Yes, I’m a breastfeeding mama, but I’ll also be the first to tell you that without a doubt FED IS BEST. I’m quick to offer advice based on my own experience, but I know quite a few mothers who opted to not breastfeed for a myriad of reasons, and I will always support that you do what works best for your family.
However, after a year plus of breastfeeding – and lots of trial and error, especially in the beginning – I feel that I’m uniquely suited to recommend these products!
Whether you’re researching for your baby registry or looking for that perfect gift to support a friend, allow me to highlight some of the breastfeeding and pumping items I’m so glad I had during this journey.
Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump. Trust me when I tell you, if you want to build a freezer stash with as little effort as possible, a Haakaa will change your life! These unassuming little silicone cups are super easy to use – just suction one to your opposite breast when you’re breastfeeding your little one, and the gentle suction will help it catch your let-down… all that “liquid gold” that would otherwise soak into a nursing pad (or worse, your shirt!) and go to waste. You can also use one (or two) in the shower, or any other time you notice a leak. I know some moms who build up a freezer stash for their babe with JUST a Haakaa – no pumping required! They’re great if you’re suffering a bout of mastitis, too – just fill them with warm water and epsom salt, steam and massage that clog right out. The Haakaa company even makes something called the Haakaa Ladybug Silicone Breast Milk Collector, which fits in your bra in place of nursing pads. I haven’t personally used the Ladybug, but it seems even better than the breast pump since you can wear it on-the-go!
A pumping bra. Another must have for pumping mamas! In my postpartum fog, I didn’t realize I even needed one of these… would you believe I spent at least two months – all of my maternity leave – literally holding the flanges to my breasts with my hands. It didn’t dawn on me that there was an easier way! Enter the pumping bra, and suddenly my hands are free to drink some much-needed coffee or scroll on my phone. What brand and type you prefer will have a lot to do with your own build and what type of pump you have, but this is the one that works for me: Lupantte Adjustable Nursing Bra for Pumping.
LaVie Vibrating Massagers. There are so many products on the market that claim to increase your milk supply… but take those with a grain of salt. Some so-called “galactagogues” can actually be detrimental to your supply! At the end of the day, breastmilk is about supply and demand – you need to adequately remove milk from your breasts in order to cue them to make more milk. There are a couple things you can do to more effectively empty your breasts while pumping – vibration, heat, and massage are three things that have been proven to work. LaVie vibrating massagers hit all three of these points! Yes, they even warm up! Charge them like your cell phone, then stick them in your bra or massage your breasts with them before and/or during your pumping session. They’re even eligible for purchase using your HSA or FSA account – and if you buy them using my link, or using coupon code ALISON10, you can get 10% off your purchase!
BabyBuddha Wearable Pump. I own a few different pumps, but I LOVE my BabyBuddha, especially for my early morning pumps! The pump itself is teeny tiny – smaller than my cell phone – and you wear it around your neck on the provided lanyard. It makes it so easy to just wake up, put on my flanges and put the pump around my neck, and go about serving breakfast, packing lunches, emptying the dishwasher… I even wore it while I waited for the school bus with Little P! After work, I’d put it on again for my commute home and let it pump away as I drove. I’ve seen many mamas online who pump exclusively (and those with oversupply issues, too) swear by the BabyBuddah, claiming that the strong suction allows the pump to fully empty their breasts much faster than any other pumps they’ve tried. The strong suction can be intense and surprising at first, but I got used to it quickly. And although it’s probably not recommended by the manufacturer, I really liked that I could “hack” my BabyBuddha and attach my Spectra flanges and bottles to it. Get 10% off your BabyBuddha using my promo code ALISON10 when you order!
A breastfeeding keepsake. Even though breastfeeding can sometimes be stressful, remember that these precious moments are fleeting. Before we know it, our littles will be flying around the house, asking us to open our fruit snacks – not snuggled up for a quiet nursing session. Capture these moments in time with a sweet memento or two. My personal favorites are breastmilk jewelry like THIS and THIS. You generally have two options when it comes to purchasing breastmilk keepsakes – you can either send away for a kit and mix your own concoction at home, or send some of your breastmilk in and they’ll create a charm for you. You can find many different designs on Etsy, but note that Etsy prohibits the transaction of breastmilk through their website, so you will need to navigate to an external site in order to make a purchase. I haven’t ordered my own jewelry yet so I can’t vouch for any specific companies, but I love the concept and intend to order soon!
If breastmilk jewelry isn’t your bag, there are also breastfeeding milestone charms that allow you to celebrate every milestone you reach! I like that these are sparkly (I love anything with sparkles) but also understated enough that you can keep them on your keychain or bag without people getting too nosy about them – I hang my 6- and 12- month charms on my purse! If you prefer something a little more in-your-face, hello treacle has you covered there, too, with boob pins!
A HydroJug. I don’t know about you, but I often struggle to stay hydrated, and breastfeeding always makes me super thirsty! I know I should be drinking a ton of water, but it’s so hard to remember to think of myself when I’m chasing around two little ones. I used to try to keep my YETI filled, but it frequently ended up knocked over onto the couch or rug… and who has the time for that hassle? I tried to keep my YETI on the side table, but if I was nap-trapped I couldn’t reach it… I needed something I could keep on the couch next to me without worrying about it spilling. Hydro Flasks are popular, but they dent so easily and I didn’t want to deal with that, either… plus, I prefer to drink from a straw. When I found HydroJug, I knew it was an answer to my prayers! With a cool sleeve (they have so many cute ones, but I of course chose leopard print) and a flexible straw – but best of all, a lid that locks really well – soon I was drinking a gallon a day without thinking much about it. The carrier means you can sling it over your shoulder and take it with you (handsfree is a bonus for busy moms) and with two pockets in the sleeve – one that can fit the large iPhone! – I feel like hydroJug really thought of everything.
The bottom line is, breastfeeding is not always easy! If you are struggling with breastfeeding and need assistance, help is available. Reach out to an international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) near you: IBCLC Directory