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I know what you’re thinking.
Do we really need another list of breastfeeding must-haves?
Don’t we already have pages and pages on Google with everyone who has ever breastfed sharing what breastfeeding supplies she thinks are what you need to buy for breastfeeding?
This list is different.
I’m not just a mom who breastfed her own three kiddos. And let’s be honest, I breastfed a long time ago. The list of what to buy for breastfeeding was pretty short back then.
But I’m also a lactation consultant with the benefit of what the thousands of moms have taught me over the last 26 years. They are the ones who have taught me what breastfeeding products are going to be most useful for today’s moms.
Top 9 Breastfeeding Must-Haves
#1 – Breast Pump
A breast pump is one of the leading must-have breastfeeding supplies. Most moms use a breast pump at some point during their breastfeeding journey. According to a study reported in the American Journal of Public Health, 85% of mamas had used a breast pump at some point by the time their baby was 4.5 months old (Source).
There are many reasons a mom might need to or choose to use a breast pump. Some moms are even exclusively pumping their breast milk and bottle-feeding it to their baby. A mom who uses a pump that frequently is going to need a strong and durable breast pump.
There is a dizzying number of pumps on the market. A good breast pump can make the difference between pumping being comfortable and getting lots of milk and pumping being an uncomfortable, or even painful experience, that produces disappointing results.
These are my top recommendations for breast pumps.
The Medela Pump In Style Has Been Around for decades. It was the first double electric personal pump on the market. It is a pump that has a long track record of being effective and comfortable.
Spectra Breast Pumps
The Spectra Baby USA – S2 has a 4.4-star rating on Amazon from almost 2400 ratings. Seventy-four percent of the ratings were a 5 star. When that many moms are willing to take the time to write a review, you know the product must be a winner.
Spend a bit more, and you get the pump and a tote to carry it in, plus a cooler for your milk.
The Spectra pumps have a closed tubing system that ensures that milk does not backflow into the tubing.
Every mom I have spoken with who has a Spectra breast pump loves it.
Wearable Breast Pumps
A breast pump that you can wear is quickly gaining in popularity among busy multitasking moms. The Willow is one of the top players in this new option. A wearable pump means you do not have to sit next to the power unit while you are pumping. As an added bonus, you don’t have to deal with tubing and bottles and all those other pieces.
The Willow has a built-in rechargeable battery.
Wearable pumps fit right inside your bra or tank top, which eliminates the need for a hands-free pumping bra.
The Willow is the only wearable pump (as of the March 2020 publication of this post) that gives you the choice of using a storage bag or reusable containers. Both the bags and containers hold 4 oz each and are BPA free.
Manual Breast Pump
I was actually surprised when so many moms told me they used a manual pump in addition to an electric pump. It turns out there are lots of times when a manual breast pump comes in handy.
As breastfeeding gear goes, one of the most popular manual pumps is very low tech. The Haaka is a best seller on Amazon. One piece makes it easy to clean.
To avoid spills get the version that has the suction base.
Keep a Haaka in your nursing basket to catch the milk you leak during let-down.
If you get engorged, you can pump off a bit of milk to make it easier for your baby to latch.
Keep one in your car for emergencies
#2 – Hands – Free Pumping Bra
Some smart multitasking mama must have invented this breastfeeding accessory.
For moms using a traditional electric pump, a hands-free pumping bra can be a game changer. It frees up your hands so you can do something else with them. It is more comfortable for your hands as well to not have to hold the bottles. This is one of those things that I wish I had invented.
The Simple Wishes Patented Hands Free Pumping Bra has a 4.5-star review on Amazon from a whopping 9000+ reviews.
#3 – Breastfeeding Pillow
There is no doubt that a breastfeeding pillow is one of the most popular breastfeeding items moms want. This is another breastfeeding item that is not lacking in choices.
The Boppy Best Latch Breastfeeding Pillow is exactly how I would have designed a breastfeeding pillow. It has different levels of firmness on each side. There is a firm side which is perfect for your newborn. The other side is softer, which works best as the baby gets older and bigger.
The one feature I really love about the Boppy Best Latch Breastfeeding Pillow is the detachable belt.
If you like the option of being able to attach the pillow to keep it in place, you can use the belt. If that just feels like it is one more thing you have to do before feeding your hungry baby, you can take it off and tuck the buckles into these handy little pockets they have just for that purpose.
If you are watching your budget, then you will want to check out this free breastfeeding pillow. All you have to do is pay for shipping if you use the code BFC1SAVE
# 4 – Nursing Stool
Of all the breastfeeding stuff that you can get, I love a nursing stool the most. It goes such a long way to help make moms more comfortable during feeding sessions.
