Nursing my babies is, without a doubt, one of my favorite things about motherhood. I adore the bonding experience. I also take great pride in knowing that not only did I make these kids from scratch, but I sustain them for months on end with nothing but my own body. It’s truly an everyday miracle. Plus, it’s so convenient not to have to pack bottles, snacks, and meals for the first few months of a baby’s life.
That said, it’s not always easy. Breastfeeding is a labor of love that requires commitment and support. When I was nursing my son, I encountered all kinds of issues that I had never known existed – bad latch, sore nipples, pumping difficulties, and boobs that leaked for 8 solid months. Between then and now, I’ve learned a few things and picked up a few neat products that have really made a difference in my breastfeeding journey. These are my absolute favorite breastfeeding products for the nursing mother, and I’ve found them to be totally indispensable.
For the Early Days:
- Gel pads – When my milk came in after my son was born, I had a strong letdown and an oversupply for months. This made it hard for baby boy to latch properly because my breasts were always so full and often hard as rocks. During that time, gel pads were a lifesaver. Both Ameda and Lansinoh make them, and they are heaven on sore nipples. They’re 100% necessary for any first-time mom who is planning to nurse.
- MotherLove nipple cream – This stuff provided me with much-needed relief in the early days with my son. It will help heal cracked, overused nipples in just a few uses, and it’s made with all organic ingredients. After you’re over the hump, you can use this as a barrier cream to prevent diaper rash.
- My Brest Friend pillow – Vastly superior to the boppy for feeding purposes, the Brest Friend is a great support pillow for the first few weeks of your nursing relationship. A newborn baby tends to slide into the space between you and the pillow if you’re using a boppy. That dreaded gaping hole does not exist with the Brest Friend, as it’s more structured and firmer to support a tiny baby. (You can fix the sliding issue with a boppy by putting a rolled receiving blanket at the edge of the pillow, but get the Brest Friend for the early days instead).
- Milkies Milk Saver – My boobs constantly leaked during the first few months of my son’s life. I had to change my nursing pads multiple times a day, even after returning to work. The milkies milk saver collects all that leaked milk so you can put it to good use and skip a few pumping sessions. During my daughter’s first month, I used the milkies every day and collected over 50 ounces of milk to donate without having to do anything.
- Hakaa Pump – After my body began to regulate supply and demand a bit better, I stopped leaking like old faithful and collected smaller amounts in the milkies. Enter the Hakaa hand pump. This nifty little contraption suctions on to your boob while you’re feeding the baby on the other side. It draws out more milk than the milk saver. Unlike an electric pump, it requires no plugging in or tubing, making it a super convenient way to collect extra milk for the freezer. I usually use it once or twice a day.
- Nuk milk storage bags – These freeze flat for easy storage and haven’t leaked at all in my experience. Just measure your ounces before pouring in the milk because the indicators on the bags are inaccurate. (I’ve found this with other brands, too).
- Simple Wishes Pumping Bra – When you go back to work, pumping hands-free is a necessity. To save time, I used to pump while driving all the time, and this bra helped me keep both hands on the wheel while doing so. (The only people who ever noticed were truckers, seated far above me – they just looked down, confused about why there was a fembot from the Austin Powers movies in the car beside them).
- Freemie cups – For more modesty, you can use these bad boys to pump hands-free without even taking off any clothing. I know several moms who even use them to pump at their desks.
- Bamboobies nursing pads – These are my favorite nursing pads because they’re reusable and super soft.
The most useful tool for establishing a positive breastfeeding experience is a mindset grounded in flexibility, grace, and compassion. Beyond that, women really need support along this journey. So find a nursing circle, a hospital support group, or a La Leche meeting to give you the encouragement you deserve. These accessories are also really helpful to have in your boob toolbox.