My Top 5 Breastfeeding Essentials

top five breastfeeding essentials

My top five breastfeeding essentials. Apart from breasts, obviously. They’re pretty essential for breastfeeding, I would have thought. The nipple part, at least. Anyway, here are the five things that have made breastfeeding easier and/or more bearable in the trickier moments. I had always assumed that breastfeeding would be a totally instinctive process – the baby would just suck away and all would be well. But there’s a technique – who knew? The baby has to “latch on” properly (get the nipple in the right position in its mouth) otherwise things get painful in the old nip department and the baby doesn’t get a proper feed. I was incredibly lucky that the midwives on the labour ward were very good with feeding help – I couldn’t sit up after the C-section and I only really had the use of one arm, so they would come around and latch the baby on and make sure that the positioning was correct. To be honest, if I hadn’t had that 48 hours in hospital after the birth, I would have been a bit stuck because Angelica was tongue-tied and not really latching on correctly. (All was fine once they snipped the tongue-tie, though I had to hide and sob in the garden when it was done as I couldn’t bear to be there.) There was a period of about three days when my nipples cracked and (UGH) bled slightly, and having to “feed through the pain” was just the most depressing thing in the world, even though I was pain-killered up to the eyeballs. But thankfully there is a magnificent amount of support available these days, for breastfeeding Mums, and so I did lots of internet reading and also bored the visiting midwives to tears with all of my questions…

Anyway, I digress: I’ll do another post on the pitfalls of breastfeeding that I encountered in the first month (and I’m still learning!) but for now, here are my essentials.

top five breastfeeding essentials

1) Lansinoh Cream (£7.33 at Amazon). A total lifesaver, this stuff. I plastered it on when my nipples were sore and cracked – you don’t need to wipe it off before feeding, though I did take off any excess as I didn’t want Angelica to be feeding on 50% milk and 50% lanolin! I still use it now – just a tiny bit every now and then, because it keeps things soft and comfortable. Not as soft and comfortable as when I dunk my overly-engorged boobs into a hot bath (literally the BEST FEELING EVER) but nearly. There are loads of nipple balms out there, but this was the one that every single person without fail told me to get and it works a treat. It’s just very plain and simple.

2) The breastfeeding pillow (£45 from Thrupenny Bits). I resisted the idea of a breastfeeding pillow because – like many people – I wondered why I simply couldn’t bolster up my elbows with some firm cushions from the sofa. But this has been revolutionary – the pillow takes most of the weight of the baby and allows you to calmly and easily correct the way that the baby latches on rather than struggling with holding the baby up and attempting to match up nipple and mouth at the same time. The shape of the pillow hugs the curve of your body – normal cushions are just annoying and you can never get them close enough – and the ties make sure that the pillow can’t move away. Which is what happens with normal sofa/bed cushions. So this sceptic has been converted – there are a few brands who make breastfeeding pillows, but Thrupenny Bits have a different sizes which is important when, y’know, people are all different heights!

top five breastfeeding essentials

3) Lansinoh Pads (60 for £7.55 or 240 for £15.96, you do the maths!, at Amazon). Again, loads of brands do them, these were recommended and I’ve found them to be brilliant. Not bulky and extremely absorbent. Pre-baby, I didn’t realise that breasts could actually squirt milk in a fine stream across a room, but apparently they can. Without any kind of prompting at all. Pre-baby, I wondered what all the fuss was about, in terms of breast pads (surely the milk only comes out when the baby sucks?), but now that I know that breasts can drip like a tap (sorry, TMI) as well as squirt and a number of other milk-presenting tricks, I realise that they are essential.

