Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural way to feed your baby. It provides essential nutrients, builds immunity, and strengthens the bond between mother and child. However, for many moms, it’s not always an easy process.
Many mothers face challenges in the first few months and weeks with their first baby, such as sore nipples, positioning the baby correctly, and ensuring they are producing enough milk. That’s why having the right breastfeeding essentials can make a huge difference in your breastfeeding journey.
Here are the top breastfeeding essentials that can help make your breastfeeding experience more comfortable and successful.
Top breastfeeding essentials:
Breast milk storage bags
- Hands-free pumping bra
Breastfeeding protein powders
Faith in your motherly instincts
Detailed breastfeeding essentials list:
For each item I have addressed:
The importance of the item
How to choose
Which I recommend
Importance of nursing bras: Nursing bras are designed to provide extra comfort and support for breastfeeding women. They provide easy access for feeding and support your breasts, which can become heavy and sore.
Types of nursing bras: There are many different types of breastfeeding bras available, including sports bras, sleep bras, padded/no-padded and wired/non-wired bras. Most are made with stretchy fabrics that can either be pulled to one side (FOO – Flop One Out technique!) or have multiple layers with hooks to fold up or down as needed.
How to choose a nursing bra: Consider your breast size and stage of breastfeeding. New moms will probably opt for a bra that is ultra easy and comfortable whereas over time you may want to add a sports bra and possibly a fancier one to wear under formal attire if going back to work.
Use this handy FREE tool to work out what size nursing bra you need.
Also think about the fabric type, as some may irritate your skin more than others. Look for any seams that would go over the nipple area (a big no-no), how easy it is to release a cup or whip out a boob, and how adjustable the straps are. Don’t forget about night feeds too. Depending on your breast size you may want a bra or two that are comfortable enough to sleep in.
Recommended nursing bras:
Medela Comfort Fit Nursing Bra
Bravado Designs Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra
Importance of nursing pads: Nursing pads are designed to protect your clothing from breast milk leaks. They are absorbent and waterproof which helps keep you dry and comfortable while breastfeeding. An added feature is that they can provide extra comfort to sore or bleeding nipples.
Types of nursing pads: There are two main types of nursing pads: reusable/washable and disposable. Reusable pads are designed to be washed after each use and are usually made from cotton or other materials that can absorb breast milk. Disposable nursing pads are designed for single use and are usually made from absorbent materials, like paper or plastic.
Factors to consider when choosing nursing pads: While considering the size of the pads in relation to your breasts is important, a bigger factor is whether you want reusable or washable. At the beginning of your breastfeeding journey you will change your pads frequently, about 4 times in a 24 hour period, as your milk production settles. Consider this when selecting which pads to use – disposable ones are quick, easy and cheap but in the long run may cost the same as the pricier re-usable ones. Washable pads are pretty heard wearing and can easily be popped into the laundry basket.
Recommended nursing pads:
Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads
Bamboobies Washable Nursing Pads
The Importance of a breastfeeding/nursing pillow: A breastfeeding pillow can help position your baby correctly, reduce back and arm strain, and make breastfeeding more comfortable. It’s a great tool to help get into good breastfeeding positions and even provides tummy time for younger babies.
Types of breastfeeding/nursing pillows: There are a variety of breastfeeding pillows available such as crescent-shaped ones and U-shaped ones that wrap around your waist.
Factors to consider when choosing a breastfeeding/nursing pillow: Consider the firmness of the pillow, how well it supports your preferred nursing position, and how comfortable it is for positioning baby against your body. And of course a removable cover for easy washing!
Recommended breastfeeding/nursing pillows:
My Brest Friend Original Nursing Pillow
Boppy Total Body Pillow with Slipcover
The Importance of burp cloths: Burp cloths are a breastfeeding essential as they help to keep your baby clean and comfortable while breastfeeding. They also provide extra protection against spills and messes during feeding. A versatile piece of kit, large ones can double as nursing cover-ups while small ones can be folded, a double as a makeshift car seat cover and even be used as emergency breast pads!
Types of burp cloths: There are several fabric types of burp cloths available including terrycloth, flannel, muslin and bamboo. Terrycloth and flannel burp cloths are usually the most absorbent and durable options. Muslin burp cloths tend to be lightweight and breathable, making them ideal for breastfeeding in hot climates or summer months. Bamboo burp cloths have natural antimicrobial properties that can help prevent odors from developing.
Factors to consider when choosing burp cloths: Think carefully about fabric type and size. You may like a collection of various sized burp cloths to include larger musins and smaller terry cloths. Many new parents fixate on having the prettiest designs on their cloths (and there are some really cute ones out there) but remember these are hardwearing pieces of kit that will be washed countless times so opt for quality over pattern.
