From birthing classes to breastfeeding manuals to guides on everyday life with a baby, most new mums do everything they can to be well prepared for breastfeeding. But even with the best preparation, there often remains a little uncertainty with regard to certain aspects of breastfeeding, including the choice of breastfeeding accessories.
There is a wide range of products that promise to support mother and baby during the initial phase of breastfeeding. Given the variety of products and brands, it’s little surprising that many mothers feel overwhelmed when they first start looking into breastfeeding accessories. That’s why we have compiled a list of the most important breastfeeding essentials. So, here’s what you really need for breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding accessories: What do I need for breastfeeding?
There is one question that keeps expectant mothers up at night: What do I need for breastfeeding? Here is an overview of different accessories that should definitely go on your breastfeeding essentials list:
- Breastfeeding pillow
- Baby blanket
- Silver nursing cups
- Nursing pads
- Breast gel pads
- Breast pump
- Breastfeeding tea
- Breastfeeding diary
Let's look at these products in more detail to find out what they are used for and why they are among the top breastfeeding essentials every new mum should get.
A breastfeeding pillow should be the first item on any list of breastfeeding essentials for new mums. These special pillows are essential for making you feel more comfortable and relaxed while breastfeeding your baby. The U-shaped pillows are very versatile and can be used in many different ways and positions.
You can use it to relieve your back while breastfeeding or to rest your arm on it. It can also be used to support your baby’s weight in certain breastfeeding positions. For instance, if you want to breastfeed your baby in the football hold, you definitely need a large pillow on which to place your baby.
No breastfeeding essentials checklist would be complete without a baby blanket. Similar to a nursing pillow, a baby blanket can come in handy in several ways. For example, you can use it as a cover when breastfeeding in public. Simply put the blanket over your shoulder and breast and it will shield you from unwanted looks. What’s more, a cosy blanket will make your baby feel safe and protected when out and about.
Just remember to carefully check the material before purchasing a blanket for your baby. Many textile products contain harmful substances that shouldn’t get anywhere near your baby. That’s why it’s best to go for products that are made of certified organic cotton.
Silver nursing cups
Sore nipples are a common breastfeeding problem, especially in the early days. They can be caused by many different things, including a bad breastfeeding latch and the first baby teeth. Since breastfeeding with cracked or even bloody nipples is very painful, it’s crucial to get relief quickly. One tried and tested remedy against sore nipples is the use of so-called silver nursing cups.
Silver nursing cups are small protective shields that are placed on the sore, irritated nipples between feedings to protect them against friction and external pressure. At the same time, the little shields allow for drops of breast milk to accumulate around the nipple, which promotes moist wound healing and speeds up the healing process. The cups are the preferable alternative to nipple ointments and creams, since traces of the latter can be swallowed by your baby during breastfeeding.
When buying these helpful breastfeeding accessories, however, you should make sure to select a product that is made of pure silver. Silver nursing cups that are made from so-called trilaminate or alloys can contain metals that are harmful to the skin.
Almost every breastfeeding mum knows the uncomfortable feeling of leaking breast milk which leaves the nursing bra unpleasantly damp. Not to forget that milk stains on clothing can be very embarrassing. That’s why nursing pads should definitely be included in any breastfeeding essentials kit.
The round or oval pads are placed inside the nursing bra, where they absorb any milk that may leak between feedings. Nursing pads can either be disposable or reusable, the latter being the more economic and sustainable option.
Breast gel pads
Swollen breasts are not uncommon during breastfeeding. Sometimes, the swelling can be caused by blocked milk ducts or mastitis, but it can also have a more trivial cause such as an oversupply of breast milk. One way of soothing tender breasts is cold therapy. Placing a cooling pad on the breast not only provides relief, but it can also help inhibit lactation and regulate your milk supply.
In addition to cold therapy, breast gel pads can also be used for hot therapy. Applying warm compresses to the breast can help stimulate let-down, which makes your breast milk flow more easily. Ideally, you should get a set of breast gel pads that are suitable for both cold and hot therapy and have a circular opening in the middle for the nipple to peak out. This way, you can even wear them while breastfeeding—or while using a breast pump.
