Breastfeeding Essentials: 8 Simple Supplies To Start Breastfeeding
Posted by Krystal Duhaney, RN, BSN, IBCLC on July 26th 2019
Moms-to-be are often inundated with information on all the supplies and gadgets they will “need” for their new baby. It can be overwhelming to sift through all the lists, articles, and opinions. Nursing products are no exception. In this post, we will help you figure out what supplies you really need to start on your breastfeeding journey.
On the most basic level, all you really need to start breastfeeding is your breasts and your baby. As simple as that.
Now, life with a newborn can be hectic enough, so anything that can help make this journey easier for you should be considered. Depending on your budget, you may decide you want less or more of these items.
#1: Nursing Area
One of the best things you can do is prepare a quiet spot where you have all the essentials at arm’s reach. Remember, newborns tend to nurse a lot (a LOT!) so you will want to be comfortable.
Make sure you have water (nursing will make you thirsty!), healthy snacks, a phone charger, burp cloths, and anything you think you might need when sitting down for a long nursing session. *Another option is a little “nursing caddy” that you can carry easily from room to room!
#2: Tracking App
When you have a new baby, it can be helpful to keep track of their nursing sessions, wet and dirty diapers, and sleep patterns. Especially for first time moms who may not be sure of what to expect. But when you’ve been having interrupted sleep for days on end, it’s unlikely that you will remember all those little details!
Of course, you can keep a log on a paper or notepad, but apps are fun and it’s so convenient to have everything saved on your phone. Clicking “Start” and “Stop” and letting the app do the calculations for you can save you some time and brainpower. This will also be useful if you need to share the information with your pediatrician or lactation consultant.
#3: Nursing Pillow
When you are tired from your new duties as a mom, having a nursing pillow can be a lifesaver! It helps to give your arms a break, while still supporting baby in the right position to nurse. There are a few different options out there; make sure to choose one that is big and firm enough to support your baby’s weight. Your arms and back will thank you!
#4: Nipple Cream
Breastfeeding should not hurt. If it does, you may want to see a lactation consultant to assess your baby’s latch and positioning. Even though they should not be in pain, your nipples can still get sore or sensitive while they get accustomed to all the sucking.
There are many different types of nipple cream. Whichever type you go with, make sure to read the instructions carefully. Some creams will need to be washed off your nipples before your baby latches on; some creams do not have to be washed off.
*Did you know breastmilk has amazing healing properties? Budget-friendly, natural, safe-for-baby nipple cream: your own breastmilk! Just rub some on your nipples after each nursing session and then allow them to air dry.
#5: Breast Pads
Leaking breastmilk on your clothes or waking up to soaked sheets is no fun! Stock up on a few different types of breast pads. Disposable ones are probably the most common; although, reusable breast pads are becoming more popular.
The reusable (cloth) breast pads tend to be more soft and comfortable against your skin. They don’t make too much extra laundry if you just toss them in with the baby clothes! Another popular choice is the cooling gel breast pads. These may come in handy during the first couple of weeks to help soothe your sore nipples.
#6: Nursing Bras and Tanks
Two words: easy access! There are many different kinds of nursing bras to choose from. Make sure that the one you buy is the right size and comfortable for you. Choosing one with soft, breathable material will be your best bet. Additionally, it’s a good idea to avoid bras with underwire if possible, as these can lead to clogged ducts.
It’s nice to have a sleep/lounge style nursing bra or tank as well as one that is more of a normal bra style. You don’t have to buy a ton of new bras, but it is a good idea to have a couple different styles to find what works best for you.
#7: Silicone Hand Pump
Many of my clients are surprised by their “letdown.” This is what happens when the baby starts nursing and your breasts sense that it’s time for the milk to flow! Even if they had heard the term or read about it beforehand, many mamas have told me that they did not think about the fact that both breasts will be letting down simultaneously.
Unless you have twins, this means that one side will be leaking quite a bit of milk while baby is latched onto the other side. A haaka is a fantastic solution. It is a silicone breast “pump” that suctions onto your breast and catches that flowing milk. No more wasting that precious liquid! This is also a great way to start saving a tiny freezer stash.
#8: Breast Pump
If you are going back to work after the baby is born, this is definitely going to be a necessity. There are tons of options, and you will need to research which pump better fits your needs. You will also need storage bags for your breastmilk and breastfeeding-friendly bottles (make sure to read our pacefeeding article coming soon!).
Even if you are staying home after the baby is born, it is always a good idea to have a small stash in the freezer. This can come in handy in case of emergencies, or just for when you want to go out for a date night! In this case, a manual pump might be enough to cover your needs.
*Tip: Most insurance companies cover the cost of a breast pump. Contact your insurance company to ask what options are available for you.
That’s it! Of course, there are many other supplies and products you can buy, if you want.
The absolute most important “supplies” to have? A support system and a quality information source (La Leche League or a certified lactation consultant).
Hopefully, your partner and family will support you in your breastfeeding journey. Regardless if they do or not, I definitely recommend that you find a local - or virtual - breastfeeding support group.
A local support group will allow you to get out of the house, surround yourself with mamas who understand the triumphs and struggles, and perhaps make new friends. A virtual group is great for making connections, creating a large support system, and getting help almost any time of the day or night.
We would love to have you join us in the Milky Mama Facebook group. It’s an amazing community.