Almost every mom has her battle stories about breastfeeding. Even if the act itself comes somewhat easy, there are always moments of mishaps where mom might think, “there must be something out there that can make this easier.” Luckily, for most situations, there are! Here are 10 tried and true products that can help support breastfeeding.
#1 A Nursing Bra
When you’re nursing, a proper-fitting, supportive bra is more important than ever. Not only do they help with comfort and convenience, the right fit ensures you don’t constrict milk ducts which can obstruct the flow of milk and potentially cause unnecessary inflammation and even clogged milk ducts. Clearly, the right bra can put you on a much smoother breastfeeding journey. Make the investment and get help from the pros to find the right size. Find a certified bra fitter or lactation consultant by asking for referrals at the hospital or birthing center where you plan to deliver or by visiting the International Lactation Consultant Association. (Keep in mind that your breasts can change in size throughout the course of your breastfeeding journey and you may need to buy different sizes!)
#2 Organic Cotton Nursing Pads
Whether you choose disposable or washable, you’ll definitely want these guys to absorb leakage. You might think you’re in the clear because you just fed your little angel, but hearing another baby cry can cause you to let-down and leak out. Prevent any public embarrassment by always, always packing your pads.
#3 Nursing-Friendly Clothes
Nursing clothes have strategically placed openings and flaps for easier (and more discreet) access. Many moms make do without, but many others consider them a must-have. Your lifestyle and environment will likely dictate whether or not you’ll want to add these types of tops, dresses and jammies to your wardrobe.
#4 Lactation Aids
Up to 5% of women may experience primary lactation insufficiency that can inhibit their ability to produce a full milk supply (1). In addition, there are situations that may arise that require some extra support to increase lactation. For example, returning to work often leads to a drop in production. Adequate pumping throughout the day can help solve the problem, but not all workplaces are supportive of this practice. Whether you face a similar situation or some other circumstance that impacts your milk supply, you can talk to your healthcare provider about trying a breastfeeding supplement (like our Lactation Plus formulated with ingredients like Fenugreek, an herb that’s been used for centuries to help support breast milk production and healthy milk supply.*
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
#5 Breast Shells
Breast shells can help protect sore nipples, as well as help draw out flat or inverted nipples. If you need to use them due to tenderness, remember that while they’re helpful for reducing pain, they won’t address whatever the underlying cause of the problem is. It’s important to work with an IBCLC if your baby is not latching well due to flat or inverted nipples. (A baby’s mouth and gums typically bypass the nipple entirely and latch on to the areola – remember it’s called breastfeeding – not nipple feeding!)
#6 Organic Nipple Balm
Another must-have for sore or chapped nipples is a good balm. And of course you want to find an option made with safe ingredients since your baby may ingest residual amounts. A little shameless self-promotion here: Honest Organic Nipple Balm helps soothe sore or chapped nursing nipples. The coconut oil and aloe in it help hydrate and soften skin. The shea butter and tamanu oil help to keep nipples soft, supple and resilient. And since only high quality ingredients are used, there’s no need to wipe off before nursing.
#7 Cold/Hot Packs
If you have swelling and engorgement, cold packs can provide instant relief. And hot packs are helpful for relieving pain associated with plugged ducts or mastitis. Hot packs can also help with let-down if you’re pumping. While there are a variety of products out there that fulfill these roles, some moms keep it simple by using a warm washcloth for heat and an ice pack (like what you keep in your freezer for bumps and swelling) for cooling.
#8 Nursing Pillow
Consider this: during the first few months of your baby’s life, you’ll spend 5-8 hours a day breastfeeding. Holding your baby in the proper position for that many hours can be very straining on your back, neck, shoulders, arms, and wrists. A nursing pillow reduces the physical demands, allowing you to enjoy these sweet, fleeting moments with your wee one. One safety caveat: choose a pillow made without flame retardants.
#9 Nursing Scarf or Cover-Up
Many women like to keep some kind of cover-up handy for more discreet nursing in public. There are many options out there (and some moms simply use their baby’s blanket), but we’re fond of our 2-in-1 Nursing Cover + Scarf that works double duty as both an easy privacy cover during nursing and a stylish year-round accessory. It’s something you can use for years to come! It’s handwoven with lightweight, super soft and breathable GOTS certified organically grown cotton, and it folds compactly into a purse, diaper bag, or stroller.
#10 A Breastfeeding App
Successful breastfeeding requires a community of support. Carry one in your pocket with a breastfeeding app like latchME that gives you instant access to experts for help, connects you with experienced mothers for advice and encouragement, educates you with tons of tips and videos, and – perhaps best of all – maps out the best breastfeeding spots near you that have essentials like comfy chairs, changing tables, sinks, and outlets. Another app, iLetDown is perfect for working moms as it helps stimulate let-down by displaying photos of your baby, and even playing sounds of a hungry baby. For moms who want to track feedings, Baby Nursing/Breast Feeding allows you to record feedings, as well as keep track of the most recent nursing, daily averages, and cumulative totals.
- Neifert MR (2001). “Prevention of breastfeeding tragedies.” Pediatr Clin North Am 48(2): 273-97.
Did we miss any mommy must-haves? Share your favorites in the comments, below!