Written by Desirae Ofori. Updated from the original post on August 6, 2016. This blog post may contain affiliate links to products I personally recommend and love. If you click on the link and make a purchase this allows me to earn a commission that will help support SincerelyMrsMommy.com
When creating our baby registry I decided to add some breastfeeding necessities, just in case breastfeeding worked out for us. I’m so glad that I did! I received a nursing basket from a friend with some of the essentials I’d need. It definitely was one of the best things I could have ever received to start my journey. I used every single item in that basket. A few months later, I paid it forward, and created my own nursing basket for a pregnant friend, who wanted to try breastfeeding.
After 13 months of breastfeeding, I definitely have some tried and true favorite essentials that I’d like to share with you. These are my honest reviews that I would use again and recommend to ANY friend of mine.
Breast Pump: Electric and Manual
Why do you need a pump? Well, if you plan on returning to work, leaving the baby with someone, or want to give others the chance (and you a break) to feed baby, you’re going to need to express (release the milk) some how. There are three options: Hand Express, Manual Pump, or Electric Pump. I’ve done all three. Below are the details on the Electric and Manual pumps I used.
Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breastpump. I chose this one because of easy access to spare parts and accessories in big box stores. When you need those replacements to make your pump work, trust me, you don’t have time to wait for it to ship to the house. You’re going to love the convenience of being able to pick it up same day from the store. Actually, it’s a good idea to already have an extra set of parts (especially the shields and membranes), to hold you over until your next store trip. My insurance company provided me with a free electric breast pump. Some will let you order before baby is born, others make you wait till after. I would recommend calling them as soon possible, to see what their procedure is and what pumps they have available to choose from.
Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump. One time, I spent 15 minutes in the car hand expressing 3 oz of milk to relieve engorgement (when your breast are overfilled with milk). It would’ve been a lot quicker and easier if I had a manual pump. After that experience, I was like I need to get a manual pump pronto! I chose this pump because I already had the matching bottles from the electric pump, and for the ease of finding parts and accessories at the store. With the manual pump it’s easy to take on the go. It also gives you the control of the pumping speed and intensity for comfort. I’ve noticed, and other ladies can vouch, that for some reason we can get more milk pumped in probably half the time of electric pumping. Also, it’s great for middle of the night pumping when you don’t want to pull out the machine. It’s especially nice, if your electric pump is loud, and you don’t want to wake up or disturb the baby or your significant other.
TIP: You can use a ziplock bag to store your used shields for the day! Start with a fresh set in the morning. After each use, rinse out the excess milk, then place the shield and suction parts (not the tubing) in a tightly sealed ziplock bag and store in the fridge until your next use. At the end of the day, wash and sterilize as usual. This saves a ton of time, from washing after every session. If it smells sour prior to your next session, wash it out or choose a new set to use instead.
Update 2018: Shortly after this original post I learned about silicone suction breast pumps. They are essentially hands free manual pumps that you can use along with Nursing – just suction it to the breast that the baby is not nursing on to catch the natural letdown of extra milk. I purchased his one by NatureBond to use on my next breastfeeding journey.
Hands Free Pump Bra
Typically when using an electric breast pump, you are stuck having to hold one or both shields in place for 20-30 minutes or whatever the length of your pump session. Having this freed up my hands, to browse my phone, take a call, read, work on the computer, and EAT! It feels like there is never enough time to eat, even though you are always so hungry from breastfeeding. Having this hands free pump bra made it easier. I used the Medela Easy Expressions Hands Free Bustier.
Everyone knows about the Boppy and I have one and liked it. I ended up using it more for propping Samson up, or helping to sit him up when he was learning how to sit. However, I discovered the My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow while I was pregnant. It has a sturdier, flat surface, that keeps baby from rolling or tilting while nursing. It also has a strap that you can adjust to make the pillow snug around your entire body. This all helped for a more comfortable, supportive and proper nursing form. It even has a pouch where you can hold your nipple cream, pads, water bottle, or snack. I realllllly loved this pillow! It was one of my top best buys. I highly recommend it!
This product acts as a guard between baby and the nipple, to give you relief from sore nipples and allow baby to nurse at the same time. Some mother’s use it to help the baby learn how to improve their latch. It comes in three sizes (small, medium, large) depending on your nipple size. If you already have an electric or manual pump, you can go by the size of the pumps shield to determine which is the best fit. I purchased the Medela Contact Nipple Shield.
I’ve tried four different brands of nipple creams, however my favorite were by Lansinoh and Sheepish Grins (from a local Children’s Boutique). I preferred the thick 100% lanolin based creams, because they covered the wounds better and didn’t rub off as easy. I applied this during the first few weeks after each nursing session. By the time the next session came around, it had either absorbed into my skin or the excess into the nursing pad; there wasn’t much for Samson to ingest. If the baby does ingest, it’s okay, they creams are safe and made to allow that.
