Looking for the best breastfeeding supplies? Here is our list of essentials, non-essentials that are still helpful, and what you may want to skip!
Breastfeeding doesn’t require much…however, there are a lot of great products out there that make it a little easier and enjoyable.
I thought I would share a list of products that I have either personally used, or that I have been told have been total game changers for women. Some of these products have been mentioned several times in groups I’m in (including my breastfeeding mama’s support tribe – be sure to join!)
I’d love to hear what breastfeeding products you’ve loved!
Some of these are only necessary if you are pumping at all, but I still think it’s important to be aware that you may need these. I didn’t pump at all with my first, but it was a necessity for several months.
Also keep in mind that everyone has different preferences for what they need and don’t need – if your list differs than mine, that’s totally fine! Be sure to chime in and let me know what you loved.
Best Breastfeeding Supplies
Nursing bras are extremely helpful and, in my opinion, necessary. Because you will likely have an increase in bra size after you give birth, you will need new bras anyways – so you might as well make sure they are compatible with breastfeeding.
There’s a debate on whether underwire bras are good with breastfeeding or not – some say they will cause clogged ducts, while others say it’s a non-issue.
Personally, I always avoided them with no issue. But either way – make sure you get actual nursing bras. These are available all over, but I would recommend getting professionally fitted (if you aren’t able to get professionally fitted, here is a great online resource for finding your size).
My favorite place for nursing bras is Kindred Bravely. I’ve been able to try out a few items from them, and they are very high quality. They carry TONS of sizes – which is good. I know a lot of women who have cup sizes above the regular A-D line love the variety that they have to offer.
There are some women that don’t leak, but I wouldn’t assume you are one of them until it actually doesn’t happen.
I leaked all the time for the first three months or so – and it’s very normal. Nursing pads are essential.
Cloth nursing pads are pretty popular these days, but honestly, after trying them for a while…disposable were my favorite – particularly the Lansinoh brand.
Bamboobies are definitely some of the best cloth nursing pads out there.
Whatever you choose, definitely have them once your milk comes in!
I’m hesitant to say you HAVE to have a breast pump, because I don’t like to perpetuate the lie that you have to pump in order to have a healthy breast milk supply.
This. Is. Not. True. You do not have to pump in order to breastfeed.
With that said, I think it’s wise to have a breast pump – at least a manual one – available….just in case.
You may have a baby who won’t latch, who is in the NICU, etc. and you will need to pump. With Jack, I pumped twice the entire two years I nursed him.
With Oliver? I had to pump regularly for the first three months. You just never know.
Many mothers need one for going back to work or just because they want to be able to leave the baby for longer than three hours at some point. So getting a breast pump is good.
The good news? Under the ACA, insurance companies are required to provide a breast pump – I recommend going through Aeroflow (totally free!). Make sure to check out our post about the best breast pumps covered by insurance.
I don’t know many moms who don’t have some kind of soreness during the first few weeks (at least) of breastfeeding. I’ve always found some kind of nipple cream to be pretty soothing.
I like the Earth Mama Angel Baby brand of nipple cream rather than the Lansinoh kind. However, you want to know what I found to work best? Plain ol’ coconut oil. Oliver had a bad latch for a while, which tore me to shreds, and coconut oil was truly the only thing that helped.
Milk Storage Bags
If you are pumping at all, you’ll need some milk storage bags. I personally used Lansinoh and Kiinde bags the most.
I think Kiinde bags are awesome – their whole pumping system is. You can get a free starter kit from them using this link (just pay shipping).
Unless you have a unicorn baby that never spits up, you definitely want burp cloths with your breastfeeding baby. You can easily buy these, but I love these ones that my friend, Chelsea, has made with a super easy tutorial – DIY Burp Rags.
New moms need to take care of themselves – and that means making sure they eat enough! It can be easy to skip meals, but this will only make you feel exhausted. It can also impact your breast milk supply.
So have some healthy and easy-to-eat snacks on hand at all times. I highly recommend checking out this list of the best snacks for breastfeeding for moms.
Big Water Bottle
Hydration is key with breastfeeding! I always see women going to great lengths to increase their supply, when in reality, they need to drink more.
I think having a nice, big water bottle is essential! It’s hard to remember to drink, but if you can make sure you drink a whole water bottle…it will help! My personal favorite is a 64-ounce bottle from Simple Modern. Very similar to HydroFlask, but it’s WAY less expensive and keeps your water cold forever.
People have mixed feelings about breastfeeding classes – and I agree! A lot of them are not helpful and dumb.
That’s what my experience was when I took one. However, I think it’s really helpful to have some kind of knowledge and instruction on the basics of breastfeeding before you get in there and start.
