What breastfeeding equipment do you actually need?

Breastfeeding equipment

Breastfeeding essentials for new mums

Some people may argue there is no such thing as breastfeeding equipment and nature gives you everything you need to do it.

As we all know, breastfeeding is generally regarded as the best choice for you and your baby.

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What’s more, you don’t have to prepare bottles or sterilise feeding equipment daily, and breast milk is free. 

However, there are lots of products on the market to assist you on your breastfeeding journey. 

Here is a list of essential things you will need and accessories that may come in useful.

1. Breastfeeding bras

Breastfeeding bras are front opening bras that allow you to feed your baby easily and discreetly.

Look for comfortable, supportive, soft cotton bras with wide shoulder straps and cups that are easy to open and close.

Breast size can increase a lot when you begin breastfeeding. Consider getting measured by a professional bra fitter during your last month of pregnancy.

2. Breast pads

You may leak milk in between feeds or from the opposite breast during feeding. Some people never leak while others leak milk profusely for months! Everyone is different.

Breast pads stop milk leaking through your clothes and help you avoid embarrassing incidents. You may wish to have a supply of pads put by, just in case you need them.

Nursing pads are available in disposable and reusable varieties. Disposable breast pads could end up costing you a fortune if you leak a lot.

It may be worthwhile investing in some washable breast pads that you can re-use.

A combination of disposable and reusable pads may work well for you, depending on your situation.

3. Breastfeeding cover up

A breastfeeding cover up or shawl is specially designed to aid breastfeeding discreetly in public or in front of guests at home.

A large muslin cloth or light blanket draped over you may be enough to cover your modesty in the early days. But as your baby gets older he may start pulling it off, or it could blow away when nursing outside. 

A nursing cover enables you to see the baby during breastfeeding and make adjustments easily, and the baby has plenty of ventilation.

4. Nursing clothing

You may find you don’t need clothes for breastfeeding.

But there is a massive selection of stylish nursing vest tops, dresses and nightgowns that give you easy access for discreet breastfeeding.

Choose from:

  • v-neck crossover designs that you can easily open with one hand
  • double layered fronts that lift open
  • tops with openings at the sides
  • buttons that open down the front
  • straps that pull down easily

5. Breastfeeding pillow

Breastfeeding pillows are crescent-shaped, v-shaped or wrap-around pillows for use during breastfeeding. They help you to sit more comfortably and raise the baby to the right height for feeding and latch-on. 

Feeding pillows help prevent back pain, aching shoulders and a sore neck. Some nursing mothers swear by them. 

You may find regular bed pillows or scatter cushions do the job. 

If you buy a nursing pillow and you don’t get on with it, use it as a comfy pillow for sitting up in bed instead. Or for propping up the baby when he is learning to sit.

6. Nipple cream

Use nipple cream for any soreness and cracking you experience during the early weeks of breastfeeding.

The relief you get from using nipple cream may make the difference between persevering with breastfeeding and giving up.

Lansinoh lanolin nipple cream is completely natural and there is no need to wash it off before each feed.

7. Muslin squares

Soft, light and versatile with a multitude of uses, muslin squares are especially useful when feeding your baby. 

Tuck a large muslin cloth into your bra strap and drape it over your baby if you want to breastfeed discreetly.

Use a muslin square to burp your baby and for mopping up any spillages that follow! 

8. Breastmilk pump

Use a breast pump to express milk, which you can then bottle feed your baby.

There a few reasons you may wish to pump:

  • Your partner can join in with the feeds, and give you a break from feeding
  • Pumping stimulates milk production if your supply is low
  • To relieve uncomfortable engorgement
  • You need to leave your baby with a babysitter or childminder
  • To build up a supply if you are going to be away from your baby for a length of time
  • To maintain supply when you go back to work
  • You don’t want to breastfeed but you want your baby to benefit from your breast milk
  • You wish to bottle feed a combination of breast milk and formula

You can use a handheld manual breast pump, or a more expensive electric breast pump. If you only pump occasionally, a cheaper manual hand breast pump will suffice.

For regular pumping several times daily (perhaps when at work), a speedier electric pump is a worthwhile investment.

9. Breastmilk storage

Store your pumped breast milk in the fridge or freezer to keep it safe for consumption.

Use sterilised airtight glass or plastic containers, or pre-sterilised breast milk storage bags.

Some breast milk storage bags are designed for pumping directly into the bag. This avoids the inconvenience of pouring milk between containers.

10. Bottle feeding equipment

For feeding expressed breast milk, you need some suitable bottles with teats. But you may find your baby doesn’t take to the bottle well after being on the breast. 

Nanobebe baby bottles have a natural feel, designed to avoid teat confusion and ease the transition between breast and bottle. 

Breast pump parts, bottles and teats must be washed thoroughly in between feeds, so invest in a good bottle brush.

You must also sterilise all feeding equipment to get rid of potentially harmful bacteria. 

For sterilising, use an electric, microwave or UV steriliser, cold water steriliser, or boiling water.

You can also buy sterilising equipment designed for travel and occasional use. This may be adequate if you only pump sometimes.

11. Nipple shields

A nipple shield is made from soft silicone with a hole at the tip to allow milk to flow through.

Worn during breastfeeding, nipple shields provide relief from sore and cracked nipples. They can be useful if the baby has difficulty latching on.

However, nipple shields are not intended as a permanent solution.

It is worth seeking advice from an experienced lactation consultant to help with persistent breastfeeding problems.

12. Breast shells

Worn inside your bra, breast shells collect milk that leaks from the opposite breast during breastfeeding or expressing.

Breast milk collection shells are useful if you leak a lot and get through a lot of nursing pads.

You can add the collected breast milk to a sterile bottle or breast milk storage bag instead of wasting it. An ounce of milk collected here and there soon adds up to a full feed.

It is important to note that breast shells must be sterilised before use if you are storing the milk to feed later.

Breastfeeding equipment

As you can see, there is a long list of things that may help with breastfeeding. You may need all of it, some of it or none of it if you plan on exclusive breastfeeding.

Don’t rush out and buy it all in advance. You could end up spending a fortune on stuff you never use.

See how you get on with feeding when the baby arrives, and then buy things as and when you need them.

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What breastfeeding equipment do you need?