As many as 90 per cent of Canadian moms have breastfed their babies, but that huge majority doesn’t mean it’s an easy feat by any means. It almost always comes with challenges. Some issues, like a poor latch or a tongue-tied babe, require the help of a doctor or a lactation consultant. Others take a little trial and error and a handy arsenal of the best breastfeeding supplies available.
With this in mind, we’ve rounded up seven popular breastfeeding products for moms that may be useful on your journey. If your little one hasn’t arrived yet, consider stocking up so you have the goods ready to go. (Your future self will thank you.) And if you’re already snuggling your new addition, read on for how these breastfeeding products could help if issues arise.
What breastfeeding accessory are you looking for?
Best Breastfeeding Pillow
If there’s one thing you should purchase to help with your breastfeeding experience, it’s a nursing pillow—and Medela’s soft-and-cushy version is super versatile. While some pillows are designed specifically for breastfeeding, with a harder cushion and more structure for positioning your little one, this soft tube (with star pattern!) can be used as a pregnancy pillow to support your growing belly or a nursing pillow to keep your baby secure during feedings. It can even provide extra comfort during pumping sessions.
- The half-moon shape provides flexible body-hugging support at every stage of your pregnancy and breastfeeding experience.
- The nursing pillow comes with a removable hypoallergenic cover made from 100-per-cent cotton.
- This product is BPA-free and Oeko-Tex-certified, which means it’s been tested and is free of potentially harmful chemicals and substances.
The pillow comforts with a cloud-like, movable filling that keeps you and baby at the right temperature. It is easily moldable, supporting a wide variety of nursing positions. It is the perfect size and thickness to support your elbows in a sitting position and helps you avoid arm fatigue.
The fine styrofoam inside is very quiet and malleable, but I would like to see this in an organic fabric and filling option too.
Best Nipple Shields
Many women never even hear of nipple shields unless they desperately need them. But if you have flat, inverted or sore nipples, nipple shields can be a breastfeeding gamechanger. The Medela Contact Nipple Shields’ thin silicone discs are designed to fit snugly and securely over your nipples to maintain close contact with your baby while allowing for easier latching. They can be added as a temporary stop-gap measure as you work on improving your nursing, or they can be used regularly throughout your breastfeeding experience—just make sure to check in with your healthcare practitioner before considering long-term use.
This shield is a lifesaver for my nipples! They don’t hurt anymore and I’ve not had to use my nipple cream since I’ve started using these.
There is only one thing I would change about this product. I think it should be coloured so when it falls off you can find it again! It is clear and blends into every place it falls. Very difficult to find, especially at night!
Best Nipple Cream
You might think you only need nipple cream if you end up with cracked or bleeding nipples, but it can also be a godsend for dryness and irritation, which are common side effects of regular newborn feedings. Lanolin, a natural oil found in shorn wool, is a common healer for nipple issues and Lansinoh is the tried-and-true brand often recommended by experts. It contains only 100-per-cent natural lanolin and is hypoallergenic, free of preservatives and is generally safe for most moms and babies.
- Lanolin can be applied whenever you need it and doesn’t need to be removed prior to feeding your baby.
- It’s fragrance-free and tasteless, so it won’t disrupt your baby’s nursing routine.
- It’s great to have on hand for non-nursing needs, too, since it’s a good moisturizer for dry cuticles, cracked heels and more.
I have used this with all three of my kids, when I breastfed them or pumped, for the past 10 years. It has come in handy more times than I can count. It works fast to soothe and calm your flared up and achy nipples. I couldn’t have made it this far without it.
Lanolin does the job as a nipple cream, but it’s definitely not my favourite. It’s a very thick and sticky consistency that is kind of unpleasant.
Best Nursing Pads
No one seems to talk about the leakage situation that can affect breastfeeding moms—especially in the early days as your body is still trying to figure out how to supply for your baby’s demands. It can be an embarrassing problem when you’re out in public. Luckily, tucking good-quality nursing pads into your bra before leaving the house will mean you’re (literally) covered. These disposable pads by Johnson’s are made with a breathable cover, a moisture-wicking material to keep dampness away from your skin and an absorbent polymer core so you’ll look and feel dry.
- These nursing pads are contoured to fit snugly against the natural shape of your breast.
- Non-slip adhesive keeps the pads in place for added protection.
- A rustle-free design means they’re quiet to apply and wear throughout the day.
Love these nursing pads. They’re very soft, the shape fits very well, they don’t bunch, they absorb well and they stay in place.
I have tried a few brands and these are definitely my favourite for all-day use. They aren’t individually wrapped, which is good because the wrappers are a nuisance. I find they aren’t so great for overnight; I needed something a bit larger as I move a lot in my sleep.
