Breastfeeding is about nourishing and bonding with your baby. While it is a natural concept, breastfeeding can be challenging. It’s an intimate dance that you and your baby must learn together. We have the ultimate list of items that will help support your breastfeeding journey.
Based on our real-mom experience, we know that nursing your baby can be easier and a little less painful with the proper breastfeeding supplies around you.
While not essential to the act of breastfeeding itself, pumping breast milk can be a great option.
A manual or gravity suction breast pump may be effective for a mom looking to unblock clogged ducts or only release a small amount in an effort to boost her milk supply. Engorgement can be relieved with a short pumping session before nursing your baby, making it easier for them to latch.
Pumping and breastfeeding on a regular basis is a delicate balance. Too much pumping in between your baby’s normal feeding schedule can lead to an oversupply —the pump will be signaling your body to produce more milk. Seek advice on how to maintain this balance from a local lactation consultant.
Nursing Bras and Tops
A necessity throughout your breastfeeding journey is easy access to bring your baby to your breast. Getting dressed isn’t as simple as throwing on your favorite outfit anymore when you have to consider the accessibility that you’ll need for breastfeeding.
Nursing bras are designed to easily unclip from the top of the bra cup with one hand. Bras created for sleep are unlined and come in a deep V cut so you can shift the fabric to the side when you’re ready to feed your baby.
- Nursing tops can range from nursing tank tops that unclip at either strap to blouses that have a faux-layered look around the bust to dresses with discreet openings on either side of the chest. There are many options available to style a nursing-friendly outfit for any occasion.
Avoid bras with underwire and tight-fitting tops as much as possible. The restriction against your breasts can feel uncomfortable when they’re full and can lead to clogged ducts. If your milk ducts are clogged for an extended period of time, an inflammation of the breast tissue, called mastitis, can occur and usually requires treatment from a doctor.
In the early days of postpartum life, you’ll probably notice your nipples leaking as your body regulates your breast milk production. You can use absorbent breast pads made specifically for nursing moms to protect your new bras and tops from getting wet again and again.
Naturally, your body wants to release breast milk when it’s close to—or past—time for your baby to eat or even at the sound of your baby’s cry. You’ll also find that when your little one is feeding from one breast the other side will let out some milk. If you don’t have a second baby to tandem feed, you can soak up the drips with a nursing pad.
Disposable nursing pads are handy in a pinch but have a plastic sticker backing that doesn’t allow them to dry. This keeps the moisture against your skin until you remove them.
- Reusable pads are made from breathable layers of fabric to pull the liquid away from your skin and can be thrown in with the laundry at the end of the day for a quick wash before you use them again.
Breastfeeding moms can experience sore nipples as their body adjusts to its new demands. Nipple cream is soothing and heals dry, cracked nipples when applied between nursing sessions.
Always read the directions of the brand you choose, but most creams can be left on the skin and don’t need to be wiped off before your baby’s next feeding time.
A nursing cover can provide privacy for a mom breastfeeding when in public, or help a distracted baby stay focused on eating. If you want to use a nursing cover, it’s essential to find one that’s easy to put on and that you can adjust without it falling off.
There are covers with a single strap that wraps behind your neck and a structured top lining to hold the fabric away from your chest—so you can make eye contact with your baby. Others fit more like a stretchy scarf or poncho that you put over your head and pull down around your baby like a blanket.
This is a must-have breastfeeding product for any nursing mom that needs to give her arms a break. Long feeding sessions are much more enjoyable when you have a firm pillow to support most of your baby’s weight.
The Feeding Pillow fits on your lap and curves to both sides of your body to help hold your little one in various positions.
A breastfeeding pillow allows you to be somewhat hands-free while you feed your baby. This can be a great time for a snack or to read a book.
Another option for treating sore nipples is to cover them with gel pads when you’re not nursing your baby. Pop the gel pads in the fridge for a welcomed cooling effect. Sore nipples are sensitive to fabric rubbing against them so the gel pads can create a barrier between your skin and your bra or shirt.
