Breastfeeding Supplies – What Is Necessary?

I am often asked what supplies are necessary for breastfeeding.  Usually this comes from my pregnant mothers who are trying to plan what they may need for the baby BEFORE the baby comes.  That may seem like an easy enough question, right?  Isn’t there some kind of list that I can just hand out?  Not so simple.  To be honest, not much is needed to breastfeed.   Having a baby is a huge money business and society is prepared to have you spend a ton of money on things you don’t necessarily need.  Have you been in any store recently that sells baby items?  So. Many. Choices.  Truth be told, you don’t need much of anything at all.

All mothers are different and have different needs and personalities.  I have met some mothers who are content with waiting for the baby to arrive before they decide on a pump or any other supplies.  I have also seen mothers show up at the hospital ready to have the baby, and they are toting a pump, creams, nipple shields and a breastfeeding pillow.  Neither way is the wrong way; just do what is right for you.  My point is I don’t want any new or expecting mother to think that they have to have these things.

In a world where you can order something online on a Monday and it will be at your door by Tuesday or Wednesday, I am a proponent of waiting until you need something before you invest time and money.   However, if you really want to have a stash of stuff, I found this great list to get you started.  One of the things I really like about this list is that it specifies when things are NOT NECESSARY.  Nipple cream or a breastfeeding pillow – nice to have but not necessary.  Good support system and the phone number of a local lactation consultant – absolutely necessary.   So check it out and see what you think.  Can you think of anything you would add to this list?  Is there one thing that you felt like you couldn’t live without during your breastfeeding journey?  Share it with us.—-what-do-i-really-need


Breastfeeding. At what cost?

I admit, the title of the following article intrigued me enough to spend a few minutes reading it. Of course, my first thought was “breastfeeding is FREE, why wouldn’t someone be able to afford it?” As I read on, I had a better understanding of what the writer was telling me.

Our society can make it difficult for some to adapt to life with a new baby. Let’s face it, becoming a parent is hard. It’s hard without the added stress of work and day care and just trying to get by. I get it. I’ve been there, more times and for longer than I care to remember. The writer of this article had to return to work at a ridiculously early time and then try to balance working and pumping and, well, life. At 4 weeks post partum, a new mother is not even healed from the trauma that birth can trigger, not only physically, but emotionally as well. Babies aren’t sleeping longer than a couple of hours at a time and they rarely want to be put down. Breastfeeding on demand is still every couple of hours. Mothers (and their partners) are tired. Returning to work at this stage of the parenting game should be reserved for use as a type of torture method.

I live in New York, where breastfeeding laws are pretty generous. Unfortunately it is not like that in all parts of the country (and even in NY, many women still have to fight for this benefit). If your job isn’t supportive of your pumping efforts, a new mother will really struggle. Not only because she wants to be able to leave the milk for her baby, but also because her body will continue to make the milk and if there is no way out, it will be very uncomfortable. Anyone who has not been a nursing mother may not understand that at all.

This article made me sad. Sad for the mom who felt that she was forced to wean her baby earlier than she wanted because of her need to return to work. This is all too common. It made me sad that she wasn’t able to access the support she needed to find a way to make it work. I have been a Lactation Consultant for almost 10 years, and I have seen breastfeeding come a long way in that time. Laws have changed, support has increased, education has become more abundant, and breastfeeding rates have increased. It’s still not enough. In a society where mothers have to leave their baby at 6 weeks (for this mother it was 4) or go without a paycheck, we are not going to make the strides we need to make.

I give this mother all the credit in the world for going back to breastfeeding with her next baby, and the next. I imagine that she is a great source of support for other mothers she knows, just because of her struggle.

You can read the article here: