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Top 10 Must-Haves for Breastfeeding

As a newborn and baby photographer, I spend lots of time chatting with my mamas in the studio, and one topic that always comes up is breastfeeding. I remember taking birthing classes and being told it’s the best thing you can do for the baby; it’s so natural. Here is what they did not say… It’s the hardest thing you will do as a new mother. Like many new mothers, I never felt prepared in the beginning. Hoping to help you along your journey into motherhood if you choose to breastfeed, here are my Top 10 Must-Haves for Breastfeeding. 

mother holding her new baby while her husband gives her a kiss. She is thinking about what she must have for breastfeeding.

Top 10 Must-Haves for Breastfeeding


1. Nipple shield.  

The hospital nurse first gave me a nipple shield, and it saved my sanity for those first few months. I carried multiple of them, having one in every bag and in my car. It made nursing so much easier. The nipple shield can act as a barrier between the baby’s mouth and your nipple, helping to alleviate pain and discomfort caused by sore or cracked nipples. It also helps with your baby’s latch by providing a larger surface to latch onto.  

newborn black and white photo of baby stretching after he was breastfeeding new mother wrapped in black fabric with her newborn skin to skin black and white photography. Mother was just thinking of what she must have to breastfeed her baby

2. Nursing Pads: 

These are also helpful to keep with you all the time. Breast pads are designed to absorb any milk leakage that may occur in between feedings. They can help prevent embarrassing stains on clothing and keep you feeling dry and comfortable. In addition, breast pads help keep your breasts and clothing clean by preventing milk from coming into direct contact with your skin and clothing. This can help reduce the risk of irritation, infection, and odor. I found that they help enhance your confidence; knowing that you have breast pads in place can give you peace of mind.  

It’s essential to choose a breast pad that is breathable, absorbent, and comfortable to wear. Find one that fits you best. 

new mon sitting on the chair holding new baby in her nursery chair. Mother just finished breastfeeding. Mom was thinking about her Top 10 Must-Haves for Breastfeedingnew father burping his baby while walking around. Baby just breastfed with mom.Dad and mom were discussing Top 10 Must-Haves for Breastfeeding

3.Breast Shell:

The moment when you’re nursing, and the other side also decides to leak. Breast shells collect milk that leaks between and during feedings. I especially found these helpful when I was breastfeeding. I used one on the side; I was not nursing. They are designed with vents and openings that allow air to circulate the nipple. This can help promote healing and prevent moisture buildup, contributing to infections. It is important to note that breast shells should be cleaned regularly to maintain hygiene and prevent the risk of infection. 

4. Nipple Butter:

This stuff is fantastic!!! Nipple butter moisturizes and soothes dry, cracked, or sore nipples. It helps to keep the nipple area hydrated, reducing discomfort and promoting healing. The butter creates a protective barrier on the nipples, shielding them from friction and irritation caused by breastfeeding or clothing. In addition, the natural ingredients found in nippleple butter, such as shea butter or lanolin, have soothing properties that can help alleviate pain and discomfort. Most nipple butters on the market are safe for your use and babies as they are made from natural ingredients; therefore, do not need to be washed off before you breastfeed. 

5. A good Nursing Bra or Tank Top

Mamas, comfort, and support were always at the top of my list while breastfeeding. A well-fitting nursing bra or tank top provides proper support to the breast, reducing strain and discomfort. In addition, nursing bras and tanks are designed for easy access to breasts for Breastfeeding. This eliminates the need to remove the entire bra or top, making Breastfeeding more convenient. And mamas, a good bra will give you a confidence boost! I can tell you that as a mama with bigger girls, I always headed to Nordstrom’s bra department to get fitted. They will turn any bra into a nursing bra for you. They are making you look and feel amazing! 

6. Pump Bra

Speaking of bras, mamas, if you are pumping, you might consider a good pumping bra. A pump bra is designed to hold the breast pump for you, yes!!! Hands-free pumping mamas!!! Pumping bras are designed to be easy to use and provide a secure fit for the breast pump flanges, helping you pump discreetly if needed. Hands-free pumping can also create a more relaxed YOU! I might share with you one day the crazy places I have used my breast pump bras.  

7. Breast pump: A Must-Haves for Breastfeeding

I went through several breast and hand pumps until I found the best one that worked for me. Using a breast pump helps stimulate milk production by mimicking your baby’s feeding. Regular and effective pumping can also help boost the milk supply. Breast pumps allow you to express and store milk when you want your dad to feed the baby when you want to take the afternoon for yourself, or when you have to return to work. I always found them extra helpful in the morning when I was feeling engorged; it helped relieve the full and uncomfortable feeling. I always pumped in the morning before I fed the baby.  

When choosing a breast pump, it’s important to consider factors such as the type of pump. Is it portable? Is it easy to use? Talk to your lactation consultant or midwives to determine the most suitable breast pump for you. And don’t forget to call your health insurance company, as they will have a list of breast pumps that they cover—yes, to small steps in women’s healthcare! 

8. Breast Milk Bags: 

If you are pumping or collecting milk with the shells, you want to keep a nice stash of milk bags around. These are helpful for storing and freezing your milk for later use. You can use bottles if you want to save milk to use that day, but if you are freezing your milk, bags are great. Make sure your bag is specifically made for breast milk storage.  

9 . Lactation Cookies: 

Many would say this a cookie is not a Top 10 Must-Haves for Breastfeeding, until you learn about a good for you cookie. If you need a treat, why not have one to help you maintain or produce milk? So many yummy recipes out there. Laction cookies often contain ingredients that promote milk production, such as oats, flaxseed, brewer’s yeast, and fenugreek. The nice thing is they are made with such whole sum ingredients – mams, a cookie you can feel good about eating. 

10. Grace – My Favorite Top 10 Must-Haves for Breastfeeding

Mamas, giving yourself some grace while Breastfeeding is so beneficial for both your physical and mental well-being. Breastfeeding is challenging and overwhelming. Giving yourself grace means being kind and patient with yourself, accepting that breastfeeding may have ups and downs, and you’re doing your best. Giving yourself a little self-compassion can reduce your stress and create a more positive breastfeeding experience for yourself.  

Top 10 Must-Haves for Breastfeeding

In my own personal journey of breastfeeding, I found these 10 must-haves  for breastfeeding to be the most helpful. Keep in mind that everyone’s journey in motherhood and Breastfeeding is different. Most of all, always remember to contact your healthcare professionals with questions or concerns.  

If you found this helpful, you may want to jump over and read Mom’s Hospital Bag Checklist for Delivery

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