Recommended burp cloths:
Aden + Anais Classic Muslin Burpy Bib
Gerber Prefold Birdseye 5-Pack Reversible Burp Cloths
The Importance of breast pumps: Having a good quality breast pump is essential for breastfeeding mothers – a pump will allow moms to store their own breastmilk to be used if they are away from their baby or for some reason choose not to breastfeed for a few feeding sessions. Pumping can also help increase milk supply and relieve engorgement.
Types of breast pumps: There are several types of breast pumps available: manual breast pumps, electric breast pump pumps, wearable pumps, and double electric breast pumps.
Manual breast pump: small and portable, great for occasional pumping on the go or early days when the baby arrives and you need to use one quickly. Can also pump on one side while your baby feeds from the other breast.
Electric breast pump: efficient milk expression with minimal effort.
Double electric breast pump: allow both breasts to easily pump simultaneously saving time.
Wearable pump: wear under your clothes for hands free pumping.
Factors to consider when choosing a breast pump: Often new moms choose to have an electric pump as well as a manual pump as they serve different purposes. Think about budget, how easily you can replace pump parts, breastfeeding goals and lifestyle – for example will you need to regularly pump away from home, how much milk would you like to store etc.
Recommended breast pumps:
Spectra Baby USA S2 Plus Electric Breast Pump
Breast milk storage bags
The Importance of breastmilk storage bags: Breastmilk storage bags are used to store expressed breastmilk in the fridge or freezer stash. They take up less room than bottles and are therefore easier to store.
Types of breastmilk storage bags: There are two main types of breastmilk storage bags – pre-sterilized disposable bags and reusable silicone bags.
Disposable breastmilk storage bags: Pre-sterilized, single use and easy to transport, great for short-term use or if you frequently travel with your baby.
Reusable silicone breastfeeding bags: Eco-friendly, lightweight and easy to carry around with you, these breastfeeding products can be used multiple times and come in a variety of sizes for different purposes.
Factors to consider when choosing a breastmilk storage bag: Consider how often you will use the bags, your budget, and whether you prefer pre-sterilized bags or reusable containers. Look for bags that are easy to fill, seal, and label, with a double zipper to prevent leaks.
Recommended breastmilk storage bags:
Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Breast Milk Storage Bags
Philips Avent Breast Milk Storage Cups
The Importance of nursing covers: If you plan to breastfeed in public and feel a little nervous then a nursing cover can help you feel less exposed or self-conscious. However understand that covering up is a personal choice – a common parenting myth is that you must fully cover the baby and yourself when breastfeeding in public but this is simply not true.
Types of nursing covers: Multi-use ponchos, traditional breastfeeding covers, and light-weight scarves.
Multi-use ponchos: provide full coverage while allowing you to access baby easily during breastfeeding sessions.
Traditional breastfeeding covers: provide extra security and can be used as a sunshade when not breastfeeding.
Lightweight scarves: offer both convenience and style for on-the-go moms who need quick access to their baby while nursing. A large muslin can easily double as a nursing cover.
Factors to consider when choosing a nursing cover: Consider how often you’ll be breastfeeding in public and the type of coverage that you’d prefer. Additionally, think about the material you’d like to use; lightweight fabrics provide breathable comfort while heavier materials offer more coverage and privacy. Look for a cover that is lightweight, breathable, and has an adjustable strap for a secure fit.
Recommended nursing covers:
Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover
Udder Covers Nursing Cover
Butterscotch Blankees Nursing Scarf
Hands-Free Pumping Bra
The importance of hands free pumping bras: Definitely not a fashion item! But if you plan on a long pumping session then this amazing invention will allow you to be hands free while hooked up to a double electric breast pump!
Types of hands-free pumping bras: There are different kinds of hands-free pumping bras available, some with adjustable straps and a zipper for easy access. There are also breastfeeding tanks that have been designed specifically for the purpose of breastfeeding and pumping.
Factors to consider when choosing a hands-free pumping bra: Think about your breast size when selecting a hands-free pumping bra as well as how often you’ll be pumping. Consider the style and fabric of the bra to ensure that it fits properly and provides the support you need.
Recommended hands-free pumping bras:
Belabumbum Breastfeeding Essentials Pump & Clip Hands Free Bra
Boob Design Maternity Support Bra
Bravado Designs Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra
The importance of nipple cream: If (and there’s an 80-90% chance) you get sore or cracked nipples in those first few weeks while establishing a good latch then you will want nipple cream in your life! It is an essential breastfeeding accessory that helps protect nipples from irritation and chafing plus it is safe to breastfeed after slathering on sore nipples.
Types of nipple creams: There are several types of nipple creams on the market:
Lanolin-based creams: provide nourishing moisture for sore or cracked nipples by forming a protective barrier.
