Nursing. What a foreign concept. I really have no clue how everything will go for me or the baby in this department, so I'm trying to be as prepared as possible for any scenario, and ultimately, a positive experience. I also know that sometimes it just doesn't work out for the mom or the baby for a million reasons, and I'm ok with that too. My hope is to at least attempt it, so I researched products and classes that would help give me the best shot at it. This is what I have in my arsenal to prepare me for (hopefully) the best case scenario:

1. First, beyond all the products, I wanted to be educated in what to expect. I know that there are lactation consultants at the hospital, but my personality is to lean towards being over-prepared rather than under-prepared, so I researched online classes and found Lactation Link. The founder, Lindsey, is a registered nurse who found a need for lactation education, and started a small business of teaching these video classes available online. I watched the series of three and am so glad to have them as a resource. I feel much more educated about what to expect now, and I love that the teaching model is on my time, from anywhere I want. Education is so powerful, especially with a concept that is so unknown. This was by far my most useful investment in preparing to breastfeed.

2. Breastfeeding Pillow. I choose the My Brest Friend Organic Nursing Pillow over the Boppy because it seemed better designed; it was firmer, had a buckle option in back, and the flat surface seemed smarter to me than the rounded. It also has the option to clip around in the back. I have this one and it may seem trivial, but as a designer, not having a cheesy print or a weird color was important to me.

4. Nursing Cover. I choose this one and this one by Covered Goods, a new company on the market but one that is quickly gaining popularity because it does it all: it works as a nursing cover, shopping cart cover, car seat cover, and scarf. I like that the material is stretchy and that it covers all the way around, not just a front drape. I got two because that number was recommended to me by a new mom friend who uses hers constantly.

3. Comfort Packs. I've heard that breastfeeding can be extra painful at times, so I'm being especially strategic to gather products to help with that. These by Lil'Buds are handmade cotton rounds filled with flax seed and lavender, and can be used hot or cold to help alleviate discomfort. They're reported to be helpful with engorgement, clogged ducts, and preventing mastitis, plus they're incredibly soft and the scent is heavenly.

5. Nipple Cream. I have this one by Zoe Organics and also this one by Earth Mama Angel Baby. I like that they're both lanolin-free and that there's no need to wash it off when feeding.

5. Nursing Bras and Pads. I went with Cake Maternity, I have this one, this one, and these. I like having a seamless option for the engorgement period when my size will likely be fluctuating immensely, and an underwire option for when things start to even out. I've heard that the washable nursing pads are better liked overall than the disposable ones because they're softer and less irritating, so I'm glad to have some.

6. Pump. I like the idea of having backup storage of milk for when we're out, have a babysitter, traveling, etc. We can get a pump through our insurance. I'm not sure which one I'll go with yet but likely Medela.

7. Hands Free Pumping Bra. I have this one. I've heard rave reviews about this product and how it's such a time saver.

7. Bottles. For storage when pumping. I have these glass bottles, these wide bottles, and this bottle brush from Dr. Brown's. I like that the air vent valves help with colic, gas, and spit up, and they were a familiar brand to me.

8. Storage bags. I have a giant pack of these. Needed for freezing and storing milk. More products by Lansinoh that are helpful to have: these hot and cold packs to use as a let-down aid and to reduce time spent pumping, and these gel packs.

9. Organic Milkmaid Tea by Earth Mama Angel Baby. Helpful to have in case I need something to help increase my supply. This line has a ton of other prenatal and postnatal natural care items that I'm enjoying, like the Mama to Be Tea Sampler and Natural Stretch Oil.

9. I discovered this local company, My Milkies, that makes the above products in Washington. Pictured here (far right) is the Milkies Freeze, a freezer storage system that allows you to stack each bag of frozen breast milk on top of each other, so that they're dispensed according to date and you use the oldest one first. Genius. Also pictured but hard to see is the Milk Saver, another genius little product that first introduced me to this brand when I heard it recommended on a podcast. It allows you to catch milk from one side while feeding with the other side. I didn't realize there will likely be let down like that and that all that extra milk is usually just wasted. Also pictured are the Soft Cloths, the softest washcloths made from bamboo for spit up and a million other uses. 

That's my list! I love feeling knowledgeable and prepared, and I feel both of those things having these products and resources in my back pocket. Would love to hear any of your essential items as well.

Shared in partnership with all companies linked. Product choices and opinions are my own.