One of the best pieces of breastfeeding advice you REALLY need? (If you plan on actually breastfeeding that is.) Get yourself some good nipple cream or nipple balm. Everyone from your nosy Aunt Jill to that perfect stranger you meet in passing loves to dole out unsolicited advice about breastfeeding—even if you’re not sure you plan on doing it! “Your breasts might be too small to breastfeed and that’s OK” or “It hurts like hell, so don’t be afraid of formula.” As if we cared what they thought…or felt that it applied to our life in any way.
But the real pearls of advice you’re going to get about the breastfeeding journey (more like all-out endeavor) is going to come from moms who are or have very recently gone through it. It’s kind of like how they say that you forget what labor and delivery felt like about a year after giving birth—you kind of forget how arduous, albeit blissfully beautiful breastfeeding can be.
How to treat sore nipples from breastfeeding
According to Dr. Anna Cabeca, an OB-GYN, best-selling author, and fellow mama — while breastfeeding is 100% encouraged, it can also cause sore, cracked, and uncomfortable nipples. A few remedies include balms and creams (of course), nipple shields, and a few of her favorite home remedies.
“It is good practice to put purified coconut oil on [sore nipples]. It has the benefit of being anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and it is safe for baby as well as soothing for mom,” Dr. Cabeca says. “When the time comes to stop breastfeeding or if there’s an engorgement of the breasts, there’s an old trick that works really well, and that I am personally a big fan of… Place ice cold cabbage leaves over your breasts! It provides a similar amount of pain relief to a hot compress.”
When you’re a new mom, what you really need is the nitty-gritty on what products can help enhance your breastfeeding experience and make it easier (if that’s what you plan on doing!). Luckily, there is an increasing number of brands dedicated to making the breastfeeding journey more streamlined, manageable, and even enjoyable. From nursing bras to breast pumps, here are some of the breastfeeding products that moms swear by.
Best Nipple Balms and Creams
Cabocreme comes highly recommended by Dr. Cabeca! It was developed by an OB-GYN and is a favorite among moms, lactation consultants, and doctors. Cabocreme is made with all natural ingredients and specifically helps with discomfort due to engorgement.
This brand is known for their wide array of pregnancy and baby products, but this nipple cream definitely takes the cake. It’s so incredibly nourishing without being sticky or irritating and is perfectly safe for babies (for those times when you just slathered on the nipple cream and your baby’s ready for round #2). It was formulated by a nurse and an herbalist and is non-GMO, toxin-free and naturally vegan.
Moms rave about this organic nipple cream, which admittedly has a pretty adorable marketing scheme going on. Their USDA-certified organic and lanolin-free formula works to moisturize and soothe sore nipples. It’s non-toxic and made from only natural ingredients that are perfectly safe for your baby to nibble on.
Lanolin-free, unscented and plant-based, this nipple cream is hailed for its all-natural, organic ingredients and high-quality performance. It soothes dry, cracked nips and is totally safe for your baby to suck on. Also, Motherlove is woman-owned and family operated, and is run in a solar-paneled, zero-waste facility (run by employs who are given fair wages and full benefits) — so you can feel really good about your purchase.
Just as its name suggests, this nipple balm will become extremely habit-forming for any new mom using it. It relieves painfully dry and cracked nipples with seven simple, natural and organic ingredients. Plus, moms love that it doesn’t leave their boobs super sticky like some other formulas will. (Bonus: Every purchase feeds a child through the brand’s Children’s Hunger Fund partnership.)
Best Breastfeeding Pump & Gear
This thing might look industrial (and, well, it kind of is), but it does the job better than most electric pumps. It’s hospital grade and has a closed system that keeps the inner tubing nice and dry and prevents air flow between your expressed milk and the pumping tube (keeps mold and bacteria at bay). It has customizable settings so that moms can use whatever works best with their body.
This hand-held, manual breast pump skews things back to old-school ways, but it’s doula-recommended and breastfeeding moms swear by it. Unlike a regular electric breast pump, this works by catching the milk draining from your non-breastfeeding boob so that you can essentially store milk without having to separately pump. Genius!
Unless you want to hold a bottle in each hand while your pump does its thing, you’re going to need a pumping bra—ideally one that holds your girls up without spilling your liquid gold. This hands-free bra has impeccable ratings not only because of its support and durability, but also because it has an adjustable velcro back that ensures a perfect fit as your boobs change in size (which they will).
Best Breastfeeding Accessories
One thing they don’t tell you about breastfeeding is that you don’t always get to decide when your milk comes out. Sometimes your boobs just start leaking! Stay prepared with these absorbable pads that go right in your bra. They’re discreet, convenient and always there when you need them.
Sore nipples are no fun for anyone, but especially you because baby’s not taking a break from breakfast, lunch and dinner any time soon. These reusable hydrogel pads help provide cooling relief to sore nipples in between feedings and help heal cracked and ultra-sensitive nipples.
If you plan on pumping, you’re going to need bags to pour your milk into so that you can easily store it (in the fridge for up to 5 days and in the freezer for up to 5 months). These have amazing reviews because of their durability and spill-proof design. They come pre-sterilized with a double zipper seal to prevent leaks!
Don’t underestimate the importance of comfort while breastfeeding. The more support you have to prop things up so you can sit back and relax as much as possible, the better. This nursing pillow and positioner has been one of the top recommended among breastfeeding mothers for 30 years thanks to the arm and back relief it provides by creating a more ergonomic position in which to nurse.
Check out more baby essentials so you’re well-stocked for the weeks and months to come.