What do you need for breastfeeding?
Before your baby arrives, there is so much to think about buying.
You’ve probably sorted your nursery, stroller and diapering items, but how about what the breastfeeding and pumping essentials for feeding baby?
Knowing what to buy before baby arrives will save so much stress. Consider yourself need something desperately in the wee hours of the night and already have it to hand.
You can thank me later.
Pin for later
You may not need expressing equipment right now; however, you’ll probably look into it more when you return to working after maternity leave. So pin this guide for later reference. I’ve split the list into a few sections. If you’re in a hurry, use the links below to skip straight to section you need:
Let’s check out our full list of recommendations.
Breastfeeding Essentials – What do you need for breastfeeding
These are breastfeeding products, which can benefit you and your baby.
How many are essential?
That’s one of the great benefits of breastfeeding; it can be completely free to feed your baby.
Some of these items may become essential if you have feeding problems. The rest are just really handy items, which will make nursing a whole lot easier for you.
Breast Care Essentials
The first few days of breastfeeding is tough on your nipples. Your baby will feed at least 8 times a day, suckling for around 5-30 minutes each time. If you have sensitive nipples, you need to get a good nipple cream. You can also use the cream to soothe sore areas caused by poor attachment.
You can check out my guide to choosing the best nipple cream here.
Until your milk regulates itself, you’re probably going to suffer from breast engorgement. This is when your breasts are so full of milk, they become hard and painful. Using thermal therapy pads, which heat up will provide you with relief by helping your milk let down. Most brands can also be cooled to provide cold relief for swollen and tender breasts.
For more info, check out my thermal therapy pads buying guide.
When you’re having difficulty getting baby to attach, or you have sore nipples try a nipple shield. They look like little clear sombreros, which go over your nipple. The aim is to either create a barrier or shape the nipple for your baby to get a good attachment. These are great if you have inverted or flat nipples. A word of warning, they limit your milk supply, and should only be a short-term solution.
Check out my nipple shield reviews here.
This is a breastfeeding product most moms don’t know existed. Breast shells actually have several uses, including collecting leaking milk, preventing chafing of sore nipples and ‘pulling out’ flat or inverted nipples. They are made from a hardened plastic with a hole in the inner edge for your nipple and a curved outer edge. The cupped area helps to keep your clothes off your nipples.
For more information, check out my breast shell buying guide.
Breastfeeding Clothing Essentials
You won’t realize how much you need a nursing bra until you try to breastfeed in a regular bra. The beauty of these bras is the ease of access to your breasts when your baby is hungry. A nursing bra gives you proper breast support without causing damage. Sleep nursing bras also keep breast pads in place, preventing you from leaking during the night.
If you don’t know where to start, try my guide on how to buy a nursing bra.
Again for ease of access when feeding you’ll want a few nursing tops. Soon after birth, your maternity clothes often too big and you don’t want to stretch out or ruin your regular clothes with milk leaks. You don’t need to replace your whole wardrobe. However, a few basic tops will make feeding so much easier. There are lots of smart casual styles available, which don’t look overly ‘mumsy’. I mean would you even know that top above was a nursing top?
If you don’t want to splurge a lot on breastfeeding clothes, you may want to opt for a nursing cover. These help you make breastfeeding in public discreet by offering your breast privacy. Most passers-by wouldn’t even know you were feeding baby. You can get a variety of styles, including aprons, capes, shawls, and cardigans. Our favorite style is the infinity scarf as it looks just like a regular piece of clothing when you’re not feeding your baby.
Check out my list of favorite nursing covers here.
For older babies, a nursing or breastfeeding necklace, is a great addition to your wardrobe. They look like stylish chunky jewelry, but they are ideal for keeping your baby becoming distracted during a feed. They can also be used as a teether when baby begins to get teeth. This can help you prevent your baby from biting you during a feed.
Leaking breast milk is one of the side effects of breastfeeding. It will happen at the most inappropriate times and leave you with tell-tale wet patches on your top if you’re not prepared. Breast pads are small pieces of absorbent material, which sits in your bra and soaks up the milk. You can opt for disposable or reusable pads.
Check out my nursing pad reviews and buying guide.
If you don’t want to waste any of your leaking milk to a breast pad, why not save it? A milk catcher is a small collection bag which fit into your bra and catchers any drops. They are great for saving milk and building up a supply which can be frozen for later. Ideal if you don’t want to express milk, but may occasionally need to be away from baby for a feed or two.
To prevent leaking, most moms wear a sleep bra with nursing pads to bed. However, if you find a sleep bra uncomfortable, or want to air your nipples during the night, you’ll need to protect your mattress. The best way to do this is with a waterproof bed pad to soak up any stains or smells. They are comfortable to sleep on and easier to wash than your bed linens and a mattress.
Milk Supply Essentials
If you are struggling with your milk supply, why not try an age-old remedy? Lactation teas are crammed full of herbs well known for boosting your milk supply. This tea certainly has an acquired taste, but they do work. If anything, they are a caffeine-free way to keep hydrated. A lot of the herbs used are also great for postpartum healing.
Read my lactation tea reviews to learn more about the benefits.
