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The Top Breastfeeding Essentials

Some items can really help you when you're nursing your baby. Here are the top breastfeeding essentials I recommend to new moms.

Published November 25, 2018

by Nina Spears

The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert
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So you’re planning on breastfeeding your baby. Awesome! It may seem like all you need is your baby and your boobs (which is kind of true), but there are some breastfeeding essentials that can help with your breastfeeding journey.

My Top Breastfeeding Essentials

1. Comfortable Place To Sit

The very first thing that you need when you are breastfeeding is a comfortable place to sit. Getting comfortable and in a good position is everything. For experienced breastfeeding moms, you can breastfeed almost anywhere. However, for new moms, feeling anxious and uncomfortable or being in an awkward position can affect your let-down (important) and prevent you from getting a good latch. Find somewhere you will have good back support, and it’s even better if you can put your feet up!

2. Nipple Cream

You may think you don’t need nipple cream. Maybe because you’re going to use coconut oil or breast milk as your “ointment.” However, using the correct type of cream or ointment can prevent the drying and cracking of your nipples. It can help the speed of healing. Nipple cream is definitely a breastfeeding essential.

Remember, your baby will ingest anything you apply to the nipple area while nursing, so it’s essential to use products that are known to be safe. Some people swear by lanolin, yet there are a lot of products that now say they are “lanolin-free.” So what’s that all about? If you don’t know, lanolin is the discharge from a sheep’s sebaceous glands. It is used in many cosmetics, from lip balms to breastfeeding creams.1 Although it has been proven highly effective in soothing and healing chapped skin, researchers have found that lanolin contains pesticides.2 This is because the wool is soaked in chemicals to remove parasites before the lanolin is scoured out of it. At the moment, there are no truly organic lanolin options out there.

These days, thankfully, lanolin-free nipple creams are easily found. Some of the nipple creams that I highly recommend are Motherlove, Earth Mama, and Bamboobies.

Motherlove diaper balm
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Earth mama nipple butter
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Bamboobies nipple balm
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3. Breastfeeding Pillow

Breastfeeding pillows are a breastfeeding mom’s best friend because they relieve your back, neck, spine, and arms. A breastfeeding pillow is definitely a top breastfeeding essential. The primary function of the pillow is to bring your baby close to your body and your breasts. This is important if you want your little one to get a good latch and keep you comfortable during the process. It also can be a great option if you are recovering from a C-section. It protects the incision site and keeps direct pressure off of it, which helps your incision heal faster. My favorites are Boppy, My Brest Friend, and Ergobaby.

Boppy support nursing pillow
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My Brest Friend nursing pillow
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Ergobaby nursing pillow
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4. Breastfeeding App

It’s essential to know how often you feed your baby and for how long. Your pediatrician will ask you how often your baby eats and how many wet and dirty diapers a day your baby is making. Since mom brain can happen, you may forget the details if your baby isn’t making enough wet and dirty diapers. You may forget when you started your baby’s last feeding and which breast you ended with.

Recording these things in a notebook is always nice, but having an app on your phone is way more convenient if you are out and about with your little one. You may not remember to bring your notebook or forget where you last put it. (I’ve had this happen to a few moms I’ve worked with.) And if a family member gives your baby a bottle, some apps provide them access to the app so they can document the feeding they gave baby. I recommend these apps: Breastfeeding Central, Baby Connect, and Nursing Timer. And see more of our favorite baby apps for new parents.

5. Water Bottle

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Mothers who don’t stay hydrated have lower milk supplies, so drink enough water throughout your day. You should drink the standard six to eight glasses of water a day but don’t overdo it. Consuming more than six to eight glasses will not help you make more milk or provide additional benefits. Drinking excessive water has been shown to drop a mother’s milk supply.3 A big reason for this is that excess water can fill you up. If you fill up on so many fluids that you’re not hungry, you may not eat enough food to get the calories and nutrients you need to help build your milk supply.

Hydro flask
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6. Milk-Savers and Haakaa

As your baby is nursing on one side, it also causes your other breast to leak. Since I’ve worked with many mothers with milk supply issues, I’m all about saving every drop. I love the Haakaa and Milk-Saver from Milkies because they do just that! Many mothers have cried over their spilled breast milk or because they are not producing enough breast milk. These products help you collect as much of your milk as possible. Two thumbs up, and definitely a breastfeeding essential!

haakaa breast pump
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Milkies Milk-Saver
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7. Nursing Cover

I want all moms to feel comfortable breastfeeding no matter where they are. Get one if you feel more confident and comfortable breastfeeding in public with a cover! You shouldn’t have to rush home, hide in a room or bathroom, or feel like you have to pump every time you are going to be in public and your baby needs to eat. Some of the nursing covers that I recommend are Milk SnobBébé au Lait, and Itzy Ritzy.

Milk snob nursing cover
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Bebe au lait nursing cover
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Itzy Ritzy nursing cover
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8. Lactation Tea

For mothers who see a drop in their milk supply, drinking certain teas may help increase it. A decrease in your supply can happen during illness, returning to work or school, surgery, etc. There are teas on the market specifically made to increase your quantity and quality of milk. Not every breastfeeding mom needs herbs to establish a good supply, but I love how this is an option for women looking for other alternatives. My absolute favorite brand that I highly recommend is Birds & Bees Teas. Their “Our Lady of La Leche” is terrific! Check out more of our favorite products to help boost milk supply.