4) Soft Nursing Bra (£14 Emma Jane at ASOS). This is a completely different kettle of fish to wearing a supportive nursing bra that holds your boobs up properly: I was searching for a completely soft, comfortable nursing bra that I could wear to sleep in. Something with a band that wouldn’t roll up or cut in at my ribs, that would basically just hold my boobs in place slightly and also provide something to stick the breast pads to. This one from Emma Jane is the best I’ve found – it almost feels as though I have no bra on. Which is what I’m aiming for, after six weeks of having my breasts bound up tightly in double-decker-wobble-checkers. I like the fact that it’s hot pink. Lifts the spirits.

top five breastfeeding essentials

5) Kindle Paperwhite (£98.99 at Amazon). Because you can turn the page with one finger. Because it’s light enough to lean up against a feeding baby’s body. Because the built-in backlit screen also acts as a nighlight when you wake up to feed at 3am (and 5am, and all of those other ams) and because, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be getting through a hell of a lot of books.

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  1. July 30, 2015 / 1:38 pm

    Yes, breastfeeding days were a wonderful time to read a ton. And you’re right about how the process of learning to breastfeed is not always instinctive; it wasn’t for me. And the pain! Every part of this story feels so, so familiar to me, complete with hiding, sobbing in the garden. I did that, too! My heart still breaks a little to think of that day.

    Another thing I didn’t take into consideration before the baby but realized after he came was that when you’re breastfeeding sometimes the baby leaks milk, and it’s nice you can toss the breastfeeding pillow in the wash. Not all sofa cushions would stand up to that too many times, so I was glad to have the dedicated pillow.

    Oh! And! There came a point in time when I was nursing my son that my milk flow was too strong and would cause him to choke and sputter. A funny thing that helped was to lie on my back and prop him up to drink, so at least gravity was working against the milk. Yet another thing that did not happen instinctively…

  2. AC
    July 30, 2015 / 2:12 pm

    Firstly, congratulations! I’ve been following your blog over the past few months and really appreciated it as our first child is due in just a few weeks.

    I’m wondering what other ‘essentials’ you have discovered and what is just plain unnecessary. We’re trying to gather up what we need at the moment and don’t want to spend a fortune on stuff that we can’t even squeeze into our wee house. Especially interested to know what sort of pram you went for.

    Angelica is beautiful!

  3. Smaranda
    July 30, 2015 / 2:34 pm

    Good to know, thanks for sharing! I’m preparing for a baby boy due in September and I really enjoy your posts (both here and on amodelrecommends). Have a great evening! Smaranda

  4. July 30, 2015 / 2:36 pm


    Congrats on your beautiful baby girl.
    If you are looking for a nice comfortable nursing bra, try Boobdesign. Their fastfood bra is amazing! I wore it day and night.


  5. Kirsty
    July 30, 2015 / 7:12 pm

    Oh Ruth. I adore how incredibly honest you are! Its lovely to read and have you sharing things about Angelica with us (adore the name btw) and your experiences with her. I love reading this.
    Seems like all the blogs I read at the moment the ladies have either had a child (yourself) or are expecting (Amy and Milly)! Makes me more broody than I was before. Love, love, love this blog! (Slightly random, rambling rant over!) Hope you and Mr AMR are loving this time with her and enjoying every second. xxx

  6. Kelly
    July 30, 2015 / 8:24 pm

    Thank you! I’m 30 weeks and trying to gather all the essentials. Congrats on your beautiful baby!

  7. Nina Martin
    July 31, 2015 / 7:13 am

    Enjoy it all and wear those dark eye circles with a smile !
    I wish you and your family all the happiness in the world. It is an emotional roller coaster but you gain so much and you learn a lot, about yourself, your little one…Savour it!

  8. Sarah Medcalf
    July 31, 2015 / 8:35 am

    try the silicone breast pads from Lilypadz they are amazing

  9. Zk
    July 31, 2015 / 9:34 am

    Really recommend getting some reusable bamboo breast pads, I bought mine from Amazon. Much softer on the skin and cheaper in the long run – still breastfeeding at 10 months and still leaking.

