If you’re pregnant and hoping to breastfeed, here is a list of breastfeeding supplies you absolutely need and some that are great but not required. Stop wondering what equipment do you need for breastfeeding thanks to this breastfeeding equipment list!
As a pregnant mom, it’s so fun to create a baby registry for stuff you and your baby need.
You go up to the customer service desk when creating your Target Baby Registry and they hand you that super awesome barcode scanner that makes you feel really important. You walk through Target thinking, “Oh yeah, that’s right people, I get to point this thing at stuff and click the button. You so wish you were me right now!”
I know you’re nodding your head in agreement right now because I don’t know any pregnant mom who doesn’t feel that way. Those barcode scanners are cool!
You get to the cute baby clothes and you start scanning everything you see because it’s just so dang cute, then you get to the car seat aisle and pick the one that has a million different options, (It’s an infant carrier! It turns into a toddler car seat! They can stay in this thing until they are 12 years old!).
And then . . . you get to the breastfeeding aisle.
Suddenly all the fun has stopped.
I mean, how fun is it to point that thing at nursing pads and nipple cream?
Many moms neglect to add breastfeeding supplies to their baby registry because they feel weird asking their friends to buy them nipple cream, or because they are so overwhelmed with all the bottles and breast pumps and nursing pads and creams up and down the breastfeeding aisle.
I totally know the feeling!
When I was pregnant with my first, I had no idea what exactly I would need for breastfeeding when it came to it. I asked my mom friends and I asked my sister, but I still felt completely lost.
That’s why I’ve compiled a list for your absolute must-have breastfeeding supplies and equipment, as well as a list of things that would be really nice to have but you can live without (in case you are strapped for cash or want the bare minimum to start).
Must-Have Breastfeeding Essentials
1. Nipple Cream
You need it. It’s essential!
The first two to three weeks of nursing are an absolute killer on your nipples.
With all three of my kids I was cracked and bled so much, and this was the only stuff that soothed the pain.
Most hospitals give you a little tube of lanolin to take home with you, but it’s more like a sample size.
The 1.41 oz tube should be more than enough to last you the 2-3 weeks it takes to toughen up your nipples and could last your whole nursing journey. A little goes a long way.
You can buy this breastfeeding supply at Target, Wal Mart, Bed Bath and Beyond, Motherhood Maternity, etc.
2. Breast Pads or Nursing Pads
You leak like crazy when you first start breastfeeding, and it may take months before you don’t need to use breast pads anymore (some need to use them the entire time).
I’m pretty sure I was still wearing breast pads about 3 or 4 months after giving birth.
You might think, “Well, I don’t need those, because I plan on feeding my baby right away as soon as he/she is hungry!”
The thing is, when you start nursing on one side, the milk comes in on both sides!
So even though your baby is attached to your right boob, your left boob is dripping like a leaky faucet. You need breast pads to keep your bra and clothing from getting completely soaked.
They are also super helpful when you’re in public and need to hold your baby off for a few minutes before nursing. It can be really embarrassing for some women to leak through their clothing in a public place!
Disposable Nursing Pads
I’ve used disposable nursing pads with each baby, and there is only one brand I like. Yep, Lansinoh again.
I know there are a million different kinds out there, and my OBGYN always gives me a bag of goodies that comes with some free Philips Avent breast pads, but I just don’t like them.
The quilted honeycomb lining is where it’s at, y’all.
These nursing pads keep me dry no matter how much I leak, and they’re not too expensive.
But no matter which brand you choose to buy, disposable nursing pads are great because you can just toss them once they get super wet/gross (or at least once a day).
Reusable Breast Pads
The next time I get pregnant, I’m totally giving reusable nursing pads a try.
Other moms I’ve talked to have told me they are super comfortable, you can wash and reuse them as many times as you need to, and you save money, too!
This is a really popular brand with nothing but positive reviews.
I’ve seen those specific breast pads given at a lot of baby showers, so they’re a must-have for breastfeeding if you want to go the reusable route.
It’s nice that they’re machine washable, so you don’t have to spend a lot of extra time hand-washing them!
