Skip to Content

14 Breastfeeding Essentials For First Time Moms

This post contains affiliate links. Please visit my disclosure policy for more information.

Here are all of the breastfeeding essentials any first time mom needs. Plus 3 extra items that make the nursing process a whole lot easier!

Breastfeeding is often a challenging and painful experience for new moms, but it doesn’t have to be like that forever.

With help from a licensed lactation consultant and your pediatrician, as well as some key breastfeeding essentials, most moms can have a successful breastfeeding journey.

Below are some must haves for any breastfeeding mom as well as a few of my favorite extras that make the nursing process a lot more convenient!

Mom breastfeeds baby girl on a bed.

14 First Time Mom Breastfeeding Essentials

1. Lanolin

Open bottle of lanolin cream.

For the first few weeks of breastfeeding, your nipples will be sensitive and unaccustomed to having a little one feeding from them multiple times a day. Until your nipples have toughened up, you’ll want to use a good nipple cream after each feeding.

Lansinoh is the most popular brand when it comes to lanolin cream, but there are several organic options you can order from Amazon.

And here are 12 of the best nipple creams for breastfeeding, as recommended by moms, so you can have several options to choose from.

RELATED: Can I use Vicks while breastfeeding?

2. Nursing Pads

Nursing pads on white background.

When your milk is coming in, your breasts will often start leaking milk if it’s been awhile since your last fed baby or if you hear your baby cry (true story!).

To keep your clothes free from any embarrassing wet spots, you’ll want to stock up on nursing pads. You can use either disposable nursing pads or reusable ones based on personal preference.

PRO TIP: Make sure you are regularly applying nipple cream and changing your nursing pads frequently otherwise the leaking milk can dry to your nipples to the pads which makes for a painful removal. Ouch!

RELATED: 20 Important Things To Know About Breastfeeding

3. Silicone Breast Pump

Woman holds silicone breast pump.

Silicone breast pumps are great way to help relieve engorgement while also building up a freezer stash for later.

You just create a suction with the pump on the breast you’re not feeding on, and it catches all of the letdown that would usually be lost in your nursing pad. The best part is, silicone breast pumps are fairly inexpensive!

4. Electric Breast Pump

Electric breast pump on white background.

If you plan to pump, you’ll definitely want to have an electric breast pump on hand. An electric pump is much more effective at removing milk than a silicone pump and can usually empty your breasts in a few minutes.

Most health insurance plans will cover the cost of an electric pump (like the speCtra), so be sure to ask them about what brands of pumps they will pay for. If you need a hands free pump, you may want to look into the Elvie pump.

5. Nursing tanks/tops

Collage of nursing tanks.

Nursing tanks and tops are so nice to have for the first few weeks after delivery while you’re adjusting to breastfeeding and don’t want to be wearing regular clothes yet. Most of them will have a built in bra in the tank so you will still get some support without needing to wear extra layers.

I even like to wear mine in the hospital after I delivery to offer a break from the hospital gown!

6. Nursing bras

Collage of nursing bras.

Along with nursing tanks, you’ll want to invest in some underwire-free nursing bras. Bras with underwire can put pressure on your breasts which can lead to clogged ducts.

PRO TIP: If your want to leave the house and aren’t comfortable with the coverage from the nursing bra, you can utilize your nursing pads to give you a little more padding.

RELATED: Does breastfeeding affect your emotions?

7. Breastmilk storage bags/bottles

Breastmilk storage bags in freezer.

Breastmilk storage bags and bottles are a must have to save all of that precious milk you pump or get from the silicone pump during your letdown.

You’ll probably give several samples from the hospital including storage bags and bottles. The bottles are nice to use in the refrigerator because they can easily be warmed up and may even have their own nipples. The storage bags are great for the freezer because they lay flat and can easily be stacked.

RELATED: 15 Creative Ways To Use Leftover Breast Milk

8. Nursing pillow

Nursing pillow on white background.

Some may debate the necessity of a nursing pillow, but I’ve used one with all of my babies and it has definitely come in handy!

Since a newborn is so small, feeding them may result on you hurting your back to bend over to reach them. A nursing pillow gives you some extra cushion that offers relief for your arms and brings them closer to your breast (which saves your back!)

Of course you could use any pillow, but a nursing pillow is made especially to fit around your waist and also doubles as a soft lounger for baby to practice tummy time.

9. Nipple shield

Two nipple shields on white background.

