– Ask a Real Mom – What Are Your Breastfeeding Essentials?

I will never forget the moment my doctor handed my firstborn daughter to me. It was truly the most overwhelming joy, relief, and love I had ever felt. I was so excited to start my breastfeeding journey, but to my surprise, my daughter would not latch. I was emotional, hormonal, and exhausted, but no matter how hard I tried, it just did not work out for us. I eventually decided to pump and feed her bottles for her first year, but I felt like a failure. I eventually realized that MOST moms struggle with breastfeeding and I quickly put our feeding journey into perspective- a fed and healthy baby is best.

nursing mother

Going into my delivery with my second baby, I had that better mindset and just prayed for an easier breastfeeding journey. To my delight, and with the help of an angel lactation nurse, my sweet baby boy latched right on. I learned so many tips, tricks, and tools for breastfeeding that I did not know my first round.

Everyone’s breastfeeding journey is so unique and different. If you are feeling overwhelmed, lost, and exhausted, know that a majority of moms before you have felt the same way. I knew that breastfeeding would be a popular topic with our Real Moms and truly they did not disappoint. If you have questions about what you need for nursing, you’ve come to the right place!


Real Mom Chelsea says, “A good pump is the most important tool you’ll need on your breastfeeding journey.” Fortunately, most insurance companies will provide you with a pump and have it delivered the month you’re due. Just have your doctor or midwife write what my doctor calls a “pump prescription” and then contact your insurance company. If they do not provide one, remember to register for one!

electric breast pump

Electric Breast Pump

Before choosing a breast pump, think about how often you’ll want to pump and where you’ll be pumping. The electric Spectra S1 breast pump has hospital strength without the loud noise. It’s compact and rechargeable so you can take it anywhere with you.

Elvie wearable breast pump

Another great option is the Elvie wearable breast pump. It gives you the freedom to wear your pump and move around without the cords or loud noise. Feel like the super mom you are – you can cook, clean, and even hold your little one all while wearing your Elvie pump!

pump bag

Regardless of which pump you go with, if you’re going back to work, you’ll need a pumping bag and bottle cooler. Pumping on the go also requires you to bring cleaning supplies, milk storage bags, and any extra pump parts.


The Haakaa

The Haakaa is hands down the most popular breastfeeding essential recommended by our Real Moms! It catches and pulls your letdown on one breast while you nurse your baby on the other. Real Mom Emilee said that wearing the Haakaa while she fed her son was how she started her freezer storage. Real Mom Tori S said, “It’s truly shocking how much milk can go to waste in your breast pad, so throwing the Haaka on, especially in the early days is crucial.”

Pro Tip: Real Mom and Doula Valentina shared that the Haakaa is good for fixing clogged ducts. Fill it with hot water and 3 tablespoons of Epsom salts. Suction it on and it will pull the clog out.


The Right-Sized Rocker

The Right-Sized Rocker or Recliner

Real Mom Pamela recommends splurging on a great rocking chair. She says, “I chose a rocker that was super comfortable and stylish because I knew it was something I would use every day.” Make sure your chair has good back and neck support. Adding a footrest or ottoman doesn’t hurt!


Nursing Pillows

Another popular recommendation by our Real Moms was the Boppy breastfeeding pillow. This pillow keeps your baby at the perfect angle so that both you and your baby are comfortable while nursing or bottle feeding. And it gives your arms and back a break!

My Breast Friend makes a nursing pillow
Image Courtesy of Real Mom Rachel G.

Real Mom, and close friend, Rachel G. says the My Breast Friend saved her back. This pillow has a built-in backrest which, as pictured, allowed her to comfortably nurse on the floor. If you’re a twin mama, My Breast Friend makes a nursing pillow to simultaneously nurse both of your babies.


nipple shield

Nipple Shields

If your baby ends up with a tongue tie or has latching issues due to nipple inversion or size then the nipple shield will be your best friend early on in your nursing journey. My son had a very bad tongue tie, but even after the procedure to fix it, he still had trouble latching. A lactation nurse introduced me to the nipple shield. The soft silicone design models a bottle without taking away the skin-to-skin contact of actual breastfeeding. It’s a great tool to help ease into the nursing process but isn’t something you will need forever.

