What do you need for breastfeeding?
All you really need for breastfeeding is your breast and your baby. As a money-conscious person, I hate buying more than what I need.
In my experience, breastfeeding is not easy. Before my baby came, I didn’t know nursing could be frustrating and even painful. It just seemed like such a natural process.
After speaking to many parents, I realized how breastfeeding is difficult for many. How had I not heard this before?
How can I make nursing easier?
Here are my breastfeeding essentials – what I used to make my experience more comfortable.
These nursing essentials helped me push through the more difficult times. It helped make breastfeeding easier.
If you’re planning to breastfeed or are already encountering difficulties, these 11 breastfeeding items will help.
Related Baby Tips Articles:
- 0-3 Month Baby Must Haves
- Postpartum Essentials: things you need after giving birth
- Hospital bag checklist – what I used and didn’t use
- Free Baby Stuff for New and Expecting Parents
11 Breastfeeding Must Haves
1. Nursing Pillow
Initially at the hospital, I tried using a few regular pillows. It took SO LONG to get the pillows in an optimal position for latching.
Being postpartum and weak, the last thing I wanted to do was spend so much time rearranging pillows before EVERY feeding.
When I got home, I tried this breastfeeding pillow. I regret not bringing this to the hospital!
I now know why it has this brand name. This is my #1 baby nursing accessory! In the first 3 months of baby’s birth, I used this breastfeeding pillow with every feeding.
This nursing pillow is so comfortable and easy to position to get the PERFECT latch.
(In my experience, even if you can position for the perfect latch, your baby still needs to learn how to latch properly. I felt that this nursing pillow set me up for success. I just played the waiting game until baby finally learned how to latch.)
With my baby getting bigger and bigger, the pain in my back while breastfeeding only grew. My neck and shoulders were also constantly hurting while I was getting used to holding a baby. This nursing pillow comfortably supported my upper body and relieved my pain.
This breastfeeding back pillow even has a small pocket that I used for spit-up cloths and to store the vitamin D supplement. I have a boppy pillow as well, but it just didn’t provide the support necessary for nursing.
2. Breastfeeding resources
Breastfeeding knowledge is an important component of your breastfeeding essentials kit.
There are general prenatal classes and then there are classes that are laser-focused on breastfeeding.
I took a general prenatal class. It was excellent in covering what to expect for labor, delivery and postpartum. It touched on breastfeeding, but it wasn’t in depth.
While it was helpful, I still ended up getting clogged ducts and mastitis 3 times: once when my daughter was born and then 2 more times when she got teeth.
Mastitis is no joke! It’s when your breasts get PAINFULLY engorged because you’re not breastfeeding properly. It’s when the latch is not quite right and the milk is not being drained. You usually also get a fever. If the mastitis gets really bad, you have to go on antibiotics (this is what happened to me!).
Every time I’ve gotten it – I’ve felt like I was dying! It was excruciating pain!
In hindsight, I know I could have prevented mastitis if I knew the ins and outs of breastfeeding. I regret not taking a breastfeeding class like this one.
This is an online class that was created by registered nurses and lactation consultants Cindy and Jana.
One thing I love about online courses is that you can watch the videos and read the course materials at anytime AND as many times as you’d like. You can take your time absorbing the material and discussing the topics with your partner.
This course offers extensive tips on how to breastfeed successfully like
- How to get that deep latch
- What to do when breastfeeding is not going well
- How to know if the baby’s getting enough
If you want to check out their style and content, they offer a FREE course about top pregnancy mistakes their students shared with them in secret.
This course is not cheap – it’s $40. The price reflects the extensive amount of information the course offers. It includes everything you need to know for breastfeeding.
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, this online breastfeeding class is a good option.
It’s created by Stacey who is a Certified Lactation Educator. Her course does a great job of explaining the basics of breastfeeding. There is even a 30 day money back guarantee if you don’t feel completely prepared for breastfeeding after taking the class.
Note: If you’re looking for a general prenatal class as well, this online prenatal class for couples goes through everything from your third trimester to your first few months of being postpartum. You can get 10% off the course by using the code MAP10.
In the course, there’s a lot of content on specifically the labor and delivery part. Things like what legitimate contractions are, what to expect from your labor and delivery nurse and c-sections. The Instructor Hilary is an experienced labor and delivery nurse.
At the end of each section, Hilary asks important, thought-provoking questions for you and your partner to consider. Things like
- What you’d like your partner to do when you’re in pain e.g. heat, massage, essential oils, music?
- Who could come help you when the baby is born?
