When you think about breastfeeding, you probably assume that you won’t need much. Certainly not as much as you would if you were formula feeding – and that can be true to some extent! Although, after nursing my son for almost two years, I have found that there are a lot of breastfeeding essentials that can make your time spent nursing a little easier!
Breastfeeding can be extra rough initially, which is where some of these nursing must-haves will come in to save the day! After a few months, other items become less vital, but they can still come in handy.
Let’s get to it!
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1. Prenatal Vitamin
Your doctor or lactation consultant will recommend that you continue taking your prenatal vitamin as long as you are breastfeeding. This ensures that you are getting the right vitamins and minerals for your baby.
I used the One A Day brand softgels, and I liked them. Many women say that prenatal vitamins made them nauseous, but that never happened to me with this brand.
Another thing to keep in mind is that other brands offer postnatal vitamins. If you want to stop taking prenatal vitamins, you can look into those options instead.
2. Nipple Cream
Nipple cream is one of the breastfeeding essentials you can’t forget! Especially in the beginning, you will have sore, dry, and possibly even cracked nipples.
The protection of the cream will also help speed up the healing process. Just be sure to keep applying it after each feeding or as often as necessary.
Make sure whatever brand you use is safe for your baby. Also, keep in mind that most brands are a little greasy, and if you are not wearing a bra, it could soak through your shirt and possibly leave a stain if you don’t treat it before washing.
3. Nursing Pads
You are going to leak—a lot.
I preferred disposable breast pads over the reusable kind. I liked that you can throw them away, and you never have to worry about losing them in the laundry.
Another thing I like about disposable breast pads is that they have adhesive on the back. The adhesive will help them stay in position inside your bra.
4. Waterproof Mattress Cover
Speaking of leaks, there were many nights at the beginning of my breastfeeding journey where I would wake up in a puddle. (That is never a fun experience.)
It’s a good idea to invest in a waterproof mattress cover to help protect your mattress.
If you are reading this before you have had your baby, get a waterproof mattress cover now! So many women have their water break while lying in bed, myself included, and this will help you out so much if you are in that group too.
Also, once you have your baby, there might be accidents that can happen on your bed. You know, things like spit-up, leaky diapers, blowouts, you get the picture. 😉
Waterproof mattress covers are one of the little-known breastfeeding essentials that get a lot of use, and they’re worth the small cost!
5. Nursing Bras
Nursing bras are so much better than regular bras while breastfeeding. They come with handy clips at the top of each cup, so you can unhook one side and either nurse or pump with little frustration.
When it comes to nursing bras, I invested in a couple of different kinds. I bought these ones that are comfortable but a little more structured. Also, I purchased these ones that have a little more relaxed feel but are still supportive.
Keep size in mind when you are looking at different styles. You will want at least one or two that are slightly bigger to account for the frequently fluctuating sizes you experience initially.
You will also want to make sure that you don’t buy any super tight bras or have bras with underwires. If you wear really tight bras or bras with underwires while breastfeeding, you can develop clogged milk ducts, which are a pain. Literally.
6. Breastfeeding-Friendly Shirts
When you first start breastfeeding, you will be trying to find the best position to nurse your baby. The last thing you want is to be struggling with your shirt getting in the way!
Shirts made for breastfeeding are designed to have easy access to nursing your baby or pumping. They typically have flaps to move to the side or pull up. There are also breastfeeding shirts that have zippers!
Another great option to wear while breastfeeding is nursing tanks. Similar to nursing bras, nursing tanks have clips above each cup that you can unclip to pull down. Breastfeeding tanks are great to wear under a cardigan.
7. Nursing Cover
If you plan on taking your newborn out in public, like to the grocery store, for example, there’s a good chance you’ll have to breastfeed them while you’re out.
If you are comfortable nursing in public without a cover, that’s great! On the other hand, if you are a little more self-conscious or prefer a little more privacy, that’s fine too! Just make sure you find a great nursing cover!
When looking for the right nursing cover, you will want something comfortable and not too restrictive.
These ones are so wonderful; they look cute and in addition to being a nursing cover, they can also be a car seat cover! Plus, they aren’t as tight and a little more breathable than other nursing covers.
8. Nursing Pillow
When you are nursing your tiny baby, you will need support under your arms to help keep the baby in the proper position. That’s where a nursing pillow comes in handy.
I used the Boppy pillow, and I thought it was great. I used mine the whole first year that I breastfed my baby, and it never flattened out from all of the use.
Also, my Boppy pillow was helpful while my baby was learning to sit. I would just put it behind him for a little extra support while sitting on the floor.
I know that some people use theirs for tummy time when their baby is at the appropriate age. It’s fantastic how many ways this pillow is functional.
Here is a little tip if you decide to get a bobby pillow: get a waterproof cover! You put the waterproof cover underneath the patterned cover that comes with the pillow. This will help protect the pillow from any accidents that can happen.
9. Breastfeeding Footstool
Another one of the little-known breastfeeding essentials is a nursing footstool. Let me tell you; nursing footstools are a real back saver.
After you’ve been breastfeeding for a little while, you’ll find that your neck and shoulders might be aching. It can be challenging to maintain good posture while supporting your little one during a feeding session, especially a long one!
I love this breastfeeding stool because it’s adjustable. You adjust the knob to find the most comfortable position for you. Plus, it has a non-slip surface, so your feet won’t slide off if you wear socks.