Lanolin free creams: ideal for those who experience reactions to lanolin or prefer more natural ingredients.
Natural formula creams; use ingredients like shea butter and beeswax to create a moisturizing cream that is safe for baby’s skin.
Multi-purpose creams: offer extra protection against dryness while providing relief from itching or burning caused by breastfeeding.
Factors to consider when choosing nipple creams: Most importantly make sure it is safe to use when breastfeeding and that the ingredients and texture of the cream won’t cause any irritation to your baby. Think about the type of formula you’d like to use with regards how natural you want the ingredients to be, as well as your baby’s age and breastfeeding frequency.
Recommended nipple creams:
Lansinoh Lanolin nipple cream
Medela Tender Care Lanolin
Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter
The Importance of nursing tanks: Nursing tanks are breastfeeding essentials designed for breastfeeding comfort. They provide a layer of coverage, making breastfeeding more discreet in public and allowing you to quickly access your breasts when needed.
Types of nursing tanks: Built-in bras, or nursing tank tops with straps that can be worn over other clothing items, and layering pieces that can act as a cover while breastfeeding. Some breastfeeding tanks come with adjustable straps or bands that allow you to customize the fit of the bra for maximum comfort.
Factors to consider when choosing a nursing tank: Think about the type of fabric used in the tank top and whether it will be comfortable against your skin while breastfeeding. Also consider the number of layers you’d like and whether a breastfeeding tank with straps or one without is best for your needs. Look for a tank that is super soft and stretchy, with a built-in bra for support.
Recommended nursing tanks:
Motherhood Maternity Nursing Tank
Bravado Designs Nursing Bra
The importance of diaper bags: Designed to store everything you and your baby need, they can hold breast pumps, nursing bras, nipple cream – basically all your breastfeeding essentials for when you are out and about!
Types of diaper bags: The list is endless but specially-made diaper bags come in messenger-bag style, backpack or even designer diaper bags with fun prints or stylish designs.
Factors to consider when choosing a diaper bag: Think about the number of compartments you’d like in the bag as well as how often you plan on taking it with you when breastfeeding outside of the home. Babies do not travel light even for the shortest of journeys so a lightweight bag that’s not too bulky is ideal. Look for diaper bags with multiple compartments, adjustable straps, and stylish designs to make breastfeeding supplies easier to carry!
Recommended diaper bags:
Ju-Ju-Be Be Set Diaper Bag
Skip Hop Duo Signature Diaper Bag
The importance of nipple shields: Nipple shields are breastfeeding essentials designed to provide breastfeeding moms with extra support and protection. They can help reduce friction while breastfeeding and protect nipples that may be sore or cracked from breastfeeding.
Types of nipple shields: There are several types of nipple shields available including standard silicone nipple shields, thin-tipped latex nipple shields, and reusable breast shells for added comfort.
Factors to consider when choosing a nipple shield: Think about the size and shape of your nipples when selecting a shield—a good fit will make breastfeeding more comfortable for both you and your baby. Also consider how easy they are to wash and whether they come with a carrier to keep them as hygienic as possible. Try a few different ones out to find the perfect one for you.
Recommended nipple shields:
Lansinoh Breastmilk Shells
The importance of bottles for breastmilk: Many nursing moms like to pump a little expressed extra breast milk so that their baby can still receive breastmilk when they cannot breastfeed such as when they are working or taking a trip.
Types of bottles: There are a variety of different types of bottles available, including glass and plastic bottles as well as wide-necked and angled options. All types are designed with your baby’s comfort in mind and typically come with features such as anti-colic valves and slow-flow nipples for easier feeding.
Factors to consider when choosing a bottle: Think about the bottle size you will need—smaller bottles may be easier for newborns, while larger bottles might work better for older babies who need larger feeds and may be able to hold the bottle themselves. Crucially consider the nipples that fit the preferred bottle – many brands offer both slow and fast-flow nipples so you can adjust the feeding rate as your baby grows.
The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle
The Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Anti-Colic Bottle
Breastfeeding protein powders
The importance of breastfeeding protein powders: Breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience for both mother and baby, but it also requires an important commitment from the mother to ensure her little one is getting the necessary nutrition. Protein powders are an amazing source of nutrients that mothers should consider adding to their diet while breastfeeding.
Types of breastfeeding protein powders:
Whey Protein Powder: This type of protein powder is derived from cow’s milk and contains all essential amino acids to help promote muscle growth, weight loss, and stronger bones.
Casein Protein Powder: This type of protein powder is made from the casein found in cow’s milk and absorbs slowly in the body, providing a prolonged release of amino acids for muscle growth and repair.