  10. Catherine
    July 31, 2015 / 11:25 am

    As un-fun as it was for you and presumably Angelica (beautiful name btw!), having her tongue tie sorted out early was definately the way to go. Both my brother and I had it but while his was sorted as a baby mine wasn’t done until I was 15 which meant having to faff with speech therapist referrals and all that malarky. Still can’t properly poke my tongue out now at 23! Really enjoying reading your baby tales Ruth. Thank you for sharing little insights into Family AMR, it’s lovely to read/see xxx

  11. anusha
    July 31, 2015 / 12:13 pm

    Hiii ruth..i’ve read every post on your blog during my pregnancy and eagerly waiting for more.. my daughter is 1 month old today.. loving your quirky humorous style of writing.. please find some time to share all your experiences which i know is next to impossible. .lol! Congratulations! Enjoy motherhood. . 🙂

  12. Gillian
    July 31, 2015 / 1:08 pm

    Ruth your posts are making me broody, but I’m well past that time of life, my youngest of 3 is now 15 so I’m done, but I so enjoyed breast feeding and was lucky that all my babies were naturals at it. I have RA and was diagnosed when pregnant with my son, no 2! so I had my own challenges and I wish I’d known about these breast feeding pilllows! That would have made my life easier! I also had the lying down thing for 48 hours with my first daughter, for different reasons, epidural issue. I too had great midwives that helped me to latch her on.
    By the way I found the ‘milk squirt’ a great weapon when hubby annoyed me!! 😉 Are boobs amazing things!!

  13. Mary
    July 31, 2015 / 3:28 pm

    Hi Ruth, my other essential would be a big cup of tea or glass of water as I used to get sooo thirsty breast feeding! Before you settle down, its impossible once youve started! I’m glad you are getting lots of support, I didnt, everyone said I should bottle feed as breast feeding took so long and no-one else could do it. Good for you, keep it up, its the best thing ever for your baby…and don’t worry, your boobs go back to normal afterwards…lol love Mary xx

  14. July 31, 2015 / 7:59 pm

    I have never again read as much as through the first months of breastfeeding my daughter.

  15. denise barnatt
    August 1, 2015 / 3:25 am

    Double decker wobble checkers…. LOL love it! Welcome back to you and your new addition – Angelica. Cuddles all round x

  16. Elle
    August 1, 2015 / 7:44 am

    Hi Ruth!

    Congratulations on baby Angelica! Beautiful name!

    I’m here feeding my almost one year old little girl and reading your blog post takes me right back to those very unnerving and scary first few weeks!

    May I suggest a sling/carrier? Babies go through massive growth spurts in the first few weeks and it’ll help enormously for you if you’re hands free and not glued to the couch. Plus babywearing has so many benefits too!

    Once you get passed the first 6 weeks things get easier in terms of feeding and cluster feeding trust me!

    Co-sleeping(recommended for bf mothers&babies) and babywearing are two “essential” things I learned later on that I wish I knew in the beginning. They go hand in hand with successful long term feeding if that’s your goal!


  17. Triin
    August 1, 2015 / 8:41 pm

    Hi Ruth,
    I really enjoy your blog, also good timing for me as I’m due in December, so I’ll hopefully get a bit more of an insight before she hopefully plops out through your experience. So thank you! I was wondering whether you also thought of doing a post on the essentials, clothes etc to buy for the baby. I’m looking at all sorts of lovely dresses, but considering she’ll grow up so fast, might be unnecessary to get any.

  18. Emma
    August 2, 2015 / 7:47 am

    I love reading your posts Ruth can’t wait for more I have a nearly 3 week old baby and also breastfeeding and also had an emergency C section so totally relate to all your posts! Look forward to hearing about breastfeeding in public and the pitfalls post x

  19. Katy
    August 2, 2015 / 6:23 pm

    Love this post Ruth and would love to hear more about your breastfeeding experience so far – my daughter is a week older than yours and I can totally empathise with you on the cracked nipples and the tongue tie, and entirely agree with your 5 essentials! It’s a tough old business this breastfeeding lark… Xc

  20. Charlotte
    August 2, 2015 / 9:16 pm

    Hi Ruth!

