Breastfeeding Essentials from the Newborn Trenches

Now that baby three has arrived and we’re in the thick of nursing, I thought I’d share some insight I’ve gained over the course of breastfeeding three babies, as well as my list of “must-haves” for nursing success and comfort. I’d like to mention that all three of my babies have been very different nursing experiences, and it’s so important to trust your maternal instincts when it comes to caring for your little one. Every baby is different, as is every woman’s body, so what worked for me, may not be your cup of tea. Now, on to the list!

Nursing pillow 

Gray nursing pillow with curved U shape. Used for breastfeeding.
The Ergobaby Nursing Pillow has become one of my favorites this time around.

For my first two babies, I had the Boppy pillow. Now on baby three, the Boppy was starting to look a little flattened out and sad. I decided to go with the Ergobaby pillow for baby three, mostly because I found a new-in-bag one on FaceBook Marketplace for a steal. Personally, I prefer the Ergobaby as it’s firmer and provides baby a more stable support, but the Boppy also has its place in our night nursing area. And yes, I have two nursing pillows. One in our (upstairs) bedroom and one in our main living area (downstairs). It just makes life easier.  


Silicone manual pump

Manual breast pump kit
NatureBond Silicone Manual Breast Pump

This thing is changing my world and I can’t thank my awesome friend enough for sending me the link on Amazon. While baby is nursing on one side, this “pump” can be attached to the second side simply by squeezing and allowing the flange to suction to your breast. Baby stimulates the first side and allows you to catch all the milk that would have leaked and been wasted for storage. If you want to get a little more during each session try gently massage the side with the pump to help express a little extra. Best $12, ever. 


Electric pump

Most insurances are now required to provide you with some type of breast pump free of charge. Check with your insurance to see what’s available, but also be willing to shell out some cash if the one provided just doesn’t work for you. Having a pump that works for your body is key to your pumping success. 
I struggled to pump successfully with my first, and ultimately realized that the pump that I was using just wasn’t right for my body, so much so that it actually left blisters behind after most pumping sessions. I’ve been very happy with the Ameda Double Electric pump our insurance provided, even though this time I’d much rather use the small manual pump mentioned above to fill the freezer. Be willing to try new things and if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. You know your body. Trust your instincts. 

Kiinde storage bags (and pump adaptors)

Breast milk storage bag with adaptable bottle from Kiinde
The Kiinde storage bag and bottle system

I found these toward the end of nursing my second son, so I didn’t get to try them as much as I’d have liked. This time around, I’ve switched to using these at my own expense, even though my insurance provides free storage bags for up to a year after baby is born. They’re just so much more convenient. The adapters allow you to attach the bags directly to most pumps, and their bottle system allows you to just “plug in” the bag of milk. We haven’t tried the bottle yet, since baby is only two weeks old, but I’m pretty excited to take it for a test spin.  Less cleaning – #momforthewin. You can try the kit free by paying only the $6 shipping fee on the Kiinde website.


Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple cream

I’ve never been a huge fan of lanolin and swear it even cause blocked ducts when I was nursing my first, so this stuff was an awesome find prior to my second baby. It’s natural ingredients and won’t stain your clothes or leave those nasty grease marks that lanolin will. You also don’t need to wipe it off before feeding baby, since all the ingredients are naturally derived and ingestible. My first two boys were tongue tied and needless to say, I needed a lot of nipple cream. The best part about this stuff, is that once you don’t need it for nursing, it’s great for dry skin, baby bums, and chapped lips. Find it on Amazon. One tub will last you through a year of nursing and beyond.

Breast pads – disposable or cloth

Currently I’m using disposable pads because the 100% cotton ones that I have from previous nursing experiences just aren’t absorbent enough, but next on my “To Purchase” list are a set of good wool nursing pads. Wool is highly absorbent and breathable, and only needs to be laid out to air dry. Wool also requires a wash once every week or every other week, depending on how much you leak. Right now, we’re using Target’s Up and Up brand disposable nursing pads, which are highly absorbent, affordable, and leave a smooth finish under a t-shirt. Because nobody likes that lumpy boob look.

A good bra – Levana Bratique

A brunette woman undoing the snap on a nude colored nursing bra
The Croissant Nursing Bra by Cake

This is key. If you’re going to spend money on one thing – this is it. Treat yourself to a comfortable nursing bra that makes you look and feel good. My current favorite is the Croissant Nursing Bra from Cake. There’s nothing worse than the “frumpy mom” feeling when you’re nursing. This bra is a comfortable underwire, with easy clips for nursing access, and its thick fabric leaves a smooth finish under almost all clothing. I had the nude colored bra for my first two babies, and just bought a new one in “Raisin” this past weekend. 