Weak suck, low milk supply, … There are many different reasons why a breast pump is among the breastfeeding must-haves for every new mum. Also, pumping breast milk ensures that your little one can have his or her regular feed if your partner needs to step in because you’re not available.
There are many different breast pump models on the market, but they can basically be grouped into two categories, which are manual and electric breast pumps. Manual breast pumps are cheaper, but they also require more effort. Before buying a breast pump as an addition to your collection of breastfeeding accessories, you should think about how often you’re going to use it and whether it’s worth investing in an electric model.
Breastfeeding mums who think that they have low milk supply or are simply looking for a tasty and healthy alternative to drinking water all day long will definitely add lactation tea to their personal list of breastfeeding essentials. Breastfeeding tea contains a variety of herbs that are believed to have a milk-forming effect, which is why it’s often used during lactation to increase milk supply.
Unsweetened herbal tea is a perfect drink for breastfeeding mothers because it helps you quench your thirst in a healthy way. What’s more, it will help you drink plenty of fluids, which is an important part of a healthy breastfeeding diet. But again, make sure to buy a product that is certified organic.
Good to know: Breastfeeding accessories like lactation tea, silver nursing cups and breast gel pads are often available in the form of a premium breastfeeding set. This way you get several products together at a lower price.
A diary may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of breastfeeding accessories, but keeping a written record of this special time with your baby is definitely something worth considering. There are two reasons for this.
For one thing, you can use the diary to document your baby’s weight gain and development. And for another thing, a well-kept breastfeeding diary is an amazing memento of your breastfeeding journey. Some breastfeeding diaries not only offer space for your own entries, but also contain helpful breastfeeding tips and interesting facts about breastfeeding, baby health and more.
Breastfeeding essentials: Don’t forget about nursing clothes
What all breastfeeding accessories have in common is that they make breastfeeding easier. But there is one other thing that will make your life as a breastfeeding mum a whole lot easier, and that’s the right nursing clothes. Here are a few items that definitely count as breastfeeding essentials in terms of clothing:
- Nursing bra: A well-fitting nursing bra is essential for breastfeeding. When buying one, make sure it’s comfortable and not too tight. Otherwise, it could cause your milk ducts to clog up. Ideally, your nursing bras should have removable cups or straps so that you can breastfeed your baby at any time without having to take off your bra.
- Loose clothing: “Not too tight” should also be your mantra when it comes to choosing the rest of your clothes. Everything you wear should be comfortable and loose-fitting. Especially if your breasts and/or nipples are sore, you want to avoid wearing tight tops that put pressure on areas that are already sore.
- Nursing tops: Wearing a nursing top under your regular clothing allows you to breastfeed your little one wherever you are without having to take off your clothes. Simply unbutton the shirt you’re wearing on top and unclip the strap to fold the top down on one side.
- Buttoned shirts: Breastfeeding clothes can be quite expensive because they are especially designed for breastfeeding and usually come with an array of clips, buttons and openings. Instead of spending a lot of money on nursing wear, you can also wear normal clothes with buttons such as blouses. If you then wear a nursing bra and/or nursing top underneath, you can breastfeed comfortably anytime and anywhere.
Make sure to use your breastfeeding accessories correctly
Even the best breastfeeding accessories won't be of much help if you don't know how to use them properly. So make sure you’re familiar with the different items you might need before you start breastfeeding.
Trying to figure out how to heat up your breast gel pads when your baby is already crying with hunger can be very stressful. That’s why it’s best to carefully read the instructions beforehand, especially those for medical devices like silver nursing cups. Only then will you be able to use them safely.
Another important thing to keep in mind is hygiene. Breastfeeding can be stressful and having a baby around usually results in stains on clothing and any other fabric that comes into your baby's reach. Mindlessly throwing stuff into the washing machine could damage the fabric and render your new breastfeeding accessories useless after only one use. So make sure to read the washing instructions beforehand.