Many women want to prepare for breastfeeding while they are pregnant to ensure they are ready once baby arrives. Here is a list of two absolute must-haves when it comes to nursing:

  1. A baby
  2. Breasts

The wonderful thing about breastfeeding is that you often don’t need much at all! Below are a few things you may find helpful, but they are by no means required in order to be successful with nursing.

1. A good breastfeeding bookMany moms have questions when it comes to breastfeeding, and having a quality book to rely on is so helpful. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is one great example but definitely not the only one. Of course, books can never replace the support of other women who have breastfed or are currently nursing, so be sure to find your local support group or friends who have breastfed to get their advice too.

2. Quality nursing brasIt can be helpful to invest in a few good nursing bras, including both structured bras and some for sleeping. These can especially make nursing in public easier, since nursing bras have a flap that easily comes down when it is time to feed. It is best to try to wait until after your milk comes in to purchase one so you get exactly the right size. Try to avoid underwire because this can cause uneven pressure on milk ducts and may make you prone to plugged ducts.

3. A pumpMany women think a pump is mandatory in order to breastfeed, but this is often not the case. Certainly if you plan to return to work and breastfeed, a quality double electric pump will be your best friend. Another situation where a pump can come in handy is if you have delivered prematurely or are having milk supply issues. For the occasional separation from baby, a manual hand pump may be all that you need, which is nice since electric pumps can be expensive!

4. A nursing pillowThere are many different pillows on the market designed to help with positioning during breastfeeding. While these can be helpful, regular pillows often work just as well (and you probably already have them!).

5. Nursing clothingClothes made for nursing have flaps that allow for easier breast access. In all honesty, almost any loose fitting shirt can become a nursing shirt if you layer a tank top or another shirt over it! This can help save you money if you only want to invest in a few nursing shirts.

6. Nursing cover-upThere are so many nursing covers out there that all aim to make nursing in public more discreet, while allowing you to see your baby while breastfeeding.  It is your personal choice if you want to wear a cover while nursing, and you should be aware that not all babies tolerate being under a cover to feed (especially older ones!). A light blanket can help give you some cover without the tent-like effect that a nursing cover brings. If you do buy a nursing cover, try to get one that is light and breathable. Trust me, no baby likes to breastfeed in hot summer weather under heavy fabric.

7. Nipple cream and breast padsSome women find that early on they leak milk, and having breast pads to absorb this extra milk can be helpful (remember, leaking or not leaking in no way relates to a low milk supply). One alternative is to make your own or use a cloth diaper or burp cloth – whatever works! As for nipple cream (such as those containing lanolin), you may find it useful during that first week when sore nipples can be common. However, if you are not having any discomfort, there is no reason to start using these creams. The stuff can be sticky, so if you don’t like it, don’t use it!


  • A good breastfeeding book can be a very helpful resource.
  • Consider waiting to buy nursing bras until after your milk is in.
  • Not all women need to invest in an expensive breast pump.

Last reviewed by Sara Connolly, MD. Review Date: March 2020


  1. La Leche League International. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. 8th edition.


    1. Way to go and persist through those struggles – glad you found something that helped!

  1. As a mom-to-be, being successful at breast feeding is one of the things I am most nervous about. Thank you for simplifying to make it less daunting!

  2. Love breastfeeding. Most empowering feeling ever!

  3. I love this article even if I only use the two main must haves- a baby and breasts. Even though I don’t have one I’d recommend a nursing pillow because that’s probably better than stuffing pillows under baby.

    1. Better? Maybe not. But easier, yes. Pillows work just as good as long as you have enough hands to get them in the right position. 🙂

    2. I barely used my nursing pillow. I think I used it for the first couple of weeks when I fed my son in bed in the middle of the night. When I used my glider, I didn’t use the nursing pillow. It did come in very handy for the great-grandmothers and mothers to just hold him in their laps, though!

    1. Definitely need a support system! One of my cousins could not fathom why I would want to breastfeed! I just smiled and moved on because I knew what I wanted to do, and no one was going to sway me. Luckily my close friends and family were very supportive, and my son’s pediatrician was very knowledgeable on the benefits (as well as the complications that may arise), and he was a great cheerleader as well!

    1. Great tip!

    1. Karen I will have to check out that book – thanks for the recommendation! And I agree, sometimes we make nursing so complicated (and there are times where It definitely is!), but I think keeping it simple makes it so much more accessible and less intimidating for new moms.

  4. Fabulous article! Breastfeeding can be so intimidating before you get started. Two of my favorite products were the Boppy pillow (I had two- one upstairs and one downstairs, and it’s also great for pumping moms or dads who bottle-feed), and Lily padz (an alternative to disposable breast pads that prevent leakage instead of just soaking it up).


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