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Breastfeeding tip: having the right essentials can make your life a whole lot easier! Seriously, when I first started breastfeeding, I tried using a nursing pillow that left my shoulder kinked. Or I tried rocking my usual sports bra only to have to strip it off everytime I went to nurse. Breastfeeding can be tough enough, so I'm rounding up my breastfeeding must haves and essentials to make your nursing journey easier!
21 Breastfeeding Must Haves: Essential Equipment, Clothes & Accessories
Breastfeeding must have essential: Pumps
Like I mentioned in this video on breastfeeding tips, GET THAT PUMP! Even if you think you'll exclusively breastfeed, every mama ends up having to pump at some point in their breastfeeding journey! You can get the insurance pump, but you'll also want to get the Haakaa pump! It's fabulous, low maintenance way to pump. Basically it just suctions onto your unused breast while your little one nurses on the other side. It catches any milk that may leak during the let down.
If you are pumping regularly, I'd recommend upgrading beyond the insurance pump to the Willow pump. It's FABULOUS! Super efficient at getting the milk out, and also the most discreet pump I've come across. It's quiet and cordless. Just put the pump into your bra and do your thing at work, around the house, or wherever. It's super cute and easy to use. Plus it's efficient. You'll pump directly into a bag that you can toss right into the freezer or cooler bag for later. I can't stress this enough: if you are going to spend money on a pump, just get this one! Otherwise, stick with your free insurance pump.
Breastfeeding must have essential: Comfort measures
Nipple Butter: This is a total personal preference. Most mom's I spoke with, swore by nipple cream. Personally, I only used it when going braless, which was a catch 22, because then I'd leak everywhere (more on that later). My suggestion: ask for lanolin samples at the hospital. Get as many as you can, see if you like it. If you do, then purchase Lanolin here. However if it feels too sticky for you, like it did for me, check out Earth Mama Organics nipple butter here. I preferred Earth Mama's since it felt just creamier and smoother overall. Also the hospital samples may be all you need so hold off on getting until your home with baby.
Gel pads: These were an actual life saver. I got a sample at the hospital also, and then purchased more. When my nipples were really tender, I kept gel nipple pads in the fridge and they were a much welcome relief, especially if I needed to put a bra on. The gel pads act as a the perfect buffer between your tender nipples and your bra fabric.
Breastfeeding must have essential: Booby Tubes!
These are an absolutely brilliant invention! Earth Mama Organics once again, hit it out of the park! Booby Tubes soothe sore breasts and clogged ducts all the while encouraging let downs as you nurse! Just throw them in the microwave for about 30 seconds before you nurse (or whenever, but if you aren't nursing, make sure you have your Haakaa or pump on, because the heat can encourage a let down). They are a delightful warm and soft way to comfort your breasts during your breastfeeding journey. Shop booby tubes here!
Breastfeeding must have essential: Pillows
Again, this is a personal preference. I have this one and barely used it. It's really sturdy and provides great support, but I never felt totally relaxed using it. Instead, I actually preferred using this pillow – which is just an everyday household pillow (not a nursing one) with a special fill that made it perfect for nursing. I'd put on my side for a rugby position, or under baby for a normal cross cradle. Eventually, I transitioned to nursing while side lying, and this pillow also became great back support for me. Plus, it's machine washable, and when you don't need it for nursing, it's a great pillow to just have around the house or even travel with.
Breastfeeding must have essential: Nursing pads
The leakage was real for me and not cute! Nursing pads became my BFF. I want to note: not all reusable nursing pads are created equal! I got the ones with my insurance pump and they quickly deformed in the wash and were itchy. They were a total waste!
I switched to these, which are super soft, and used them almost every single day. They come with a great little bag that you throw the nursing pads into for each wash so they don't get lost or deformed. I've been using them for over 5 months and they are still in fabulous condition!
I also got Nooni's bra for night time sleep. It's way looser than your average bra, so it felt more like not wearing anything. It's leak resistant so you don't have to stress about your mattress while you sleep!
Breastfeeding must have essential: Dishwashing liquid
When you have a baby you realize just how toxic most of the everyday products you've been using are! We love this dishwashing liquid for cleaning her bottles and pump accessories. It's cleaner ingredients and works just as well as regular dish detergent. We personally typically buy either Dapple or Puracy for all things baby cleaning related!
Breastfeeding must have essential: Sterilizer
You can always run your bottles and pump through the dishwasher (just make sure you're using baby approved soap!), or you can sterilize them with some water in the microwave. We used this sterilizer bag which gets you 20 uses per bag, and then switched to these bags which you can use for food or anything else you'd want to steam!
Breastfeeding must have essential: Milk storage bags
If you're getting the Willow pump I mentioned before, you'll need their bags. If you're using the Haakaa or another pump, you'll want to pick up some of these bags to hopefully build up a little stash.
Breastfeeding must have essential: Breast milk freezer trays!
