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The following is a list of materials I used while breastfeeding my children, divided up into those I considered absolute necessities, supplies just for pumping, and extras that I had, but probably could have lived without.
Nursing Shirts – Nursing tops are an absolute necessity in my life. With the right nursing top, I can nurse my baby and very few people will have any idea. I prefer the ones that are basically two layers, with a small inner layer that pulls up and can be used to cover any exposed skin. I own a number of nursing tops, but my favorites I ordered online from Old Navy, H&M, and The Gap. Unfortunately, the selection changes frequently.
Lightweight Blankets – Combine a nursing top with a baby blanket for ultimate privacy. With my first child, I used a nursing cover and while I’m sure I was 100% covered, I was also broadcasting to the entire world what I was doing, which I didn’t like. With my second child, I was much happier using a layered nursing shirt that was not obvious to begin with, combined with a blanket to cover the whole area. That way people didn’t know if I was nursing or just trying to get my baby to sleep.
Medela Pump-in-Style Advanced – When my son was 6 months old, I went back to work full time for 2 months before transitioning into my extremely part-time position. During those two months I got to be pretty good at pumping. I pumped twice a day, about 10 minutes each time, totaling roughly 16 ounces for the day. There may be better products on the market now, but back in 2009 when I was pregnant with my first child, I did a lot of researching before selecting the Medela Pump-In-Style, and I was extremely happy with the performance. (Also, be sure to check with your insurance company. I was offered a pump for free after my last delivery.)
Mason Jars – Finding a cost effective way of storing breastmilk can be an enormous pain. Especially if you’re environmentally conscious and don’t want to use anything disposable or anything that might possibly contain BPA. What I ended up deciding was to use 8 ounce (half-pint) mason jars. I kept the box they came in in the freezer so that I could store them in a convenient way without having them tip over and used a piece of tape and a sharpie to write the date on the lid.
Bottles – Obviously, if you’re going to be pumping, you’ll be needing some bottles. We received these Dr. Brown’s bottles at our baby shower. I really can’t say if these do everything they advertise, but we never had any problems with them or reason to look for a different type of bottle with our 3 kids. I’ve heard some babies are very particular about their nipple shape. Ours were not huge fans of the bottle in general, but they adjusted to this bottle after a few days of effort without us needing to try other types.
Smaller Storage – I bought a pack of these milk storage containers by Medela when I began pumping before we transitioned to Mason jars. I was glad I did. They only hold around 2.7 ounces, but when the baby is not even consistently drinking from a bottle, it’s a waste to defrost a larger quantity. Of course, one could just fill an 8 ounce Mason jar part way and not need an additional product, but there are the advantages of these taking up less space and being quicker to defrost in a glass of warm water.
Nursing Cover – I used one of these all the time with my first child and basically never with my second child. If modesty and privacy are of the utmost importance to you, then I would recommend owning one of these. It’s handy to be able to see the child and what you’re doing. However, if you’re willing to risk brief exposure in order to be less obvious about the activity going on undercover, I instead recommend using a nursing top and blanket.
Lanolin Cream – With my first child, I used this product when I got nursing related injuries and I really can’t say whether it helped the healing process or not. However, if you are having trouble pumping, applying a little lanolin helps to create a better seal. With my second child, I didn’t need it, but with my first child, I was not able to pump effectively at all until I started applying lanolin beforehand.
Click here to read more about my experience Breastfeeding.