When it comes down to it, the two most important breastfeeding essentials you need are patience and support. We all have this grand idea of what our breastfeeding journey may or may not look like but if I’m being honest, the journey isn’t as smooth for some as it is for others. Breastfeeding is hard work no matter how you slice it!
That’s where patience and support comes in! With patience and support and all the essentials for breastfeeding I mention throughout this post it makes the journey easier and a lot more exciting to accomplish the goal you set out for you and your baby. Whether that’s 6 months, 12 months or exclusively pumping to feed your baby, you have the tools and supplies needed to be
It can sometimes be extremely overwhelming to think about all the essentials for new moms because it’s a pretty long list. From breastfeeding items, c section postpartum recovery essentials (if you’re a c section mama you may need a few extra items) to baby essentials.
I nursed my son for 24 months so everything listed is what I used to get me through the different phases of our journey. Think strong suck, cluster feedings, biting and handstands while nursing (those boys!). As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve had the pleasure of helping many women get started on their journeys and I recommended these same items to them as well.
So if you’re wondering, What do I need for breastfeeding and pumping? Continue reading and if I left out any breastfeeding essentials you couldn’t live without, let me know in the comments.
Breastfeeding Essentials Checklist
- Nursing Bras
- Tanks For Night Time
- Storage Bags
- Breast Pump
- Hands-Free Breast pump
- Pump Bag
- Pump Wipes
- Steam bags
- Milk Bag
- Breast Pads
- Nursing cover
- Hands- Free Pumping Bra
- Night Light
What To Buy For A Nursing Mother
I will start with the beautiful friends and loved one’s looking to give the new mom something helpful, like a breastfeeding essentials kit. The Frida Mom Breast Care Kit is one of the best breastfeeding starter kits you can purchase for the new mom. There are some great breastfeeding accessories included to make mom a little more comfortable. Instead of buying each item individually, they can be purchased as one kit.
The lactation massager– When you have a few clogged ducts the massager is great to break things up. The best part about this is its water resistant so it can be used in the shower. Nothing is more soothing than hot running water and vibration to help with discomfort.
Hydration Breast Mask– Helps to give your breast a little pick me up. The masks are made with Aloe Vera, Honey, cucumber and Tea Tree Oil.
Lactation Breast Mask- The purpose of the lactation mask is to help with milk production. Ingredients include Fennel and Fenugreek.
Best Things For Breastfeeding Moms
Best Nursing Bra- My top 3 best maternity and nursing bras are from Motherhood, Spanx and Kindred Bravely. Some things to consider when deciding on a nursing bra: is it made for everyday use, seamless, wireless, strapless and will it provide support and comfort for your growing breast?
Also, would you prefer a clip down or a wrap (sleep bra) nursing bra?
- The Motherhood Bra– Is seamless which is what I love the most. I purchased this one at the beginning of my pregnancy. The stretchiness allowed the bra to grow with me as my pregnancy went on. The full coverage provided support and comfort, and it was one I certainly used for everyday use.
- Spanx Mama Nursing Bra– I mean seriously is there anything a woman doesn’t love about Spanx? Let me introduce you to the Spanx nursing bra. Besides the wonders of a clip down nursing bra, it functions as a maternity and nursing bra. This one comes with pad pockets which will keep your nursing pads in place to absorb leaks.
- Kindred Bravely Ultra Smooth Classic Nursing Bra– It’s super comfortable and provides significant support. It’s a clip down, my design of choice because there’s nothing worse than a screaming hungry baby who needs you to act fast.
- Best Budget Nursing Bra- These Suekaphin maternity and nursing bras are great if you are looking for something less expensive. They have some of the same features mentioned above including a clip down. They come in a pack of 2 or 5.
For breastfeeding tips and tricks you can check out:
What is a Haakaa and how to use one.
My Q & A with a lactation specialist- Black Women and Breastfeeding
Best Nursing Bra For Large Breast
Kindred Bravely French Terry Nursing Bra– The French Terry comes in 5 colors and is great for everyday use and even makes for an awesome nursing bra for sleep. Sizes range from XS-XXL busty.