Hemp Protein Powder: This type of protein powder is derived from hemp seeds and contains essential fatty acids which can help promote heart health. It is also rich in fiber and plant-based proteins that are easily digestible making it an ideal choice for vegans
Factors to consider when choosing a breastfeeding protein powder: There are three main factors to consider when choosing a breastfeeding protein powder.
The first is quality – make sure that the breastfeeding protein powder you choose is of high quality, with no artificial ingredients or fillers. You should also check the label for any potential allergens such as dairy, soy, and nut proteins and ensure that it is safe for breastfeeding.
Next, consider taste. Certain breastfeeding protein powders have a more pleasant taste than others, so you may want to look for a product that is especially suited to your own taste preferences.
Nutrition is a crucial factor as it is important to select a protein powder that contains the nutrients needed for optimal lactation and breastfeeding success. Look for one that provides vitamins and minerals such as iron and vitamin D, as well as essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA. Additionally, some breastfeeding protein powders provide probiotics for gut health.
Recommended breastfeeding protein powders:
Green Vanilla Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder
Boobie Body Organic Pregnancy and Lactation Vegan Protein Shake Chocolate Bliss
The importance of a breastfeeding chair: A breastfeeding chair is specifically designed to provide you with the ultimate comfort during feeding sessions. These chairs are usually upholstered with soft cushioning and come with a reclining feature to make nursing easier and more comfortable. They also often have armrests so that you can easily hold your baby in the position that works best for both of you without any discomfort. The reclining feature also helps keep your back supported and allows for a better posture while feeding, reducing fatigue as well as neck and shoulder strain.
Types of breastfeeding chair: There are several types of breastfeeding chairs available including traditional rocking chairs, gliders, recliners, and nursing chairs with ottomans. Each type offers unique features and benefits to provide comfort and support for nursing mothers and their babies. Some chairs also come with additional features such as adjustable backrests, padded armrests, and built-in pockets for storing baby essentials.
Factors to consider when choosing a breastfeeding chair: Consider comfort, size, durability, ease of cleaning, style, price, and additional features when choosing a breastfeeding chair. It should be comfortable, fit in your space, durable, easy to clean, match your style, fit your budget, and have helpful features.
Recommended breastfeeding chairs:
- DaVinci Olive Upholstered Swivel Glider
- Storkcraft Premium Hoop Glider and Ottoman
Read my post The Best Breastfeeding Chair: Top 5 for 2023 for my recommendations with pros and cons and mom reviews.
The most important essential: faith in your motherly instincts
As breastfeeding mothers, we often second guess ourselves and worry that we’re not doing enough or doing it right. But breastfeeding is a natural process and our bodies are designed to feed our babies. By trusting in your motherly instincts, you can be confident that you’re providing your baby with the best nutrition possible.
A bonus breastfeeding essential: Contact details for a lactation consultant
The importance of contact details for lactation consultants: Breastfeeding can be challenging, and sometimes nursing moms need extra support. Contact details for a lactation consultant can be a valuable breastfeeding essential when it comes to getting advice with issues like latching or positioning.
Types of lactation consultants: Most breastfeeding and giving birth centers have lactation consultants who are certified in breastfeeding management and education. Additionally, some hospitals and birth centers have breastfeeding experts on staff as well.
Factors to consider when choosing a lactation consultant: Look for experience and expertise as well as location (the closer the better) – when you need one you need one! Ask your insurance company if they cover the fees before engaging in their services.
Recommended lactation consultants:
The Lactation Network is a great resource for locating breastfeeding professionals in your area.
Check your local breastfeeding centers and hospitals for information about their lactation consultants and services.
Your breastfeeding journey
Preparing for breastfeeding
Consider taking a breastfeeding class or meeting with a lactation consultant in the third trimester of pregnancy. You will learn helpful tips and advice on breastfeeding techniques, positioning and more. Importantly make sure you have all the breastfeeding essentials ready before your new baby even arrives.
Every breastfeeding journey is unique, so don’t be discouraged if you run into breastfeeding challenges somewhere along the way. Keep in mind that breastfeeding is a learning process and it can take time to find the right breastfeeding style for you and your baby. Read my post: 11 Common breastfeeding problems and how to fix them.
If breastfeeding isn’t going as planned or you are worried (eg pain, low milk supply etc), seek help from a lactation consultant or breastfeeding center—they can provide valuable breastfeeding advice and support. Also don’t be afraid to talk to other moms – they are a treasure trove of real-life experience and tips! Learn more about successful breastfeeding here.
Make sure you are as prepared as possible before your baby arrives. If you plan to breastfeed then ticking off the items on your breastfeeding essentials list is essential! If you have any questions or issues, don’t hesitate to get help—the internet, lactation consultants and other moms are all great resources. Breastfeeding can be hard work but it is very rewarding and an amazing experience for mothers and babies alike. Good luck!
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