Feature: Breastfeeding & Pumping Essentials

It’s Monday and I have a special type of feature today! In the next few days/weeks, I have a series of several posts all about breastfeeding/pumping here on the blog.

Today I’m featuring my favorite breastfeeding/pumping items!

Ok, technically…all you need is your breast and a baby to breastfeed.

…….If only it were that easy!

Instead, I have found that I have built a rather large arsenal of supplies to help me through the months of breastfeeding/pumping.


The Early Days 

  • Nipple shield. This thing saved my entire breastfeeding journey. I’m 99.9% positive I would not have been able to breastfeed either of my kids without it. For me, it helped them to latch on, but for many women it helps in the beginning with very sore nipples as it acts as a barrier between the tongue and the nipple.
  • Nipple balm. The first few months of breastfeeding are just downright painful. It’s hard to prevent, but having some nipple balm on hand helps to ease and soothe the pain.
  • Breast pads. This is a MUST for breastfeeding Moms, especially in the first few weeks when the supply has not quite been maintained yet. Breasts leak…all the time. There are both disposable and reusable breast pads, both of which I like and use.
  • Nursing bras and tanks. It is a challenge to find a good nursing bra, and everyone will have different opinions on the best place to find them. I personally use and love the ones I have found at Target, but I am not a very well endowed woman, and I have heard others say that it just doesn’t cut it for them A breastfeeding woman needs at least 3-4 nursing bras in her rotation, especially in the beginning when leaking is inevitable.

Out and About 

  • Nursing cover. I personally prefer to nurse with a cover. I have used several over the years, and my hands-down favorite has been this Covered Goods one. It has 365 coverage and it’s soft and flowy!
  • Nurselet. One of the hardest parts about breastfeeding is trying to get the baby to latch. This little gem helps so much by giving nursing Mom’s an extra hand to hold up their shirt. It also works as a pretty bracelet reminder of which side the baby fed on last.

  • Hand pump. A hand pump has been helpful to me whether or not I am exclusively pumping. I like to carry it around in the diaper bag and always have it on hand for when I get stuck out for longer than I planned, when I don’t have access to a power outlet or I just need to relieve some engorgement.

For the Pumping Mama 

  • Breast Pump. A good breast pump is an absolute MUST for anyone who plans on pumping more than just the occasional bottle. There are many brands out there, but the two I most highly recommend are Madela and Spectra. Also, don’t forget that you can get a free breast pump through your insurance!
  • Pump cushions. Remember earlier in the post when I was talking about soreness? Well, that happens when you pump, too. These pump cushions have been so helpful for provide a gentler tug on the breast while pumping. They are very soft and also how fun is the color?
  • Bottles. Bottles are another matter of great debate in the bottle-feeding world. I’m going to have to tell you the cold, hard truth: You are going to have to try out what seems like a billion bottles before you find the one that works for you! We have had great success with the Dr. Brown’s bottles…although there are SO MANY DANG PARTS TO WASH.
  • Bottle Brush & Tree. With the use of bottles comes the lovely chore of washing bottles. Many people wash their bottles in the dishwasher, but since I don’t have one of those, I just stick with the good ‘ol bottle brush and bottle tree!
  • Milk Bags. Many pumping Moms find that they have an excess of milk and need to store it somehow. The best and easiest way to do this is to put it in milk bags.

For the Milk Supply 

  • Lactation cookies. When my Mom was here, she made these lactation cookies and they were SO GOOD. Everyone else even wanted to eat some!
  • Mama’s Milk Tea. I’ve heard some say that they dislike the taste of this tea, but I don’t mind it at all! I have found it to work within 24 hours, and so when I feel like my supply is tanking, I just drink a mug of this stuff.
  • Brewers Yeast. This stuff is legit, ya’ll. It does the trick! It is pretty flavorless and tastes to me like I am eating dirt, but I will occasionally sprinkle it in my oatmeal or other foods so I am eating a little bit of it.
  • Lecithin. This is a vitamin that I recently discovered that is reported to help prevent clogs! Milk duct clogs are incredibly painful and absolutely no fun, so I’m all for anything that will help prevent them!
  • Water!!!!! This is probably the easiest way to boost milk supply. As an exclusively pumping Mama, there is a noticeable difference in the amount of ounces I pump on days I am staying hydrated and days that I forget to drink as much water. I need to drink, drink, drink to keep my supply up!


It is so, so hard to breastfeed a baby without the support of those around you. It is important to have someone to ask questions to and receive encouragement from when the going gets tough (because it will!) These are the places I have received the most support from those around me:

  • Family 
  • Friends 
  • Lactation Support (La Leche Legue and Lactation Consultants) 

***I don’t know if she is doing them anymore, but Julie at Girl in the Red Shoes has been publishing The Breastfeeding Diaries for a few years now. So many women have shared their stories of breastfeeding/pumping….it’s such a treasure trove of information and encouragement!!!

What about you? What are some of the essentials for you while you are breastfeeding/pumping? Did I miss anything? Did you learn anything new?


  1. Mandie L. says:

    I know you listed this, but . . .
    A properly fitted nursing bra is absolutely essential. As a bigger girl, I’m never able to find my size in the brick-and-mortar stores. 🙁 I tried, with my first two babies, to buy the best fit I could find locally, and just make do, even though they were 3 or more cup sizes too small. I ended up with constant pain, bruising, supply issues, and infections. Gave up after 5-6 weeks. With my 3rd, I seriously considered just going with formula from day 1, but we decided to try forking over the $$$ to order a correctly sized bra online and see if it made a difference. It really did.

    I was able to nurse my 3rd for 8 months, and my 4th for almost a year.

    I think you covered all the things I would list – lots of breast pads, a good cover (or two), lanolin, burp clothes.

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