If anything, it can help you advocate for yourself and your baby. I have worked with so many mothers given terrible advice after birth that ended up making breastfeeding so much harder.
We offer a free breastfeeding course that will help you get started on the right foot. Click here to enroll.
If anything, at least research a good IBCLC in your area that you can have on call if you run into trouble after birth.
Non-Essential But Helpful
So these items aren’t necessarily things you HAVE to have – but they sure are helpful. Many of these became essentials to me, especially in the early days of nursing.
These are the most AMAZING things ever. They are great for helping to heal from mastitis or plugged ducts (which are common breastfeeding problems) or if you suffer from vasospasms!
I actually didn’t love these, but I know plenty of women who swear by them. They can be really nice when you are dealing with sore nipples.
Suction Breast Pump
These are SO popular right now, and for good reason. They are pumps that you attach to the breast you aren’t nursing with, and it catches excess milk. The Haaka is the most popular brand.
I know, nursing covers can be controversial. Let me get this straight – I am not saying you have to cover up when you nurse.
However, many women feel more comfortable using a cover – myself included – and they can be useful.
I do recommend getting one that overs 360 coverage. I have a good tutorial for one here – 15-Minute Nursing Cover Shawl Tutorial, but there are plenty you can buy Amazon.
If you want the apron-style nursing cover, you can get a free one from Udder Covers using the code C113D4.
These are so awesome, especially in the earlier days of breastfeeding where you leak all. the. time.
There were a few times when I was nursing Oliver, and I decided to catch dripping milk with a bottle. I would often get over an ounce from this alone!
Milkies is a product that you wear that catches dripping milk in a sanitary environment so you can save it for later. Most breastfeeding moms will agree that breastmilk really is liquid gold, and every last drop counts.
These should not be worn at night and milk should be removed and stored soon after, and they can hold around two ounces of milk. You can buy them on Amazon.
They are similar to the haaka in the sense that it catches milk, but it doesn’t pump or stimulate the breast like the haaka might, so it’s an even gentler way to catch milk.
This is another one I know people are split on, but I LOVED my nursing pillow. I don’t recommend learning how to nurse with a nursing pillow (with my first, I tried this, and it did more harm than good), but once you get nursing down, it can be a lifesaver.
I always just used a Boppy, but I know a lot of people rave about the My Breastfriend pillow. You can also get a free nursing pillow (just pay shipping) at NursingPillow.com with code C113D4.
Nursing Friendly Clothes
I don’t suggest buying a whole new wardrobe, but some clothes are just easier to nurse in than others. If anything, invest in some good nursing tanks to wear under your other clothes.
Be sure to check out this post about the best places to buy breastfeeding friendly clothes.
These are pretty cool – they are designed to help turn just about any outfit into a more nursing friendly outfit.
Helpful for those long days and nights of nursing!
I only pumped a handful of times with Jack, but I really loved using the Milkies Milk trays. You can freeze milk in one-ounce sections, and then place them in other bags. You can also use it for freezing baby food later on.
What You Really Don’t Need
Before I ruffle any feathers, I know that sometimes these items are necessary. However, they are not things that you need to start out your breastfeeding journey with in most situations.
I was hesitant to put this one because I know people take nipple shields personal. Are there situations where a nipple shield can be helpful – especially if it becomes a choice between quitting breastfeeding and not?
But are they often used as a first resort – instead of the last resort?
100% yes. I can’t tell you how many women I know who have been given a nipple shield at the first sign of discomfort, and they struggled for months to get off of them.
So if you use one and are happy with it – that’s great. However, a nipple shield should not be an “essential” for most moms and should only be prescribed for use under the care of a lactation consultant.
Milk enhancing Supplements
For the most part, mothers who are nursing/pumping on demand are doing the best thing they can do for their supply.
While there are some supplements that can help mothers who are struggling to produce enough milk
Tons of Bottles
Even if you are planning to combo feed at some point, you don’t need to have tons and tons of bottles from the get-go. There’s a very good chance your baby won’t even like the first type of bottle you give them, and it would be a big bummer to have tons of a certain kind of bottle they will love.
I would wait until you know for sure baby will take the bottle you are giving them and then get more. You can check out the best bottles for breastfed babies here.
If you aren’t planning to bottle feed, it’s just a waste of money to buy them before the baby is born. It might be good to just have 1-2 on hand just in case you have to give a bottle for some reason, but there’s no reason to stock up before baby is born.
Katie Clark is a Certified Lactation Educator, Certified Breastfeeding Specialist, and IBCLC student. She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.
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