Inside: Whether you’re on the brink of quitting breastfeeding or you haven’t even started yet – here are the top breastfeeding must haves every breastfeeding and soon-to-be breast is best mama needs in her life. This post contains affiliate links. Read our disclosure here.
Breast is best… or so they say.
But what about when your breasts are cracked, chapped, and blistered? Is breast really best if you’re suffering?
Breastfeeding is easy. Until you do it.
So, what can you do when breastfeeding gets hard? Throw in the towel and purchase a Costco-size pack of formula? But what if you want to keep breastfeeding through the pain?
If you’re determined to keep breastfeeding, here’s what you need to know…
Breastfeeding Survival Kit
Before having baby, and even after delivering, many people will tell you things you need to have as a new mom. New mom must-haves that you can’t live without.
But when that list becomes 5 pages long and you’re contemplating taking out a second mortgage on the house just to cover the costs of parenthood… you’re going to start wondering what items are actually breastfeeding essentials, and what things can you live without.
Without further ado, let’s go over a quick list of breastfeeding must haves that won’t break the bank but will make breastfeeding easier.
Breastfeeding Must Haves
These are the breastfeeding essentials you are going to want to have ready and on hand for when baby comes.
• Customizable settings & accessories.
• Easy portability built in to its discreet tote bag & equipped with a portable battery pack and everything you need for pumping on the go.
If you’re going to be spending any time at all away from baby in the first six months, even just an evening, you’re going to want to have some breast milk in the freezer. To do this, you’ll need a breast pump – specifically, an electric breast pump if you don’t want to wear your hands out.
Breast pumps can also be used to build up your milk supply if you feel it isn’t enough or if it starts dwindling in the first few months with baby.
The Medela Pump in Style Advanced is our top pick when it comes to electric breast pumps. Complete with a double breast pump, a carrying case, and everything you need to pump as well as customizable settings and accessories. It also comes with a cooler bag and ice pack, as well as 4 bottles with lids, which make pumping on the go or at work a breeze.
• Quick relief for sore nipples. Thick, rich cream soothes and protects sore nipples.
• #1 recommended brand. Clinically tested, proven, and ultra-pure.
Breastfeeding nipples often get sore and cracked in the early days, especially if your baby doesn’t have a proper latch. Trying to continue breastfeeding when every nursing session makes you want to scream isn’t fun. That’s why nipple cream is a nursing essential.
Not only does this Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream provide quick relief to sore nipples, it’s also 100% natural and hypoallergenic with no preservatives, parabens, fragrances, or taste, which makes it a completely safe bet for both mom and baby.
• Discreet & convenient; these nursing pads feature a contoured shape for a comfortable & discreet fit even when wet.
• Super soft comfort thanks to a quilted honeycomb layer for a dry and comfortable feeling.
The first few weeks of breastfeeding can be soggy ones. While your body works to figure out how much milk to make to match your newborn’s demands, there will be some leakage happening.
Lansinoh Stay Dry Nursing Pads keep milk leakage on the inside of your clothes, rather than letting it seep through your bra and shirt, which you’ll be especially thankful for when you’re in public.
• No underwire and cups that drop fully away from the breast for breastfeeding.
• Wireless and seamless design.
Newborns nurse 8 – 12 times a day, which means you’re going to spend a lot of time pulling your boobs out of your bra. A good nursing bra is the most essential piece of clothing you can buy. You can get away without nursing tops, but a nursing bra is a must-have for quick, easy access.
The GXXGE Nursing Bra has a mesh, breathable design, adjustable straps, has buttery-soft fabric, and is seamless, and has no underwire which is so important as you will likely spend most nights in these bras, too.
• Dual anti-colic vents prevent unwanted air-intake and reduce colic. Ideal for breastfed babies.
• Ultra wide-neck design allows easy cleaning by hand without a brush. Nipple and body is made of 100% safe hygienic silicone.
Bottles are a lifesaver. If you plan on spending any amount of time away from baby, someone’s going to need to be able to feed her when she gets hungry.
The Comotomo Baby Bottle is specifically designed to most closely mimic breastfeeding, which helps reduce the chances of bottle rejection and nipple confusion. The dual air vents prevent unwanted air-intake and reduce colic. These are the ideal bottles for breastfed babies.
• Structured neckline so you can see your baby while nursing or easily place pumps while pumping.
• The nursing cover is machine washable for easy care.
