Breastfeeding

Breast Pumps, Bras and More Breastfeeding Supplies

Breastfeeding Supplies

You really don't need anything more than your breasts and your baby to breastfeed successfully. However, there are plenty of breastfeeding products, supplies, and accessories available to help make breastfeeding easier and more comfortable. Chances are you won't need all of these items, but depending on your situation, you'll probably want at least a few of them. Here's a list of breastfeeding supplies that mothers find helpful.

A Breastfeeding Pillow

A breastfeeding pillow encourages a good breastfeeding position and a proper breastfeeding latch. It helps to support your baby and raise her up to your breast. When your child is lifted up, you're less likely to lean over, so it can help reduce strain on your back, neck, and shoulders. A nursing pillow also makes it more comfortable to breastfeed if you've had a c-section since it can provide a barrier between your baby and your belly.

Pillows that are designed specifically for breastfeeding are often curved to go around your waist. However, as long as they're firm enough, bed pillows and couch pillows can work, too. 

Nursing Bras

A good nursing bra is supportive, comfortable, and convenient. It's especially helpful in the first few weeks after you have your baby when you're milk is coming in and your breasts are full and heavy. A nursing bra can help hold up the extra weight and relieve some of the strain on your shoulders and back. Additionally, nursing bras have cups that can be unhooked and pulled down, so that it's easier to access your breasts when it's time to breastfeed.

But, you don't want to stock up on nursing bras before your baby is born. Just get one or two. Your bra size will likely change once your breasts begin to fill up with milk, then you can get a few more. There are also bras made for moms who pump. A hands-free pumping bra lets you attach the pump to your bra without having to hold it in place. It may be just what you need if you're exclusively pumping.

A Breast Pump

Breast pumps remove breast milk from your breasts. They can be used to collect and store breast milk, relieve breast engorgement, manage an overabundant breast milk supply, or stimulate an increase in the amount of breast milk that you're making. Pumping also allows you to provide breast milk to your baby if he or she is in the hospital, or if you need to return to work. There are different types of breast pumps available depending on how often you need or want to pump. If you're home with your child most of the time, a manual or battery-powered pump is all you'll need to pump an occasional bottle.

However, if you're exclusively pumping you'll want to invest in a higher quality electric pump to maximize your time and the amount of breast milk that you're able to produce. 

Breast Pads 

Breast pads, also called nursing pads, are absorbent disc-shaped pads that can be placed inside of your bra to soak up any breast milk that may leak from your breasts. Leaking is common especially in the first few months of breastfeeding when your milk supply is adjusting. Most women leak less or stop leaking altogether after a few months. However, some women with an overabundant breast milk supply may leak for the duration of their breastfeeding experience. Leaking can cause embarrassing stains and even ruin your clothing. So, to prevent stains and protect your clothes, you can use disposable or washable breast pads

A Breastfeeding Cover-Up

Whether you're out in public or at home visiting with family and friends, you may feel a little uncomfortable breastfeeding around other people. A breastfeeding cover-up is the perfect solution in these situations, since it can provide privacy while you're breastfeeding your baby.

Breastfeeding covers come in a variety of types and patterns. You can use a traditional cover, or you may opt for a more fashionable look with a scarf or shawl. If you don't want to buy a special nursing cover, you can just use a baby blanket. When it comes to covering up, there are plenty of options to fit your style and your needs.  

Breastfeeding Clothes

You can comfortably breastfeed in a button down shirt or a t-shirt, but if you want to breastfeed more discreetly, you can buy clothing that's designed specifically for breastfeeding women. Breastfeeding tops, blouses, and dresses have flaps or slits in the front so that you can breastfeed without having to pull up or remove your clothing. Breastfeeding clothes are available in many styles, from casual tank tops to professional and formal wear.  

Burp Cloths

Burp cloths can clean up all sorts of little messes. You can place one over your nursing pillow while you're breastfeeding to help catch any breast milk that drips out of your baby's mouth.

You can also put put them over your shoulder, under your child's chin, or on your lap to protect you from spit-ups when you're burping your baby or holding him after feedings. 

