If you are going to nurse, you need to prepare!
GEAR YOU'LL NEED:
Breast pads - I tried the Lansinoh and the Medela and liked both equally.
Lansinoh nipple cream - great for sore nipples and it is OK to leave this on for nursings (easiest way to get it off your hands is a dry tissue .)
Milk storage bags - definitely buy the Lansinoh bags. I bought another brand and all of my frozen milk went bad!
This is tricky because you don't know how big your breasts will be once your milk comes in. You can try and buy one or two before you give birth. It is generally safe to go up one size from your pregnancy breasts. I had a very hard time finding a bra that fits because I have very large cup size and relatively smaller around the bust. I didn't like any of the bras that looked like traditional bars. I had luck with the Seamless Nursing Sleep Bra by Medela at Mimi Maternity. It comes in S, M, L, XL and it is very comfortable for every day. I didn't know it was a sleep bra until I looked it up for this web site! I then bought two bras at Motherhood, one with underwire and one without. These were very uncomfortable because I had such nursing issues (very sensitive breasts inside and out), but they were fine for going out.
Now, I can't stress enough how much I love the sleep bras at Motherhood Maternity. At the time that I purchased them, they were $11. If you are apprehensive about buying 'cup size' bras, just buy 2 of these sleep bras and wear them day and night when you first come home. They are so soft and comfy and they have decent support for day and night. I bought one in white and one in black, but would have preferred two whites.
And once my breasts regulated and went closer to their normal size, I was able to wear this great Wacoal bra that is a soft lace with no under wire. It is comfy because there is no under wire, and makes it easy to access for feedings.
BUYING A PUMP:
Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or you work full time, buy a high-end, professional grade pump. This was a piece of advice a friend game me and I thought, nah, I am going to be at home or bring baby to work, so I can get a cheapy. I thought that going cheaper just meant that it might take a little longer for the milk to come out. Well, it can take A LOT longer but it can also be harder to get the milk out. And that is the last stress you need!
I suggest the Medela Pump In Style or the Ameda Purely Yours. The Medela is the most mainstream and well-known because it is sold in stores like Babies R Us.
The Ameda is ranked as a tie in Baby Bargains, but it is harder to find. It is about $50 cheaper, so that is why I sought it out. I bought it online at www.babycatalog.com and I have been very happy with it. It actually came damaged and the manufacturer sent me a new which I received within two days of calling.
The only downside I can see with the Ameda is that the refrigerator storage bottles only hold 4 ounces, but the Medela bottles hold 6 ounces. Once I started feeding baby 6 ounces, I had to pump 3 ounces in two bottles or do 2 and 4 ounce bottles.
I also was told by friends to buy the pump before baby was born. But I didn't listen. I honestly thought that I might not need it - that I would be such the Mother Earth that I would only nurse. WELL, once I started nursing, 8 times every 24 hours, and I had sooo many issues with it, I was DYING to pump at least one bottle a day so my husband could give me a break. SO, buy it ahead of time, unless you are really on the fence about nursing and think you might not want to do it at all - which is AOK too!