While some moms choose not to use a nursing cover, if you do plan on using one, we recommend the Boppy Nursing Cover. It offers full coverage for both nursing and pumping, has a SlideLine ring which helps you remember which side you nursed on or pumped from last, the rigid neckline allows you to easily see your baby and keeps the cover off of baby’s face, has a front pouch and is machine washable.
• Stand or lay flat for compact storage. Easy to use with write-on label and convenient pour spout.
• Pump directly into Lansinoh breastmilk storage bags for convenience and reduced waste.
Milk storage bags are an essential if you plan on expressing milk to store for later use. With these breast milk storage bags, you can pump directly into the bags to save time and eliminate that extra step.
The Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags come pre-sterilized and have a double zipper seal which make them perfect for storing, freezing and protecting your liquid gold. They also have a write-on label so you can track the date, time, and volume of milk pumped.
• Firm & Flat: Prevents baby from rolling out of position during nursing.
• Handy pouch keeps your maternity supplies within easy reach.
Using a nursing pillow has several benefits, with the biggest benefit being supporting baby at the right height for breastfeeding to alleviate strain in your back, neck, and arms.
The My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow has a wrap-around design which surrounds your whole body, offering ideal nursing posture and back relief.
• Set includes four flannel blankets. Measures 28x28 inches.
• Soft and gentle on baby's skin.
Receiving blankets can be used for many different uses in the breastfeeding world. From keeping baby warm to wiping up spit up and stopping a leaking boob, these are something you’re going to want to have several of.
The Luvable Friends Cotton Receiving Blankets are a favorite. They are 100% cotton, making them soft and gentle on baby’s skin and they measure 28 x 28 inches, making them large enough to offer privacy and coverage in a pinch without being so big that they’re difficult to handle.
Breastfeeding Must Haves: The Non-Essentials
The following breastfeeding products are nice to have and will help you have an easier and better time adjusting to breastfeeding, but if your budget is tight, they are not essential to breastfeeding.
• Made of 100% ultra-thin and soft silicone & featuring a unique design with a cut-out area that encourages maximum skin contact between you and your baby.
• Our contact nipple shields are and have always been made without BPA.
Nipple shields give a layer of protection between baby’s mouth and your nipples to ease breastfeeding pain, all while feeling natural for your baby. They also make breastfeeding easier with flat or inverted nipples, as well as an overactive letdown.
The Medela Contact Nipple Shield is made from 100% ultra-thin and soft silicone and features a unique design with a cut-out area that encourages maximum skin-to-skin contact between you and baby.
• It is designed to hold bottles and shield in place securely and comfortably.
• Comfortable materials: You can wear it all day long and allows you to go about your normal routine.
If you’re going to spend much time pumping, a hands-free pumping bra frees up your hands while you pump.
The Momcozy Hands Free Pumping Bra can be used for both breastfeeding and pumping. The bra is designed to hold the shields and bottles in place securely and is fully adjustable so you can find the most comfortable fit.
• Use it on long distance trips, or anywhere you would like to express silently, discreetly and quickly.
• While breastfeeding, attach it to the lateral breast to catch any let-down that would otherwise be lost in a disposable nursing pads.
When it comes to manual breast pumps, the Haakaa breast pump is award-winning and a best-seller. Simply squeeze and attach to your breast, and the Haakaa does the rest.
The Haakaa Manual Breast Pump can be used while breastfeeding, too, to catch any let-down that would otherwise go to waste. If you want to pump silently and discreetly, the Haakaa makes no noise whatsoever and is small enough to easily use anywhere.
• Thoroughly disinfects in about 3 minutes: designed for Efficient, effective sanitization.
• Made without BPA. Made with food contact grade materials. Reusable.
With pumping comes spending large amounts of time boiling and sanitizing all your pumping parts after each use. Washing and sanitizing pumping parts multiple times a can feel like a waste of time.
The Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags does all the work for you. All you have to do is place any parts that need to be cleaned in the bag with some water and stick it in the microwave. In about 3 minutes all your accessories will be disinfected. You can use these quick-clean bags to sanitize things like most breast pump parts and accessories, bottles, nipples, pacifiers, cups, breast shields, etc.
• Cool in the freezer to ease pain of engorgement and nipple chafing or discomfort from teething or weaning.
• Warm in the microwave to ease discomfort of plugged ducts and mastitis or to stimulate let-down.
When dealing with sore nipples, these Bamboobies Soothing Nursing Pillows offer comfort and pain relief. You can either cool these in the freezer to offer relief from engorgement and nipple chafing or teething pain, or you can warm in the microwave to ease pain from mastitis, clogged milk ducts, or to stimulate let-down.
