Top Breastfeeding Accessories According to an Expert
There are a lot of breastfeeding products on the market, and between the over-hyped lactation cookies and designer diaper bags, it can feel almost impossible to separate the necessities from… the “necessities.” We interviewed Leah Tribus, TLN International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, to determine which breastfeeding accessories are the most helpful, which are the most accessible, and which you can safely skip.
According to Tribus, these are some of the most indispensable breastfeeding products:
A nursing pillow is one of Tribus’s top picks, and VeryWell Family agrees: “A comfortable nursing pillow can help support your baby by lifting them up to the level of your breast.” Nursing pillows can be particularly supportive for parents who have larger breasts, are recovering from C-sections, or are feeding twins. “Many parents like a style that goes all the way around your body and clips on the side,” shared Tribus. And per VeryWell Family, the right nursing pillow can also reduce strain on your back, neck, shoulders, and arms, and help you settle into more comfortable breastfeeding positions, like side-lying.
A high-quality breast pump
If you plan to bottle feed breast milk to your little one eventually, you’re going to need the right pump—but the pump (or pumps) you choose will depend on your unique needs. Per Tribus, “how frequently a parent plans to pump will determine the best type of pump for them.” A manual pump is best for occasional pumping, or when used in combination with an electric pump. Meanwhile, “a double electric pump that can pump both breasts simultaneously will be best if the pump is to be used frequently over the course of many months.” There are also different types of double electric pumps, like wearable pumps that you can multi-task and move around in. While portable pumps are convenient, however, Tribus cautions that parents who plan to exclusively pump may want a stationary pump with a stronger motor.
With all the breast pump options available, narrowing in on the best fit might feel overwhelming, but TLN can help you find the pump for you. Plus, breast pumps and replacement breast pump parts including tubing, flanges, and extra valves are covered by most types of insurance.
A silicone breast milk collector
This handy little tool “attaches to one breast while you’re feeding on the other, making it easy to collect breast milk and start a small stash of milk for bottle-feeding,” noted Tribus. Anything that preserves your time and energy might be worth it—plus, milk collectors are usually no more than fifteen dollars.
A soft babywearing wrap
“Babies are often fussy, especially during growth spurts,” Tribus said. “Wearing your baby is very comforting for them, and can give you a break between cluster feeding.”
Inexpensive (or Multi-Purpose) Lifesavers
These breastfeeding accessories are either super affordable—or they’re potentially in your home already!
Expressed breast milk
“Breast milk is very helpful for healing sore nipples,” Tribus told us. Healthline explains that applying your own breast milk to cracked nipples “may help them heal by offering antibacterial protection.”
Typically priced at around 2-5 dollars each, “many parents find chilled hydrogel pads—applied directly to their nipples—very soothing in the early weeks,” said Tribus.
Frozen bags of peas and corn
Frozen veggies for the win! Tribus explained that “these can be useful as frozen packs applied to your breast tissue if you experience initial engorgement three to five days after baby’s birth.”
A cart with wheels
If your bar cart has been gathering dust for nine months, you can give it a new life. “Many parents use carts to create a traveling breastfeeding station,” Tribus shared. “You can keep your pump there, and stock it with snacks, diapers, nipple cream, and extra pump parts.”
“A breastfeeding stool supports you while feeding,” noted Tribus. “Your feet rest on the angled surface, raising your thighs so they are parallel to the floor, which creates a more secure foundation for the breastfeeding pillow and your baby.” Bonus: This footstool can double as an ergonomic, under-the-desk footrest.
Products You May Want to Skip
You may not need these breastfeeding products—at least not in the beginning.
An expensive diaper or pump bag
“Unless it’s a bag you really want,” said Tribus, “most bags have very similar features. Get one that’s comfortable… and feels durable.”
Teas, herbs, and breastfeeding products to increase supply
“You may use these along your journey,” shared Tribus, “but many breastfeeding parents don’t.” Oftentimes, low breast milk supply isn’t the real issue, and if you do need to increase your supply, Tribus recommends working with an IBCLC. A dedicated lactation expert can “make recommendations that are best suited to you.”
“Breast milk warms up quickly, and many parents find they don’t need a bottle warmer,” Tribus told us. “Instead they run warm water over the bottle, or they set the bottle in a large cup or bowl with very warm water.” Just remember, “no microwave or boiling water.” These methods heat foods unevenly, and can create hot spots that cause burns.
A Breastfeeding Cover
While nursing covers are a useful option for parents who want privacy when breastfeeding in public, you don’t need one unless it would make you feel more comfortable.
VeryWell Family shares that nipple shields can be useful “when breastfeeding a preemie, breastfeeding with flat or inverted nipples, or nursing a baby who has difficulty latching onto your breast.” However, nipple shields should only be used if recommended to you by a doctor or IBCLC, and many lactating parents don’t need them.
To browse lactation products tailored to your lifestyle and insurance plan, visit TLN.care. And if you need any additional guidance on which breastfeeding supplies you need—and which you don’t—request a lactation consultation. We’re here to help.