Breastfeeding Must Haves – Nursing Essentials For Feeding Success
Are you a mom preparing to breastfeed your baby? Are you wondering what the breastfeeding essentials are or what to add to your breastfeeding supplies list? It can be overwhelming to try to figure out what you need as you prepare for a new baby!
You have to build your baby registry (read about my baby registry must haves and print a list for that here), you are deciding what to pack in your hospital bag (read and print my hospital bag checklist here), and you are preparing for the new experience of learning to breastfeed your sweet little baby.
When my first daughter arrived I was surprised by the learning curve of breastfeeding! It was so much harder and more painful than I expected. I always thought that it was a natural process that somehow my body would just know how to do with my baby. I found instead that it required specific technique. I was also VERY unprepared in terms of breastfeeding supplies. I didn’t have multiple of the breastfeeding essentials listed below. If you are planning to breastfeed your baby there really are some breastfeeding specific items that I think you will be glad to have!
It is my hope that preparing for breastfeeding and stocking up on these breastfeeding supplies can make your experience of learning to breastfeed a little bit easier!
(NOTE: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase an item through one of my links I make a commission on your purchase – at no additional expense to you! Read my full disclosure here.)
Here are the breastfeeding essentials that I recommend:
1. Nursing Bras or Tanks
The number one on my list of breastfeeding essentials that I recommend is nursing bras or tanks! These are a piece of breastfeeding supplies that I did not have when my first daughter was born and I realized quick how much I needed them! It is VERY difficult to nurse a baby without nursing bras or tanks that allow you to easily access the source of baby’s food when needed. I’ve found it helpful to have a combination of both the bras and tanks. I don’t prefer to wear the tanks out, but they are extremely nice when I know I’m just home for the day. The bras are nice when you want access for feeding without adding a second layer by wearing a tank under your shirt.
If you’re looking for an affordable option for nursing tanks (some of them are quite pricey!) I’ve been pretty happy with these, available on Amazon. They aren’t super supportive but they are cute and get the job done for an affordable price.
2. Boppy Pillow
For me, a basic Boppy pillow is among breastfeeding essentials for both the comfort it brings and the way it helps my baby to get a good full feeding. If I’m away from home I can feed my baby without it, but it is FAR more comfortable to position my baby with a basic Boppy pillow for feedings. The basic u-shaped Boppy pillow wraps around your waist at just the right height to allow you to comfortably position your baby to your chest. There are various other types of breastfeeding pillows out there, but I have been very happy using the basic Boppy for both of my babies. For my second baby I kept one Boppy pillow upstairs in the nursery for overnight feedings and one downstairs in the living room for all of her feedings during the day.
Some other alternatives to the basic u-shaped Boppy pillow include Boppy’s Two-Sided Breastfeeding Pillow, an adjustable nursing pillow like the Infantino Elevate, or one like My Brest Friend’s Original Nursing Posture Pillow.
You can successfully nurse a baby without a nursing cover I’m sure, but I would find it extremely difficult! A nursing cover makes my list of breastfeeding essentials because without it you can’t nurse your baby in public without more exposure than I’m comfortable with! I don’t enjoy nursing with a cover, but it’s a piece of breastfeeding supplies that is a necessary evil in my book.
With my first daughter I used an apron nursing cover like this one. With my second daughter I also purchased a multi-purpose breastfeeding cover and car seat canopy like this one. I found the car seat canopy type very helpful if I was nursing where my back would be exposed without it. I also liked that I never had to worry about the wind blowing it or my baby pulling it aside. However, I preferred the visibility of my baby that the apron version provided.
I ended up switching back and forth between both version with my second baby depending on where I was and what I was wearing. (We did also use the car seat canopy version to cover our car seat!) You can also purchase infinity scarf nursing covers. I have not personally used one of that version, but I have some friends who have!
4. Breast Pads
Breast pads are absolutely among breastfeeding essentials for me. If you don’t have any of these on your breastfeeding supplies list you will probably regret it! I didn’t use them heavily with my first daughter when I struggled with my milk supply, but with my second daughter they were a must have. I could get away with not wearing them during the day, but if I didn’t wear them overnight I would wake up with wet clothing. They are also very helpful to wear with nursing tanks that may not have any other padding.
