TLDR: A nursing station is the key to breastfeeding success. It’s a place to keep all your breastfeeding or pumping supplies together for when you can’t get up and move around much (because you’re nursing a baby)—and you need to know what to stock it with. Our list has all the essentials, including nipple cream, a water bottle, and much more.
You knew that breastfeeding a newborn would be a lot of work, but once your little one is on the outside, you may be surprised at just how much time (and energy) you’re spending breastfeeding. It’s pretty much constant: you finish up a 45-minute feed, do a diaper change, and yup, there’s another feeding cue—the boob is back out.
One way to make the whole thing easier is to create a breastfeeding station, an area that’s all set up with useful items to make your feeding experience easy and more convenient. Many moms like to do this in their baby’s room, but wherever you find yourself feeding the most is perfect, be it by your bed, on the couch, or anywhere else.
Making your station as useful as possible will help you focus on these moments of bonding and feeding, instead of “Oh crap, my phone is about to die. Where’s my charger?!” or “I. Am. So. Thirsty.”
Here are our essential items for your nursing station. (Note: These items can be just as useful to have at a pumping station, too, whether you’re pumping occasionally or exclusively.)
1. Phone and Charger
You’re probably already glued to your phone these days. We get it—who wants to miss photographing one of those elusive newborn smiles! Your smartphone is a must-have to keep you entertained during all of those marathon nursing sessions, too. Make sure you never get below 20% battery with a superfast lightning charger.
2. Healthy Snacks
Stock your station with healthy snacks that fill you up—we’re talking protein and fat, macronutrients that also help build your breast milk supply and assist in your recovery from birth. Real food energy bars (especially ones with milk-boosting oats!) are a great option. Sliced veggies and fruit in reusable containers are also useful to have for a boost of fiber. If you need more nutrient-rich food ideas for postpartum, we’ve got you covered.
3. Water Bottle
Hydration is key when you’re breastfeeding, so make it easy to get the ounces you need by always having a full water bottle at the ready. Choose a sturdy reusable metal water bottle that holds at least 32 ounces, so you don’t have to refill it as much. Bonus points for choosing one with a straw lid, which makes drinking one-handed a breeze.
4. Headphones and a Bluetooth Speaker
Sit back and tune out the rest of the world with a nursing meditation from Expectful, played on a pair of wireless earbuds. A portable Bluetooth speaker is another good option for music and meditation, especially our nursing meditations.
5. Nursing Pillow
Newborn babies are adorably floppy, so support them with a breastfeeding pillow. It’s also beneficial for you, as the right pillow can make breastfeeding considerably more comfortable—from your baby’s actual latch to the effects on your back and shoulders. Choose one that provides sturdy support for both your baby’s body and your own back. The more support the pillow provides, the easier it will be to try new positions.
6. Handheld Pump
While you may be trying to get your baby to eat as much at the breast as possible, it’s never a bad idea to have a pump nearby, especially if you’ve been advised to pump by your pediatrician or a lactation consultant. And while electric pumps are great for maximizing milk removal, an easily portable handheld pump is perfect for a nursing station. A classic manual pump will work wonders, but the newer silicone suction pumps are also incredibly useful to catch and save milk.
7. Nipple Cream
In the early days of breastfeeding, a good nipple cream is vital to keep your nipples soft and moisturized. Lactation consultant Carrie Dean1 recommends a plant-based herbal blend over lanolin-based balms, which may cause an allergic reaction2 in those allergic to wool or with sensitive skin. As a bonus, many nipple creams and balms can also be used as lip balm or to soothe rough spots on your feet and hands.
8. Nursing Pads
Nursing pads serve two purposes—they protect your sensitive nipples from contact and your clothing from any leaking milk. Disposable pads are popular, but you may find that a softer reusable option also works well for your needs.
9. Self-care Items
Dean encourages you to stock your station with stuff for you. “The most important thing is for mom to be comfortable, meaning extra pillows, rolled-up baby blankets, or a footstool. The more comfortable mom is, the more secure baby will be. The more secure baby is, the better the latch!”
Also add a few items that’ll help you feel clean, calm, and put together. Dry shampoo, deodorant wipes, rosewater face spray, a tinted lip balm—a little bit of self-care can make a difference in the first few days and weeks after birth. Don’t forget to keep hair ties or clips around, too.
10. A Book or Magazine
We know—you can read on your phone! But it’s never a bad idea to give your eyes a break from blue light and engage with some good old-fashioned printed text. Keep a fun book or silly gossip magazine around to switch it up.
11. Breastfeeding Support Resources
Be sure to include a resource for breastfeeding education and support at your station. Having easy access to breastfeeding help will increase the chances of quickly solving a problem if and when it crops up. Our suggestions: a book about breastfeeding, a pamphlet from your provider’s office, some great YouTube videos on latching, an IBCLC on speed dial, or ideally, all of the above!
12. Burp Cloths
Spit-up happens. Be ready with some burp cloths, which can double as washcloths or even wipes in a pinch. Tip: If you’re a minimalist and don’t want to buy multiple blanket-like products, swaddling blankets can serve as burp cloths, too.
13. Extra Newborn Supplies
Your breastfeeding station should be set up for your comfort and ease, but you’ll want to include some newborn supplies, too. Because hey, newborns need a lot of supplies! Diapers, wipes, an extra bodysuit or two, baby lotion—stock up so you don’t have to get up!
Breastfeeding is a special experience that takes a toll on the body and mind. Be present for the unfolding journey and stay open to the ups and downs. You’re doing amazing, and all of us here at Expectful are rooting for you.