Must Have Breastfeeding Products for New Moms
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There are so many breastfeeding products out there, it can be tough to know what you REALLY need as a new mom.
When I was pregnant with my first baby 7 years ago, I knew nothing about breastfeeding. Nada. Zilch. Zero. I can’t recall if I had even ever seen a woman breastfeed a baby. I’m not sure how that is even possible! To say I was unprepared would be quite the understatement!
Luckily there are a plethora of resources available to help a new mama learn about breastfeeding.
Fast forward to current day and I’ve nursed 3 babies for a total of more than 5 years and am still going strong with my third. I’ve had 2 short breastfeeding breaks over the last 6 years (both times I was pregnant with the next baby), and I’ve tried LOTS of different products related to breastfeeding.
One of the great things about breastfeeding (besides that it is absolutely the healthiest choice you can make for your baby and it is FREE) is that it doesn’t require a bunch of gear. Technically you don’t NEED anything besides your body to feed your baby, but these are my favorite breastfeeding products to make the journey into breastfeeding a little smoother.
Best Nipple Cream for Breastfeeding
A good nipple cream is, in my opinion, one of the must have, non-negotiable breastfeeding products for a new mom! It’s just not all that comfortable when you first begin nursing (ok, sometimes it hurts!), and your nipples have to ‘toughen up’ as they get used to the constant suckle of your surprisingly strong mouthed newborn. A high quality, natural nipple cream soothes and helps any rough or cracked spots heal quickly.
I always read ingredients closely on nipple cream since your baby will likely be ingesting some the next time they nurse. There are several good natural choices, I’ve used all of these and recommend any of them.
Tip: You’ll likely have LOTS of nipple cream left (I’ve never managed to get through an entire container), but don’t toss it because these are truly multi-purpose salves! They are wonderful for dry cuticles, gentle enough for minor toddler ouchies, and can even be used as a diaper cream in a pinch (I’ve done it, and it worked!).
Baby Feeding Pillow or Nursing Support Pillow
Another of my must have breastfeeding products is a baby feeding pillow or nursing support pillow. There are several choices here, with the most popular being the Boppy. I’ve owned the Boppy as well as a My Brest Friend nursing pillow and I like them both for different reasons.
My Brest Friend VS. Boppy
The My Brest Friend pillow is more supportive, it has a strap to put around your waist so that it stays put, and the shape makes a lot of sense for nursing support. The only thing I didn’t like about this one is that it’s taller and since it is so firm, my babies outgrew it before the Boppy. But for the marathon newborn nursing sessions this was definitely my go-to nursing pillow.
The Boppy lasts longer in my opinion, but does not offer as much support. It is known for being used beyond the nursing years as a tummy time support and even to prop up baby when they are close to learning to sit. I was able to use the Boppy for longer since it is squishier.
If this is your first baby, I would honestly get both. I kept nursing pillows in the living room and bedroom for the first few months, and had times when I preferred one pillow over the other. There are several other nursing pillow options also available, but these are the 2 I have used and like.
The Best Reusable Breast Pads
This is one item I did not think about until my boobs were leaking milk everywhere and I was walking around the house with a burp rag in my shirt all day. Trust me, you need breast pads! Especially when baby is a newborn, you will leak A LOT while your body figures out how much milk to make.
My body mostly stopped leaking after it figured out what was up, but some women need breast pads for the entire time they breastfeed. I absolutely prefer reusable to the disposable kind. They are softer, and, well, reusable, which I always prefer over disposable. I’ve purchased quite a few on Etsy from mamas who make them by hand, and also like these Bamboobies nursing pads that are widely available.
Nursing Bras and Tanks
It can take a while to get used to quickly and discreetly popping your boob out whenever your little bundle is hungry. Nursing bras and tanks give you easy access to the goods. Your preference here will largely depend on your body type and breast size, so I’ll give you several things to consider and share what my preference is.
Camisole Tanks for Nursing
For me, comfort is key when it comes to support for my milk makers. I’m small breasted, even when nursing, and found that lots of nursing bras did not work well for me. My go-to for easy nursing anywhere is the 2 shirt method.
