There are so many supplies and gadgets that are supposed to help you breastfeed. How do you REALLY KNOW which ones you need and what is just going to pile up unused? In this post I have compiled a list of all the products you NEED, some items that are not exactly necessary, though can be useful, AND a list of things commonly recommended that you REALLY DON'T NEED. (Some of the items in the link are Amazon affiliate links, and purchases made through these links help support this blog!)
So! Let's get to it!
Here is the list of things you ACTUALLY NEED.
First the obvious; you need at least one breast. And, yes, you could literally breastfeed with just one breast. (Women who have had a mastectomy have breastfed with just one breast!) You also need a baby (or a pump). And that's it. Literally. That is all you need to breastfeed.
One of the most beautiful things about breastfeeding is that it is virtually FREE. You DON'T NEED ANY GADGETS, special creams, pillows, or gimmicks to make milk or nurse your baby. There are some physical things that may be helpful, however not one of them is necessary.
There is one exception to this rule. There is one other "thing" you need, though it's not a "thing" it's a "who". You need SUPPORT, and maybe a little knowledge too. The KEY for successful breastfeeding is surrounding yourself with the RIGHT support at the RIGHT TIME. Find your village before you need it. Join a support community (like our Successful Breastfeeding Community on Facebook), attend a mother to mother support group, and work with a lactation counselor (someone like me) before your baby arrives. Then you'll have your support in place before you have questions so you don't need to go blindly searching for answers. (I highly recommend straying away from google when you need support.)
Ok, so there are a few things I do think can add a level of convenience to breastfeeding. Some extra stuff that may make breastfeeding a little easier, and more comfortable.
Purpose: To help break up clogs in your milk ducts.
Me recommendation: HoMedics Quatro Mini Hand-Held Massager
Purpose: To manage discomfort in the early days, and beyond!
My recommendation: Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy
Purpose: Combat Breastfeeding Thirst! (Yes, it's a thing.)
My recommendation:Contigo Waterspout 32oz Waterbottle with straw.
#4 Breast Pads
Purpose: Absorbing leaks
My recommendations:Lansinoh Stay Dry Pads Disposable Pads AND Washable Reusable Bamboo Nursing Pads
Purpose: To curb the nursing munchies!
My recommendation: Anything that's easy to eat with one hand!
#6 Burp Rags
Purpose: For catching spraying milk, and for supporting your breasts.
My recomendation:Gerber Prefold Cloth Diapers
# 7 Nursing Basket
Purpose: To store, and easily tote, breastfeeding supplies.
My recommendation: Baby Diaper Caddy- Portable Nursery Storage Bin
Purpose: To prepare you to feed your baby, and what to expect while breastfeeding.
My recommendation: Your Best Start Breastfeeding Workshop! and Dad's Breastfeeding Survival Guide!
Now, for the breastfeeding items you DON'T need, though are popularly recommended.
#1 Breastfeeding Pillows
Intended purpose: Breastfeeding Pillows are supposed to make breastfeeding easier by properly positioning baby.
Why you don't need it: You already have what you need laying around your house, and sometimes breastfeeding pillows can cause a painful latch. They are awkwardly shaped and create spaces for baby to slump into, or are just too hard.
What to use instead: Standard Bed Pillows!
#2 Nipple Cream
Intended Purpose: To soothe sore nipples.
Why you don't need it: Nipple creams are not good for baby to ingest and can breed infection! Yikes!
What to use instead: Breastmilk! It contains all the necessary proteins and immunologic properties to soothe and heal sore, chapped, or cracked nipples.
#3 Nipple shields
Intended Purpose: To help premature babies, with tiny mouths, latch onto the breast. Sometimes suggested to help with painful latch, or to encourage babies to latch if they are refusing the breast.
Why you don't need it: Nipple shields will not fix a baby's latch, rather just mask a poor latch. Babies can easily become dependent on them. Putting a barrier on your nipple will affect milk transfer, and lower your milk supply.
What to use instead: Work with a lactation expert to help your baby latch properly onto the breast!
Kelly Maher, CLC, CLE