Breastfeeding& Expressing: A What You Need Guide

Breastfed, breastfeeding, breastfeeding baby, expressing, pumping, breast pump, feed baby

Mummy Confession
: I have breastfed (and mixed fed) my three children, but the first run through was excruciating.

Disclosure: I am not compensated for my recommendations of brands here. These are my honest experiences and opinions. I am an affiliate with Amazon and this post contains affiliate links by which I earn commissions from qualifying purchases. Bubsessed is a sister site of Mummy Confessions which I have created to help mums find useful and unique things for themselves and their bubs. See  my disclosure policy for further details.
Please note that some links are for Australia and others for the US.

Put some of these on your baby wishlist on Amazon!
Start your registry here! (Australia)
Start your registry here! (USA)

breastfeeding products for mums such as rite aid hydrogel discs, mumasil warm and cool packs, mumasil milk saver, mumasil breast shells, flannelette cloth nappies and aden and anais muslin wrap,
All the things that soothe! Available over at Bubsessed.


“If you’re doing it right, it won’t hurt.”

It’s not always true, you know. My babe had a “perfect latch” as commented by every midwife who watched me feed my baby those first days and weeks. Yet, it was still so painful. Occasionally, I guess she got it wrong, and I wound up with “grazes” as they call it, which was basically damage to myself as she figured out the whole feeding thing. This alone caused my first days (or six weeks, rather) of breastfeeding to be far less than a blissful experience of bonding with my baby.

A typical feeding session in the first weeks went a little like this. Pick up hungry baby (not yet crying, good). Cringe as I bring her to the breast and latch her on just how I was shown. Keep cringing and nearly crying, or eventually crying because it just hurt that much. Pry her mouth off while cringing even more to try to re-latch because “it shouldn’t hurt if she’s latching correctly.” Do this again and again. Finally give up and just wince through feeding the baby. Repeat for six weeks and dread feeding baby. Pray between feeds that the hydrogel discs and expressed milk and other concoctions had some sort of magical healing properties that would make the pain go away. Finally, give in and feed bottles of formula a couple times a day because feeding is that painful. Cry. Feed the baby another bottle because my husband is hurting for me watching me try and try again. Ask people for remedies which don’t help. Power through.

I was diagnosed with thrush at five weeks postpartum (and so was baby), so about a week after we started treatment for that, feeding did get a lot better. It was less painful. Then, the day came when there was no pain. Finally.

I wanted to share some of the products that helped me in those early days of breastfeeding that proved invaluable to feeding my first for 16 months. I didn’t expect to go for that long at all, but was thankful we did. It also made it easier to have these from the get go the second and third time around!

See our review of Modibodi here

1. Breast Pads: disposable or reusable, breast pads are an essential for earl breastfeeding. No one tells you that you leak from one side when you feed from the other. Or, that you can just randomly leak milk, leaving you red faced in front of guests who happen to drop by. Be prepared and keep some on hand! I’ve used several different types of disposables, and have found the Rite Aid breast pads, or the Coles brand breast pads to be great. You can use the washable style breastpads if you opt for reusable. An alternative to breast pads is the Modibodi nursing singlet, which holds liquid like breast pads, but without them moving all around your bra or shirt. 

Lansinoh Nursing Pads, 2 Packs of 100 (200 count) Stay Dry Disposable Breast Pads


2. Hydrogel Breast Discs: These are an essential for me, as they are soothing after a feed, and when you are sore. If you have scrapes or grazes, it’s perfect to help with those, too. I have heard some put them in the fridge for an even more soothing feel. In Australia, Rite Aid hydrogel breast discs seem to be the best buy  and work wonderfully for those tender days! (You can find them in most chemists, groceries, baby stores, and department stores with a baby section.)

I’ve also read two other things for helping yourself adjust to feeding in order to minimise the pain. 1. Don’t wash the breast with soap/body wash, but water only. I was told it could make breastfeeding more painful and dry out the nipple. 2. Express a little breast milk after feeding and let everything air dry if possible.

3. A good water bottle: Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy and apparently makes you feel like you are dehydrated like crazy. Find a good water bottle if you use tap water, or stock up on Costco size cases! I’ve always liked the Camelbak water bottles.

4. Good, healthy meals: Breastfeeding makes you ravenous (at least that’s my experience, especially right after birth). A good meal will not only keep up your energy, but also helps you feel better all around! There are some meal suggestions here if you are after some new ideas for your recipe rotation.