Nursing tanks are great for this because you can wear them under anything and they have a clasp at the strap to pull down the front. My absolute favorite method is to wear a regular (not nursing tank) camisole with a built in shelf bra everyday under my clothing. When baby is hungry I simply lift up my top shirt and pull down the top of the camisole for super easy nursing access.
The camisoles I prefer are stretchy and easy to pull down, can easily support a breast pad to prevent leaks and they keep my midsection covered while I’m feeding baby. Added bonus: these camis provide enough support for me that I can go bra free (yippee!).
This method works great for me, but might not be the best for you if you have larger breasts and need more support.
Which nursing bra is best?
This is one area I do not have much experience with since I almost exclusively used camisoles under my regular clothes. This article from Pregnant Chicken has some great tips for buying a nursing bra. I recommend getting a professional fitting after your milk has come in to determine what size you need (Nordstrom does them for free!).
I do love these nursing bras for days when you’re at home and for sleeping. They are soft cotton with no underwire or padding, v-neck for easy access and a breast pad can easily slip in to prevent leaks.
Waterproof Mattress cover….For your Bed
If you don’t already have a waterproof cover on your mattress, get one now! Remember how I mentioned all the boob leaking happening above? It will absolutely happen at night, especially if your baby decides to sleep a few hours in a row. The breast pads will help keep the leakage contained, but they are not always enough! A waterproof cover will keep your mattress protected and also make it much easier to clean up any leaky baby diapers that may happen if baby is in bed with you.
Even if you are not sure you’ll be pumping much, I consider a breast pump to be a must have breastfeeding product. If you experience any difficulty nursing, especially early on, having access to a breast pump can save your milk supply and your breastfeeding relationship.
A good breast pump can be expensive, but the good news is it is required by law for health insurance companies to cover the full cost of a breast pump. All you have to do is contact your insurance company and they will give you several choices of pumps. I’ve used several different Medela pumps and currently have the Hygeai Enjoye. I chose the Hygeai this time because it is a closed system pump, which means no milk can get into the pump and it can safely be reused by another mom when I am finished with it.
Otherwise, a manual pump is an inexpensive option that will get the job done! I have this one that I’ve used for travel. It is compact and discreet (I’ve used it in a bar restroom before and no one was the wiser!).
You’ll also want to make sure you have all the necessary breast pump accessories! You’ll need a few extra bottles to fit your pump, as well as other pieces for it to work properly. A kit like this one has everything you’ll need to get started and should fit any Medela or Hygeai pump (I use Medela parts with my Hygeai pump).
Giant Water Cup
Seriously, get the biggest cup you can find and keep it with you always. A jug maybe, because you will be so thirsty you will wonder how it’s possible to drink so much water. And don’t bother leaving the house without a water bottle in hand. Mama has milk to make and you need to stay hydrated for that to happen!
That’s really it for must have breastfeeding products, but there are a couple of extra nice to have items that I wish I’d thought of sooner:
Nursing Friendly Pajamas
I did not ‘splurge’ on any nursing friendly pajamas until my third baby, but once I did, I couldn’t believe I had waited so long! Middle of the night feedings are SO MUCH easier if you don’t have to fumble with your shirt and practically undress to feed the baby. This set is similar to a set I had that I absolutely loved. It was so soft with easy boob access. Any pajamas with a button up top are also perfect for nursing. I have several sets from Gap and Old Navy that I love, and they are all roomy enough to fit postpartum. Check out these that are very similar to what I have.
I have not used these, but wished that I had gotten them early in my breastfeeding journey! You use them to collect the leaking or ‘let down’ milk from the side you are not nursing on. I know several moms who have collected HUNDREDS of ounces with just these alone – they never even need to pump! The 2 most popular versions are Nature Bond (which looks more like a breast pump and has a bottle shaped milk catcher) and Milkies (hugs your breast and can fit into your shirt).
I absolutely would have loved to have this product in the first few months when leaking happens frequently, or if I had gone back to work and needed a stockpile of frozen milk.
What are your must-have breastfeeding products?