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Nursing Supplies: What Do You Really Need?

Breastfeeding advocates love to say how much cheaper – or free – breastfeeding is. It’s true, there’s much less stuff and expense involved in nursing than in formula feeding, but a couple of products can make life much easier. Here’s what’s vital, and here’s what is nice, and what you can do without.

  • The most obvious thing you’ll really appreciate is a couple of good-fitting, supportive nursing bras. Buy one or two bras at first, and expect to go and buy more if your breast size changes, it may once your milk comes in a couple of days after birth.
  • Nursing clothes are optional, but a couple of shirts can make things easier in the first few weeks. Most moms wear regular clothes – anything that can be pulled up or down or unbuttoned or unzipped can be a nursing shirt.
  • Some moms swear by Boppy pillows to help prop baby up, and make nursing easier. I could not justify spending $35 on a curvy pillow and $15 on a cover for it, so made do happily with a couple of regular pillows. This is something you should say yes if someone offers you one, but perhaps not worth actually buying one.
  • Lansinoh or Medela PurLan lanolin nipple creams do help somewhat with sore nipples. Sore nipples is something that is usually inevitable in early breastfeeding, and the only thing that cures them is time. Exposure to the air, and expressing breastmilk and letting it dry on the nipples all help a little too. Once baby is nursing well, they’ll get better, and soon it will be painless. A tube of either cream costs around $7-10 but lasts forever, you won’t even use one tube up. (It can also be used to treat diaper rash.)
  • A lot of moms love nursing cover-ups. Essentially a blanket with a strap that covers your entire front and baby too, allowing you to nurse in public with everything hidden. You can also make do with a baby blanket (you’ll be given approximately 5000 blankets as baby gifts) or make your own nursing cover.
  • And then there’s breast pads. I found them indispensable, especially in the first few months. One thing I did not know about nursing, is that when baby nurses on one side, the other side tends to leak. (Or squirt like the fountains outside the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas). Breastmilk also tends to leak at inopportune times, and overnight, and in those 14 seconds when you run in the kitchen and turn the oven off so it won’t burn dinner before you feed baby.You can buy disposable ones, which have a sticky side to stick inside your bra. These tend to come unstuck and wiggle out, usually in public. They also work out to be quite expensive if you wear them all the time. A better option is to use washable pads, which are more eco-friendly, and much cheaper in the long run. Absorbent night-time pads, and thinner daytime pads are available. All you need to do is toss them in the laundry with anything else.
  • A Breast milk pump. You’ll need one if you plan to return to work but still want your baby to nurse and drink breast milk. If you don’t plan to be away from your baby, you probably won’t need one. If you are not going back to work, this is a wait-and-see purchase – wait until baby is born to see if it will be worth the expense. I never pumped, and still nursed my son without ever needing formula for over a year.

Formula feeding is usually quoted to cost around $2,000 over a year. Even if you buy all of the products above, it will cost $120, plus whatever you spend on bras, plus $50-$250 on a breastpump, if you buy one of those. Breastfeeding is still the most economical option by far.

Do you know an indispensable product that makes breastfeeding easier? Please share in the comments below!

6 Responses to “Nursing Supplies: What Do You Really Need?”


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