Just lifting your feet up that little bit and at an angle seems to make such a big difference in how comfortable a nursing mama is. I always have moms try out the nursing stool I keep in my office when I do a consult. You can see the tension leave their shoulders as they lean back.
They are available at such an affordable price point. You could get one for the different areas of your house where you breastfeed most often.
A lot of moms like a comfortable glider with an ottoman. I really love this model from Graco because it has a stool built in. Honestly, I prefer the effect of a stool on mom’s posture as compared to an ottoman. The Graco gives the option to choose which is most comfortable for you.
The Mount It Adjustable Footrest gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of how high or low you can adjust it. Plus it has massaging beads to sooth your tired feet.
#5 – Nursing Tanks
I wish Nursing Tank Tops had been a thing when I was breastfeeding.
I tell pregnant moms not to buy nursing bras until after their baby is born and they have gotten through the engorgement phase. Then you will have a much better idea of what size bra you will need.
I love a nursing tank, though. These are perfect for the hospital and those first few days. A nursing tank top gives you support. It is a breastfeeding accessory that you will want to buy multiples of.
It eliminates the need to wear a shirt over it.
It covers your tummy when you are breastfeeding.
You can get plain ones.
They also make really cute stylish nursing tanks.
#6 – Bra Pads
Most moms leak breast milk in the early weeks of breastfeeding. I recommend new moms have both disposable pads and cloth pads that are washable. The Lansinoh Stay Dry Bra Pads are soft and absorbent disposables. They are great for nighttime.
Hands down cloth pads like are more comfortable. Pads like the Organic Bamboo Nursing Pads are made out of bamboo are absorbent and soft.
LillyPadz Silicone Nursing Pads are an excellent option for those times when you can’t have any accidents. They actually prevent leaking.
I don’t recommend LillyPads for daily use. But they can be a lifesaver in situations where you may not be able to change pads that get wet. They also aren’t as bulky as a cloth nursing pad.
Because a breastfeeding mom can never have too many pairs of bra pads, take advantage of this offer for ten pairs of nursing pads for free using the code BFC1SAVE.
#7 – Lactation Massager
To be honest, it’s pretty rare that a product comes along that can make a significant difference in breastfeeding or pumping.
The LaVie Lactation Massager is one of those products.
Research has shown that massage during pumping increases milk supply (Source). During breastfeeding, massage can increase how much milk your baby is getting.
This piece of breastfeeding equipment is genius! It will also be helpful if you get clogged ducts. It is fantastic that they have a crazy affordable manual version in their LaVie Lactation Massage Roller. At this price point, you can get several and tuck one in your diaper bag and keep one in each of the rooms at home where you breastfeed most often.
#8 – A Good Breastfeeding Book
I have been a lactation consultant for over twenty-five years. I have seen a lot of books about breastfeeding over that time. My favorite book on breastfeeding continues to be The Nursing Mother’s Companion.
For several years at the hospital, we would send moms home with a breastfeeding gift pack. We put in bra pads and some lanolin and a copy of The Nursing Mother’s Companion.
I love how it is organized. It is so easy to find the answer to your question. You can quickly read about the stage of breastfeeding that you are in.
The author updates it regularly. The most recent edition was published in February 2020.
It is a book you will want to include in your breastfeeding kit.
I wrote an eBook that gives you quick, easy to read tips in Breastfeed Like a Boss. I provide must-know tips through the first year of breastfeeding.
#9 – MommyMeds App
There is an often repeated joke that moms don’t get sick days. Unfortunately, moms do get sick. When you are not feeling 100%, and you are wondering if a medication is safe to take when you are breastfeeding, the MommyMeds app is going to be your best friend. Dr. Thomas Hale created it. He writes the book Medications and Mother’s Milk. I call it the bible of information on the safety of meds while breastfeeding.
Final Thoughts on Breastfeeding Must-Haves
Other products can make life easier for a breastfeeding mom. These are the ones that are specifically for breastfeeding or pumping. If you want to know other things that come in handy when you are breastfeeding, check out my popular blog post, 15 Essential Every Mom Needs In a Breastfeeding Basket.
What is a must-have for breastfeeding for you, Mama? Let me know in the comments.
Andrea Tran RN, MA, IBCLC
Andrea has been working with new families as an RN for over 35 years and a Lactation Consultant for over 25 years.
She has her MA in Health and Wellness with a focus in Lactation.