your sensitive nipples from contact and also protect your clothing from any leaking milk. Disposable pads are popular, but you may find that a softer reusable option also works well for your needs.
Mama self-care items: Include a few items that will help you feel clean, calm and put-together. Dry shampoo, deodorant wipes, rosewater face spray, a tinted lip balm…a little bit of self-care can really make a difference in the first few days and weeks after birth. Don’t forget to keep hair ties or clips around, too.
A good book or magazine: We know—you can read on your phone! But it’s never a bad idea to give your body a break from blue light and engage with some good, old-fashioned printed text. Keep a fun book or silly gossip mag around to switch it up.
Breastfeeding support resource: Be sure to include a resource for breastfeeding education and support at your station. Making breastfeeding help easily accessible will up the chances that you can quickly solve a problem if and when it crops up. Our suggestions: a book about breastfeeding, a pamphlet from your provider’s office, some great YouTube videos on latch, an IBCLC on speed dial, or ideally, all of the above!
Burp cloths: Spit up happens. Be ready with some burp cloths, which can double as washcloths or even wips in a pinch. Hint: if you’re a minimalist and don’t want to buy multiple blanket-like products, swaddling blankets can serve as burp cloths, too.
Extra newborn supplies: Your breastfeeding station should be set up for your own comfort and ease, but you’ll want to include some newborn supplies, too. Because hey, newborns need a lot of supplies! Diapers, wipes, an extra onesie or two, baby lotion…stock up so you don’t have to actually get up!
The Most Essential Need at a Nursing Station
The most important thing you need at your station is an open-minded mama! While it’s great to have some essential items on hand, your love and presence are the only things truly necessary.
Breastfeeding is a special experience that takes a toll on the body and mind. Be present for the unfolding journey and stay open to the ups and downs. You are doing amazing, and all of us here at Expectful are rooting for you.