Best Nipple Cream For Breastfeeding- As you go through your breastfeeding journey there will be a lot of trial and error and a lot of time spent trying new products and what works best and provides the most comfort.
I’ve tried many nipple balms and hands down Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter is one of the best. It’s made with calendula, which is great for healing and soothes sore nipples in the early stages. A little goes a long way, so that small 2 oz bottle will last a very long time. I also used this as a chap-stick for myself. 😉
- Lanolin Free
- Made with Cocoa butter, Mango Butter & Shea Butter
- Safe for baby to nurse while nipple balm is on the breast.
For the breastfeeding vegan mamas there’s Vegan Nipple Butter. It’s made exactly the same except there’s no beeswax.
The Honest Company Calm Your Nip Balm is the next choice for best organic nipple cream for breastfeeding. It’s thinner compared to the Earth Mama Nipple Balm.
- Made with Shea Butter, Aloe, Coconut Oil & Jojoba
Best Nighttime Nursing Tank- Nothing is more treasured than a new mother’s sleep. That’s why tank tops for sleep are an absolute must have part of your breastfeeding essentials.
You need the one handed clip down tanks more than ever at night. The ease of access for those late night nursing sessions when you’re half asleep is worth the purchase.
Best Budget-Friendly Nursing Tank- Someone gifted me Suiek nursing tank tops as a baby shower gift and they truly get the job down. I mainly wore these at nighttime as well. They are of wonderful quality, soft and stretchy. The downside to these budget-friendly nursing tanks, they are not very good for everyday, all day use because they provide very little breast support.
Best Nursing Cami- Clip down nursing tank is perfect for everyday use or to wear under tops if needed. Because of its versatility and comfort it’s a maternity essential every breastfeeding mom could use.
- Shelf bra
- Clip down function
- Multiple color options
Best Nursing Tops For Breastfeeding-I think we all can agree maternity and breastfeeding clothing are not the most stylish. So when you find a few that work for your new mom style you want to tell everyone.
For a more comfortable style that has the same look and feel as a basic tee, the Bamboo Everyday Nursing T-shirt is perfect if you’re looking to get away from the look of a nursing top.
For a cuter look, that can be dressed up or down, this drape front nursing top is one of my favorites. The front drape makes for quick and easy access in style.
If you are looking for non-maternity and breastfeeding clothing, the Summer Daydream Free People button down is a fantastic option. You might remember from Gifts For Expecting Moms Free People was one of my favorite non maternity stores for dressing the bump.
It’s comfy, stylish and comes in a variety of colors. Keep in mind Free People clothing runs on the bigger side.
Best Nursing Pads- When you’re thinking about breastfeeding supplies nursing pads should be at the top of the list along with all the rest of your breastfeeding essentials. There’s going to be some leaking for a while, especially when you are overdue to nurse your baby. There are many options on the market but what it truly comes down to is whether you want to use disposable or reusable.
Organic Bamboo Nursing Pads are the best reusable nursing pads. These are a pack of 14 and come with a laundry bag to keep you covered for the week. These reusable pads are cost-effective, extremely absorbent and come in different colors including solid black.
I washed these every few days to make sure I always had a clean set. The downside to these is no adhesive. They will move around in your nursing bra and nursing tank.
Lansinoh Nursing Pads are the best disposable pads. I used these mainly for when I was away for longer periods. I loved these because they are soft, super absorbent and have adhesive on the back. They remain in place in your bra or tank.
What’s not so great about them is that they are not environmentally friendly. Each pad is wrapped individually.
Best Nursing Covers- For some of us it may take some time to get used to breastfeeding in public places without a cover. It’s certainly not a requirement to cover while in public but it can provide privacy for those who want it. Lots of moms add a nursing cover to their list of breastfeeding essentials.
The Boppy Infinity Nursing Cover can be used as a breastfeeding cover and styled as a scarf. It provides full coverage with adjustable straps.