Okay, I didn't find out about this until I ran out of freezer bags and wish I had learned about it sooner! I would always get so frustrated when unthawing a bag of breastmilk because it felt like I was back in Calculus class, trying to figure out how many ounces to pull so that nothing got wasted.
The freezer trays allow you to freeze your milk into two ounce bars. Making it the perfect way to portion at milk as needed. Once baby started on solids, we'd use about two ounces to make her oatmeal, or if I had a freezer bag with 4 ounces, and she'd still need 2 more to make it a “meal” these came in handy. You can pop the frozen bars out, and just put into a regular ziploc since they won't stick together once frozen. Shop milk freezer trays here!
Breastfeeding must have essential: Lacti cups
These are little shells that go into your bra and actually collect the milk that leaks during the day! SO SMART! It's a great way to build up a little stash and alternative to nursing pads where you aren't just wasting your liquid gold! Shop them here!
Breastfeeding must have essential: Treats to boost milk supply
Milk Maid Tea from Earth Mama Organics is fabulous! So are these Milkful bars which taste delicious, are a great snack (because you're ravenous when breastfeeding) and also are packed with foods to help increase your supply.
Breastfeeding must have essential: Prenatal vitamin
ICYMI, you'll still want to keep taking your daily prenatal vitamin through your breastfeeding journey! It ensures you and baby are still getting everything you need. Of course, you'll still want to eat a healthy and balanced diet too.
Breastfeeding must have essential: Water bottle
Y'all know how important hydration is (always), and it's still just as important, if not more, when breastfeeding! Your hydration levels can have a direct impact on your milk supply. I love these glass water bottle with a silicone sleeve and this aluminum straw (makes things taste colder!).
Breastfeeding must have essential: Apps or hair tie
In the early days, it can be impossible to remember WTH your doing at any given moment, let alone with nursing. If you caught my breastfeeding journey, you know at points, my daughter was latched onto me for 14+ hours a day! We went to timed nursing sessions per our lactation consultant and pediatrician so timing everything was essential! We used the Hatch app since we have a Hatch changing pad (changing table that is also a scale, highly recommend for breastfeeding mamas to see how much their baby is getting at each feeding!). This allowed me to time each side, and also have a reminder of which boob was last. Other mom's I know use the hair tie method as a reminder for which side they nursed last by simply moving the hair tie to the wrist of the last nursed side.
Breastfeeding must have essential: Baby wrap
Baby wraps and baby wearing intimidated the crap out of me at first! I put baby girl in it and she'd just cryyy! Until finally I was like, “she needs to nap and I need to get outside.” So I put her in it and within a minute of actually walking, she was right asleep. So these will free up your hands, help get the naps in, and become a great way to nurse while moving around or out and about. I know it can be really overwhelming to put this on, so here's a quick tutorial:
Breastfeeding must have essential: Nursing cover
These are totally optional. You do not need to cover while you nurse by any means! If you do choose to, this one is a mom favorite since it has a wire at the top, which allows you to curve the material out so you can see what's going on down there without any hands. The car seat cover canopies that double as a nursing cover are another popular option.
Breastfeeding Must Haves: Essential Nursing Clothing
Breastfeeding must have essential: Nursing Bras
This one is my absolute favorite! It feels more supportive than your average nursing bra. The straps are really comfortable and I can pop it down and rehook with one hand. This 3 pack of nursing bras is also very similar and crazy affordable! I also have this racerback style bra!
Breastfeeding must have essential: Tops
Personally, I don't recommend going out and buying a whole new wardrobe. I'd recommend opting for non-nursing clothing that can easily double for breastfeeding, like tank tops with larger arm holes so you can just pull your boob out to the side. I'd also recommend going with these basic nursing cami's instead of a ton of nursing tops. They are a closet staple and can be worn under an open shirt or jacket to make it look like you're switching up your look, while staying nursing friendly.
Breastfeeding Things You Don't Need:
- Burp cloths – I got this pack, which I ended up using as my personal handkerchief to blow my nose each morning. They are super soft, but way to0 small to really help with a baby. I personally just put a hospital blanket under baby while nursing in bed to catch any spit up. It's sturdier than any blanket you can buy.
- Milk warmer – It's a fancy waste. Just put some water in a measure cup, microwave it, and put the bottle in the warm water for a few minutes.
- Bras with underwire – First of all, who likes underwire, ever?! Not me, not the TSA, not anybody I know. Plus expert's say they can actually create a clogged duct if they don't fit right, so just skip it.
- Lasinoh breastmilk bags- Apparently they are just the worst. Stick to the above suggestions
- Disposable breast pads – They aren't eco-friendly. You have better options outlined above.
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List of 21 Breastfeeding Must Haves: Essential Equipment, Clothes & Accessories
Leak-resistant sleep bra
Milk storage bags
Breast milk freezer trays
Treats to boost milk supply
Hatch Changing Pad & App