5. Vitamins: My iron levels always seem to be low when I am breastfeeding or pregnant, so my go to is Blackmore’s Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Gold. I know there are a lot of vitamins out there, and I’ve tried a few. These seem to work the best for me, and give a boost of energy when I am lacking just that.

6. Breast Shells: Whether or not you are exclusively breastfeeding or plan to express or give formula (or a combination of any of those), you will leak. Especially when feeding. I found the breast shells caught a bit of milk that could be refrigerated and combined with other bottles at the same temperature (see guidelines for breast milk here and how to combine). In the early days, they were essential and I felt better not losing precious milk. (Bubsessed has Mumasil breast milk collection shells available here, too)

7. Burp Cloths/Cloths to wipe rogue milk: I’ve always found Square cloth nappies to be particularly useful for keeping bub and me dry while feeding or pumping. There may be times when bubs unlatches or spits up after feeding, so it’s always good to have handy. When expressing, it’s helpful to have to dry yourself and the pump off.

8. A helpful friend or professional: We all need encouragement and a little help, so don’t be afraid to ask someone who knows what they’re talking about if you have questions or need help with anything breastfeeding related (or baby related for that matter). Helpful places to look for professionals or information would be The Australian Breastfeeding Association, La Leche League, your child & family health nurse, lactation consultant, or see your healthcare professional for a referral. And helpful tip when asking for help, always be sure to speak up for yourself and your baby if you feel something isn’t going right and advocate for yourself and baby. Seek a second opinion if necessary.

Optional Extras which some people find useful can also include: A Breastfeeding pillow (like the Boppy), a comfortable chair, a Breastfeeding cover for public places, nursing bras, and nursing clothes. I do can with or without these depending on where I am going or feeding. I’ve learned to roll with it (and without at times).

A good silicone breast pump: For when you have clogged ducts, or want to save milk similarly to the breast shells. The Haakaa silicone pump is a well known and trusted brand, along with the Mumasil or Made to Milk brands (which can be purchased at Bubsessed).

Lansinoh Therapearl Breast Therapy Discs: for warming or cooking for relief. Use it warm when you need to encourage milk and during pumping (use it with a pump!) or when you have clogged ducts to help relieve them, or cool when they are just sore and aching. (The Mumasil or BodyIce range also have warm and cool packs available, too)

If you plan to express or bottle feed breastmilk (or even formula) these come in handy, too!

1. A breast pump: There are a few different kinds and each have their perks. Manual pumps are less expensive, but require more work on your part. Some can be tiring or even painful to use. It’s also essential to make sure the breast shield for your particular pump fits, and to get a better suited one should it not. Here you can find a ruler to print out to help you figure a breast shield size, or here you can chat to someone and send through photos to better understand if your shield is the proper size. 

Of the brands I’ve tried, Pigeon makes a decent manual pump which is easy to use for my weak wrists and still effective at expressing. Electric pumps come in single and double options. Singles are usually cheaper than doubles, but will take twice as long if you need to Express from both sides. A double will tend to be more expensive, however less time intensive. There are also two classes of systems, open and closed, and the closed systems are supposed to be more hygienic, because they prevent milk from spreading into the tubing.
I’ve completed a feature on several brands of breast pumps (click here) if you need an idea of what you are looking for.

As I mostly express randomly, I have a single (and the double wasn’t available until a month after I bought my pump). Depending in your need for expressing, there are various options to look into. I talk about this in my review of the many brands available.

2. Bottles & Teats: Well all that expressed milk or formula has to go somewhere! There are so many options for bottles out there! The main kinds I’ve found are wide necked, narrow necked, and varying shapes of the nipple. Glass and plastic bottle options are available. Sometimes you have to find what works for your baby though. Some of the brands I have seen mums say work best with their babies are Tommee Tippee, Avent (or Avent naturals), Minbie, Comotomo, Mam and Medela. My babies all preferred wide neck styles like Tommee Tippee. Helpful tip: If bubs is having difficulty adjusting to the bottle, I’ve been recommended to let someone besides mum do the feeding (and possibly with some of mum’s smelling clothes if bubs is having a difficult time).

3. A bottle brush: A sponge just doesn’t get everything. Some come with a special teat brush which you can use to scrub the inside of the nipple of the bottle. Change these every so often, as they can wear.

