Having breastfed for several years of my life, I've tried pretty much everything. I've bought lactation cookies from a shady baker on Etsy, a hand pump that looks like a bubble, and more types of breast pads than any one person could conceivably need. But thanks to my shopping habit, I'm the perfect person to help you get the best breast accessories your boobs are likely to come across. I truly believe there are some breastfeeding items worth buying, no matter how frivolous they seem.
Every year there's some sort of new innovation when it comes to the oldest food in the world — breast milk. Gone are the days of hand cramping pumps and makeshift ice packs. Now we have silicone hybrid ice gel packs that can be warm or cool, breast pumps that are hands free, pillows catered to your specific height, and there's probably some sort of breast milk aid that's been shot into the mesosphere or something. Honestly, if it did something awesome, like let me sleep as my husband latched the baby onto my boob, I'd totally try it. Alas, that remedy has yet to be discovered, but many more are still available and ready for purchase at your leisure.
1. A Great Electric Pump
A great electric breast pump like this model by Spectra saves you time and frustration when you're pumping. I have had two different models of breast pumps, and I really like the features on this one. Remember, your insurance covers breast pumps, so call them first. (Thanks, Obama.)
2. Flexible Nipple Shells
When your nipples are raw, bleeding, cracked, and genuinely not living their best lives, you may need a nipple shell to serve as a protector between your fragile nips and the evils of your bra. These are my hands-down favorite, and they last a long time. Unlike nipple shields, which help your baby latch to your nipple if they're having trouble, these are purely for mom's comfort and can give you the relief you need under your clothes.
3. Lanolin Cream
My son called this my "boobie balm" because I was constantly smearing myself with it after feeding his teeth-happy sister. It's lanolin and it's been used forever. This is a high quality formulation with tons of amazing reviews, and can really give you some cooling comfort when your nipples are going through the literal wringer. Pro tip, it's great on chapped lips as well.
4. Milk-Catching Inserts
I leak like Dutch Dam between feedings and pumping, and I used to throw all that milk in the trash as I leaked through pad after pad while I watched reality television. Not anymore. These milk-savers catch that milk and help you store it so that you throw nothing away. Not really designed for a night on the town, these are mostly for home or casual use, but they're pretty amazing if you ask me.
5. Milk-Catcher While Nursing
Have you ever started breastfeeding your baby only to realize that the other boob is letting down as well? This is really common, especially when you first start to nurse, and this breast pump is designed to catch all that milk. It sucks on like a suction cup and allows that milk to flow freely into the reservoir where you can pour it into storage.
6. Comfortable Nursing Bras
You need several really good nursing bras that are comfortable, easy to work one-handed, and maybe won't die if they aren't washed on the delicate cycle. I mean, really, who has time for hand washing their intimates when they've got a baby sucking down lunch on one boob and another kid begging for a snack?
7. Nursing Pillow
Some people, like me, swear by the Boppy, while other people may prefer My Brest Friend. Whichever you choose, get a nursing pillow. It will save your back. Plus, when the babes are a bit bigger, they're nice to lie upon while watching YouTube on your iPad.
8. Gel Pads
These can be warmed up if you're suffering from a plugged duct, or chilled if you're sore or engorged, and they're heaven. They're also great on mosquito bites and booboos.
10. Comfy Rocker Recliner
Is it a splurge? Yes. Will it last for decades? Yes. We are all lying our butts off if we say we haven't fallen asleep with our babies on our chest after nursing. It's not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, but everyone — and I mean everyone who has ever bottle or breastfed a baby at 2 a.m. — has done it. But even if you don't accidentally drift off, a rocker you love will save your back, neck, and arms for all of those feedings. Plus it's perfect for bedtime stories when they get older.