If you’re interested in her teaching style, Hilary has a FREE beginning online prenatal class that gives you a good overview.
In addition to taking classes, ask close family and friends about their breastfeeding experience.
Your experienced mom friends are a gold mine for information. Ask them:
- What surprised you about breastfeeding?
- If you ran into problems, how did you seek breastfeeding support?
- What would you do differently?
If you’re delivering at the hospital, ask your postpartum nurses for help with your latch right after you deliver.
I highly recommend trying to perfect your latch before you leave the hospital! Nurses are an excellent resource (I learned about one of the most relaxing breastfeeding positions through a nurse – the side-lying breastfeeding position)!
3. Nursing Bra
I’ve found nursing bras are necessary products for breastfeeding because:
- Nursing bras have clips that make it easy to pull the front part of your bra down to breastfeed. You could use a regular bra and pull your breast out, but I found this more difficult.
- The nursing bra comes with a pad to conceal leaks. There’s an area for additional padding. I never leaked to the extent of needing additional pads.
- Nursing bras are designed to fit you comfortably when you’re both full and empty. My regular bra felt too restrictive when I was full of milk.
This nursing bra is comfortable and inexpensive. I’ve tried similar nursing bras without underwires from other retailers and this one is the cheapest for relatively good quality.
4. Nursing cover
Instead of getting a nursing cover, I just tied two ends of a muslin swaddle blanket together and wrapped it over myself.
When my baby was finished feeding, I would use this as a burping cloth.
Their blankets are so versatile; you can also use them as a swaddle, tummy time mat, changing pad cover, car seat/stroller cover, general blanket etc. My baby is 1 year old and I still use these today!
They are soft and get softer with each wash!
5. Stretchy tank top with a shirt/sweater on top
When I got more comfortable with how to nurse in public, I didn’t need a nursing cover anymore.
I would just wear a stretchy tank top with a shirt/sweater on top.
Whenever I needed to nurse, I would unclip my nursing bra, pull up the shirt/sweater and lower the top of the tank top so the nipple is exposed for feeding. I would just pull the shirt/sweater over top my baby’s head so it would be discrete.
If you’re the type to leak, you might want to wear darker colored clothing just in case.
Note: if you don’t like nursing bras, you might like nursing tank tops better. I just used a regular, stretchy tank top over my nursing bra, but some women I know prefer to have a nursing tank top.
6. Breast pump
You may be wondering, “Do I need a breast pump right away?” It depends on your situation.
I didn’t want to purchase a breast pump because they’re so expensive!
Within the first few days of my daughter’s birth, she got close to losing 10% of her original weight. I had to pump to determine the amount of milk I was getting.
Initially, we were thinking of renting a pump from the hospital, but the costs didn’t justify the amount of use we were projecting.
We purchased this Ameda Purely Yours pump directly from the hospital. The nurse who delivered our prenatal classes said it would be the cheapest way to get a high quality electric pump and she was right!
We ended up paying 40% off most listed prices. When I spoke to other moms, they mentioned that they received the exact same breast pump from their insurance provider so you might want to look into that first before checking your local hospital for prices.
I’m very happy we purchased a breast pump. It’s come in handy for multiple occasions e.g.:
- I got mastitis and needed to release milk quickly to relieve the pain of engorgement.
- I needed to increase my milk supply quickly. The more I pumped, the more milk I got.
- When we introduced her to solids, we put the pumped breast milk in her cereal and other foods.
7. Padded rocking chair
A padded rocking chair made it so comfortable for breastfeeding in her nursery. We also used it for reading books and generally relaxing together. I found the stool helps to relieve back pain and maintain posture.
8. Waterproof mattress pad
Around a month into breastfeeding, I was so sleep deprived.
I tried the side lying breastfeeding position. It’s when you can lie down while breastfeeding your baby.
To protect the mattress from milk, pee and poo leaks, I used a waterproof mattress pad.
When you’re finished breastfeeding, the pad can also be used when you have your period.
9. Water bottle and snacks
After every breastfeeding session, I was constantly drinking water and eating food.
I highly recommend always having a water bottle nearby. This Voss water bottle is the one I’ve been reusing for years. It’s extra large and made of glass so there’s no unwanted flavoring from the package.
I have friends that have said this water bottle is the best water bottle for breastfeeding because it’s also made of glass, but has this silicone sleeve for easier gripping and an opening that’s large enough to put ice cubes in easily.
It’s also important to have readily accessible snacks. I often had fruit, nuts and energy bars nearby.
I would drink and eat while my baby was breastfeeding.
