15 Helpful Products That Make Breastfeeding Easier

03/12/2014 at 04:00 PM ET

Belly Armor Radiation Protection CoverCourtesy Belly Armor

Breastfeeding may just be the most unnatural natural thing a new mother can do.

While the rewards are ultimately great, it’s far from easy in the beginning. There’s a steep learning curve with plenty of stumbling blocks along the way, and your little partner in the journey is pretty darn demanding.

And for those who return to work outside the home and want to continue nursing, there’s a whole new set of complicating factors.

Luckily, there are plenty of products out there to help moms along. Is it possible to breastfeed without such accessories? Of course.

But adding a few key pieces to your arsenal only makes things easier. And what new mom doesn’t like easy?

Check out my top picks below:

Belly Armor Radiation Protection Cover, $49
There’s nothing like having a baby to make you question the safety of your everyday activities. Since the jury is still out as to just how safe exposure to everyday radiation really is, I’m airing on the side of caution with my little one.

This attractive, functional nursing cover serves double duty with its special liner fabric that shields radiation from cell phones, laptops and other devices. For Gisele, this may be multitasking on set, but for me, it means feeding my kiddo while using my laptop. And this cover makes me feel more secure about doing so.

Bravado Body Silk seamless nursing braCourtesy Bravado Designs

Bravado Body Silk seamless nursing bra, $49
Simply the most comfortable clip-down nursing bra around. It’s got removable foam cups and tons of hooks to accommodate your changing postpartum shape

Lansinoh disposable nursing padsCourtesy Lansinoh

Lansinoh disposable nursing pads, $9 for 60
Yep, there are going to be leaks. Of all the pads I’ve tried, disposable and reusable, these are my favorite. They’re soft and absorbent, stay firmly in place, and they can’t be seen through clothing.

Total Baby appCourtesy Total Baby

Total Baby app, $5
Many moms like to track their baby’s feedings when they get home from the hospital … or, in my case, for the first several months of the baby’s life! But it’s harder than you’d think to keep track of how long your little one nurses and which side you started on last.

This app keeps track of all of that, plus diaper changes, naps and more. A total sanity-saver and the best five bucks I spent on my newborn.

Medela Pump in Style AdvancedCourtesy Medela

Medela Pump in Style Advanced, $270
I absolutely love this pump — and I never thought I’d use “love” and “pump” in the same sentence. There’s a reason this is the one that everyone (lactation consultants included) seems to recommend. Compared to other double electric pumps I’ve tried, the “PISA” gives me more ounces in less time.

It’s all contained in a plain black tote back for discreet portability between home and office. The shields are comfortable, the suction is top-notch for a retail pump, and it even comes with a handy cooler bag and custom ice pack for keeping the four included bottles cold for up to 10 hours.

Tommee Tippee bottlesCourtesy Tommy Tippee

Tommee Tippee bottles, $21 for three 9oz. bottles
Babies are quite particular when it comes to bottle preferences, but mine took right away to the unique shape of Tommee Tippee, and many other breastfed babies do, too.

Uniquely designed to look and feel most like the real thing, these bottles have been a smashing success for us from the start. Sticking with the slowest flow (lactation consultant-recommended) makes alternating between bottle and breast a breeze.

Au Lait seamless lounge nursing braCourtesy Au Lait

Au Lait seamless lounge nursing bra, $30
A simpler, incredibly soft option, this clip-free, hook-free bra perfect is for wearing to sleep during those early days, and transitions easily to daytime wear—even if you don’t change for a few days and nights!

Earth Mama Angel Baby Booby TubesCourtesy Earth Mama Angel Baby

Earth Mama Angel Baby Booby Tubes, $20
Aches and pains are par for the course when nursing is new, and these all-natural (organic cotton filled with flax seed) bra inserts serve two pain-relieving purposes: they can be frozen to help reduce swelling between feedings or heated to encourage milk flow and prevent clogged ducts.

Simple Wishes Hands-Free Pumping BraCourtesy Simples Wishes

Simple Wishes Hands-Free Pumping Bra, $39
This is a real game-changer if you want to continue working (or typing, or talking on the phone, or doing anything else that requires two hands) while pumping.

What sets it apart from its competition is the construction of the openings. It holds the bottles firmly in place while providing you with some cover as well.

Japanese Weekend D&A faux wrap dressCourtesy Japanese Weekend

Japanese Weekend D&A faux wrap dress, $102
Japanese Weekend’s D&A line stands for during and after pregnancy, and they do a nice job of flattering both of those figures.

With luxe material that can be dressed up or down, and easy access for nursing or pumping at work, this is a great way to look professional without having to strip down in the office pumping room.

Pumpin' Pal Super ShieldsCourtesy Pumpin’ Pal

Pumpin’ Pal Super Shields, $37
For moms who find standard flanges to be uncomfortable or ill-fitting, the Pumpin’ Pal shields provide much-needed comfort.

Designed to mimic the way a baby nurses, they also eliminate constriction of milk ducts and promote better flow, according to the manufacturer.

MilkscreenCourtesy Milkscreen

Milkscreen, $10 for 5 strips
Simply put, this provides peace of mind. While it’s probably perfectly safe to have one drink (especially right after nursing or pumping), it’s nice to know for sure whether any alcohol is in your milk before feeding.

