Whether you choose to breastfeed, or bottle feed, remember that FED IS BEST. There are definitely benefits to breastfeeding, which you can learn about here , but not everyone is able breastfeed – and that’s ok. As beautiful as breastfeeding can be, it can be damn hard and painful. Sometimes, bottle feeding is the right choice for mom and baby; and even Dad!
Regardless of which way you feed your baby, you’re going to need some gear. Read on for my list of breastfeeding essentials.
Based on my experience breastfeeding 3 kids past 1-year of age, and also bottle feeding breastmilk, I have just a little experience in this area. This is not a complete list, but what I consider must-haves when you first bring baby home and plan on breastfeeding. If bottle feeding is best for you, check back for my next post on bottle feeding essentials.
One of the most important items for breastfeeding is a supportive breastfeeding pillow. Like a pair of shoes, everyone has their favorite. I tried a few different versions, including the popular Boppy style pillow, but if budget is tight, any bed pillow will do; you can use two or fold one in half to get the height you need to bring baby to your chest.
My favorite pillow is a tube shaped buckwheat filled pillow, like the one below from Robot + Dinosaur. It’s heavy, so it won’t move around; you can change the shape by allowing the buckwheat to flow to one side; and it’s multi-purpose: you can use it to prop baby up, for tummy time, to keep a baby/toddler from rolling off a bed, and the list goes on. My youngest is 3 and we still use ours all the time.
Favourite Breastfeeding Pillows
This buckwheat filled pillow is great for pregnancy, breastfeeding and beyond.
A great classic nursing pillow that is budget friendly.
Another popular option that also provides a little back support.
Next up on your newborn baby must-have list for breastfeeding is nipple cream. Yes, you’ll need it, believe me. There are many different kinds available; I personally like Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. It has no petroleum, parabens, or lanolin and is non-GMO. Best part is, you can use this nipple butter to moisturize any other part of your body too (especially dry noses during cold season). My suggestion, apply liberally – all the time – as soon as your start breastfeeding. Those babies suck all the moisture out of you, which is also why water is another must-have 🙂
Look for nipple creams that use natural products, and don’t need to be wiped off before nursing.
Favourite Nipple Creams
A great organic nipple cream that contains no harmful chemicals.
A popular and well known lanolin based cream.
Not essential, but definitely a must-have for outings during the first few weeks, at work, or if you produce a lot of milk. You just never know when you’re going to leak. Disposable nursing pads are available at most stores, and reusable nursing pads are a fantastic choice if you want to help reduce waste.
Favourite Nursing Pads
A box of disposable nursing pads may be all you need for leaks, if you’re lucky!
Cute, heart-shaped breast pads that are eco-friendly and offer day/night absorption options.
Nursing Bras & Tanks
Nursing bra’s or nursing tanks are definitely a must! These make breastfeeding on the go or in front of others so much easier. You can probably get away with 2-3 nursing bra’s, or 1-2 nursing bras and a few good nursing tanks. What’s the difference? A nursing tank helps keep your belly covered but also gives you the convenience of a built-in nursing bra. Another option, which I loved, are the Naked Nursing tanks, they kept my belly covered but I could use my own nursing bra.
Favorite Nursing Bras & Tanks
I love these tanks. They can be used with any nursing bra, making them super versatile.
A comfortable nursing tank that combines bra and tank top in one.
Comfort and practicality are what these are all about.
Depending on whether you’re going to be out and about a lot, a nursing cover/blanket may be a must-have on your list. If you want to buy something that’s multi-functional, I suggest just using a muslin blanket as a nursing cover. I found these to be most versatile and one less thing to pack. I did keep a nursing cover in my purse when I had nothing else with me, but if I had a muslin blanket, that’s pretty much what I used.
Favourite Nursing Covers
These multi-use muslin blankets make great nursing covers.
The benefit of this cover is that it has a sturdy, yet flexible, type of collar that holds the cover away from you, allowing you to see baby while she nurses.
I love that this cover is multi-functional, a great option if you don’t want to carry anything extra.
Breast Pumps & Milk Bags
Another item that isn’t an immediate essential, but depending on your situation could be on your must-have list – a breast pump and milk storage bags.
If you have to go back to work within the first 6 moths and want to continue breastfeeding, then this is a must. Otherwise, it’s nice to pump and have extra milk on hand for those situations when you just can’t be there – sickness, meetings, trip, much needed “me” time. I also think that getting Dad to join in on the feeding action is extremely valuable. My suggestion, try getting baby to take a bottle from Dad within the first few months, with you not in the room. Some babies just won’t do it, but others will take a bottle if they’re hungry enough. All three of my kids took a bottle and I’m so thankful they did. If anything, it gives you a FEW hours of freedom when you just can’t take it anymore ?
I tried a dual automatic pump, but for infrequent pumping, I preferred the Medela Harmony. It doesn’t require any power, which is a bonus when the power is out at your hotel and you’re celebrating your birthday – away from baby – and your boobs are ready to explode! If you’re going to be pumping more frequently, an electric pump is probably the best choice.
Once you’ve got all that liquid gold pumped, you’ll need some milk bags to store it in. There are quite a few brands to chose from, like Medela or Lansinoh. If you’re wondering how long you can store milk for, then check out these recommendations from the CDC.
Favourite Breast Pumps & Storage Bags
If you’re a mama who is back to work within a few months of giving birth, have twins, or a lot of milk, this dual/on-the-go breast pump is a must-have.
A great pump to build up milk storage when you don’t need all the fuss of an electric pump.
I tried a few different brands of milk storage bags, but these were my favorite. They are affordable, stand up on their own, and available everywhere.
Lastly, I highly recommend getting information from your hospital or midwife about breastfeeding and/or lactation resources. The hospital where I delivered had a breastfeeding clinic that new moms could attend after having their baby. It’s awkward, being in a room with new moms all trying to get a proper latch, but it’s worthwhile if you’ve never done it before. Our hospital also offered the services of a lactation consultant for the first few months.
Medela has a useful article that outlines some of the breastfeeding resources that may be available to you in your area.
The La Leche League is also has great support groups, and some cities have “breastfeeding buddies”. It’s great to have a resource to ask questions when you’ve been up all night and you’re nipples are sore and cracking, your baby is crying, you’re probably crying, and being able to pick up the phone to talk or text someone who has been there is exactly what you need.
La Leche League USA
La Leche League Canada
I hope this information has helped give you an idea of some of the things that you should be thinking of if you plan to breastfeed. I hope these tips help you navigate this challenging yet rewarding experience with your baby.
If you think bottle feeding might be the way to go, don’t worry; my next post will be all about newborn essentials for bottle feeding.