Breasts? Check. Baby? Check. You might think that’s all you need for breastfeeding, but there are great products out there to make nursing your child easier on both of you. Some may surprise you, and others will become your new can’t-live-without-it favorite. If you choose to breastfeed, read on for nursing essentials you need throughout your breastfeeding journey.
Prenatal vitamins. Yes, you’re post-natal, but many health-care professionals recommend continuing to take them while you breastfeed so you and baby can get essential nutrients. Talk to your doctor about what vitamins you need.
Burp cloths. You probably got cute cloths at your baby shower, but a plain cloth diaper is also an excellent way to protect your clothing and wipe baby’s face after a spit-up situation.
Nipple shields. A thin, clear silicone nipple shield can help baby latch if they’re having trouble learning how or if you have flat or inverted nipples.
Nursing pillows. Read about 10 top nursing pillows, including the Béaba Big Flopsy (pictured), to find your favorite, and check out the new Humble-Bee Nurse-sling, an innovative option that holds your baby at the right angle for feeding.
Nursing apps. You don’t have to remember which side you last nursed on, when baby nursed or any other important nursing data if you download an app to do it for you. Many apps will also track diaper changes, nap schedules and health history so you have all of your baby data in one spot. Check out awesome organizational apps for new moms.
Lactation consultants. If breastfeeding is painful or you’re concerned about whether baby is getting enough milk, talk to a lactation consultant. If you can’t find one in your area, there are online companies, like Tinyhood, where you can talk to an expert by text, phone or video and take online breastfeeding classes.
Nipple creams. Soothe sore, dry, cracked nipples with breast milk, coconut oil, lanolin or a nipple cream. If you buy a cream, look for one that doesn’t need to be washed off before baby nurses.
Nursing Pads. Disposable or reusable breast pads can comfort sore nipples and protect against leaks that stain your clothes—and can be super embarrassing.
Breast pain relievers. The LaVie Warming Lactation Massager (pictured) can soften the breast to aid latching, work out clogged ducts and reduce engorgement. Microwave the donut-shaped Milkease pillow and apply to your breast before nursing (or pumping; more on that later) to reduce discomfort or quicken milk flow or production. Lil’buds Breast Comfort Packs from Lillemer can be used either hot to clear clogged ducts, increase milk production and relieve pain, or cold to help relieve engorgement.
Motorized breast pumps. Many insurance companies cover the cost of a breast pump, which is great. But there are sometimes restrictions, and you might want or need a different kind of pump. Medela allows you to rent a hospital-grade pump, the Medela Symphony, through its breast pump rental program.
Recent innovations have made pumping more comfortable, convenient and discreet:
- The Motif Luna Double Electric Breast Pump (pictured) can deliver more milk in less time and comes with a night light for pumping while your baby or partner is sleeping. The company has also launched a battery-powered version.
- The Freemie Liberty Mobile Breast Pump is a rechargeable, battery-powered pump with a sleep timer, so you can doze off while pumping.
- Willow is another great option in wearable breast pumps; it’s cord-free and lets you pump in any position without leaking. Pump into a reusable container or spill-proof storage bags. It also connects to an app that tracks milk volume, pump time, and past pumping sessions.
Manual pumps. Many breastfeeding women love the convenience of a hand pump like the Haakaa. It’s quiet and doesn’t require batteries or an outlet, so it’s great for late nights, air travel and road trips. You can use a hand pump to increase supply, catch leaking milk while baby is nursing on the other breast, and relieve pressure before nursing if you’re engorged.
Pumping accessories. A hands-free pumping bra is a must with a traditional breast pump. There’s a slit in each cup of these clever bras that allow you to slip the flanges into the bra and connect the bottles and hoses outside it. We like the Larken X Nursing and Hands-Free Pumping Relaxed Bra. And speaking of flanges, the right-size flanges can make a difference in pumping output. If you’re concerned about milk production, confirm you’re using the correct size flange for your breasts.