    Just wanted to let you know that the lansinoh breast pads are £3.99 at John Lewis for 60

  21. Ayla
    August 3, 2015 / 5:38 am

    Hi Ruth, congratulations! I had my second daughter 3 months ago and I can tell you it gets better, with the breast feeding.. With my first daughter I had a terrible sore nipples and Nursi-Care really helped. It’s a sponge pad like a membrane that isolates your nipple and helps it heal faster. And the pillow is also essential because it takes a load off your arm and hand and the last thing you need right now is carpal tunnel syndrome or De Quervain’s tenosynovitis in your wrist.. And also- always nurse equally otherwise you will have a very large boob next to a tiny one..
    I wish you and your husband all the best! it’s amazing and It’s just get better and better. Wait until she is one year and a half.. you wouldn’t believe how adorable they can get!

  22. Andrea
    August 3, 2015 / 7:14 am

    Had to laugh at the milk squirting across the room, I was feeding number two at a foodcourt when she slipped off and the milk proceeded to squirt across the cafe and hit a man in the back of the head. Luckily he looked up thinking it was a drip from the roof and I quickly turned around so he couldn’t notice me.

  23. Lucie
    August 3, 2015 / 9:28 am

    Congratulations Ruth! These were all pretty much my breast feeding essentials first time round and they are all ready for the arrival of my next baby! Only other thing I would add is the amazing kellymom website which provided me with sensible, well researched and reassuring advice when I was desperately googling breastfeeding “problems” at 3am! Would definitely recommend x

  24. Helen Tiffany
    August 3, 2015 / 9:53 pm

    Lasinoh makes a brilliant lip balm. It’s all I ever use. Very much enjoying your updates Ruth. X

  25. Esta Williams
    August 3, 2015 / 10:51 pm

    It’s great to read your posts Ruth as my little girl is 2 weeks older than yours so I can really relate. I’ve used a kit called Bosom Buddies made by natural birthing company to help me with sore nipples. I bought it from the baby show at Birmingham but they sell it online too I think. It’s really good. & smells gorgeous too x

  26. August 4, 2015 / 9:54 am

    The Lansinoh also doubles up as a great overnight eye cream (to help with the sleep deprivation bags) when it’s no longer needed for nipples. And Panache do some comfortable yet pretty nursing underwear sets. They offer more support than the average nursing bra but also look attractive too. They have saved my boobs (hopefully!) while breastfeeding.

  27. Mche
    August 11, 2015 / 6:11 pm

    Just bought myself two of that nursing bra. Seems realy nice. Thanks for sharing. Love to read ur updates here and on modelrecommends, never taught that after so much time and cosmetic recommends I ll follow you here as well. I still have 3 months to go, but want to be preparwd as much as possible. Thank you for writing

  28. Mche
    August 11, 2015 / 6:17 pm

    Thank you for writing, i always feel so cheered and positive after reading!!! I would like you to write also about Mr.Bear and baby, since I also have (only indoor) cat and everyone keeps telling me it is not god to have cats around baby. Maybe u could write smthg about that! xxx

  29. Annabel Lee
    August 15, 2015 / 9:11 pm

    I just Loooove reading your posts. As a new mom myself, I find them so funny and refreshing. I get super excited when you have a new post up. Keep ‘en coming–baby and time permitting, of course.

  30. Ruth Cooper
    August 18, 2015 / 1:12 pm

    Lansinoh also doubles up as a great lip balm. I still buy it even though I’m not breastfeeding anymore.

    (another) Ruth

  31. Maria K
    April 18, 2018 / 7:42 pm

    Ebook reading is the answer! I was well prepared for my breastfeeding journey but yet I am a bit surprised how much of your time it may take. I’ve had this great breastfeeding guide „How to make breastfeeding pleasant and easy” (found it here: and the author says: water, snacks and something to read. I’ve tried to read normal books at first (I love the paper! Can’t help it…) but it so much easier with the electronic version. Anyway you can catch up few years of reading while feeding i suppose 😉

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