These easy-to-read strips turn positive if even a small amount is present.

Chewbeads necklaceCourtesy Chewbeads

Chewbeads necklace, $29.50 – $36.50
There comes a time in every nursing relationship that the baby is no longer happy to sit quietly while having lunch. Those rogue hands just to love to scratch, explore and even snap bra straps.

Wear a necklace like this one and it gives baby something to do with those busy hands. Makes a great teething toy (it’s 100 percent silicone) as well.

Boob Design B-Warmer nursing hoodieCourtesy Boob Design

Boob Design B-Warmer nursing hoodie, $99
When I’m not working, I’m pretty much living in this hoodie. Comfy, flattering, and easy to feed my little one with discretion, it’s come in quite handy when I’ve been brave enough to nurse in public.

Medela HarmonyCourtesy Medela

Medela Harmony, $40
For those times that a double electric pump isn’t necessary (to take the edge off engorgement before nursing in the early days) or convenient (in a car, on a plane, or even in a bathroom stall in a pinch), this is a great little investment.

Simple and comfortable to use, it’s come in handy for me more times than I can count.

–Rennie Dyball

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Showing 9 comments

Jenny on

Did you seriously just say breastfeeding is the most unnatural thing a mother can do?! I have suspicions about whether this author actually breastfed. This article seems like a random assortment of items being advertised by a person who googled “breastfeeding” and who secretly thinks it’s gross and “unnatural”. Or not so secretly. Not buying it. Or any of those products.

Mommytoane on

Well Jenny, something that comes naturally to someone is something that a person just KNOWS, without logic or reasoning behind it. For many mothers breastfeeding is unknown territory. They have problems with how much to feed and how long, how to get a baby to latch on, and many other things. MANY women have problems breastfeeding, hence the reason its the most “Unnatural natural” thing a mother does.

Most of these products look completely normal and helpful to a new mom, so I don’t see what your problem is other than waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Try reading the whole article next time, not just the words that piss you off.

Marky on

I believe the quote is “Breastfeeding may just be the most unnatural natural thing a new mother can do”. Very different from “the most unnatural thing a mother can do”. I found I needed a small receiving blanket, me, and a pullover or button up top, good bras and some nursing pads and that was pretty much it. I can’t imagine that I would have needed an app to keep track of diaper changes, and feedings! LOL Did she nurse? Yes Did she void? Yes okey doke then.

It took a couple of weeks to get in the swing of things with #3, but not surprising since I had a barely 4 yr old, an 18 mo. old, and a newborn, plus my sick mother was staying with us.

I focused on getting established, and she never took a bottle (though I expressed and kept a couple of bottles frozen, just in case). I used to teach BF before I had children (L&D nurse), and it isn’t easy for every new mom, but with supportive people around and determination, it can be a great thing for both mother and baby. I was glad to have that special time with the baby, and glad to know I was going to have a break every time she was hungry; I could also read to the other children while BF and trips were easy as pie–all we needed were diapers, some clothes, me and a portable cot by the bed.

To me, one of the advantages of BF is no need for a bunch of “stuff” to keep up with, trip over, and complicate my life!

newmom2013 on

I’m already using 4 of the items on this list. I’m a new mom who would find breastfeeding a lot more stressful without these products.

#3 The nursing pads are great. I have tried several brands and Lansinoh is the best. They really do stay in place because they have two adhesive strips unlike the other brands. (Side note: I like Medela’s nipple cream the best though.)

#5 I have the Medela electric pump on this list, and it is fantastic. Pumping at work is so easy.

#7 I absolutely love my hands free pump bra. I would go crazy if I had to hold on to both of the bottles the entire time. I’ve got things to do!

#9 I lived in my sleeping bra for the first 3 months. I still wear it every night, and I’m contemplating buying a couple more.

Great article!

otdina on

Jenny, I think that what the author was trying to say (not very eloquently) is that breastfeeding is not as intuitive as everyone thinks. It is actually quite difficult, and can be a great challenge for a new mom. What the author used, however, was a HORRIBLE choice of words. While it is not easy or intuitive, breastfeeding is a very natural and wonderful thing for a new mother to do.

Luisa on

Unnatural the definition to most would be things that go against nature and breastfeeding is not going against nature. Its offensive and inherently damaging to hear this over and over and over and over this is 2014 when girls and women need to see and hear about positive breastfeeding reinforcement to see that its normal and natural. Breastfeeding doesnt need teaching or training it just needs a woman to stop for five mins and learn what her baby wants her to do. It doesn’t need blankets, breast pumps special expensive bras or a 5 week course costing £400!!!! You know.

Gen on

To succeed, you do not need those things. You need support and some willpower to give your baby what’s best.

Kelly on

What’s with the lack of reading comprehension? To quote the story: “Is it possible to breastfeed without such accessories? Of course. But adding a few key pieces to your arsenal only makes things easier.” BFing isn’t so easy for everyone and sometimes products can be helpful!

Cindy on

Maybe to make breastfeeding “easier” we should stop insisting mothers need cover themselves as if they are doing something untoward.