Just like a nursing pillow, some may not see the need to use a nipple shield, but I know moms who swear by it! If your baby is struggling to latch because of a tongue tie, if you have inverted nipples, or if your’re suffering from lipstick nipple latch, a nipple shield may allow you to continue breastfeeding when you otherwise couldn’t.

It can also offer relief in the first few weeks while your nipples are toughening up. Just be sure to remove the shield after you’re no longer feeling pain or baby may get attached to the shield and will only nurse when you’re wearing it.

10. Water mug

Coral water mug on white background.

You’ve never seen someone as thirsty as a breastfeeding mom! It takes a lot of energy, nutrients, and water to create breastmilk, so you’ll want to have a water mug nearby.

Most hospitals give you a mug that you can take with you, but if you’re looking for something a little more stylish, this tumbler comes in several different colors and this 40 ounce mug holds more water than the average hospital version!

RELATED: How To Lose Weight While Breastfeeding

11. Cold/hot compress

Hot and cold compress on white background.

To help with engorgement and clogged milk ducts, you’ll want to have a cold/hot compress on hand.

You may never get clogged milk ducts (fingers crossed!) but engorgement is inevitable, so a compress can offer some much needed relief if you don’t want to take a hot shower 24/7.

12. A dedicated nursing pin or elastic

Gold safety pins on pink background.

In the early morning hours, it can be difficult to keep yourself awake for a feeding, let alone remember what side you last fed on!

Using a nursing pin or elastic can help you remember which side you need to start feeding on so that you don’t start favoring a certain breast and become lopsided.

You can use something as simple as a safety pin that you move from one bra strap to the other each feeding or a hair tie that you move from one wrist to the other. Just remember to switch it! Usually right when you start feeding and it’s on your mind is a good time.

13. Breastfeeding app

Along with using a nursing pin, you’ll want to download a breastfeeding app, at least for the first few weeks so you can track how long you’re nursing and how often. You may also be able to track which side you last fed on in the app so you won’t need to use the pin!

After awhile, you’ll be in a good rhythm (especially if you’re following a newborn sleep schedule) that you won’t need to record every feeding, but when you’re brand new, it will be helpful to have a record to look back on.

14. Nursing cover

Woman breastfeeds baby wearing nursing cover.

A nursing cover is essential once you’re ready to take baby out into the world and don’t feel comfortable showing “it all” to your family and friends (or strangers!). Some women are perfectly comfortable nursing without a cover, but for those who aren’t, a cover allows you to get back to your favorite activities while still being able to feed your baby.

They make covers that double as a car seat cover as well as those that hook around your neck. Experiment with both to see which one you and baby prefer!

PRO TIP: Try nursing with a cover a few days a week so your baby will get used to the feeling. There’s nothing worse than a baby who gets distracted by a cover and wants to pull it off mid-feeding!

RELATED: What is the safest antidepressant while breastfeeding?

Not Quite Essentials, But Still Nice To Have


Glider next to a crib in a nursery.

A dedicated comfy chair is so nice to have in your room or nursery if you can afford it.

Of course, you can easily feed baby in your bed or on the couch, but a glider offers a comfortable spot to rock and feed baby directly in their room.

Organizer for essentials

An organizing caddy on a changing table.

Once you have your nipple cream, nursing pads, silicone pump, and storage bags, where do you put them all? In a nice organizing caddy of course!

If you get one with handles you can easily transport it with you if you need to change rooms to feed baby. Having an organizer stocked and ready to go is much more convenient than having your supplies spread all over the house.

Side table

Product photo of gold side table.

If you want even more convenience you can get a side table to go next to your glider to keep your organizer, electric pump, and water mug on.

Portable Bottle Warmer

A woman holds up a baby's brew bottle warmer outside with a snowy background.

If you’re breastfeeding, warm breast milk is what your baby’s used to, and they may not take cold bottles even when they’re hungry.

Many moms, especially those who travel a lot or enjoy frequent outings, find a bottle warmer to be handy.

Want More?

Did you like this post? Be sure to check out these 40 breastfeeding tips to have the most successful breastfeeding journey you can!

And check out the latest breastfeeding statistics and facts to see how many moms breastfeed based on geography, ethnicity, economic status, and more.

Your Turn

Which of these items are you most excited to get and which ones did you not know you needed? Let me know in the comments.

And don’t forget to add these essentials to your baby registry checklist!

Pinterest graphic with text and collage of breastfeeding essentials.