3. Breast Pumps
A breast pump is a must-have in terms of breastfeeding equipment even if you’re going to be breastfeeding directly from the breast most of the time.
My second child refused to take a bottle (it was partly our fault because we waited so long to introduce it) so I only used my breast pump for the first 2 months or so to build up my supply.
The good news is that instead of going out to buy one brand new, this one of the free breastfeeding supplies you can score!
Your health insurance company should send you a breast pump for free if you notify them that you are pregnant thanks to some recent
“Your health insurance plan must cover the cost of a breast pump. It may be either a rental unit or a new one you’ll keep. Your plan may have guidelines on whether the covered pump is manual or electric, the length of the rental, and when you’ll receive it (before or after birth). But it’s up to you and your doctor to decide what’s right for you.”
This was not a mandatory healthcare benefit when I was pregnant with my first baby. I was lucky to have my husband’s aunt gift me a Medela Double Electric Breast Pump.
If you want help getting a breast pump for free through your insurance, I highly recommend Aeroflow Breastpumps!
Aeroflow Breastpumps is the leading provider of free breast pumps through insurance in the US. As an expecting mother or new mom, you just need to complete their simple form, and they take it from there: they contact the doctor, insurance company, and of course, you, to get you the best pump at no cost to you! Qualify for a free breastpump through insurance here.
Regardless of which pump you choose, you will use it and it is completely necessary when you have a newborn, even if it is a simple hand pump!
4. Breastmilk Storage Bags
Now you’re thinking, “Whoa, whoa I am going to exclusively breastfeed and I don’t want to give the baby a bottle! I don’t need those.”
Well, that’s great, but you’ll find that when your milk first comes in, you’re going to want to pump from time to time to get rid of some of the engorgement that happens.
Your breasts feel like cantaloupes hanging out on your body, and it’s really helpful if you can pump some of that out and freeze it for later. Pumping can also help increase your milk supply if you don’t have a lot in the beginning.
With most breast pumps, you pump the milk out into a bottle-like container and then pour it into breast milk storage bags so you can put it into the freezer or fridge.
You can use glass, hard plastic containers, or breast milk storage bags to store your milk. Breast milk storage bags are specifically designed to be BPA-free and pre-sterilized.
A Ziploc bag may or may not be BPA free and it is not
Here’s a super detailed article I found all about storing breast milk and the best breast milk storage bags to buy.
5. Baby Bottles
If you’re planning on pumping and trying to bottle feed a few days after breastfeeding has been established, then you’re going to need a few baby bottles.
There are SO many different kinds out there, so it can be intimidating.
I would say as far as bottles go, try one out and if your baby doesn’t like it after a few days, try a different one.
Bottles are trial and error
6. Nursing Bras
You’ve got to have a few nursing bras ready to go when the baby comes, or even to wear a few weeks prior to delivery.
The last two months or so of each pregnancy, I transitioned early to nursing bras simply because they are usually more comfortable and roomier than the traditional bras I normally wear.
You should buy at least two nursing bras so you can alternate wearing during the day, and two for nighttime/bed-time wear as it can help you sleep during pregnancy and postpartum periods better.
A couple of great workout nursing tank tops or bras wouldn’t hurt either!
Nursing bras are one of the many breastfeeding supplies you need because you’ve got to be able to unclasp, feed the baby, and then clasp right back up again.
It’s simply impossible (or at least extremely uncomfortable) to wear a normal bra and not expose yourself if you’re trying to nurse anywhere outside your own home.
Plus, nursing bras give your boobs that extra room they need those first few months when they’re full of milk, and most don’t have that annoying underwire that cuts into you (in fact, you should try to find nursing bras without the underwire).
Nursing bras are hard to find in many department stores, or the selection is super small, or they are all so expensive! It’s helpful to get a fitting in store, but be willing to shop around online after you know what size you may need or want.
Some cool places to get nursing bras online are:
- Newchic.com (super cheap and loads of different colors, clasp options, and patterns and they actually look sexy!)
- Destination Maternity (they have over 112 options!)
7. Burp Cloths or Spit up Rags
Before I had my first child, I knew that babies spit up after they ate. What I didn’t expect was the cascade of regurgitated breast milk dripping off my shoulder and onto the couch/floor/my back.