Nursing Pads

Nursing Pads

When it rains, sometimes it pours especially when it comes to your letdown in the early stages of breastfeeding. Real Moms Kristen F. and Paige M. agree that nipple pads are a must! You can purchase either disposable nursing pads or ones that can be washed and reused. Real Mom Jazmin said that wearing nipple pads can also help reduce irritation.

Nipple Balm

Nipple Balm

Speaking of irritated nipples, nipple balm will be your best friend. I had no clue how irritated they truly could get while learning how to breastfeed. To add a protective layer, put on a little nipple balm after pumping or nursing and use a fresh nipple pad. Real Mom Crystal said she buys nipple balm as a shower gift for all her mom friends.

Lansinoh Breast Therapy Packs

Therapearl Breast Therapy Pack

Real Mom and Doula, Valentina recommends every mom purchase a set or two of the Lansinoh Breast Therapy Packs. Heat them in the microwave before you pump or feed and then have a second set in the freezer for after. This helps prevent or heal mastitis by training your milk supply to know when to let down and when to finish. 

For Mom

pumping and feeding mom

Pumping/ Nursing Bra

Real Mom Paige says that investing in a good quality nursing bra is worth the splurge and we think that Kindred Bravely makes the world’s best nursing bras! Not only do they have terrific support and a huge selection of sizes, but they are also two-in-one for nursing OR pumping. Its hands-free pumping feature allows you to also pump and nurse at the same time.

nursing gown

Nursing Nightgown

The Motherhood Maternity Essential Nursing Nightgown will be all you wear in the first few weeks of your new baby’s life. Made of a thin material that’s super comfy, these nightgowns are cool enough to help you avoid postpartum night sweats. However, the real beauty of this nightgown is the built-in nursing bra so you can have quick middle-of-the-night feeds. 

lactation cookies

Lactation Cookies

Real Mom Rachel P. recommends always having a water bottle and some lactation cookies nearby to be prepared when that nursing hunger hits you. It is so important to always be drinking water and eating snacks that promote a good milk supply. These Munchkin Milkmaker Lactation Cookie Bites are so yummy and filled with great things that increase your supply such as oats, brewers yeast, and flax seeds.

nursing basket

You Won’t Find It At the Store

Our Real Moms not only gave us great breastfeeding products but we also have great tips

and encouragement for moms that you won’t find at any store.

breastfeeding mom

Real Mom Christina P. says: “You’ll need patience, encouragement, help, and wisdom to know when to persevere and when to quit. Every baby is so different and I felt so different with each one!! Breastfeeding wasn’t my favorite and I did it for a shorter amount of time with each child, but I’m thankful I did and also very thankful for formula and bottles.”

Christina also added that an essential part of her breastfeeding journey was her mom. She was there to answer questions and help when things weren’t quite easy. And I 100% agree – I don’t know what I would have done without the help of my mom, especially during those fresh postpartum days.

We also recommend finding a local lactation nurse through the hospital, your pediatrician’s office, or a newborn group. I found a free breastfeeding support group that was led by a lactation nurse who spent individual time with each mom showing tricks, giving tips, and weighing the babies before and after the feeds. It truly was a game-changer!  

mom with baby

I have faced all sorts of challenges through my breastfeeding journey. It’s been successful, but I’ve also chosen to use a bottle. And the more moms I talk to, the more I realize that nursing isn’t easy for anyone! Whether you love breastfeeding or chose bottle breastmilk or formula, YOU ARE A GREAT MOMMY! Always remember, fed is best!

Looking for a great baby shower gift?

Creating a new mommy breastfeeding essential basket would make the perfect gift! Are you a new mom? You can add all of these amazing breastfeeding essentials to your registry! Don’t have one? Start your registry today!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. The ideas are ours, but we may be compensated if you make a purchase by clicking on one of the links. Thanks for your support!

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