This is among the breastfeeding essentials for me in the first several weeks after delivery. It’s a piece of breastfeeding supplies that I don’t really touch after that initial time period, but it is hugely helpful at the start of your nursing journey. Breastfeeding is often difficult and very painful when you begin. Lanolin cream helps to relieve some of the soreness when applied between feedings. I’ve been happy using Lansinoh’s Lanolin Cream, but there are also organic herbal salves like this one by MotherLove that also help to relieve nipple soreness.
6. Breast Pump
For me a breast pump is definitely among the breastfeeding essentials. You could successfully nurse a baby without it I’m sure, but in my opinion it would be far more difficult! With my first baby my milk supply did not come in within a healthy time frame and I ended up needing to pump to get my supply to come in. Having a breast pump as a part of your breastfeeding supplies is also extremely helpful for creating a breastmilk freezer stash if you are going back to work or want to give your baby the bottle for an evening out. It has also been a breastfeeding essential for me when I’ve experienced engorgement as I can pump to help relieve some of the pain.
NOTE: Before you purchase a breast pump, make sure you check with your insurance company! Some companies offer them free of charge to expecting mothers. We were able to get ours that way!
In addition to an electric breast pump (I’ve been happy with my Medela Pump In Style Advanced) I also have a manual breast pump. My Medela manual breast pump has been a helpful piece of breastfeeding supplies if I am pumping in the car while away for an evening or when I need to just quickly pump a little bit overnight to relieve engorgement pain.
If you are a first time mom preparing to breastfeed your baby you can also read my tips for pumping and storing breastmilk here.
If you are planning to pump and store any of your breastmilk then I would also add breastmilk storage bags to your list of breastfeeding essentials. I’ve heard other ways of storing breastmilk, like using ice cube trays, but for me the easiest way to store and reheat breastmilk is by using breastmilk storage bags like these made by Lansinoh. The bags are easy to label with the date and amount. They also make it easy to refrigerate or freeze whatever portion you would like to store and they also make the milk very easy to reheat. I simply put the bag into a bowl full of hot water and give it a few minutes to warm before pouring it into a bottle.
If you are planning to store any of your breastmilk then I highly recommend adding some breastmilk storage bags to your list of breastfeeding supplies.
I hesitated to add this one to a list of breastfeeding essentials. You can definitely breastfeed successfully without the use of any bottles. However, I decided to add them because they are a piece of breastfeeding supplies that was somewhat necessary for me, especially with my first daughter. As I mentioned above, my milk supply was an issue with my first daughter. Therefore, in order for her to get a full feeding there were many times when I needed to supplement her feeding with pumped milk or formula. I could not have done that easily without the use of some bottles! Bottles will also be necessary if you plan to utilize any pumped milk when away from your baby over a feeding.
There are A LOT of different types of bottles out there and I have found that each of my girls did well with different types of bottles. You may have to test out a few kinds to find one your baby will take if they are particular like my girls were. My first daughter used Tommy Tippy Anti-Colic bottles well. For my second daughter the flow of the Tommy Tippy bottles seemed too fast for her and we tried several kinds until we got her to take Comotomo bottles. I’ve also had several friends who love Dr. Browns bottles and some that use Phillips Avent.
The biggest advice that I can offer when deciding which bottles to try is to be conscious of the nipple flow of each kind. This seemed to be what made or broke some of them, especially for my second daughter.
UPDATE: At 2 months old my second daughter started to refuse the Comotomo bottles and we FINALLY got her to then take the Nuk Simply Natural bottles. You can read my more thorough review of each bottle type in my post Best Bottles For Breastfed Babies – 8 Top Bottles Ranked & Reviewed.
If you are preparing to breastfeed a new baby then I hope that this list of breastfeeding essentials was helpful to you! Breastfeeding is a natural process and so I am sure you could probably nurse your baby well without any breastfeeding supplies. However, I have found each of these items to be specifically helpful throughout my time of feeding each of my daughters.
If you are planning to pump and store any of your breast milk be sure to also read my post on pumping and storage tips.
I also found it extremely helpful to take a breastfeeding class before my first daughter was born. It was actually the only birth related class that I took and I didn’t regret it! We had a free class available to us through our local birthing hospital. If you don’t have that available to you or prefer to learn from the comfort of your home, learn more about Milkology’s online class taught by a certified lactation educator here.
Milkology also has a class on pumping for moms planning to return to work after the birth of their baby. You can learn more about that class here.
If you are planning to breastfeed and pump for your baby you can also read an overview and pumping tips from The Bump HERE.
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