Though breastfeeding is theoretically the most "natural" way to feed a baby, that doesn't mean there's no learning curve involved in getting started, or an absence of little tips, tricks, and products that can make your nursing life a helluva lot easier and more comfortable. There are a lot of breastfeeding essentials that have literally saved my boobs over the two plus years I've been breastfeeding my son, from stuff I actually bought (like those awesome gel packs that are designed to fit inside a nursing bra or around breast pump flanges), to stuff I already had around my house (hello, coconut oil!), to stuff I was actually born with (my hands).
Spoiler alert: my biggest breastfeeding essential? Other breastfeeding and chestfeeding parents. Especially if it's your first time around the nursing block, having other parents to talk to, who know what you're going through, can offer you good advice (as opposed to a lot of the nonsense people may try to tell you about nursing), and who can let you know what's normal versus what's cause for legit concern, is simply priceless. Indeed, if it weren't for my "breast friends" and other nursing parents I've met, I probably wouldn't know about how crucial most of the following are for keeping your boobs in good shape as you go: