If anyone tells you all you need to breastfeed is you, go ahead and roll your eyes. Many a modern woman knows breastfeeding is hard, regardless of whether or not cave women managed to feed their babies without a Boppy. But while I'm all about taking advantage of the technological advances of the 21st Century, it's hard not to feel like the breastfeeding accessories market is getting a little out of hand. There are certain products well-meaning people buy for breastfeeding moms that are, frankly, a total waste.
Breastfeeding was far from smooth sailing for this first-time mama. My baby had trouble with her latch, and I struggled with low milk supply. As a result of my initial troubles, my go-to nursing support items were as follows: electric double breast pump, comfortable nursing bra, breastfeeding pillow, water bottle, nipple cream, bottles, and sanitizing steam bags. I was given a nipple shield (which helps women with inverted or sore nipples) that I didn't need, and it ended up just being something I had to wean my baby off of. I personally liked to use a nursing cover in public, but if you haven't been using one and someone gives one to you, that's not just useless — it's passive-aggressive. Feel free to wipe your baby's ass with it.
Every woman's breastfeeding experience is different, so feel free to disagree, but when it comes to my story, these nursing accessories ended up in the trash:
A Pretty Nursing Bra
I'll take functional over chic any day. I want a soft, seamless nursing bra, and if it allows me to pump hands-free, all the better. If it's not comfortable, I don't care about its vintage floral pattern. And save the black lacy number for later because right now I'm just going to stain it with lanolin.
Nursing Reminder Gems
Yeah, this is a thing. It's a little band with a rhinestone that you hook onto your bra strap. It's supposed to remind you which boob your baby nursed from last. It's a great idea to keep track so that you're keeping your milk supply up on both sides, but you don't need bling to do it. Honestly, a hair elastic on your wrist will do just as well.
Powdered Goat's Milk
I love my mom and she is very wise, but when I told her my doctor wanted me to supplement with formula, she came over with a can of this stuff. She said goat's milk was more nutritionally comparable to human breast milk. My research told me that it's not any more appropriate to give a baby goat's milk than cow's milk (as in, not before a year). But no one likes to tell their mom she's wrong, so I stuck it in my pantry, where it remains to this day.
A Breastfeeding App
Ah, a nursing timer because I need to be more neurotic about this situation. A breastfeeding app allows you to track breastfeeding and pumping sessions, diaper changes, sleep schedules, measurements, doctor's appointments, and more! Honestly, the app made my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) worse. Save your $5.00 or get me a chai instead.
A Nursing Night Light
This "must-have" item clips to your shirt, and when you push the stars and moon button, it emits a gentle glow. You know, so you can breastfeed during the night without waking up your partner. Barf. Seriously, dude, just turn on a damn lamp.
A Baby Scale
Believe me, I know that one of the hardest parts of breastfeeding is that you can't tell how much your baby is taking in. But trust me when I say your mother-in-law doesn't need to drop $60.00 on a scale that will only serve to feed your neurosis. Counting wet diapers and checking weight with the pediatrician at your well-baby visits can give you the same peace of mind (and if your baby's weight is a concern, then you should be at the doctor's office rather than just monitoring it at home).
Alcohol Test Strips
According to Kelly Mom, occasional alcohol use does not appear to be harmful to a nursing baby. In fact, less than 2 percent of the alcohol consumed reaches the mother's milk. The test strips don't tell you anything about the amount of alcohol in your breast milk, either. If you drink at all, then the test strip turns up positive, which you already knew. You're probably better off using this rule of thumb: if you're sober enough to drive, you're sober enough to breastfeed.
Hold up. That's great if nursing pads kept you from soaking your shirt, but remember you're talking to a mom with low supply here. My mom friends hooked me up with several boxes before I had my baby, but my breasts didn't leak. Like, at all. What was I supposed to do with all those things? Sew them into a super absorbent quilt?
A Supplemental Nursing System
Hear me out. I know that for some breastfeeding moms, the supplemental nursing system (SNS) saves their nursing relationship. I also know that most would be quick to admit that it's not for every breastfeeding team. The lactation consultant handed it to me and walked away, and I sat there crying while the tiny tube (that I couldn't even get to stay in my newborn's mouth) clogged with formula. Now it's just taking up space under my sink, along with my hot rollers and other items I'll never use again.
A Breast Milk Storage System
This is another one for low-supply mamas. I used a few milk storage bags and vials, but that was it. I didn't need trays or most of the 18-piece "collection." Looking at those empty containers just made me sad. I speak for those whose cups don't runneth over when I say we don't want your milk savers either, because "excess milk" is sadly not in our vocabularies.
I'm not ungrateful to people who wanted to help me, but some of this stuff also adds unnecessary pressure to breastfeeding as a whole. In my book, it's best to wait and see what mama needs, or just get her a bunch of burp cloths. You can never have too many of those.