When my oldest was born, I made the decision to try nursing. Lots of reasons went into this decision: the health benefits for both my son and I, the convenience, the economics, and my favorite – the extra calories burned. In the last three years, I’ve been an exclusively nursing mama, a pump-and-nurse mama, and an exclusively pumping mama. No matter which way you slice it, breast feeding and pumping is hard work. In total, I’ve nursed and/or pumped for 21 months of my life. So, it would be fair to say that I’ve tried quite a few products to make my nursing/pumping life a little easier. In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I thought I’d give you my honest opinion and thoughts on breastfeeding products and gear.
Nursing Bras –
For me, nursing bras are a must. With my oldest, I went the cheap route and got Target bras. My thought was, I will only use them for a year. Well, my mentality should have been, I will use them every single day for a year. With number two, I splurged and got three Bravados. This has been a GREAT investment. They’re a lot more comfortable, they are easy to use in public, and they wash nicely. Bonus – you can actually convert them to a normal bra when you’re done!
Nursing Tanks –
I did not have any for my first, but bought a couple for my second. These were nice to have to wear around the house the first three months, when the baby is pretty much constantly latched. I bought a couple from Motherhood Maternity. I would throw a button down over them if I went out in public for easy access. I would say I used these consistently for about six months. I would classify these as nice to have.
Other Nursing Tops –
The only other nursing top I bought was an Udder Cover, which was a great investment. It turns my nursing bras into nursing tanks and keeps my belly covered when I nurse in public. It’s a little pricey, but no more so than a nursing tank. Since it does not have direct contact with milk, I can wear it multiple times between washing.
Other types of nursing tops, I never invested in. If I stayed home and nursed exclusively, I may consider investing in a couple, but honestly, between the tanks and udder cover, I was able to convert most of my every-day clothes to nursing-friendly tops.
Nursing Pillow –
For me, this was a waste of money. When the baby is screaming to be fed, I personally did not have time or patience to search for the pillow, get it adjusted, and then get the baby on. Especially when I was also trying to keep a toddler from scaling the wall. I tried the Boppy with my oldest and My Breast Friend with my youngest, and if I have number 3, there will be neither. For me, I would just prop a regular throw pillow under my nursing arm for extra support, and that was free.
I work full time, so this was a must for me. I’ve tried a lot of them and could write a whole separate post on them! I’ve tried the Ameda, the Medela InStyle, Freestyle, and Symphony. The InStyle and the Ameda were good basic pumps, but not the best by any means. The FreeStyle was a giant waste of money and an even bigger pain to clean. Hands down, the best pump was the Medela Symphony. My place of employment provides these in our lactation rooms for nursing moms and my supply has and continues to be through the roof with this. If I have number three, I’ll use my insurance coverage to get a Symphony for home.
Milk Bags –
These are also a necessity for me as a working mom. We went through a few brands on these, but trust me when I say, buy the Lansinoh brand. You don’t save that much with generics and we had far fewer cracks/leaks with this brand.
Nursing Cover –
More power to the mamas who are completely comfortable nursing in public with no cover, I am not one of them. So, this was a must for me. If you’re going this route, I recommend spending a little more on the Bebe au Lait brand. There is a plastic band at the top that bows out so you can easily see your little one, and it provides more air flow to them so they don’t get as hot. There are two terry cloth pockets, great for spilles/dribbles and for holding a nursing pad. They also come in a lot of cute prints!
I’ve also been known to use a muslin swaddler blanket as a cover, which works great as well. They’re large and breathable.
Breast Pads –
These are a must for me in the early months. When both kids came home, I bought an economy box of the Lansing brand. Once those were gone and I wasn’t leaking 24/7, I switched to Bamboobies reusable. I love these! They’re super soft and they don’t stick to you when the milk dries. They have regular and overnight, which is great for reasons I don’t need to explain. I invested in eight pairs of regular and two overnight, and figured it paid for itself within a few months. Plus, I used them for my second as well, so bonus savings.
Nipple Cream –
I am not a good source of advice here because I never needed them. With my first, I had very slight cracking/bleeding in the hospital. My lactation consultant told me to put breast milk on it, which I did and it healed right up.
This is not necessarily a direct nursing expense, but I thought I’d share my feedback on it. With my oldest, we did not have him in a co-sleeper and nighttime feedings were so hard. With my youngest, I was able to score a Halo co-sleeper bassinet from a friend after she was done with it. This made night time feedings SO much easier! I was able to nurse the baby in bed and have him back in his bed within ten minutes and be back to sleep. Dare I say that I barely even felt sleep-deprived the first few months!?
So there you have it, my recommendations on nursing gear as they fit into our lives. What recommendations (or avoids) do you have for nursing mamas?