For something that seems relatively straightforward, breastfeeding can sometimes be complicated. Thankfully, if you’ve made the decision to breast feed, there are plenty of products out there to support you in your breastfeeding journey.
All feeding journeys will look different, with some parents feeding directly from the breast, some feeding their babies pumped breast milk, and still others doing a combo, there are many different types of products that can help you reach your own breastfeeding goals.
From nipple shields and nursing bras to pumps and breastmilk bags, we’re here to guide you through all the breastfeeding essentials that can make your life easier. Here’s a breakdown of some of our favorite breastfeeding products and how to choose the best items for you and your baby.
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If you’re currently pregnant, you’ve probably noticed your belly isn’t the only thing getting bigger. Your breasts are also changing as your body starts to produce milk, and it isn’t unusual to go up a cup size or two. While you may be tempted to simply buy a bigger bra to accommodate for this, investing specifically in a nursing bra is worth considering.
Not only are nursing bras designed to be more comfortable and supportive than regular bras, but they make nursing easier with clips or pliable fabric that allow you to bring your baby to your breast without needing to take your entire bra off.
As with regular bras, there are several different types, styles and colors of nursing bras. Choosing the right one for you will depend on many factors, like whether you’re planning to go back to work and need a bra that can easily accommodate hands-free pumping or if you’re looking for a bra that will provide extra support and comfort in the early days when you might be engorged. No matter your needs, there is a style out there for you. Here are a couple of our favorites.
Best Nursing Bra
Best Nursing Bra for Sleeping
Best for Pumping
Nursing pads are a pretty crucial item, especially for first-time breastfeeding parents. When you’re new to the nursing journey, it can be difficult to know exactly when you might experience leaking or how much milk your body will produce. It can also take some time for your body to regulate its milk production and especially in the first few weeks of nursing, your body may produce a lot of milk that can lead to leaks.
Your breasts may also leak when you start nursing or pumping on one side; milk lets down on both breasts, so if your baby is nursing or you’re only pumping one side, the other breast will leak. Additionally, there can be other triggers that can lead to your milk letting down. For instance, if you hear a baby cry when you’re out in public or if you’re wearing a tight sports bra or you work long hours and your breasts get engorged, leaking and let-down can occur.
To help with that, you can line your bra with a nursing pad that will catch excess milk and prevent it from soaking your bra.
Best Disposable Nursing Pads
Best Reusable Nursing Pads
Breastfeeding may be natural, but it doesn’t always come easily. Some moms need some extra help to boost their milk supply or get their babies to latch and there’s nothing wrong with that! If your baby is having trouble latching, a nipple shield can help.
These devices are made of silicone and designed to resemble a nipple that you place over your own. The shape of the shield helps draw the nipple out, making it easier for the baby to latch, and the hole in the tip of the shield allows milk to pass through as the baby feeds.
There are many reasons why a baby might have trouble latching, so if you are experiencing breastfeeding issues, it’s best to consult with a lactation consultant who can troubleshoot with you and offer guidance. A nipple shield is a tool that can help you and your baby get off on the right track, but it is intended for short-term use, typically under the guidance of a lactation consultant.
Nipple shields come in a variety of sizes and designs and a lactation consultant can help you determine the size you need.
Most Eco-Friendly Nipple Shield
Best Nipple Shields with Sterilizer
Best Silicone Nipple Shield
Breast Milk Storage
If you’re planning to go back to work, or even if you just want someone else to feed the baby every now and then, you’ll need a way to safely store your breast milk. Some parents may choose to freeze and store breast milk in prepared bottles, but if you plan on pumping regularly, breast milk storage bags are the way to go. They are the most efficient way to store milk, letting you freeze your breast milk a few ounces at a time, take up less space, and make thawing faster and more convenient as well.
And although you might think a plain Ziploc bag could do the trick, you want the secured protection an actual breast milk bag provides, plus they have handy measuring guides on the side so you know how much milk your baby will get. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends against using any storage bags not made for storing breast milk since it can increase the risk of contamination.
All breast milk storage bags are made with food-grade BPA-free plastic, designed to keep your milk safe and sanitary. However, they do differ in styles and features. Here are a couple of the best options out there:
Best Overall Breast Milk Storage Bag
Best Twist-Off Breast Milk Storage Bag
Best On-the-Go Storage
If you intend to have anyone else feed the baby, a breast pump is an obvious necessity. As with most baby items, there are many different styles and features to choose from when considering a pump — all with different price points. The best one for you will depend on your needs. Will you be going back to work and need to pump a few times a day? Or are you looking for a pump you may use every now and then when you’re separated from baby?
From powerful electric models that let you pump both breasts at the same time to manual pumps and everything in between, there’s a pump out there to fit your needs (and wallet!). Here are two of our favorites.
Best Overall Pump
Best Wireless, Hands-Free Breast Pump
The Best Manual Breast Pump
Whether you’re pumping or feeding from the breast, nipple balms can help soothe cracked or sore nipples. Many types of nipple balms can be applied directly to the nipples and you don’t have to worry about wiping it off before nursing, but be sure to check the brand you choose.
And, of course, if you are having consistent issues with cracking or soreness, be sure to work with a lactation consultant who can help you determine if there are any latching issues that you can remedy.
Best Nipple Cream
Most Versatile Nipple Cream
For Moms Fighting off Mastitis
If you’ve had mastitis, you know how difficult—not to mention painful—it can be. And the hardest part about mastitis is that once you’ve had it, you can be prone to getting it again, so it’s important to have an arsenal of tools to fight it off if you can.
Aside from the #1 prevention and treatment measures of rest and hydration, here are some tools that worked for us at Truly Mama. And not don’t forget to call your doctor ASAP if you experience worsening symptoms or develop a fever.
Best Supplement for Mastitis
Best Tool for Mastitis
Best Water Bottle for Hydration
Other Breastfeeding Essentials
Breastfeeding is basically a full-time job, so you’ll need some other tools to support you in your journey, from clothes to wear that are nursing-friendly to lactation cookies that 100% necessary for obvious reasons (aka, chocolate).
Best Lactation Cookies
Best T-shirt for Nursing
Best Hands-Free Helper
Best Nursing Cover
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