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My Favorite {Breastfeeding} Things

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

by Jessica Bower, IBCLC, Certified Doula

I'm often asked by expecting moms what supplies they need for breastfeeding. More important than any thing you'll need is:

  • A desire to breastfeed

  • A support system who wants to help you breastfeed

  • Accurate education on how breastfeeding works

  • Access to an IBCLC (lactation consultant) who can help if you encounter challenges or need reassurance

For the education piece and access to an IBCLC - there are options for you! You may be covered by your health insurance for free in-home visits with me. One of these free visits can be a private prenatal education session while pregnant to become more educated and prepare. If you are not covered by insurance for free visits, you can still prepare for for your breastfeeding journey in pregnancy by taking an online breastfeeding class with me and I can help you get set up with affordable options with an IBCLC once your baby is born.

Go here for more options on insurance coverage to get free visits.

But really - what things do I recommend outside of your breasts? Here's a list (and I am not reimbursed by any of these companies / products):

Things to get from the hospital during your stay:

  • A hand pump - the hospital gives these away. Even if you have another pump at home, it's always nice to have a hand pump to help with possible engorgement and to have in the backseat of your car when separated from you baby in case your primary pump fails for some reason.

  • Cooling gel pads - These just feel nice often times for nipples that are sore or tender in the early days.

In pregnancy:

  • A Double Electric Breast Pump: Your health insurance likely covers it. You can call your health insurance company or go through company like The Lactation Network or Aeroflow to know your options when deciding on a pump. My favorite pump is the Spectra S1. If you don't feel like you need it to be battery powered and are on a budget, my second place pump is a Spectra S2. Another option is the Motif Luna. If none of these are options, feel free to text me (336-707-3842) your options for pumps and I'll give a recommendation based on your feeding needs and goals. Sometimes moms don't think that they will need a pump immediately postpartum (and hopefully you won't!) - but because it's covered by insurance, I absolutely recommend you buy one just in case it's needed.

  • A few Dr. Brown's Bottles with Preemie Nipples: There are SO many bottles on the market. This is my favorite bottle to use, especially if it's needed in the early days of breastfeeding. I prefer it because it has a long and round nipple so this is good for training your baby to suck appropriately. Also, a preemie nipple combined with paced bottle feeding will help to make sure that your baby does not get a fast flow of milk and make it to where they prefer a bottle over the breast. If they have to work really hard with a bottle to get milk out, that will encourage them not to be discouraged when they have to work hard at the breast.

  • Breastfeeding Tank: I prefer a breastfeeding tank (it clips down for easy access) rather than buying a bra in pregnancy because I think that more moms get use out of tanks in the early days feeding. If you do get a bra, get one that has room to grow because you’ll likely need it once you’re making higher volumes of more mature milk.

  • Nipple Cream: I really don’t love nipple creams. If breastfeeding is going well, the breast is capable of keeping itself well moisturized. However, if you’d like a cream, I prefer MotherLove or Earth Mama Angel Baby. If you encounter severe nipple damage (bleeding / blistered / cracked nipples) then you need to be seen by a lactation consultant (IBCLC) and I usually recommend a prescription cream that you can get from your midwife or OBGYN called All Purpose Nipple Ointment. You need to get this cream from a compounding pharmacy, but it’s magical when nipples are damaged.

  • Breast Pads: I do think it’s helpful to have a small supply of breast pads. I would not get large quantities because some moms do not leak much milk and may not need them. However, it’s nice to have some on hand in case you do leak quite a bit in the beginning. You can always buy more if needed.

  • Silverettes: Now this one is a splurge and isn’t a necessity. However, everyone I’ve known who uses this product loves it. Silver is a naturally antimicrobial, anti fungal, and antibacterial metal which also contains potent anti-inflammatory properties that can be used to heal and prevent cracks, soreness, and infections on the nipples. They are not bulky or uncomfortable and they are totally safe for mom and baby. Here’s where you can buy them.

  • Connection for Donor Milk: If you want your baby to have exclusive breastmilk and you do not want to supplement your baby with formula if a medically necessary need arose, then I would strongly encourage you to find a source for donor milk. The World Health Organization states that if supplementation in necessary, the preferred order of supplements is as follows:

  1. Expressed milk from the mother - meaning the mom’s own pumped milk

  2. Donated expressed milk from a safe and known donor - this is usually a friend or family member that the mom knows. Read more about milk sharing here

  3. Formula

I encourage moms to think about what they would want to use for supplementation before birth just to be adequately prepared in case it’s needed. I don’t want to make you doubt your ability to make enough milk for your baby - Many, many moms don’t need to supplement. However, I want you to think through your options while you have time to prepare.

And that’s it! It’s a short list, I know. But I hope it helps. More important than anything is education, motivation, support, and {of course}, your breasts!

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