• Prevents leaking rather than absorbing, keeping clothes dry.
• Sleep Braless, go strapless, go swimming.
While most nursing pads simply catch leakage and keep it from leaking through your clothes, LilyPadz Reusable Nursing Pads actually prevent leakage through constant pressure.
• Fashionable Lace Racerback design, Sexy and charming.
• Easy one hand nursing clasps, quick drop down cups.
Nursing tanks offer easy access for breastfeeding and keep your stomach covered. Just like with a nursing bra, all you have to do is unclip the strap and pull the cup down to expose your breast rather than pulling your entire shirt up.
The SUIEK Nursing Tops have a loose-fitting waistline, making them a fashionable and comfortable fit for postpartum.
• Hypoallergenic Cotton Terry Surface With Membrane Back Coating (Waterproof, Noiseless and Breathable).
• Will Not Change The Feel of Your Mattress.
A waterproof mattress pad protects your mattress from breast milk. Chances are, your breasts will be leaking in the first few weeks of breastfeeding. With nothing protecting your mattress, it can quickly start smelling like sour milk.
A waterproof mattress protector will keep fluids and smells from seeping into your mattress.
• Helps make emptying breasts easier, while also assisting in reduced supply, undersupply, and oversupply issues.
• Use the lactation massager to aid in relieving pain caused by engorgement, plugged ducts, and breast redness, tenderness, and other nursing ailments.
When pumping, you won’t express as much milk as when breastfeeding. However, massaging your breasts while you pump encourages milk flow and will enable you to express more milk and fully empty your breasts.
The LaVie Lactation Massager also aids in relieving pain and discomfort caused by engorgement, clogged milk ducts, and breast tenderness.
• Generous seating room, padded polyester blend filled arm cushions and a pocket to store your favourite baby books.
• Featuring metal, enclosed ball bearings for a smooth glide motion to help you unwind.
Breastfeeding is time-consuming. Early on, each breastfeeding session can last upwards of an hour. That’s a lot of time to be bound to one spot.
A year of breastfeeding equates to a conservative estimate of 1,800 hours of a mother’s time. This isn’t far off from a full time job considering that a 40-hour work week with three weeks of vacation comes in at 1,960 hours of work time a year.– Inc.com
The Storkcraft Tuscany Custom Glider and Ottoman offer a comfortable place to sit and put your feet up as you get used to breastfeeding. It also comes in handy on those nights when baby just doesn’t want to sleep and all you can do to keep her happy is rock with her.
• The flip top lid is designed with fast water flow mouth opening which helps you hydrate faster.
• Made of quality food grade reusable tritan co-polyester plastic, this water bottle is 100% BPA & TOXIN FREE.
When you’re breastfeeding, you’re responsible for keeping yourself and your baby hydrated. And, since breast milk is about 90% water, it’s important to drink enough to keep your supply up. (Source.)
Keeping a reusable water bottle with you throughout the day will encourage and remind you to drink enough water.
• Comfortable & secure: Support your baby in this MACHINE WASHABLE buckle-free, ring-free, Premium blend of 95% Cotton, 5% spandex. As gentle as wearing a T-shirt but strong enough to support your baby’s head.
• Ideal wrap for hands-free breastfeeding.
A baby carrier is a lifesaver. It allows you to keep baby on your body while freeing up your hands to do other things like make dinner, vacuum, or read a book.
The CuddleBug Baby Wrap Sling & Carrier also makes breastfeeding hands-free possible, by allowing you to position baby in the carrier in a way that they can breastfeed on demand.
• Delicious, organic, caffeine free herbal tea.
• USDA Certified 100% Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Kosher.
It’s important to keep your milk supply up, and this Organic Milkmaid Tea by Earth Mama supports healthy breastmilk production and lactation. Plus, it’s naturally caffeine-free.
• Lactation Consultant Recommended.
• Made with ingredients traditionally used to support breast milk supply.
Healthy breastfeeding snacks that support a productive milk supply while giving you the nutrition you need is essential. The Milkmakers Lactation Cookie Bites do just that through incorporating ingredients that are used to support breast milk supply.
Breastfeeding Essentials for the Working Mom
If you’re headed back to work but want to continue breastfeeding your baby, here is a quick list of breastfeeding must haves for working moms to make it possible.
How Do You Keep Breastfeeding While Working?
You may find yourself asking the question, “is it possible to breastfeed and work full time?”.
The answer is yes, and here’s how:
The breastfeeding working mom – hands down to you. It’s not easy, and it may even seem impossible at times. Here’s how to make the impossible, possible.
