If you plan on breastfeeding, your milk supply will be with you at all times. But you’ll need a few nursing essentials to make things a little more comfortable for you and baby.
For starters you’ll need accessible clothing, like nursing bras and tops or dresses that make your breasts easily accessible. Secondly, you will need a breast pump, bottles, and a milk storage system. Thirdly you will need more particular things for your breasts, to protect from leakage or for healing and therapy. And lastly, you may need a nursing pillow and some swaddles/burping cloths.
Clothing Essentials for Nursing
There are a wide range of nursing clothing in the market, with accompanying range of reviews. Certain tops and dresses can make great nursing essentials, whether they’re intended for breastfeeding or not. Personally, my preferences were regular clothing with a loose fit or with buttons at the chest that I could pull or button down and nurse.
But it was difficult for me to find the right fitting bra for nursing. The quality, styles, and price of most products at the maternity stores near me were terrible. Of the handful of bras I tried, ones with cup sizes or wires were the worst. I even ordered some online from Motherhood Maternity thinking they looked cute or sexy but they were completely dysfunctional.
The most comfortable bras I’ve come across and highly recommend are nursing “sleep bras.” They are the most comfortable to wear and worked with some of my outfits. In fact, I still sleep with my nursing bras.
I’d also suggest having a nicer bra or two that you can wear for nights out or social gatherings. We all need a date night or excuse to dress up every once in a while.
Nursing bras aren’t cheap! And women’s bodies vary so much that it’s very difficult to fit a standard size. So you can end up spending a fortune on bras that will get little use, especially during so many bodily changes. That’s why I’m so against bras with cup sizes and prefer bralettes, sports, bras, and sleeping bras in general.
In fact, front-closing bralettes can be great “nursing bras” too. The straps can be adjusted for nursing or used after.
Breast Pump, Bottle System, and Milk Storage System
If you’re nursing you’ll need a breast pump. You may or may not want or need to use it right away but there are so many reasons you would need a breast pump.
When you’re ready to leave baby with a sitter for a few hours you’ll need to have some breast milk ready for them. If you’re planning on going back to work and continue nursing then you need to prepare milk in advance as well as pump at work. Pumping is also essential for relieving engorgement.
Many, if not most, insurance companies will either provide you with one or reimburse you for purchasing one.
Electric pumps are fantastic, they’re often handsfree and come with a bunch of goodies, but you may also want to have a manual set.
Another nursing essential is a bottle system for feeding pumped milk or formula.
Some breast pumps actually provide you with bottle systems. It’s important to note that different babies adapt better to different kinds of bottles and nipple shapes, depending on mom’s nipples. So I wouldn’t recommend buying a big set until you know what your child likes.
Milk Storage System
Another nursing essential for more moms include a milk storage system. For short term storage, bottles are fine, but for long term freezer storage, milk storage bags are your best option.
Storage guidelines, provided by the CDC, are as follows:
- Fresh: up to 4 hours without refrigeration
- Refrigerated: up to 4 days
- Frozen: within 6 months (12 months max)
My best tip for storing frozen milk bags is to place your freshly pumped bag horizontally. Once it has frozen, store your bags vertically together. Storing them vertically will economize space and freezing them horizontally will evenly distribute the liquid into the bag.
Nursing Essentials for Your Breasts
No nursing experience goes smoothly. We all stumble through a few unpleasant obstacles.
Some of the issues you may encounter include nipple cracking and bleeding, both short term, as well as leaking and engorgement, which can happen at any time.
Nursing essentials for these include:
- Nipple Cream/Balm/Butter (I used Lanolin)
- Nursing Pads (Disposable or Washable)
- Breast Therapy Packs or Pillows
- Nipple Shields (if your nipples do end up scabbing)
I’ve shared my experiences with these in My After Birthing Realities post.
Nursing Pillow and Cloth Essentials
Most of your nursing time will be sitting or laying with your child at your breast for several hours a day. It is essential to find a comfortable nursing position for the both of you.
When your baby is still very small you will need some support to hold them up to your breast. Your arms will get tired and you will want to be more handsfree. That’s where pillows come in.
There are several kinds of nursing pillows out there, mostly catering to Cradle and Crossover holds (which could also work for lying holds). Even some for nursing twins.
You won’t know which pillow is best until you find the best hold for you and baby.
As a first time mom, I was given a common nursing pillow but ended up not using it for nursing because the best position for me turned out to be the Football hold. I ended up using a couch pillow and the arm of my couch to hold up my babies so I never invested in another nursing pillow.
Being a parent to a newborn, your clothes will always have spit up somewhere and you won’t even care. With toddlers, you’ll be upgraded to pee, poop, snot, and maybe some vomit. However, breastmilk spit up gets real stinky real fast so this is one of my top nursing essentials.
I always nursed with at least one burp cloth nearby and another under my breast ready to catch the spit up. Our daughter would spit up immediately after. For us it was best to have a lot of burp cloths because they’d go straight to the laundry room. My favorite burp cloths were actually aden + anais swaddles because of their soft fabrics.
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My name is Paula and I’m a mom of two scrumptious cuties. Thanks Mommy Blog became a project for me to help guide other new moms and current moms through any of my own personal experiences and struggles. My hobbies include singing, doing jigsaw puzzles, baking, designing and trying to stay creative.