Storage & cleaning. When choosing a breastmilk storage bag, look for a durable bag with a double seal to prevent leaks. We love the Kiinde Twist Pouch. You can pump directly into the pre-sterilized pouch, and there’s a twist-on cap to eliminate leaks. The bags come in 6-ounce and 8-ounce sizes. Kiinde also makes a breastmilk warmer, the Kozii Warmer, that safely thaws and warms milk in bags or bottles. Finally, for cleaning, Dapple Baby’s Bottle & Dish Soap cleans bottles, breast pump parts, pacifiers and more. Choose the fragrance-free scent if baby is sensitive to new smells.
Milk coolers. If you're pumping at work, on outings or while traveling, you need a sturdy insulated bag for toting your pumped milk. We love the Milk Stork Chill, which keeps 20 ounces of milk cool for up to 20 hours, thanks to vacuum-insulated panels and reusable ice packs (included). In navy blue nylon with an adjustable black shoulder strap, it looks like a lunch tote for maximum discretion.
Breastmilk insulated coolers. Many diaper bags come with insulated cooling bags or compartments. If yours doesn’t and you don’t want to buy yet another baby thing, consider an insulated lunch box with an ice pack to keep bottles cool when you’re out and about.
Water bottle. Breastfeeding makes you super thirsty, so a water bottle is an absolute must. Choose a bottle that's easy to clean and not too heavy to carry, since you’ll also be lugging baby’s bottles and gear.
Lip balm. Your lips are likely to dry out from breastfeeding, and the right lip balm keeps your lips soft for all those baby kisses. We love the FOUR: Organic Lip Balm, which contains only four ingredients (beeswax, coconut oil, jojoba oil and peppermint oil) so you’re not putting anything on your body that’s unsafe for baby.
Lip balm holder. Yes, this is a thing, and you’ll wonder how you lived without it. Between lack of sleep and mom brain, you’ll often be lucky to find your purse, let alone the lip balm within it. The LippyClip (pictured) is a lip balm holder that attaches to your diaper bag, keys, cell phone case, backpack, stroller or wrist. It comes in lots of colors and trendy patterns, so you’ll want to get a bunch of them.
Nursing cover. It’s legal to breastfeed in all 50 states, but you may feel more comfortable with a nursing cover. Use a swaddling blanket or scarf if you don’t want to buy a separate product, but a cover can offer you more privacy and convenience. Copper Pearl's multi-use covers are snug and comfortable for nursing and can also be used as a car seat cover, shopping cart cover, high seat cover and infinity scarf. You’ll love the practicality and the amazing patterns they come in.
Lactation drink powders. Majka’s Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder (pictured) combines vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and lactation-supporting herbs into a powder you can add to your favorite smoothie or other snacks. Majka also offers powdered lactation boosters and yummy lactation bites. If juice is more your style, try Milky Mama's Lactation Drink Powders. Available in lemonade, fruit punch and watermelon flavors, these refreshing juice mixes are full of milk-making herbs and free of dairy, soy and fenugreek.
Lactation tea & coffee. A hot beverage is a soothing way to get your lactation support and extra hydration. Munchkin's Milkmakers tea contains ingredients such as fennel seed and nettle to support milk production, and UpSpring's Milkflow Fenugreek + Blessed Thistle Lactation Supplement Coffee Drink Mix blends two milk-boosting herbs with naturally occurring caffeine.
Lactation treats. New moms deserve all the snacks. The Happy Mama Lactation Cookies, from Happy Family Organics, come in cinnamon & oat or chocolate, oat & sea salt. Both flavors contain brewer's yeast, flax and oats, important nutrients (including iron, vitamin D and folic acid), and DHA to support baby's brain and eye health. Milky Mama brownies satisfy chocolate cravings and contain ingredients that support lactation, and UpSpring’s Milkflow lactation cookies, with fenugreek and blessed thistle, come in oatmeal raisin and double chocolate chip. Milkful lactation bars are filled with rolled oats, brewer’s yeast, flax seed and meal, black sesame seeds, walnuts and almonds to boost energy and give moms valuable nutrients. They’re free of the common allergens wheat, dairy, soy and eggs.
Talk to your health care provider or lactation consultant before taking any snacks or supplements to boost your milk supply or overall nutritional intake.
—Eva Ingvarson Cerise