Best Nursing Bra
There are so many different styles of nursing bras: with cup clips (so you can disconnect the front of the cup from the strap), without cup clips, front closure, back closure, no closure—the list goes on. Really, it’s about finding what works for you. Our top pick? The Medela Comfort Nursing Bra, which has cup clips and a back closure, is made from premium stretch fabric that easily adapts to your changing shape (things will look very different from the early post-partum days to a year later!). The U-shaped back and four-column, two-row hook design will also help you to adjust the bra for maximum comfort.
- This seam-free, wire-free and tag-free nursing bra provides a discreet, smooth look under clothing.
- The secure cup clips should open with one hand for easy access (likely while holding a squirmy baby), but they can be a bit stiff.
- The 90-per-cent nylon, 10-per-cent spandex material is Oeko-Tex-certified, which means it is free of potentially harmful chemicals and substances.
This bra did its job! I needed comfort during the day and at night while I was at home… no underwire… no pain! The straps did not dig into me at all. This bra is perfect for the beginning weeks with a baby!
This bra is very comfortable and fits well. My only complaint is the snaps are hard to undo with one hand, even after wearing it a lot. While it’s a little bit of a pain, I’ve gotten used to it and it doesn’t stop me from wearing it often.
Best Breastmilk Storage
In the early days of breastfeeding, it will be hard to believe you’ll ever produce enough milk to bag and store it—but it really could happen! If that day comes, you’ll need to have storage bags on hand to stockpile those drops of gold. Lansinoh’s fridge- and freezer-friendly breastmilk storage bags are super strong, with double zippers and reinforced double-sealed side seams to prevent leakage. They’re also pre-sterilized and BPA/BPS-free.
- Lansinoh’s easy-to-use bags are compatible with most breast pump brands, either directly attached to the pump or with a Lansinoh Pump Adapter.
- The bags hold up to six ounces of breastmilk and are made to lay flat for easy freezing and thawing.
- Some practical details include a convenient pour spout and a write-on label to record the date the milk was pumped.
I love these breastmilk bags! They are the only ones I use. They are sturdy and I don’t have to worry about leaks. I exclusively pump so I use a LOT of bags, and I have only ever had one bag leak when I was filling it up. So, one leaky bag in 500 isn’t bad at all to me! The edges are sealed really well and I like how easy they are to fill.
These bags are pretty reliable… but they’re pretty large and they’re very floppy. You have to be very careful pouring milk in as they really don’t stand up well on their own.
Best Lactation Support
Throughout breastfeeding, there may be times when you’ll wonder if you are producing enough milk for your little one. If you’re looking for a lactation boost, one option is galactagogues—naturally occurring ingredients that may increase milk supply. In Booby Boons’ lactation cookies—which were developed with lactation consultants, nutritionists and naturopaths—the galactagogues include brewer’s yeast, oats and flax. Lactation aids sometimes get a bad rap for not making taste a priority, but these cookies are delish.
- These cookies usually produce results within one to two days.
- If you have food allergies, you’ll be happy to know that the cookies—which come in a variety of flavours like oatmeal raisin and cocoa quinoa—are wheat-free, soy-free, corn-free and non-GMO.
- Booby Boons is a proud Canadian company created by a mom (with four children!) for moms.
I ate two cookies and I noticed a difference. Last night at two, I felt my boobs were going to explode so I fed him until he emptied both boobs… Then he slept until 6am (got an extra hour cause he was so full)… And yes, the cookies are pretty tasty…
I couldn’t really tell if they helped but I sure enjoyed them! Quite pricey though so that part sucked.
More Breastfeeding Supplies
Your Questions, Answered
Nipple Pain and Tenderness
Does breastfeeding hurt?
Breastfeeding isn’t supposed to hurt. When it does, it may be a sign that something isn’t quite right. If you’re dealing with pain, the cause could be latch difficulties, thrush (essentially a yeast infection on your nipples, breasts or in your baby’s mouth), a blocked milk duct or mastitis (breast inflammation that’s usually caused by an infection). It’s a good idea to make a doctor’s appointment to investigate if the pain is ongoing. That said, in the early post-partum days, you may feel a little discomfort as your milk comes in and your breasts become heavy and swollen. It’s important to nurse often to avoid becoming engorged (read: painfully full) with milk.
Do you need nipple cream for breastfeeding?
Chances are high that you will need a soothing agent for dry or cracked nipples at some point during your breastfeeding journey. In a pinch, you can use hind milk—the fatty milk produced at the end of a feeding—to treat sore nipples. But stashing a tube of nipple cream in your bedside table isn’t a bad idea, either, to provide relief in between feedings.