It’s so important to keep yourself nourished. If you’re not healthy, you can’t take care of your baby.
I’ve included the carrier because I found it useful to be able to nurse my baby in it while getting things done around the house e.g. prepare food, household chores etc.
I love the Ergobaby Carrier because it’s comfortable and can be used with a newborn right away (no additional infant insert required) up until the baby is 45 lbs. It supports all carry positions including facing the baby inwards and outwards, carrying on the hip or back.
Sometimes I found the carrier easier to use than a stroller when I was out of the house. For example, when I was going to a restaurant with tight spacing or on a plane with a baby.
11. Mineral sunscreen
If you’re going outdoors, you should be using a mineral sunscreen.
Mineral sunscreens are the best for breastfeeding women, children, pregnant women, and people with sensitive skin.
The big reason is because mineral sunscreens are made with natural minerals and not chemicals.
Another reason is that chemical sunscreens take 20 minutes to be absorbed into the skin before it starts working.
If you’re using this mineral sunscreen for your child in daycare, daycare staff don’t have time to manage one kid’s sunscreen application time along with everything else they have to do.
Breastfeeding tools I didn’t use
I know these 3 products are a must have for other breastfeeding moms.
Every mom is different. I never used these.
Just in case they’re handy to you, I’ve included them below.
1. Nursing Pads
I never used these as the pads in the nursing bra were sufficient.
In hindsight, I should have just tried including a baby wash cloth to see if I leaked enough to require additional breast pads before I purchased these ones.
If you leak a lot, you’ll probably want to have nursing pads available.
2. Nipple Cream
When my nipples were sore and cracked, I just used saliva and breast milk, which worked well for me. I know this doesn’t work for all moms.
If you need nipple cream, here are 2 options I know have worked for other breastfeeding moms.
They’re both organic.
There’s no petroleum, parabens or lanolin.
You don’t need to worry about washing it off before breastfeeding and your baby accidentally ingesting something he or she shouldn’t have.
I’ve included 2 because they’re made from different ingredients.
1. This nipple cream is made with beeswax. I actually heard about this from a reader who highly recommends it.
As you can see, it’s an Amazon bestseller.
2. Another option is to use organic coconut oil.
I have this coconut oil and I love that it has many other uses like cooking, as a moisturizer on your hair or skin etc.
3. Breast Milk Storage Bags
My baby always fed directly on the breast so I just didn’t need the storage bags.
If you want to have a break from breastfeeding or get out of the house without the baby for some “me time”, you’ll need breast milk storage bags so that someone else can feed the baby.
Additional tip on breastfeeding essentials
To manage costs, if you’re purchasing items on Amazon, go through Rakuten (formerly Ebates) first!
Companies pay a commission to Rakuten for advertising on their site. Rakuten then shares that commission with you. Depending on the rates, you could get up to 40% of your purchase price back! Rakuten is FREE to sign up.
For U.S. residents, Rakuten will give you a welcome bonus of $10 after making your first online purchase of $25 or more.
For Canadians, it’s a $5 welcome bonus for signing up.
You can read about how to use Rakuten here!
Final thoughts on the best breastfeeding accessories
There were MANY TIMES I felt like quitting breastfeeding, but I’m so glad I didn’t!
Nursing has been one of the most amazing bonding experiences of my life.
If you are in excruciating pain right now from breastfeeding – I’m here to tell you that it does get easier. For me, it did get to the point where it was completely painless and I started to enjoy it.
I highly recommend putting together your breastfeeding supplies checklist. Make the transition to breastfeeding easier for yourself. Get the supplies for breastfeeding you need. You won’t regret it.
Breastfeeding Supplies Summary:
- Breastfeeding Pillow – my brest friend
- Breastfeeding resources – this online prenatal class for couples, breastfeeding class, The Top 6 Pregnancy Mistakes Shared With Us in Secret – FREE course
- Nursing Bra – nursing bra, nursing tank tops
- Nursing cover – muslin swaddle blanket
- Stretchy tank top with a shirt/sweater on top – stretchy tank top
- Breast pump – Ameda Purely Yours pump
- Padded rocking chair – padded rocking chair
- Waterproof mattress pad – waterproof mattress pad
- Water bottle and snacks – Voss water bottle, Lifefactory water bottle, energy bars
- Carrier – Ergobaby Carrier
- Mineral Sunscreen
Related Baby Necessities Articles:
- Postpartum must haves: things you need after giving birth
- Things I actually used from my hospital bag checklist
- Diaper Bag Necessities
- Top Gifts for New Moms
- Best Gifts for New and Expectant Dads
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