– Get baby used to a bottle
Before heading back to work, be sure your baby is used to using a bottle. Their caregiver will need to be able to feed them a sufficient amount of breast milk throughout the day from a bottle, so having a baby that doesn’t take a bottle is not an option.
Experts suggest starting to get your baby used to a bottle when they are between 3 – 6 weeks old.
Starting at this age will decrease the chances of nipple confusion and will ensure your baby doesn’t mind taking a bottle, allowing you a smooth transition back to work.
To make the process even more smooth, choose a baby bottle that closely mimics mom’s breast. The Cocotomo Baby Bottle is specifically designed for breastfed babies and mimics breastfeeding to reduce nipple confusion and bottle rejection issues.
– Start pumping early on
As a new mom, you’ll want to ensure your baby is either nursing every two to three hours, or if they don’t nurse as often, that you are supplementing with pumping in-between nursing sessions to maintain your milk supply.
When you go back to work, you’ll likely be pumping approximately 3 times in an 8-hour work day. As your baby gets older and starts dropping feedings, the need to pump as often will also lessen.
It’s important to remember to pump regularly at work, about as often as your baby would typically need to nurse, to keep your breast milk supply from suffering.
The benefits of pumping early also include building up a stash of breastmilk in the freezer before you’re back to work.
This book will help you create a pumping schedule for at work, as well as offer tips for pumping in less-than-desirable environments. This has been many mom’s survival guide to making milk while returning back to a demanding job.
– Dress for success
Dress in clothes that allow easy-access for pumping, not clothes you have to slip completely out of to pump. Having a selection of pumping-specific bras and tops will make pumping at work easier.
– Stock extra supplies
Extra pumping parts, milk storage bags, and breast pads (or milk savers) will eliminate not being able to pump at work due to breaking or missing parts, which leaves you engorged and sore for the rest of the day.
What is the Minimum You Should Breastfeed?
The World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months. After that, additional food may be given, but it is encouraged to continue breastfeeding until your child is two years old. (Source)
How Often Do You Need to Breastfeed to Maintain Supply?
If your baby is exclusively breastfeeding, you don’t need to worry about how often you need to breastfeed or pump to maintain your supply – your body will make the right amount of milk needed for the frequency that your baby nurses.
However, if baby is older than six months and you have started giving them additional food on top of breastfeeding, and you want to ensure your breastmilk supply doesn’t drop, it will depend greatly on your body and on your child.
Breastfeeding is supply and demand – however much breastmilk your baby needs, your body will make. However, if you happen to miss nursing sessions due to going back to work or for other reasons, you’ll want to pump for the amount of feedings your baby will be missing.
If your baby usually nurses every 3 hours, you’ll need to ensure you continue pumping every 2 to 3 hours to ensure your supply doesn’t drop.
Keep in mind that you may need to pump slightly longer/more frequently than you would normally breastfeed, since some mothers find they don’t always express the same amount of milk from a pump as they do from nursing.
What Do I Need For Breastfeeding and Pumping?
Every mom’s needs for breastfeeding and pumping will differ slightly, though the breastfeeding must haves list provided above covers just about everything.
While some moms may not have issues with chapped or cracked nipples, other mothers will be using nipple cream religiously to try and keep up with sore nipples.
Read over the breastfeeding essentials list provided above to get a good idea of the things you’ll need for breastfeeding and pumping.
What Are The Benefits of Breastfeeding?
The benefits of breastfeeding are seemingly endless, though oftentimes it can be difficult to think of anything good that comes from it when you’re in the throws of nursing and sore nipples.
Here are just a few benefits of breastfeeding, straight from ClevelandClinic.org.
Breastfeeding benefits for baby:
- Stronger immune systems
- Less diarrhea and constipation
- Fewer illnesses such as colds, pneumonia, and more
- Are less likely to get ear infections
- Have better vision
- Have lower rates of SIDS
- Experience less illness overall and less hospitalization
Breast milk contains important antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and illnesses. Breast milk also provides complete nutrition for babies, providing everything they need for the first six months of their lives.
Breastfeeding benefits for mom:
- Faster weight loss after birth
- Stimulates the uterus to contract down to pre-pregnancy size
- Less postpartum bleeding
- Less chance of anemia
- Lower risk of postpartum depression
- Promotes a more positive mood
- Fewer urinary tract infections
- Promotes oxytocin (which promotes stress reduction and and positive feelings)
- Physical and emotional bonding between baby and mother is increased
Breastfeeding Must Haves FAQs
What are breastfeeding essentials?
