What do you need to breastfeed? If you intend on nursing your child, you will need the following breastfeeding supplies:
• Your breasts
• Your baby
That’s it. That’s all you really need.
There are, however, a few other things that might serve to make your breastfeeding more enjoyable, less stressful, and a little easier. Some of them you may use, and some you may not ever need. Regardless, here’s a list of popular breastfeeding supplies and what you might need them for:
1. Nursing bras — These are bras that have special little clips that unfasten on each side independently, for an easy access opening at feeding time. They can help make breastfeeding much more convenient, if you are one of those women who feel the need to wear a bra all the time. (Or, you know, out in public.) Pretty useful, but not totally necessary for everyone. Some regular bras are elastic enough, and some women have small enough breasts, so that you could just pull the cup down and go on about your business. For a lot of women though, that’s not very comfortable or convenient, hence the nursing bra option. If you find yourself needing one, go ahead and get at least two. Because, you know. Laundry.
2. Nursing pads — Some times, post-baby boobs leak. And usually at the most embarrassing moments. (Not to mention at night while you’re sleeping.) Nursing pads can keep you from soaking through your bra and shirt. They come in two varieties, disposable and washable/reusable, and they just slip inside your bra cup. Not all women experience excess leaking though, so if you do go ahead and buy some, just make sure you don’t stock up too much until you determine whether or not you really need them. (Also, some people never buy any nursing pads, and instead just use folded scrap cloth, handkerchiefs, or washcloths.)
3. Nursing clothes — Since nursing requires a little bit of wardrobe rearranging, some moms prefer tops designed specifically with breastfeeding in mind. They make pjs, blouses, tank tops, etc that have panels that unfasten for easy access. Alternately, you could also get more loose-fitting tops that can be lifted up, or with wider necklines so you could just pull it down, or even button-down tops are frequently used. (Many moms also choose to wear a tank top underneath their other tops to keep their bellies from showing during nursing, but that’s totally up to you.)
4. Nursing pillow — Nursing pillows can help you get, and stay, comfortable while nursing. (Your arms will get tired eventually!) They can also help you get your baby into a good position and give you some hands-free support if you need it (even though you can probably change the TV channel or update your FaceBook status one-handed by now). Although there are some highly-recommended nursing pillows on the market, if you’re feeling thrifty you can always get the same effect from a few throw pillows under your elbow.
5. Bibs and Burp Cloths — You will definitely need something to protect your clothes and wipe the inevitable spit-up, but there’s absolutely no need to go crazy with the burp cloths when you can just as easily alternate using all the bibs, burp cloths, and receiving blankets you already have. (The more crap you buy, the faster the laundry will pile up. Truth. Use what you already have on hand, unless you have an actual need for more.)
6. Comfy place to nurse — You absolutely do not need to rush out and buy a glider rocker. (You probably should, because they’re pretty awesome, but it’s not necessary.) Nor do you need to scan Amazon for eleventy billion hours looking for the perfect nursing stool. All you really need is a comfortable place to park your butt— one that will remain comfortable if you were to sit there unmoving for an hour or more. If you don’t have a spot like that already within your household furniture, then you probably need to start looking into acquiring one, or else start socking back some money for the chiropractor and/or massage therapist that you’ll need to work all the kinks out of your neck, back, and shoulders later on!
7. Lanolin Cream — If your nipples get dry or cracked, (and they probably will at some point), you will definitely want some of this. (And don’t forget to get a second smaller tube for your purse or diaper bag!) Other nipple cream options are available without lanolin too, if you need it; and for sore or engorged breasts, there are gel pads and ice packs. And ibuprofen is handy to keep on hand for tons of different minor aches and soreness that might crop up.
8. Snacks — People don’t talk about it much, but sometimes while you’re nursing (especially in the beginning) you will feel ravenous, right in the middle of a feed. And often, it will seem like you’re constantly nursing with no time to prepare real food (especially in the middle of the night). Having handy, ready-to-grab, (and healthy) snacks nearby is a smart idea to keep your appetite at bay and to make sure you don’t fade away from hunger pangs while you’re feeding your little one.
9. Breastfeeding resources — You may not ever need it, but it’s a good idea to have on hand some breastfeeding resources for just in case. These resources could be a lactation consultant, breastfeeding books, websites, videos, or even friends and family who have successfully breastfed. At some point during your nursing adventure, you will have a question or two that needs to be answered, and it’ll be really helpful if you have those resources on hand for when and if you need them.
10. A Breast Pump — At some point, you may have need of a breast pump. You probably shouldn’t rush out and buy one if you don’t know that you’ll need it, but a little research into your options wouldn’t come amiss. There are electric pumps, manual pumps, or you could even hand-express if you need to. Options abound. If you do find yourself having to pump for whatever reason, there are a few more things that you’ll want to have on hand…