Last summer, a friend asked me to write a list of my must-haves for breastfeeding, since I’d been doing it a whole year at that point. Below is that list. I figured I’d post it publicly where maybe it’ll help someone more than it’s doing by just sitting in my Sent folder.
But let me start off by saying this: please don’t be intimidated by this extensive list (which, by the way, is kind of in order of what I think is really good to have). All you really need is breasts, a baby, a support person, and some patience. If you’re returning to work anytime soon, the breastpump and maybe 3 nursing bras or nursing tanks to start are also good to have. The other items I listed are simply those that make the experience a whole lot better for you & baby. But there is something to be said for simplicity, so take this list with a grain of salt. I’m one of those people (and I often wish this weren’t true) who will shell out for a product that promises to make my life easier.
I’ve included links because 99% of this stuff is available at Target and/or Babies R Us.
A double electric breastpump: I have the Medela Pump In Style Advanced, and I love it. I highly recommend Medela products because not only are their products available at tons of stores, their customer service is amazing. Whenever I’ve called them with a question, they’ve mailed me new replacement parts overnight for free. Many other women have said the same thing.
I also have the Medela Harmony manual pump, which is handy to leave in your car or purse in case you’re engorged while out someplace without the kiddo and need to run into the bathroom to pump for a minute to get some relief (although I highly recommend learning how to hand express). Sometimes I used it in the middle of the night because it was quieter than the double electric and wouldn’t wake the baby. If you’re delivering at a hospital with a lactation consultant (LC) on staff, you may be able to just ask her to give you one (I got mine free that way).
A few nursing tank tops—way easier, more comfortable, and more convenient than nursing bras or regular bras/tanks. These tanks from Target are really great, and way cheaper than the ones anywhere else. I have 6 and I love them.
A Boppy or My Brest Friend pillow. This will help you position the baby closer to you for nursing, and will really save your arm, let me tell you! My husband even used it for bottle feeding. And it has other uses, like when baby is just learning how to sit up on his own, you can put this around him to cushion him. Or you can use it for tummy time.
A good book to help with your questions. I have The Nursing Mother’s Companion and Nursing Mother, Working Mother. I highly recommend the latter if you’re going to nurse/pump while working full time. I’ve heard that So That’s What They’re There For! is pretty awesome, too, as is Dr. Sears’ The Breastfeeding Book. The LCs at the hospital where I delivered gave me their self-published “blue book,” which was a total lifesaver. That book contained a feeding/diaper chart I used for the first 2 weeks. Make sure you get some kind of chart or notebook in to keep track of when you feed the baby (and from which breast) the day you deliver. Also, make sure you tell your L&D nurse before you deliver that you would like to see an LC as soon as possible after delivery. They’ll schedule it for you. Studies show that seeing an LC after delivery significantly improves your success. Plus, you’ll likely score some freebies from the LC.
Disposable breast pads: At least get one box for the first few months postpartum. I needed to use these for about 3 months! I think I went through 4 or 5 boxes. The Johnson & Johnson ones can be found at most drugstores. Or you can buy reusable ones and throw them in the washing machine. Or skip them altogether–new moms are expected to be covered in bodily fluids anyway! ;)
Disposable bags for collecting/storing milk: I have tried Gerber, Lansinoh, and Medela. The Medela ones are the most expensive, and not that much better than the others. I would go for the Lansinoh bags because they’re available in more stores (you can find them at any CVS, for example). If you’re not going to freeze any milk, you can get away with not using bags at all and just keeping the fresh milk in whatever bottles you pump into. It’s good in the fridge for 3-5 days in bottles.
I got this Medela feeding set at my baby shower and I still use it for collecting & storing milk, in addition to using bags. It contains the bottles that hook onto Medela breastpumps, along with nipples so you can just swap out the bottle cap with a nipple for fast feeding. It also contains 2.5-oz tubes for collecting & storing milk. Those come in very handy early on.
Milkbands—just one bracelet. This helped me keep track of what time baby last ate and on which breast. It’s so easy to use and I was glad to get rid of the paper and pencil by my side at all times. I ordered mine online for $6. Babies R Us has similar items, but they may cost more. I used my bracelet for about 6 months.
These microwave sterilizer bags are awesome for sterilizing pump parts and I also use them to clean pacifiers every few days. Each bag is used 20 times, so one box will last you months. If you prefer, you can just sterilize things the old-fashioned way with a pot of boiling water. This is just faster & more convenient. If you registered for a steam sterilizer, you can use that instead of the bags, too.
Lansinoh lanolin in case you experience any soreness, though they may give you some samples at the hospital.
A nursing cover, in case you nurse in public (or at someone’s house), so you don’t feel as if you have to leave the conversation and sit in a room by yourself! (Note: You really don’t. Nursing in public is to be commended!)
A Medela nursing stool to help position the baby closer to you those first few weeks or so.
Hope this helps (and doesn’t frighten)!