Bras to Breast Pumps: What do you really need for breastfeeding?

Bras to Breast Pumps: What do you really need for breastfeeding?

Good news for your budget!  Although there are many breastfeeding products for sale, there is nothing essential that you MUST purchase. All you truly need for breastfeeding is a mom and a baby.

Here is our take on the 7 most commonly purchased breastfeeding products:


  1. Nursing bra

Although more convenient, a nursing bra is not essential for breastfeeding. It is perfectly acceptable to wear a regular bra and simply unfasten it for feeds.

If you prefer the convenience of a nursing bra, wait to purchase it until you are at least 36 weeks pregnant. This will help you to determine the correct size. When baby arrives, your breasts will temporarily become larger as they fill with milk. Over the subsequent month, they will gradually adjust, often ending up about the same size as at the end of your pregnancy.

Try to avoid underwire nursing bras. Pressure from the wire can prevent milk ducts from emptying, increasing your risk for mastitis (an infection in the breast).


  1. Nursing Pads

Nursing pads can be handy to keep your bra from becoming wet. Not all mothers, however, will leak milk. Those who do leak may do so for only a short time. Limit the number of pads you purchase prenatally. You can always pick up more once baby arrives.

Note: Both disposable and reusable nursing pads are available for purchase.


  1. Breast pump

A breast pump is NOT a nursing essential. Many moms prefer to do hand expression when they need to store breast milk. (You can learn how to do hand expression by watching this video.)

If you decide to buy a pump, beware of purchasing a used electric pump. Research has shown that certain viruses and bacteria can be transmitted through breast milk. Pumps designed for single use have an “open system”; there is potential for milk to accidentally enter the pump mechanism. There is no way to disinfect these pumps between users, even if a new kit and tubing is used.

Note: Hospital-grade pumps available for rent are designed with a “closed system”. With a new kit and tubing, they can safely be used by more than one woman.

We go into more detail about pumping and types of pumps in this post.


  1. Breastfeeding pillow

While a breastfeeding pillow can be convenient when you are learning to breastfeed, it is certainly not a necessity. Many women choose to use bedroom pillows instead.

If you plan to purchase a breastfeeding pillow, remember that all bodies are shaped differently. You may need to shop around for one that best fits your body. Women who are long-waisted may need a thicker pillow than those who are short-waisted or have larger breasts.

P.S To help moms prepare for breastfeeding, we’ve created this free 3 lesson video course. Download it here for free.


  1. Nipple cream

Nipple creams are not necessary and may even delay nipple healing! A recent study tested lanolin-based nipple cream along with 3 other products for sore nipples. The results showed that applying expressed breast milk, or using nothing at all, was more beneficial than using a nipple cream.

The study also found that regardless of the treatment used, most women’s nipple pain was reduced to a mild level by the time their baby was 7 to 10 days old. (**If nipple pain lingers, please see an IBCLC for help.)


  1. Nursing cover

We believe women have the right to breastfeed anytime, anywhere, without covering up. There is usually more flesh exposed on advertising billboards than one would see when a woman nurses her baby.

Some mothers tell us they used a nursing cover for their own comfort when they were learning to breastfeed, and discarded it once they became more comfortable.


  1. Formula samples

It is not necessary to have formula samples on hand “just in case”. In fact, research has shown that NOT having formula in the house leads to more success with breastfeeding.

If you receive formula samples in the mail, consider donating them to your local food bank before baby arrives. This will help you avoid the temptation to give formula unnecessarily during a long or fussy night.



Expecting? Cindy and Jana now offer Prenatal Breastfeeding Classes.

Learn more about preparing to breastfeed in these posts: Preparing to Breastfeed during Pregnancy and How to Prepare to Breastfeed When you Have Inverted Nipples.


thumbnail cindy and jana

About the authors:

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.


Leave a Reply