When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It’s not exactly possible to practice before baby’s arrival.
The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.
We’ve rounded up some of the best tried and true breastfeeding products, from comfy nursing bras to the handheld pump mamas with clogged ducts swear by.
Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is that they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors. (Check out our round-up of lactation cookies if you’re looking for more!)
Alternatively, you could also opt for the ultra nourishing Mama Balls! Formulated to help improve the quality of breastmilk, Nunona’s mama balls are made from all natural, plant-based ingredients like nut butters, dates, brewers yeast, flaxseeds and oats which are as effective as they are tasty. And as any nursing mama knows, easy-to-grab, high quality snacks are clutch in those first months! There are several flavors to choose from, but we’re partial to the colorful cashew confetti.
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Throughout your breastfeeding journey, expect your boobs to leak at any given time. Your baby is hungry. A baby cries on TV. You think about your baby. You think about someone else’s baby. A cat meows in a way that sounds like a baby. You name it, they leak. The solution? Having an arsenal of cotton pads to stick in your bra to soak it up. The reusable organic cotton and bamboo pads from Bodily stay put with a grippy silicone exterior and feel soft against your sensitive areas. The six-pack comes with three low-profile pairs and three full-coverage pairs.
For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it’s getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.
For clogs that won’t quit, moms across every Facebook group swear by this little miracle. Just add a few scoops of epsom salts and water to this handheld silicone pump and bask in the relief that follows. (Learn more about the Haakaa hack here!)
Let’s face it. Sometimes your boobs need a break. However, for some, the transition to bottle from breast can be very challenging. We recommend finding bottles that mimic the breast to make things easier on everyone. Like Comotomo bottles. They’re made from silicone so it’s soft and squishy, mimicking mom’s breast and making it easy for little ones to grab and hold. The super-wide neck design means it’s simple and easy to clean—no bottle brush needed, you can just stick your hand right in there! (Check out our other picks for bottles for breastfed babies!)
Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Heal and protect those most sensitive and crucial areas with this lanolin-free duo from Bodily. Nourish is a blend of hydrating ingredients like organic coconut oil, organic jojoba seed oil and calendula which is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, while Protect locks in moisture with a plant-based alternative to lanolin that’s rich with shea butter and olive oil. Together they make for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.
For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it’s the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.
If futzing around with clasps and snaps isn’t your thing, Bodily’s The So Easy Bra makes things, well, so much easier. The stretchy bralette style is designed to simply pull down when it’s go-time, providing fuss-free access one-handed. Our favorite feature though? Aloe vera infused fabric that lovingly cares for a postpartum mama’s sensitive skin.
Related: 12 best nursing bras that are comfortable & stylish
An unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go. We love these affordable basics from H&M
Related: 14 nursing tops that feel anything but frumpy
Bebe au Lait
Nursing in public isn’t every mama’s cup of tea. But babies can’t always wait until you’ve found a private place to get down to business if that’s your preference. That’s where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you’re covered.
Chances are, you took some sort of prenatal vitamin. If you’re looking to give your milk a boost, keep the habit going with a postnatal vitamin that can supercharge your supply.
If you’re headed back to work and stressing about how to pump, Willow’s got you. The double electric design fits inside your bra so you can get the job done without being tied down and pump wherever, whenever. The proprietary technology brilliantly adjusts suction based on your comfort levels and offers continuous latch for spill-proof pumping in any position. Even downward-facing dog. Or, for those less motivated times, laid out on the couch. (You’ve earned it.)
Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you’re making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.