Greatest Life Saving Essentials For Every Nursing Mom

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.

Greatest Life Saving Essentials For Every Nursing Mom

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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

Breast Pumps

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.

Bottle System

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.

We liked the Medela bottles that came with the pump as well as MAM and Avent bottles. I personally hated the Dr. Browns bottles.

You could also get a bottle warmer machine and bottle sterilizer but you can make due without them.

Greatest Life Saving Essentials For Every Nursing Mom

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:

I’ve shared my experiences with these in My After Birthing Realities post.

Nursing Pillow and Cloth Essentials

Nursing Pillows

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.

Burp Cloths

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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Greatest Life Saving Essentials For Every Nursing Mom

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August 3, 2018 10:38 am

I’m exclusively pumping but so much of this applies to me as well! Good Nursing bras are SO difficult to find but so worth it. So it nipple balm. I LOVE the Bamboobies one you posted a picture of!

October 22, 2018 12:27 pm

Finding the right breast pump and pillow was essential for me. This was especially the case because I had a c section and I was an overproducer. It helped quite a bit!

October 22, 2018 12:50 pm

I’m 10mos onto breastfeeding and I ALWAYS suggest a haaka. It will hello you increase on your milk supply and now waste it in your nursing pads.

October 22, 2018 1:02 pm

This is a comprehensive list. I didn’t make the decision to breast feed until moments after I had my son but this would’ve been helpful in preparing.

October 23, 2018 7:42 am

I remember when I’m still exclusively breasfeeding my daughter, one of my struggle really is finding the right bra for me. You are right, the quality and style available at maternity stores are not so comfy for me. I wish I found your site before. This is a good list.