TIP: If you do suffer from sore, cracked nipples/areolas, if possible go topless between nursing sessions, to allow your breast to air out. If topless isn’t possible, then wear a loose fitting tank top or bralet. The more air and less friction your breasts can have, the easier and quicker it will be for them to heal. You can also hand express a little extra milk after nursing to rub on your nipples, for the natural healing benefit of breastmilk.
Nursing pads are used to help soak up leakage from engorged breast. It is also helpful as a barrier between the breast and bra or tank tops, especially in those early weeks when you’re slathering on nipple cream and don’t want to mess up your bras. Or, just to keep that area clean and sanitary between feedings. You can choose between the disposable, and the reusable pads. I ended up using the disposable pads out of convenience. I would keep a few extra in the baby’s bag on the go, just in case of an accident. The disposables can be a little bulky with your bra, so you might want to look for one that is rounded and doesn’t have much creasing in its’ folds. I mostly used Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads. Don’t feel pressured to buy name brand- the store brands worked just as well.
Update 2018: I recently learned about milk catchers that you can place in your bra to catch the milk that normally would be absorbed and lost into nursing pads. I will be trying this out with my next breastfeeding journey. I purchased these Breast Shell Nursing Cups on Amazon.
Nursing Bra and Camisole
These come in all types of styles and colors, it’s really up to your preference and needs. However, starting out with a Nursing Camisole/Tank is helpful for when you’re just lounging around the house, want a little support and easy access to nurse. These nursing bras can run expensive if you’re not careful. They don’t have to be fancy, they just need to get the job done; easy access to nurse baby.
I waited till after Samson was born to purchase mine. A close friend of mine advised not to get one early in pregnancy, because I wouldn’t know how much my breast would grow. I didn’t really grow that much… until my milk really started to come in. I started out with one nursing bra, and one nursing tank; both purchased from Target. Once I started having engorgement, I purchased inexpensive stretchy bralets from Ross. The more stretch in the cup, the better because of how your breasts fluctuate in size when they are engorged. It’s nice to have room for your breast to breathe and expand, instead of being smooshed up in a restrictive bra.
Also, bralets were really comfortable to sleep in. If you have a limited budget, Walmart has started a line, Loving Moments by Leading Lady. Remember, you won’t need these bras for a lifetime, so don’t get caught up in brands. You could also use regular camisoles, and adjust the straps to be a little looser. This way you can dip the tank down to nurse.
TIP: Try to avoid bras with under wire or any type of restriction or extra pressure to any part of the breast. This could block the flow of the milk and lead to clogged milk ducts and mastitis (infection and inflammation of the mammary glands).
Nursing Heat and Cool Packs
There are specially made heat and cool packs for nursing, and they are a godsend! These packs help to relieve soreness and discomfort from nursing, engorgement, and clogged milk ducts. I started out with one brand that was made of plastic and gel beads, however it burst and the temperature held by the plastic was too drastic on my skin. I ended up purchasing and LOVING the Booby Tubes Nursing Packs by Earth Mama Angel Baby. They are a fabric tubing with flax seeds inside, which makes them easy to mold and comfortable on skin contact when hot or cold. I could adjust the rolls to get as much or little coverage as needed. I highly recommend them.
TIP: You can freeze the packs for a cool relief, or warm them up in the microwave for a few seconds before pumping. The combination of the warm compress for 5-10 minutes followed by a short massage to press and stroke the milk downwards towards the nipples, can help increase the amount of milk pumped. I always noticed more milk produced after doing this.
If you prefer to have some modesty in public or around guests at home, you can choose to do so easily by using a nursing cover. There are so many styles around now, apron style, scarf style, built in shirt covers, etc. Whichever you choose, keep in mind the weather season you’re in and how much coverage you would prefer. Some of the larger fabrics can get hot pretty quickly for you and the baby, especially if you’re out in the sun. So pay attention to that. Also the lighter fabrics, could be extra breezy in windier conditions.
I’ve used two types, the apron style, and a poncho/drape style. The apron style I purchased from Udder Covers. They usually have a “just pay shipping” code floating around online. I liked that it was light weight and easy to fold up and stash away. It was also easy to keep eyes locked on Samson while he nursed, due to the wired bendable opening. Only negative, is that it didn’t provide cover in the back. So unless I was sitting against a chair, if I had my shirt lifted, the back would show. The poncho drape style I received from my friends boutique offered full coverage.
Milk Storage Bags
These are essential for freezing pumped/expressed breast milk. You want a bag that has a strong seal and space to write the date and time the milk was expressed. I’ll be going into more details on another post on milk storage and freezer stashing. Otherwise the use of these bags are pretty straight forward. The brands I used were, Medela, Lansinoh and Target brand.
Welllllll you’ve made it to the end! Congratulations!! I know it’s a lot of information. However, it’s awesome to have it all in one place to come back for reference at anytime. If you have any questions of these items or anything breastfeeding related, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at SincerelyMrsMommy@gmail or message me online at SincerelyMrsMommy on Instagram and Facebook.