A great alternative is to use a muslin swaddle blanket. They work great as a breastfeeding cover because of its size, breathable and multipurpose usage.
Best Breast Milk Storage Bags- The Kiinde milk storage bags are by far the best milk storage bags for several reasons. They are 6 ounces in size and come in a pack of 40. I added the Kiinde gift set to my baby registry, and I also received and purchased other storage bags to test out.
Why are the Kiinde storage bags so great? They are durable, recyclable, BPA free, twist cap to seal and easy to use. Using your breast pump adapters you can pump directly into the bags and the adapters are compatible with all major pump brands.
Unless you drop it yourself, it’s a pretty smooth and clean process. Once done just twist the cap and store.
To help keep you organized, there’s a Kiinde milk storage bag holder. A cheaper option is to take an old shoebox, remove the top and organize your storage bags lying flat and place them in the deep freezer.
Night Light- The Hatch was perfect to use as a night light for those middle of the night nursing sessions.
Best Breast Pump-A breast pump is a must have breastfeeding essential especially if you are returning to work or school, travel for work or exclusively pumping. Breast pumps are covered by your insurance but you will need to determine what type of breast pump you are allowed to get, how is the order processed, will your insurance take care of it or can you go through a third party? How soon can it be ordered?
For example, with my insurance I could order my breast pump and supplies whenever I was ready but for friends who had different insurance than I they couldn’t place an order for a breast pump until 32 weeks. Every company is different, so it’s important to make the phone call to determine what’s offered and how soon.
Spectra S2-The Spectra S2 Plus has single or double pump capabilities. You can adjust suction levels to your comfort level and let your milk flow into bottles or storage bags. It’s lightweight, very quiet, BPA Free and provides back-flow protection (closed system) which is a major plus!
The Spectra is what I ordered, and I was very pleased with its ability and function. Just so you know, the S2 only comes in pink.
Medela- Many of my lactation friends highly recommend Medela. Overall, it’s a fantastic pump and has been around for a long time so well known especially to hospital providers. Occasionally I used the Medela at work and I will say it always “pulled off” more milk than my Spectra and it was slightly more comfortable.
Medela Sonata Smart Breast Pump
- Closed system-milk won’t enter the tubing or motor.
- Comes with tubing, rechargeable battery, carry bag, breast shields, connector set, bottles, breast milk cooler and a power adapter.
Best Hands-Free Breast Pump
Haakaa Lady Bug-The Haakaa Lady Bug is a silicone wearable milk collector. Unlike the original Haakaa, this one is placed inside your bra so there’s no need to worry about little feet kicking it off the breast and wasting all your hard earned milk. It holds via suction and collects letdown. A great time to have them in place is when your baby is nursing.
Willow vs Elvie
|Milk Storage||Reusable milk containers & 4 oz. spill-proof milk bags||5 oz. reusable bottles.|
|Breast Shield Size||24mm, 27mm & 21mm (not included)||28mm , 24mm & 21mm (not included)|
|Weight Of Pump||12.5 ounces||14.8 ounces|
Willow Breast Pump
The best part of the Willow wearable breast pump is it can be used in any position, anywhere.
The worst part about the Willow is its expensive and you will need to check if your insurance will cover it for you but it is FSA/HSA eligible.
The milk storage bags are spill proof, placed inside the Willow for the ability to pump directly into the bags.
The Willow Pump is BPA Free and only 2 parts to clean.
What’s included in the Willow Kit?
- 2 pumps
- 24mm or 27mm flanges. You can purchase 21mm flanges separately.
- Flextubes. Flextubes connect to flanges and milk bags.
- (24) 4oz. Milk bags
- Cleaning brushes
Like Willow, the Elvie pump app allows you to keep track of your pumping history. You can also control the mode and intensity making pumping extremely convenient.
The Elvie bottle is BPA free, safe in both the refrigerator and freezer and dishwasher safe. You will have to pour milk into storage bags after pumping. You will only get 2 Elvie bottles.
There’s 5 parts to clean.