How do you use nipple cream?
Apply a pea-sized amount of cream after each feeding. When you shower, wash your breasts gently with water only—no need to use soap as it can strip the nipple of its natural lubrication. Allow your nipples to air dry and then massage in the same amount of cream as you would after a nursing session.
Do nipple shields help with sore nipples?
Typically recommended for short-term use only after the go-ahead from a healthcare provider, nipple shields are designed for premature infants and babies that have trouble latching or staying latched. Nipple shields can come to the rescue of sore nipples in two ways:
- They can protect damaged nipples (cracked, scabbed, bleeding) to allow the area to heal without disrupting your baby’s nursing schedule.
- They can help to correct trouble latching that may be causing nipple pain—especially if the latch issue is the result of a tongue-tie or mom’s flat or inverted nipples.
Before turning to nipple shields, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider to make sure you’re addressing the root of the problem and not simply applying a (nipple-shield-shaped) Band-aid.
How do you increase milk production when breastfeeding?
There are plenty of ways to improve your milk supply if you and your doctor feel that your infant isn’t getting enough to eat. Just remember: It’s always worth checking with your baby’s physician before trying to increase production because if your baby is gaining sufficient weight, you run the risk of producing too much milk for your little one.
Some ways to increase milk production include:
- Feed on demand: When you first welcome your newborn, you will be instructed to feed your baby whenever they give hunger cues—at least every two hours. This type of “schedule” will help your body to ramp up milk production.
- Pump in addition to feeding: Once your baby is satiated, you can add a quick pumping session at the end of each feed to help your body increase milk production. Or if your baby drains your breasts, you can work separate pumping sessions into the day and build up stores of breastmilk for future use.
- Introduce galactagogues (a.k.a. substances that promote lactation) into your diet: There are many naturally occurring ingredients that show some evidence for increasing milk supply including herbs like fenugreek, blessed thistle and nettle, as well as foodstuffs such as oats, dark, leafy greens and fennel. Only introduce natural remedies into your diet after speaking with your physician.
- Medication: If your milk is really lagging, your doctor may suggest a prescription like Domperidone to help boost your supply. Reach out to your care team for advice if you’re concerned your body isn’t producing enough milk.
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Nursing Pads, Bras and Pillows
How do you choose a nursing bra size?
Buying a nursing bra is similar to a regular bra since you still measure across the fullest part of your breast and around your rib cage (where the band will sit). At first, the bra should be comfortable on the tightest setting so you will have room to adjust as your size fluctuates. You can get professionally sized in the last two or three weeks of pregnancy—you’ll be fairly close to your post-partum size at that point— and then you’ll be able to order nursing bras from your favourite stores with confidence.
How often should you change nursing pads?
Nursing pads, both reusable and disposable, should be changed as soon as they get damp. It may be tempting to reuse pads that feel only a little moist after wearing, but you run the risk of developing a yeast infection. Ouch!
How do you use a nursing pillow?
Every new mom figures out how to position their nursing pillow depending on the breastfeeding holds that work best for their child. (For example, if your baby loves the football hold, you will likely tuck the pillow around your side for better support.) Your delivery will also impact how you use your nursing pillow. If you have a C-section, it may be painful to hold the pillow against your stomach area because of the incision, so you may wish to lie on your side with the pillow for support while nursing.
And remember, when in doubt, ask for help. There is absolutely no shame in seeking expert advice from a medical professional—like a doctor or a lactation consultant—or even a trusted friend or family member who has been in the newborn trenches. It might sound cliché, but it really does take a village, so you might as well start building yours from “Day One.”
- Government of Canada. Breastfeeding in Canada: Infographic.
- Oeko-Tex. Our Standards.
- The Ochsner Journal. A Review of Herbal and Pharmaceutical Galactagogues for Breastfeeding.
- Today’s Parent. Ouch! How to deal with breastfeeding pain.
- Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation. Candida or thrush of the nipple and breast.
- HealthLink BC. Mastitis While Breastfeeding.
- Medela. What is breast engorgement?
- MyHealth.Alberta.ca. Breastfeeding Your Baby Using a Nipple Shield.
- What to Expect. How to Increase Your Breast Milk Supply.
- Medela. Finding a nursing bra in the right size.
- Mother & Child Health. All About Nursing Pads.
- La Leche League International. Breastfeeding After Cesarean Birth.
How we choose products: Simply put, we don’t recommend any products we wouldn’t buy ourselves. Our writers leverage a number of sources as a starting point, including reputable third-party reviews, Walmart.ca user reviews, and Walmart Canada’s category specialists. theHUB editorial staff has final say for all products included in this guide.
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