Breastfeeding essentials are products and tools that many moms use to make breastfeeding easier. While experts boast that breast is best, breast isn’t always easiest.
Breastfeeding essentials will help make breastfeeding easier on body baby and mom, providing pain and discomfort relief and make breastfeeding much more relaxing.
How to breastfeed with sore nipples
Poor positioning and poor latch are often the two biggest factors that cause sore nipples when breastfeeding. Once you get sore nipples once, it can be hard to escape.
A few things you can do to make breastfeeding with sore nipples easier (and alleviate the soreness overall) are:
- Promote proper positioning. Adjusting the position that you breastfeed in can help improve pain and discomfort. A few positions to try are: the laid-back position, football position, cradle position, and cross cradle position.
- Ensure a deep latch. If your child is sucking mostly on the nipple, that will cause sore, cracked, and blistered nipples which all make breastfeeding much less desirable. Ensure your baby is getting a deep latch and that the nipple is all the way in their mouth, to lessen the pain. Here is how to get a good latch.
- Use nipple cream. Apply nipple cream after and before every breastfeeding session. This nipple cream is safe for baby to ingest, so you don’t have to worry about having it on your nipples while they’re feeding.
- Rub breast milk on your nipples. If you don’t have nipple cream nearby, hand express some breast milk and rub it on your nipples, allowing it to dry without getting rubbed off. Breast milk can help heal nipples and keep them healthy.
- Apply a cool compress after feeding. Gel pads or cooling breast pads help alleviate pain.
- Use breast shields. Breast shields provide a barrier between your nipple and baby’s mouth. They allow your breast to still feel natural to your baby but cut down on the direct contact, which breastfeeding reduces pain.
- Contact your doctor. If the pain continues and you aren’t able to manage it at home, your best bet is to contact your doctor to rule out any problems. They may also be able to check your baby for a short frenulum.
What breastfeeding necessities are actually essential?
There are some breastfeeding necessities that are absolutely essential to breastfeeding moms, and others that aren’t.
A few breastfeeding necessities that are absolutely essential are:
Common breastfeeding problems
You may find yourself running into some problems when it comes to breastfeeding. The most common breastfeeding problems that cause moms to want to stop breastfeeding are:
- Sore nipples
Use nipple cream or apply a liberal amount of breastmilk to your sore nipples after each feeding, allowing your nipples to air dry before placing clothing over top of them.
- Pain while nursing
Ensure your baby has a good, deep latch and isn’t only sucking on the nipple. Your baby should have a mouthful of the lower portion of your areola in their mouth when they feed, with your nipple being against the roof of their mouth. Play around with different breastfeeding positions to see if there’s one that works better for you and baby and reduces pain.
- Baby won’t latch properly
Play around with different breastfeeding positions if you find your child isn’t able to latch well in the position you’ve been using. You can also use nipple shields to promote a better latch. If baby still won’t latch properly, talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant to get help.
- Baby won’t stay awake long enough to nurse
Keep your baby awake long enough to get a full feed in by keeping the room well lit, removing their clothes and socks, tickling their feet and back, and rubbing a lukewarm washcloth along their forehead or bottom of their feet.
- Not enough milk to breastfeed
To increase breast milk supply, feed on demand. Throw your feeding schedule out the window and promote frequent feedings to increase milk supply. Additionally, you can pump after and between nursing sessions to promote a larger milk supply.
- Engorged breasts
Ease breast engorgement pain by nursing frequently and hand expressing or pumping if your breasts become too full. You can also gently place a warm cloth on your breast before feeding to reduce discomfort.
- Leaking breasts
Wear nursing pads, either reusable or disposable, to keep your leaky breasts from soaking through your bra and shirt. Thankfully, your breasts should stop leaking quite so much within a month to two months as your body starts figuring out your baby’s milk demands.
- Clogged milk ducts
Treat a clogged milk duct by continuing to breastfeed. Breastfeeding, pumping, and hand expressing are all good ways to keep milk flowing, and the more you can keep milk flowing through your breasts, the sooner your duct will become unclogged. You can also massage the clogged duct to encourage milk flow and apply a warm cloth on the lump.
How to succeed at nursing a baby
The most important thing you can do as a mom to succeed at breastfeeding is to be patient and don’t give up.
If you find nothing is working and you aren’t able to breastfeed without ending up in tears, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor and/or a lactation consultant to get personalized advice that will help both you and baby succeed at nursing.