- 2 Bottles
- (1) 24mm & 1 28mm breast shield
- 2 Valves
- 2 Spouts
- 2 Seals
- 2 Storage lids
- 2 Bra adjusters
- 1 Usb charging cable
- Carry bag
Tip: Add the pump you desire that’s not covered by insurance to your amazon baby registry. Use your baby registry completion discount to purchase.
You may also enjoy Best Free Apps For New Moms to offer some helpful breastfeeding tools to keep you on track.
Breast Pump Bag– The best breast pump bag is one that comes with a cooler and one that affords you enough room to throw in some extra work supplies.
The Luxja Breast Pump with a cooler bag does just that.
- Comes in 3 different colors
- Wears as a backpack or carry bag
- Cooler fits (4) 5 ounces bottles with an ice pack. Ice packs and bottles are not included.
Breast Pump Wipes– Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump and Accessory wipes and Sanitizer Spray can be used not only on breast pumps but also on bottles and breast shields.
The wipes can also be used for cleaning high chairs, changing tables and toys.
You can easily toss a pack of wipes or the spray in your pump bag for easy and quick cleaning.
They are unscented, no alcohol or bleach, and don’t require any soap or water.
Steam bags– When you are away from home and unable to toss your pump parts in the dishwasher or sterilize them on the stove top, Medela sterilizing steam bags will do the trick.
They come in a pack of 12 and each bag can be used up to 20 times.
Best Milk Cooler Bags Ice Pack– Medela Breast Milk Cooler is the perfect size and the perfect amount of space to store your milk after a long day of work or school. And if your child is going to daycare or grandma’s this is great to transport milk in.
It comes with (4) 5 ounces bottles with lids. If you don’t use Medela bottles, that’s ok just pop the storage bags you use in the container and you’re good to go.
Another option- Skip Hop Grab & Go Baby Bottle Bag. The Grab & Go provides enough space for 2 bottles and keeps items cold for up to 4 hours. Freezer pack is included. Can attach to strollers as well.
Best Hands-Free Pumping Bra
Simple Wishes Hands-Free Pumping Bra– This bra is adjustable to create a good seal around the bottles. It provides coverage for modesty and is easy to place over your nursing bra for use.
Momcozy Hands-Free Pumping Bra– The Momcozy functions as both a nursing bra and a hands- free pumping bra. Adjustable with clip down clasp. The Momcozy can fit all major brand breast pumps.
Boppy– To help aid you with breastfeeding positions and for comfort, the Boppy is a great addition to your breastfeeding essentials. A bonus to having a Boppy pillow is that it grows with your baby. It can be used not just for feedings but for tummy time, sitting or propping up after a feed.
Breastfeeding Essentials FAQs
Breastfeeding shopping list
It may surprise you but there is no special diet you need to follow when breastfeeding. There are however a few items you should eat in moderation such as seafood.
You can check out recommendations from the CDC on maternal diet when breastfeeding.
What should I pack in my hospital bag for breastfeeding?
You don’t need much in the way of breastfeeding supplies while in the hospital. Most hospitals provide everything you may need to get you started on your breastfeeding journey. I would, however, pack a nursing bra in your hospital bag. You can check out Realistic C-Section Hospital Bag.
Do I need a nursing bra for the hospital?
Bringing a nursing bra to the hospital is a good idea for comfort and support.
Should I pack my breast pump in my hospital bag?
Most hospitals have breast pumps for patients to use while in the hospital if needed. So you shouldn’t need to bring your own but you can always call the hospital where you are delivering to be sure.
Do you really need a nursing bra?
Purchasing a nursing bra is not a must but they absolutely serve their purpose. They create easier access to nurse your baby, provide comfort and support. Remember your bra size will increase a few sizes up while pregnant and when you are lactating your breasts are fuller.
How many nursing bras do you need?
I always recommend 5 nursing bras, the more you have the better. It’s good to have extras on hand for leaking breasts, spit ups and if others are dirty.
I hope you found this list of breastfeeding essentials helpful. Let me know in the comments what you couldn’t live without.