Keeping well hydrated is essential for maintaining a good milk supply. Get a large, durable water bottle and get into the habit of drinking regularly. You’ll find you are often thirsty while breastfeeding, so keep it nearby. Drinking more water won’t make you engorged. The main message is not to ignore your thirst but don’t force excessive fluids either as it won’t have any benefit.
Wearing your baby in a carrier offers so many benefits for you and baby when breastfeeding. Having your baby close to your skin will help improve your milk supply. Baby will have easy access to your breast, and feeding won’t feel so time-consuming as both your hands are free. You are also more likely to be responsive to your baby’s hunger cues.
Want to know which baby carrier is best for breastfeeding? Then check out my guide here.
Newborn babies feed a lot, even during the night. The sheer lack of sleep means most breastfeeding moms will bed share with your baby at some point. Most adult beds are unsuitable for bed and can present fatal risks to your baby. Put a stop to unplanned bedsharing by opting for a co-sleeping crib. Your baby can feed regularly through the night, and when they are down, you can pop them back into their own safe sleep space. They are quite expensive but worth every penny for quality sleep and great milk supply when breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding Station Essentials
Getting comfortable when feeding your baby can be tricky at first. You may need to experiment with different feeding positions. These may be comfortable for baby, but after a 30-minute feed, you can be left with sore arms and back. A nursing pillow gives you added height and support to keep baby in these positions without the aches.
For more benefits and my top picks’ check out my nursing pillow guide.
Are you prepared for baby spit-up and vomit? Burp cloths are ideal for keeping on hand to deal with this. This often happens when you are winding a baby over your shoulder or upright. Pop a burp cloth over your clothes to save them from getting dirty. They are also handy for sticking in your nursing bra as a way to catch leaking milk from your ‘free’ breast when you don’t have a breast pad to hand.
Having a place to feed your baby will give you peace, privacy, and comfort. A breastfeeding chair is designed to offer you back and arm support to position baby for a good attachment. They are quite an investment, but a great touch to add to empty space in your baby’s nursery. Your baby will associate the chair with an area of safety and comfort as they grow.
This guide has great info about choosing the best nursing glider for your needs.
If you don’t have the room or budget for a quality nursing chair, then opt for a nursing stool. They can be used with any regular chair. A nursing stool is designed to raise your legs to support baby positioning during a feed. They are often angle adjustable to suit your needs. These stools are particularly great for reminding you not to slouch as you feed, which helps prevent a backache.
These are the products I recommend you buy for expressing breast milk. Unlike breastfeeding products, you’ll need most of these items. They will help you collect and store the milk safely. When expressing, you need to consider the safety and hygiene aspects of using stored milk for your baby.
You have three options when expressing breast milk: by hand, manual pump or electric breast pump. The one you use will depend on how often and how quickly you need to pump. Manual pumps are great for using infrequently or when you need to be discreet. Electric pumps are noisy but get good volumes of milk quickly.
Check out my big breast pump buying guide to find out how to pick one that suits your needs.
Once you collect the milk, you’ll need to feed it to your baby. You can use any baby bottle, but you should really consider one that’s good for a breastfed baby. Why does it matter? There is an issue known as nipple confusion. It’s caused by the different suckling motions baby’s use when bottle feeding and breast feeding.
Click to read our top 10 best bottles for breastfeeding babies.
Milk Storage Bags
Once you’ve expressed your milk, you’ll need to store it until you feed your baby. If you feed your baby in a few hours, we recommend keeping it in the collection bottle. If you want to build a large breast milk supply, the best way to store milk is by freezing it. Milk storage bags are a space-saving way to do this long term.
Click here to check out my top storage bag picks.
Keeping your baby bottles clean and sterile is very important, especially for new-born babies. Bacteria loves to grow in left-over milk. Combine this with a baby’s low immune system and it can lead to an ill baby. You can choose from old fashioned pan boiling, microwave sterilizing or electric sterilizers.
Read this handy article on how to clean and sterilize a breast pump here.
Bottle Drying Rack
Air drying your baby bottles is the best way to prevent the spread of bacteria. Once you’ve washed your baby bottles and pump equipment, laying them out separately to dry will help keep them away from other dishes. Bottle drying racks are often small and can be easily cleaned by hand or dishwasher to keep them free from stagnant water.
Bottles are designed with lots of curves and edges to make them easier to hold. However, this makes it easy for old milk to gather and grow bacteria. Using a bottle brush really helps you to get into all these small areas. These brushes are also soft enough to scrub off any milk not removed from soaking, without damaging the bottles.
Check out my step by step guide on how to properly clean a baby bottle.
Breast Pump Bag
If you need to carry your pump around but still look smart, then get yourself a breast pump bag. These bags have been specially designed to look like a regular stylish handbag, but with pockets and fittings suitable to hold a breast pump. These are ideal for working moms. Sarah Wells has a great range of designs. However, I am also loving the ‘New Yorker’ by Charlie G.
Using a breast pump can be quite time-consuming, even if it’s electric. It’s difficult to do much as you pump, as at least one of your hands is holding the collection bottle. A breast pump bra is perfect for holding the pump bottle in place and freeing up both hands. We highly recommend one if you have young toddlers and a newborn, or if you need to look after a busy household.
Check out my pumping bra buying guide with my top 6 picks.