Birds & Bees Teas, Our Lady of La Leche Tea
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9. Breast Pump

It’s unrealistic to think you will ALWAYS be able to nurse your child. That’s why having a breast pump is a breastfeeding essential. You may need to give your nipples a break from breastfeeding and pumping, or you may want to catch up on some sleep or run some errands and want your partner or a family member to help with feeding, etc. Thank goodness we have breast pumps so women can still give their babies breast milk even when they can’t nurse. The pumps that I love (for purchase) are the Spectra S1 Breast Pump, Willow Pump, BabyBuddha Breast Pump, and Motif Medical Breast Pump. Instead of owning your own, there are also hospital-grade breast pumps that you can rent.

Spectra S1 Breast Pump
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Willow breast pump
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BabyBuddha Breast Pump
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Motif Medical Breast Pump
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10. Breastmilk Storage Bags

After you pump, you need to be able to store your breastmilk. Instead of keeping each amount you pumped in a breastmilk collection bottle, I recommend purchasing breast milk storage bags. This way, you will be able to save much more for the future and emergencies. Also, you can donate extra breast milk if they are frozen in storage bags! Breastmilk storage bags definitely have a spot on my breastfeeding essentials list. Here are four brands of collection bags that you can purchase: Medela Pump & Save Bags, Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags, Nanobébé Storage System, Zip Top Breast Milk Storage Set, and Junobie. Junobie is the first eco-friendly and reusable breast milk storage bag, which is pretty amazing!

If you want more information on properly collecting and storing breast milk, read this.

Medela Pump & Save Bags
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Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags
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Nanobébé Storage System
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Zip Top Breast Milk Storage Set
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JUNOBIE Breastmilk Storage Bags
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11. Nursing Bra & Tank

Every breastfeeding mom needs a good nursing bra and tank. Actually, she needs a few! When you have a hungry/screaming baby, you can’t get to the boob fast enough. I really like Bravado Designs’ nursing bras and tanks. Check them out! You’ll also want to invest in a good robe and nursing gown for nighttime and those early days at home.

Bravado Designs nursing bra
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Kindred Bravely Maternity and Nursing Tank
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Kindred Bravely Nursing Bra
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12. Belly Bandit Hot/Cold Gel Pack

The Belly Bandit Hot/Cold Breast Therapy Gel Pack will be your new best friend. These reusable, ergonomically shaped compresses provide hot and cold therapy to address common feeding and pumping ailments, including engorgement, clogged ducts, and mastitis. They can be heated or cooled to give you the perfect relief for sore/tender breasts. You will be so grateful that you have them!

Belly Bandit Hot/Cold Breast Therapy Gel Pack
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13. Nursing Pads

Leakage happens. Instead of soaking your nursing bra and your tank or top before or after a feeding, you will want to have some nursing pads to absorb any extra milk. The last thing you would want to happen is to be out somewhere, and then suddenly, your breasts let down, and you start leaking through your shirt. That’s a little embarrassing. There are different nursing pad options available to help prevent this. There are also disposable or washable/reusable nursing pads that you can purchase. Go for Bamboobies’ Disposable Nursing Pads and Bamboobies’ Washable Nursing Pads. They’re my fave!

These are also included in my ULTIMATE Hospital Bag Checklist. 🙂

Bamboobies Disposable Nursing Pads
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Bamboobies' Washable Nursing Pads
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14. Maternity Robe, Nursing Dress & Baby Blanket Set

Babies want to eat throughout the day and night. This is why it’s good to have a nice robe and nursing gown so you can comfortably feed your baby any time during the day or night in your home. You will most likely live in this robe and nursing gown after giving birth. I love that this robe is feminine, dark (to hide baby stains), and matches baby.

mom wearing her nursing gown and robe while holding her baby swaddled in a matching blanket - mommy and me set
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15. Burp Cloths & Bibs

Spit-up happens. Even when breastfeeding. It’s a good idea to have something on hand that will keep you and your baby clean if baby just so happens to have a little spit-up. These muslin Burp cloths from Little Unicorn are one of my favorites. They are also thicker and more absorbent than most burp cloths. Their bibs are also super soft, absorbent, and perfect for feeding. Definitely a breastfeeding must-have!

Little Unicorn muslin burp cloths
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Little Unicorn bibs
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16. Lactation Consultant

I know that a lactation consultant is not a product, but they’re someone who can turn your breastfeeding experience around if you’re having difficulty. Make sure you visit a local IBCLC if you are having major issues. You can make an appointment to see one, or you can make an appointment for her to come to your home. Another great option is to visit one of your local La Leche League groups for support.

I hope you enjoyed my breastfeeding essentials! What are some products for breastfeeding that you couldn’t live without?

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Nina Spears The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert
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Nina is The Baby Chick® & Editor-in-Chief of Baby Chick®. She received her baby planning certification in early 2011 and began attending births that same year. Since then, Nina has… Read more

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