Thinking of breastfeeding your new baby?   One of the best things about breastfeeding is that you don't need to lug around a lot of expensive gear to make it happen.  But there are a few items that can make your life easier during the process...and anything you can do to make life easier when you have a newborn is well worth the investment!  Here are a few essentials you may want to check out:  

The bra
If you plan to breastfeed your baby, pick up a couple nursing bras with detachable straps that will help you get easier access to the goods when you need them. Look for bras made from 100% organic cotton with no underwire. (Check out those from Under the Nile, Rawganique, or Tiny Birds.  Heck, even Walmart has an organic cotton nursing bra in stock!) 

Nursing tops

You don’t need a special wardrobe for nursing. Button down shirts, large T-shirts, and tank tops all work well for breastfeeding your baby. Choose shirts made from natural organic fabrics that wick moisture easily and are safe for your baby to rest against.

Hootie hiders

If you wear your baby in a sling, it will serve double duty as a blanket to cover your breasts during nursing. Of course, you don't have to cover up while nursing, but most women feel more comfortable in public with a little coverup.  A cover also gives your baby some privacy and helps minimize distractions as she gets older.  Keep a spare receiving blanket in your diaper bag to give you and your baby some privacy. Or try a fun nursing cover like the Hooter Hider from Bebe au Lait.

Pump it up
If you plan on spending anytime at all away from your baby, either for work or just for the occasional break, you may want to pick up a breast pump.  A breast pump allows you to pump your breast milk either to relieve engorgement or to store your breast milk for later feedings. A good breast pump can be expensive, but if you plan on offering your baby breast milk it a bottle frequently, it may be a wise investment.  You can also borrow or rent a breast pump from your hospital or birthing center. Most offer both electric and hand pump models.

Nipple care
A nursing pad is just a small piece of fabric that hides in your bra to prevent unexpected milk leaks.  Some women need them only for the first few weeks, while others use them daily throughout their baby's breastfeeding years.  Before your baby is born, pick up a few reusable nursing can also get more later if it looks like you'll be needing them.  Reusable nursing pads are much nicer than teir disposable counterparts...they are made of cotton (often organic) and are very absorbent.  And they can be washed and reused just like cloth diapers. Disposable pads, on the other hand, are made from bleached paper products and are generally not as soft as the fabric pads.  You may also notice that your nipples become dry, cracked, and sore when you first start breastfeeding. Use a quality nipple cream such as Lansinoh Lanolin, which is a safe, non-toxic cream that you can use to soothe aching nipples.

Photo by obyvatel