Both my first child and my third child were extreme spit-uppers. I used baby blankets sometimes instead of burp cloths because the burp cloths couldn’t catch the downpour of liquid coming out of their mouths!
Gross, but real talk!
I also like putting one underneath my baby as I lie down to nurse her in bed, or even tuck one in my bra, under my breast as I nurse (or pump) so that leaks and dribbles and drool don’t ruin my bra or my sheets (so I don’t have to wash them as often).
It doesn’t really matter which kind of burb rag you get, as long as you buy at least a dozen or so (or more!) so you’re prepared for those
Non-Essential Breastfeeding Supplies and Equipment
Yeah, this stuff would be great to have, but it’s not totally essential.
1. Nursing Pillows
Everyone talks about how you need a Boppy pillow as one of your standard breastfeeding supplies, but I never really liked the way they fit around me, so I never used them.
In my experience, a good ‘ol fashioned pillow or two from your bed or the couch works just fine. As long as you can prop your baby up to the proper height to make nursing comfortable for you, then you’re good.
Many times when I was in a public place and didn’t have a nursing pillow or any pillows around me, I would just lean back and prop my baby up with my knees or an extra baby blankie.
I’ve also heard that full-body pillows work great for nursing!
Don’t spend a bunch of money buying a super expensive nursing pillow, because it’s just not that important of a breastfeeding
2. Nursing Covers
Nursing covers are a great item to have when you’re breastfeeding, but they are by no means absolutely necessary.
You can definitely still be modest while nursing in public without a cover, especially if you have nursing clothes (see my suggestion on the best affordable nursing clothes), but it’s totally up to you if you want to buy one or not or be covered or not.
I prefer to cover up, and thankfully had one given to me at my baby shower by my husband’s cousin, so I used them here and there, but don’t feel like you can’t breastfeed without one, or that you need a specialized breastfeeding cover.
A blanket (especially a nice lightweight muslin swaddle one) or jacket or shawl or scarf works to cover up too!
3. Nursing Clothes
Clothes that are made exclusively for breastfeeding moms or with nursing moms in mind are awesome. They allow you to nurse in public and preserve your modesty, which is something a lot of us care about.
But do you need to run out and buy a ton of them before the baby comes? No, not really.
When I was a first-time mom I never nursed my baby in public without a cover, so I would just pull up or down my shirt and not worry about buying nursing specific clothes.
I would say that if you don’t want to nurse in public without a cover, it’s probably not going to matter if you have a regular T-shirt on or a nursing top on underneath that cover.
If you have the means to buy a few nursing clothes, then that’s awesome and you should totally do it, but if not, you will survive!
4. Bottle Warmer
I have never had a bottle warmer with any of my kids, but I am sure it would be awesome if I had one like this.
Bottle warmers let you heat up bottles in a safe way, and only take a minute or two to get the breast milk to the right temperature.
However, you can run your stored frozen breast milk under warm water for a few minutes and get the same result, so that’s why a bottle warmer is not really essential breastfeeding equipment.
5. Breastfeeding Class
Finally, I wanted to take a minute to talk about breastfeeding classes.
If you are a first-time mom and are planning on breastfeeding your baby, it is super helpful to take a breastfeeding class and bring your spouse along for the ride.
You may not learn everything, but the class my husband and I went to boosted my confidence and helped me feel ready to handle the challenge of breastfeeding.
You can take a breastfeeding class at a hospital, WIC clinics, etc. It’s not essential, but it IS super helpful!
However, every hospital anymore has lactation consultants on-call at the hospital, as well as L&D nurses who can help you one-on-one with your newborn and teach you everything you should need to know.
And if you have problems after you begin breastfeeding and leave the hospital, there are still WIC clinics, the pediatrician, lactation consultants, and other moms eager and willing to help you and your baby.
Taking a class ahead of time isn’t necessary for breastfeeding success, so it’s therefore not one of the needed breastfeeding supplies.
I hope this article helps you feel like you’ll have the breastfeeding supplies and equipment you need to breastfeed with confidence and ease.
If you are an expecting mom, don’t miss out on all this cool free stuff you can get as a new mom, either!