Need a fit check, and live local to Pittsburgh? Check out Levana Bratique in Wexford. They have fit professionals and a wide selection of both nursing and regular bras for all sizes, and if they don’t have what you need, they’ll find or order it for you. Third time mom tip – wait a few weeks until your supply has evened out and the girls have settled on a size so you can get a good fit.

Easy to nurse in clothes – capsule wardrobe

At 10 days, I put away most of the maternity clothes, except a very few items that I felt still fit comfortably and allowed for easy nursing. 4 pairs of pants and around 20 shirts. I prefer to wear stretchy v-neck shirts from Target in a size larger with cardigans over them for easy access (just pull down the neckline). My plan is to purchase some actual nursing shirts once “the girls” have settled on a size a few weeks into nursing. Eventually I plan to create a very small capsule wardrobe for our nursing season. I’ve also read on several blogs that StitchFix does an amazing job of curating boxes for nursing moms, so I may treat myself to a few items from their service.  Just remember – comfort and easy access.

Water bottle 

Blue Avex brand water bottle in the 25 ounce sizeA good water bottle is a must. Not too big, but not so small that it won’t get you through a short outing. My husband got me this AVEX 25 oz. water bottle for Christmas and it’s the perfect size for home and the diaper bag. It also survived the top rack of the dishwasher. A true test of worthiness.

Keep baby close at night (rock and play) 

Baby rock and play sleep bassinet in gender neutral gray and green shades
The Rock and Play Sleeper – where have you been my whole life?

Why did I wait until baby three to try the rock and play? I’m not sure, but I will tell you it’s one of the best new items I’ve gotten for baby three. Not only does it keep baby slightly elevated to keep away the nighttime reflux, but it’s small and portable which means it moves easily from our main floor living room to the beside the bed at night. No need to go expensive. We have this Fisher Price Rock and Play Sleeper that was gifted to us for Christmas.

I’ve never been a fan of co-sleeping, mostly because I like having my own space, so having this right beside the bed, in arms reach, is the perfect solution.

Comfortable nursing space for nighttime 

With my first two, I now realize I tried to move them to their own rooms, one flight down, entirely too early. It made for some extra nighttime frustration that should have been easily avoided. This time, our rocker is set up about 10 feet from our bed and baby’s bed, as well as a makeshift changing station for quick nighttime changes. Just making nighttime nursing more convenient has made all the difference in the world. 
Things to keep handy in your nursing space: burp cloth, nursing pillow, blanket big enough for both you and baby, a spare set of nursing pads, and your water bottle. It’s also nice to leave your pump set up in this space so you can just sit down and do your thing without much fuss.

Baby tracker

The Sprout Baby app icon - orange with a baby face and the word "sprout" underneath The Glow Baby app icon - A G hanging from the top of the icon with a moon and starsI typically track baby’s feeding sessions for the first month or so, just until we’ve somewhat established a schedule. With my last two kiddos I used the Sprout Baby tracker app which I loved but I discovered this time around it’s not available on Apple Watch. 
So here’s the baby three tracking setup. I use the Glow Baby app on my phone during the day and then switch to the Apple Watch app at night. The app records from both locations, and this allows me to stay off the mobile device while I’m nursing, a decision I had made far before baby arrived for two reasons. First, I wanted that time to be just about the two of us – not FB, or Pinterest, or even my daily devotions. Second, the Apple Watch is just easier. I tap two buttons and tracking starts. I tap again to end, and now I’ve got an accurate start and finish time. At 2am, I’ll take all the simple I can get.

Bra clip

This one is kind of silly, but also a 2am necessity depending on you and your baby’s nursing style. Because we typically only nurse one side per session, I have a bra clip that Velcros onto my bra strap to show me which side I’m on. This is super helpful during those night nursing sessions when you’re not even sure you’re awake, and a super inexpensive option. You can use a ribbon or a hair clip for this, as well, or Levana Bratique carries a super inexpensive La Leche League reminder clip for just $3.

What nursing essentials do you require for easy nursing? 

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Teresa G is a work at home mom of three boys, ages 3, 4, and 2 months. She has been happily married to her husband Gus for 7 years. She and her family currently reside in the Slippery Rock area, where she has been a longtime resident. Teresa has bachelor’s degrees in both Dance and Professional writing from Slippery Rock University. She has worked in many different fields over the years - dance teacher, aerobics instructor, swim teacher, and most recently, documentation specialist and content manager for a local software company. Currently, she works for The Hillman Center for Performing Arts at Shady Side Academy, and as a freelance writing professional and content manager for a variety of clients in several different industries. Teresa and her family spend much of their time outdoors, being active, and you can often find them in their “Little Boat” on Lake Arthur, or in the “Big Bass Boat” at Lake Erie. In her spare time, Teresa loves to practice yoga, run, and read anything she can get her hands on.