10. Heating/Cooling Pads
I got clogged milk ducts a lot when I started breastfeeding. These Booby Tubes from Earth Mama are excellent and one of my favorites in this list of breastfeeding essentials!
I preferred Booby Tubes because they aren’t made out of gel; they are filled with flaxseed. I felt like the flaxseed worked better since I threw them in the microwave most of the time.
Whatever kind you choose, make sure that they can be frozen and microwaved.
Heat is good for getting the milk flowing and will help alleviate clogged ducts. Cold is good for easing the swelling and discomfort of engorgement when your body is getting used to knowing how much milk to produce.
11. Breast Pump
Electric breast pumps are such a great thing to have while breastfeeding. If you are returning to work or plan on only pumping a few times a week, I suggest getting a double electric pump.
I got the Medela Pump In Style, and I love it. It’s a double electric pump that comes with a bag to keep everything together, and it works very well.
Also, most insurances cover breast pumps these days (and sometimes replacement parts, too!) so it’s worth a call to find out if yours does.
Another great pump to try is the Haakaa. It’s a manual pump, but it can also be used as a milk catcher! As you are breastfeeding your little one, you can attach the Haakaa to the other breast and collect the milk from your letdown.
You’ll also love: Pumping Must-Haves Every Breastfeeding Mom Needs
12. Sunflower Lecithin
In the early months of breastfeeding, I was overproducing milk. That resulted in constantly clogged milk ducts.
After suffering through so many clogged ducts, I eventually had to get on antibiotics for an infection called mastitis. I happened to ask our pediatrician at one of my son’s well-child appointments if she had any suggestions since it was happening so frequently.
That’s when she told me I should try taking sunflower lecithin.
The day after I started taking it, I was ecstatic when the plugged duct was gone! I took sunflower lecithin faithfully every day until around nine or ten months of breastfeeding, which helped tremendously.
Once you feel like your milk production has started to regulate, you can try not to take it and see how it goes. I have heard of people taking soy lecithin, so make sure to talk to your doctor and see what they suggest.
13. Water Bottle And Snacks
You might be thinking that water and snacks aren’t breastfeeding essentials, but they are! You will find that you get so hungry and thirsty while breastfeeding.
Also, you will need to ensure that you’re drinking enough water and eating enough to keep your milk supply up. If you are making a breastfeeding kit, it’s always a great idea to stock it up with snacks like granola bars or trail mix.
14. Breastfeeding Class
Taking a class is one of the breastfeeding tips that I can’t stress enough! If you are a first-time mom, or even if it’s just been a while and you are overwhelmed with breastfeeding again, you should take a class!
Generally, you have two options for breastfeeding classes. The first would be an online class. The second option is taking a class locally, usually at your hospital. (Bonus, classes at the hospital are typically free!)
I chose to take a free class that our hospital provided. It was so helpful! A lactation consultant taught it, and the class was about an hour long.
I preferred going to a class over an online course because the instructor is there to answer any questions that you might have as you are going.
To find out if the hospital you are delivering at has classes like these, give them a call. They might also have their available classes listed on their website.
I also suggest you bring your husband or partner. I know some people feel awkward about bringing a plus one to a breastfeeding class, but there is no reason for that.
You will want your partner to be informed so they can help you out in the beginning when you and your baby are getting the hang of everything.
15. Breastfeeding Tracker
When you are breastfeeding, you need to remember which side your baby nursed last so that one breast isn’t being favored.
I know that when I get tired (which is all the time with a new baby), any simple thing that I try to remember goes straight out the window.
That’s where a tracking app comes in. Most apps allow you to track which side your baby is nursed on and for how long.
I use an app called Hatch Baby, and it’s so beneficial. It allows you to track anything you need to (like diapers and sleep habits) and have it all in one place. For example, when I started night weaning, it was helpful to reference the app to see how many night feedings we were doing.
I chose this app because it’s from the same brand that makes the sound machine we have in our nursery. (We LOVE this sound machine!) I suggest you download a couple of apps to see which you like best!
Another tip is to use a safety pin or ribbon if you don’t have a smartphone or don’t want to deal with an app. To remember which side your baby nursed on last, you tie a ribbon to the strap or put a pin on that side of your bra.
You’ll also love: Tips For Staying Awake While Breastfeeding At Night
When should you stock up on these breastfeeding essentials?
It’s a good idea to stock up on these items before you go into labor.
A reasonable time frame to go shopping for these breastfeeding essentials is around 2-4 weeks before your due date. That way, you’re already prepared with everything you need when you come home from the hospital.
Newborns nurse so often, and you don’t want to worry about not having something when you need it.
And there you have it! I hope this list helps you feel like you are a little more prepared for this rewarding process you are about to experience. Breastfeeding is hard work, but it is worthwhile to know that you provide everything your little one needs.
Before you go, check out these related posts:
- The Ultimate Guide For Weaning From Breastfeeding
- What To Do When Your Baby Is Overtired
- What To Do When Baby Falls Asleep While Breastfeeding
- Everything You Need To Know About Pumping At Work
- 8 Free Printable Pumping in Progress Signs
If you’re a newbie to breastfeeding, do you have any questions about these nursing must-haves? If you’re a seasoned pro at breastfeeding, what were some of your breastfeeding essentials? I would love to know in the comments below!