Water Bottle and Snacks
New moms need to stay well nourished and hydrated as their body heals and their milk supply becomes established. The first few postpartum weeks come with an overflow of new responsibilities, and cooking may not be high in your priorities.
A few healthy snacks within reach of your nursing spot may be the best way to keep up with your nutritional needs. A large water bottle with a straw is easiest to sip from in most breastfeeding positions and requires fewer refills.
If you have a partner supporting you in your breastfeeding journey, task them with filling your water bottle and bringing you something to eat. This is convenient for you and can help them feel included in the breastfeeding process as well.
Go into the app store on your smartphone and search for a breastfeeding app. You’ll get a long list of results that can help you document your nursing sessions over time.
Most are free to download and will keep track of the date, feeding start time, how long your baby nursed for, feeding end time, the time between feeds, which breast your baby nursed from, and other helpful information.
Having this data logged into the app on your phone can be a lifesaver at night when you want to be sure you’ve emptied both breasts, but you can’t remember which side you last fed your baby on. Forgetting to switch sides even one time can lead to painful engorgement when you wake up a few hours later.
Dedicate a pleasant seating area for breastfeeding. Sitting in a relaxed position while nursing your baby gives you both the ability to effectively practice proper placement and technique.
According to the CDC, your baby will need to be fed 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period for the first few months of their life. When you’re breastfeeding that often, you need a sturdy comfortable chair.
The Gliders available at Nurture& have a spacious design with adjustable headrests, recline, and a smooth gliding motion. If you don’t want to recline you can kick your feet up on a matching ottoman to get cozy.
There are countless breastfeeding products on the market. Not all of them are necessary to successfully breastfeed your little one, but certain situations might call for a few extras.
Place this handheld gadget against your breast tissue and the vibration it emits will stimulate your milk ducts to get ready for a release. Using a lactation massager directly before breastfeeding coaxes a quicker letdown once your baby has latched.
Some massagers include a warming mode to help with engorgement relief and loosening clogged ducts. The first time you wake up to find that your baby slept through the night, you’ll be happy you have one of these.
Breast Therapy Packs
Much like the lactation massager, therapy packs filled with gel beads can encourage milk flow and soothe breast pain. What makes them different is that you have the choice to use them warm or cold.
After time in the refrigerator, the cold pack helps to relieve inflammation that sometimes comes with clogged ducts. Warm the pack up in the microwave to use it as a heating pad to soften the breast so your baby can latch easier.
Breast Milk Storage Bags
If you’ve purchased a breast pump with the intent of collecting full servings of breast milk for your little one, then you’ll need special bags to store it. Most breast milk storage bags have units of measure printed on them and space to write so you can keep track of how much is in the bag and when you pumped it.
Depending on the type of pump you have, you may be able to pump directly into a storage bag, or you may have to pump into the attached bottle and transfer to the bag once you’re done.
Hands-Free Pumping Bra
Electric breast pumps can be cumbersome, especially if you want to pump from both sides at once. A pumping bra fits around you like any other bra but has openings in the front of each cup that hold the pump parts in place.
Multitasking moms can appreciate the freedom this kind of product gives when their hands aren’t occupied for an entire pumping session.
After all the hard work you’ve done pumping precious liquid gold for your baby, you’ll need to defrost and warm up the breast milk you’ve been saving. Breastfed babies tend to favor warm milk since they’re used to drinking it at body temperature.
A milk warmer can quickly heat up a refrigerated or frozen bag of breast milk without making it too hot for your baby to drink. Look for a warmer that circulates water as a heating method to retain the integrity of your breast milk’s nutrients.
Each breastfeeding experience is different and you can pick and choose which products are most helpful to your situation. Be open to trying different brands and styles if your first attempt with these essentials isn’t giving you the results you wanted.
While you’re here, check out the nursery and newborn essentials offered by Nurture& where everything is made for parents, by parents.