Breastfeeding Essentials for Nursing Your Baby

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If you’re nursing, these are the breastfeeding essentials that will make your journey easier and more comfortable for you and your baby. Some may surprise you, and others will become your new can’t-live-without-it favorites. From nursing bras and breastfeeding pillows to nipple creams and pumping parts, it’s all here.

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Nursing Basics

Prenatal vitamins. Yes, you’re post-natal, but many health-care professionals recommend continuing to take prenatals while you breastfeed so you and baby can get more essential nutrients. Talk to your doctor about what vitamins you need.

Burp cloths. You probably received cute, colorful cloths at your baby shower, but a plain cloth diaper is also an excellent, and highly absorbant, way to protect your clothing and wipe baby’s face after a spit-up situation.

Nipple shields. A lifesaver for many women in the beginning. This thin, clear silicone nipple shield can help baby latch if they're having trouble or you have flat or inverted nipples.

Nursing bras. These bras make it easier to feed your child and are more comfortable for you, especially in the first few months. If you're pumping, you'll want combo nursing & pumping bras that let you pump hands-free. Check out our guide to nursing bras for everything you need to know.

Nursing pillows. Holding a nursing baby in your arms gets real old, real fast. You don't need to invest in a nursing pillow, but it will help your baby latch at the right angle for feeding and can be more comfortable for your back. Read about the top nursing pillows.

Breast milk collection cups. You won't lose a drop of liquid gold with a cup designed to catch milk from the breast your baby isn't nursing on. They're also handy for hand expression and some are shaped to allow your baby to drink right from the silicone cup.

Nursing apps. Track which side you last nursed on, when baby nursed and other important nursing data in these amazing apps. Many apps will also track diaper changes, nap schedules and health history so you have all of your baby data in one spot. Check out awesome organizational apps for new moms.

Lactation consultants. If breastfeeding is painful or you’re concerned about whether baby is getting enough milk, talk to a lactation consultant. Ask local moms for recommendations, or explore online resources.

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Breast Soothers

Nipple creams. Heal sore, dry, cracked nipples with breast milk, coconut oil, lanolin or a store-bought nipple cream. If you buy a cream, look for one that doesn’t need to be washed off before baby nurses.

Nursing Pads. Disposable or reusable breast pads can comfort sore nipples and protect against leaks that stain your clothes.

Breast pain relievers. From massagers that soften the breast to work out clogged ducts to pillows and gel packsyou heat up to quicken milk flow, there are products to soothe the most common breast discomfort.

Pumping Products

Motorized breast pumps. Many insurance companies cover the cost of a breast pump, which is great. But there are sometimes restrictions, and you might want or need a different kind of pump. New moms can also rent pumps from hospitals after birth.

Manual pumps. Many breastfeeders love the convenience of a hand pump. It’s quiet and doesn’t require batteries or an outlet, so it’s great for late nights, air travel and road trips. You can use a hand pump to increase supply, catch leaking milk while baby is nursing on the other breast, and relieve pressure before nursing if you’re engorged.

Pumping accessories. A hands-free pumping bra is a must with a traditional breast pump. There’s a slit in each cup of these clever bras that allow you to slip the flanges into the bra and connect the bottles and hoses outside it. And speaking of flanges, the correct size flanges can make a difference in pumping output. If you’re concerned about milk production, confirm you’re using the right size flange for your breast and nipple size.

Storage & cleaning. Breastmilk storage bags and cups come in silicone and plastic versions. For heating milk, invest in a breastmilk warmer that safely heats the milk evenly. To clean storage cups and pump parts, use a bottle and dish soap with gentle ingredients that's free of fragrances. Babies are sensitive to new smells. 

Milk coolers. If you're pumping at work, on outings or while traveling, you need a sturdy insulated bag for toting your pumped milk. Look for one with reusable ice packs and/or insulated panels. 

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On-the-Go Essentials

Water bottle. Breastfeeding makes you super thirsty, so a water bottle is an absolute must. Choose a bottle that's easy to clean and not too heavy to carry, since you’ll also be lugging baby’s bottles and gear.

Lip balm. Your lips are likely to dry out from nursing, and the right lip balm keeps your lips soft for all those baby kisses. 

Nursing cover (optional). It’s legal to breastfeed in all 50 states, but you may feel more comfortable with a nursing cover. Use a swaddling blanket or scarf if you don’t want to buy a separate product, but a cover can offer you more privacy and convenience. Look for a multi-use cover that works to cover car seats for added shade.

Lactation Snacks

Lactation drink powders. These drinks combine combine vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and lactation-supporting herbs into a powder you can add to your favorite smoothie or other snacks.

Lactation tea & coffee. A hot beverage is a soothing way to get your lactation support and extra hydration. 

Lactation treats. New moms deserve all the snacks. From cookies and brownies to bars and gummies, there are lots of tasty ways to boost your milk while satisfying that sweet tooth.

Pro tip: Talk to your health care provider or lactation consultant before taking any snacks or supplements to boost your milk supply or overall nutritional intake.

RELATED STORIES:

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