There's a lot of gear out there marketed for breastfeeding mothers. Some of it is helpful, and some of it will end up taking up space at the bottom of your toy bin.
Some products that have been helpful for us:
1. Breast pump
Essential. If possible, purchase one and take a look at it before the baby comes- you never know if you will need it right away (in the case of a sleepy eater or a NICU stay). Many women have one for work and one for home- in any case, you should have at least one.
Check with your insurance before you buy- many insurance carriers will cover the cost of a pump, but only certain brands. We like the Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump with "carryall" purse- compact, powerful, and covered by most insurance companies.
2. Nipple shields
Got inverted, flat, or small nipples? No worries. Nipple shields are made of silicone and suction lightly onto the nipple area, giving baby something to latch onto. They are also great for cushioning sore or sensitive nipples.
Try the Ameda nipple shield or the Medela version.
3. Receiving blankets and scarves
There are a couple of pillows marketed for use during breastfeeding, but in our houses, they have gotten much more use for other activities (baby propping, head pillow, video gaming seat, etc.). Instead, try keeping a couple of simple receiving blankets or scarves around to prop under your elbows.
Both also work well as nursing cover ups. A simple, lightweight scarf looks great on and won't suffocate baby when nursing. If you're looking for a nice lightweight receiving blanket to use as a nursing cover, try the aden + anais muslin blankets.
4. Breast milk freezer storage bags
A must for those going back to work. Build up a frozen supply before going back to work- at least 10 ounces. Try Simplisse Breast Milk Storage Bags.
5. Nursing bras and tanks
Think about it- you're going to be whipping those things out all day (and night) long. Why not make it easier? You'll be wearing them for a while, so get a good supply, and go quality (they'll be washed a lot).
Zulily frequently has great deals on nursing clothes by different fashionable + functional brands.
Trying to breastfeed while holding a big, fat book is hard- even more frustrating are your attempts to turn the pages. Ta-daa! Kindle. The inventor must have been a woman in the midst of breastfeeding.
Our kindles have seen miles and miles of breastfeeding and pumping use. Not only can you buy and read 5 different books without leaving the couch or moving the now-sleeping baby, but you can play games as well! Damn you, Scrabble AI! We'll defeat you next time...
7. Nursing pads
Leaking, especially during the first couple of months, is pretty common. We like the Green Sprouts Organic Cotton pads.
8. The Nursing Mother's Companion
The Nursing Mother's Companion, by Kathleen Huggins, otherwise known as The Bible. Need I say more?
Worried that you can't do that happy hour with the gals because you might pass on alcohol to the babe? Enter Milkscreen- strips that easily test a mama's milk for alcohol content. Know when it's time to use the milk in the fridge and when it's okay to nurse! Read our review.
Any other gear that mamas could not do without?