Welcome to the world of modern breastfeeding! It can be a confusing world for many reasons. One of which is the sheer amount of "gadgets" out there made for breastfeeding parents.
Gadgets are everywhere in our modern society. If you weren't aware of these before getting pregnant, you're painfully aware of it when you start that baby shower registry. Between wipe warmers and the Daddle, you've opened Pandora's box and you just have so much information to sort through.
This post isn't a review of products, but it does break down the different types of breastfeeding products out there and when they may (or may not) be a necessary purchase.
*Note: There are links to examples but I didn't choose any particular brand over another. I am not recommending XYZ brand over another. Just providing examples should you need a visual.
There are a variety of breast pumps available on today's market:
Now, do you need a breast pump?
That depends! If you are going to be working outside the home on a regular basis, you probably need a manual or electric breast pump. If you're expecting a premature baby, ask your doctor if there will be a hospital grade pump made available to you. If you won't be away from your baby on a regular basis and don't have a medical issue, you most certainly can do without a pump.
Regardless of whether or not you want or need a breast pump, knowing how to hand express your breast milk can be a valuable tool. And, it's free!
Special Breastfeeding Pillow
If you tell people you plan on breastfeeding, you'll most like get one of these as a shower gift.
Do you need one?
Short answer, nope. You can get the same support with regular pillows you already have. They're a nice luxury item, though!
Sometimes called nursing pads, there are two main classes.
Do you need them?
No, but if you choose not to use nursing pads, be aware that you will want to change and wash your bras daily.
This is often found as a staple in a breastfeeding mother's house as the go-to remedy for sore, cracked nipples.
Do you need it?
Nope! You have exactly what you need already: your breast milk! The best thing for nipple pain and soreness is expressing some of your breast milk, spreading that over the sore area, and then allowing them to air dry.
Nursing Bra, Etc.
Bras and specialty made clothes that are designed for nursing are what I'm talking about here. Let's start with bras...
Now, onto the clothes...
Do you need them?
You do need a bra with good support. Many women choose to pull a regular, non-nursing bra up or down and have no complaints. So long as it's a well made bra and you're replacing it as needed so that you have optimal support, you do what works for you.
I personally recommend investing in a couple good nursing bras. They're easier to use and because you're not pulling or pushing on them in a way that they aren't meant to be pushed or pulled, they should last you longer.
The special made clothes are another luxury item. You can make due with the clothes already hanging in your closet. Don't be afraid to get creative!
"Milk savers" are special soft "cups" designed to fit down into your bra. Different brands are designed to do different things:
Do you need milk savers?
Again, no. While theses could be really neat and ideal for some, they aren't a necessary purchase.
These are nipple shaped plastic pieces to allow baby to nurse at the breast should a latch issue occur. It's important to consult with an IBCLC certified lactation consultant before using a nipple shield.
Do you need a nipple shield?
That depends. If you have flat or inverted nipples, for example, sometimes nipple shields can be useful. The trick to nipple shields is making sure you actually need one. Consult with an expert first. Nipple shields can be hard to wean off of once you've begun. You also run the risk of unintentionally lowering your supply. This is because baby is not latching directly onto your breast which can make it more difficult for baby to empty the breast, thus your body does not produce as much milk.
Supplemental Nursing Systems are a specialty item. These are used for preemie babies or babies having trouble nursing for other reasons. It allows baby to nurse at the breast while receiving breast milk or supplemental formula.
Do you need SNS?
Most likely not. But if you do have issues with breastfeeding talk to an IBCLC and your pediatrician about SNS as an option. And remember, breastfeeding is about more than just breast milk.
Special circumstances aside, the only "things" you really need to breastfed are your breasts and a baby! So before you get carried away or overwhelmed, take a step back and really think about your unique situation.
What do you think? Was this helpful to you? Did I leave anything out? Let me know in the comments!
Also, let me know in the comments: What do you want the next "Modern Breastfeeding" post to be about? What's your biggest question(s) or struggle(s) in regards to breastfeeding?
I'm the owner of Sage Roots. Woman, wife, mother, doula, writer, bookworm, hiker, gamer, and Christian.