by Katie Madden, RN, BSN, IBCLC

To breastfeed, you need two things.

1. Boobs

2. Your own baby

But, as Americans, we like to buy stuff and there happen to be a few good products on the market and a ton of worthless products on the market, all of which are very heavily marketed to the nursing mom.

So, here is my short list of the best breastfeeding products currently on the market:

1. Nursing pillow: My Brest Friend.

If you know me, you know I love me some My Brest Friend and I hate the Boppy/ the wanna be Brest Friend Boppy.  Sure, the Boppy is “the” pillow to get and comes in lots of pretty patterns, but it isn’t made for breastfeeding. It is made for, well, everything but.

2. Lanolin or lanolin-free nipple cream.

Here is a list of the many many on the market. Remember, lanolin is like chapstick. You use it when your nipples are a little sore or a little chaffed to help prevent them from getting worse. If your nipples are cracked and bleeding, don’t be surprised if the lanolin doesn’t cut it anymore. (Do you expect your chapstick to heal cracked bleeding lips?) Lanolin is not magic nipple cream. If it isn’t cutting it, it is time to see an IBCLC to get the problem fixed.

3. Three high quality, supportive nursing bras that you can comfortably sleep in.

Why three? Because you want one on, one clean on deck, and one in the wash. There is nothing more depressing than having only one dirty nursing bra that you refuse to take off to wash because your boobs are too sore to go without a bra.

A great time to shop for nursing bras is around 32-34 weeks pregnant. That is typically when the first stage of your breast growth has ended. Nursing bras accommodate a few sizes in one, so when your milk comes in and your boobs get bigger (yes, they will get bigger), that bra should still work for you.

You get what you pay for when it comes to nursing bras, so don’t skimp on this one. These bras will take a beating. The clips that hold up the cups with be snapped and unsnapped many, many, many, many times a day. You want a clip that doesn’t break. It will get washed way more than you wash a regular bra. I am a big fan of the Bravado line of bras and tanks. They are really well structured, durable, comfy, supportive, and pretty attractive.

If you are in the big booby club, then you really need to think long and hard about investing in high-quality bras.  It takes a lot of high-quality construction to keep those babies locked and loaded.

Oh, and FYI–yes, you will want to sleep in a bra for the first few months you are breastfeeding even if you don’t currently sleep in a bra because your boobs will be a little sore and a little leaky without it.

And no, you can’t sleep in or spend too much time in an underwire type bra or a sports bra because it can block some of your milk ducts if you lay on it funny. That can cause plugged ducts. Not fun.

One of the mamas I have had the pleasure of working with over the past four months happens to be a member of the big booby club and she wrote this hilarious primer on bra shopping. Enjoy!

4. A high quality double electric breast pump.

Good news? As of the writing of this blog, almost everyone can get a pump from their insurance company! Woohoo! I also recommend having a hand pump around. My favorite is the Medela Harmony hand pump.

5. Breast pads.

You might be a leaker, you might not. In the first few weeks, almost everyone finds breastfeeding to be a little messy, so it is good to have a stash.  Do me a favor and start with disposables, especially if your nipples are broken down at all. Think of it as a clean bandage. Put on a fresh, clean breast pad after each nursing session instead of a dirty used pad or a dirty bra. Then, once your nipples are nice and healed up and feeling good, use whatever your little heart desires.

There it is. There is my short list of must-haves. It is pretty short because, like I said all you need to breastfeed is your boobs and your baby. In my opinion, all the other stuff is marketed to play upon ignorance and fear. They know that you will buy more stuff if it means you get a shot at making breastfeeding work.

There are some other products for sore nipples like hydrogels and soft shells that you may need, but if I were you, I would just wait and see if you need them before forking out all that extra money.  That’s up to you.

Now, as far going back to work, there are some other products you will need. So, if you want to buy more stuff, here are some good products to buy.

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