4. Soap that actually washes breast milk/formula residue away!
We all know how stubborn that milk is when you try to wash it. Bottles wind up cloudy and filmy even after you’ve scrubbed a million times over! Get a good cleanser specifically for breast milk. I’ve tried the Medela Quick Clean Soap and the Milton brand soap and they both work brilliantly! If you need something to quickly wipe breast pumps or bottles while on the go, Medela also makes quick clean wipes.

5. Breastmilk bags: Much easier to store in the freezer especially! Get ones specific to your brand of pump if you use one, or find more bargain ones. We use the Swisspers or Cherub baby brand. There are even bottle systems that work with breast milk bags like the Tommee Tippee Express and Go. Check to see if they are reusable, too. ( Handy tip, always defrost frozen milk in a bowl, just in case the bag leaks!)

6. A Bag to Store it All: A decent sized bag with sufficient space for the pump, bags, and enough room to store away ice packs and milk-laden bags or bottles. It’s a big plus if it can store anything else you may need for your day, too.

7. Ice packs: To keep the milk cool enough until you can get it to the fridge or freezer. (The Lansinoh Therapearl products can double as an ice pack, too!)

8. Extra Batteries or an Adaptor: Depending on your pump, of course, be sure to have whatever you would need in case your pump runs out of juice, or just needs to be plugged in to use. Manual pumps obviously mean you don’t need this one thing in mind.

Whatever way you decide to feed your baby, be sure to take care of yourself and your bub the best way possible and see a relevant healthcare or other professional if you ever need any advice, help, tips, or referrals too some who can provide further information.

For Australians, there are several hamper packs available with some of our favourite products over here at Bubsessed!


10 thoughts on “Breastfeeding& Expressing: A What You Need Guide

  1. Ayanna @ 21FlavorsofSplendor says:

    Great tips!! I loved that when I had my twins there was a lactation consultant on staff that visited me every day while I was there. With his help and the support of my husband, I was able to breastfeed my twins for 11 and 1/2 months.

    • mummyconfessions says:

      Way to go!! That’s a great accomplishment! Support is a huge factor in the realm of breastfeeding or expressing for sure!
      (While all mums need support no matter how they feed their child of course, there is just a lot of unexpected stuff in the lines of feeding a baby!)

  2. Tee says:

    Awesome tips. And totally agree re seeking help. If you’re doing it on your own and finding it hard, it can be easy to give up but with support you know you’re not alone. I never thought it’d be that hard but it was when i first started. It didn’t last long though, and I’m glad I did.

    • mummyconfessions says:

      Support makes all the difference!

  3. Mica says:

    Oh yes! I had so much pain with my second and it wasn’t until he was 4 weeks that they realised we had thrush – treatment (and nipple shields!) greatly helped. It’s surprising how painful it can be even when the latch is right, I wasn’t expecting that!

    A really comprehensive guide, thank you for sharing! 🙂

    • mummyconfessions says:

      Thank you! Thrush is so painful, and just so unknown for new mums! It’s not like it looks too “bad” but man does it make a difference when it’s not there!

  4. Chevelle says:

    I hate that they say it shouldn’t be painful, I’m sure so many women give up because they are thinking they are doing it incorrectly. It hurt with both of my kids for 1-2 weeks then it was easy breezy! Great post with lots of awesome tips!

    • mummyconfessions says:

      For sure! I kept getting told “it shouldn’t hurt” from day one. Seriously? And I do think many mums don’t get the proper information or support which doesn’t make them want to continue!

  5. Fi Morrison says:

    A great list. There were times where breastfeeding my boy was painful too, particularly when I had too much milk and became lumpy. In the early days when there was grazed nipples, I agree that the gel discs really helped to ease the pain/discomfort, and I used cream to help with the healing. My other good investment was a breast pump too so hubby could do feeds each night (it meant expressing every night for 7 months!). Thanks for sharing!

    • mummyconfessions says:

      Thanks Fi! Oh yes, the being full of milk never helped! I’m so glad that I had a supportive husband and family who told me whichever decision I made for feeding, bubs was fine and they wouldn’t have judged me for it. I wish I could have done expressing every night! Hubs had a night shift job for two of the bubs, and an early shift with this one, so I had no choice but to get up! ? At least my kids will sleep in a little for now!

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