Breastfeeding Books

Breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn't mean it's easy for every mom. However, if you begin to learn about breastfeeding before your baby is born, you'll feel more confident and ready to face any challenges that might arise. Breastfeeding books are a great way to help you prepare. They are also a great resource once your baby is born. You're bound to have questions, and when you do, you'll be glad you have a breastfeeding book from a trusted source on hand to turn to for answers and guidance. 

A Breastfeeding Footstool

A nursing footstool elevates your lap and brings your baby closer to your breast. By lifting your lap and your child, you can reduce the strain on your legs, back, neck, shoulders, and arms. Ottomans or other furniture foot rests are often too high to use as a breastfeeding stool, but a stack of books or a kitchen step stool may work. If you prefer to buy a footstool, the ones designed for breastfeeding are angled, sometimes adjustable, and come in different colors to match your home or nursery decor. 

Breast Milk Storage Bags and Containers

Breast milk storage bags and containers are specially made for the collection and storage of breast milk. They can protect your breast milk since they're designed to withstand the freezing and thawing process. There are pros and cons to each type of storage product. Depending on your storage needs, you may choose breast milk storage bags, plastic breast milk storage bottles, food-safe glass containers, or breast milk trays.

Nipple Creams, Ointments, and Lotions

You don't need to use a nipple cream to try to prevent nipple issues. But, if you develop dry, cracked, sore nipples, or you live in a dry climate, certain creams and ointments, such as purified medical grade lanolin or Dr. Jack Newman's All-Purpose Nipple Ointment, may help to moisturize, soothe, and heal them. However, not all ointments are safe and helpful when you're breastfeeding. Some, such as numbing creams and vitamin E, are harmful and even dangerous for your baby. You can keep some purified lanolin on hand in case you need it, but before you buy or use any other type of product, talk to your doctor.

Breast Shells

Breast shells are products made from silicone or plastic that are worn over your breasts. When placed over sore nipples, they prevent pain and irritation by protecting the nipple from rubbing up against your nursing bra or clothing. For women who leak breast milk, breast shells can collect the leaks and stop embarrassing stains. They can also help to draw out and correct flat or inverted nipples. If you choose to use breast shells, you can wear them in-between feedings. But, when it's time to breastfeed, you must remove them. 

Nipple Shields

A nipple shield is a rubber or silicone device that is placed over your breast while you're breastfeeding. It can make such a difference in breastfeeding success if you're breastfeeding a preemie, breastfeeding with large nipples, or nursing a baby who has difficulty latching on. Under the direct supervision of a doctor or lactation specialist, a nipple shield is a very helpful product. However, if they're not used correctly, they can cause breast issues and a low breast milk supply

A Nursing Supplementer Device

A nursing supplementer device or supplemental nursing system is an excellent tool for mothers who want to breastfeed but have some difficulties. It allows the baby to receive extra milk (either breast milk or formula) while nursing at the breast. A supplementer can help preemies or infants with sucking issues practice breastfeeding while providing the nutrition that they need. It's also perfect for moms with a low milk supply, since it keeps the baby at the breast stimulating the production of more breast milk

An Insulated Cooler 

An insulated cooler with ice packs is a must for moms who need to transport their breast milk. If you plan to return to work right away, or if you have a sick or premature child in the hospital, you can pump your breast milk in one place, then bring it to your baby. Freshly pumped breast milk can stay in an insulated cooler with frozen ice packs for up to 24 hours, and frozen breast milk will last a few hours depending on the outside temperature.

Bottles and Nipples

If you're planning on pumping and giving your baby breast milk in a bottle, or if you're going to combine breastfeeding and formula feeding, you'll need to buy some bottles and nipples. But, don't buy too many of one type. Some children take the bottle without an issue, but some babies are a little pickier. You may have to try a few different brands of bottles and nipples before you find the ones that your child will accept. 

Breastfeeding Apps

Breastfeeding apps can provide information, but they can also help keep track of when your baby last breastfed, how long she nursed, which side the last feeding started nursing on, her wet and dirty diapers, and more. If you don't want to write it down the old fashioned way, breastfeeding apps are a great alternative. 

Sources:

Lawrence RA, Lawrence RM. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Eighth Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2015.

Riordan J, Wambach K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.

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