Best Nursing Pillows, Bras and More 2021
Best Nursing Pillow, Bra and More 2021
Last Updated: Best Nursing Pillows, Bras and More 2021. After researching and reviewing ten different nursing pillows, we pick the My Brest Friend pillow ($34.95) as the Best Nursing Pillow. Below, we also present our top pick for Best Nursing Bra, Nursing Pads, Nipple Cream, Nipple Shields and Gel Packs for soothing painful breasts or stimulating milk production. Read on for all you need to comfortably nurse your baby.
When it comes to nursing pillows, the key word is support—The My Brest Friend (MBF) nursing pillow offers excellent support for both mom and baby, better than any other pillow we tested. The cushion is firm foam with support for arm and elbow. My Brest Friend has a padded, wrap around waist belt with slightly elevated backrest; “silent release” strap; removable, washable cover; firm foam cushion and convenient attached pocket.
MBF makes three versions of the pillow: the Original has a 100% cotton cover, the Deluxe has a “plush” fleece fabric and the Organic has an organic cotton cover. The company notes the Deluxe “slipcover stays fresh through dozens of washes” . . . which seems like an odd claim. Anyway, the Original and Deluxe versions come in a variety of patterns and solid colors. Additional covers are available for purchase (Original; Deluxe).
My Brest Friend has many fans among our readers for a variety of reasons. Moms tell us they like the back support, and lactation consultants note the pillow encourages better posture. The strap and buckle mean you can stand up or adjust the pillow position for different holds (football, cross cradle).
Some versions of the MBF pillow have two “bumps” to help position baby’s head closer to the breast. While many parents found these useful, some thought they got in the way. (One mom recommended turning the pillow over if you don’t like the bumps–the underside is completely flat.)
So what’s not to like about the MBF? The biggest complaint: the waist strap didn’t fit everyone and some thought it was uncomfortable (MBF recommends their Twins Plus Deluxe Nursing Pillow for curvy moms). Despite a few drawbacks, we recommend the My Brest Friend nursing pillow as our top pick for Best Nursing Pillow 2021. Best Nursing Pillow, Bra and More
Boppy has been making pillows for babies and moms since 1989. The original version was intended as a support pillow for babies when they weren’t being held. Now they’ve expanded its uses to include tummy time for babies and nursing support. The Boppy itself is filled with polyester fiberfill and upholstered in a poly/cotton blend fabric (90% poly, 10% cotton). We’ll talk about slip cover options for the Boppy below.
The Boppy Nursing Pillow and Positioner comes in three flavors: the Bare Naked, Classic and Luxe. All three designs are made in the classic curved design with an opening at one end. The Bare Naked comes without a slip cover (you can purchase one separately) and sells for $29.84.
The Classic design is the same as the Bare Naked except it comes with a printed slip cover in ten different patterns. The covers are a polyester/cotton blend that zips off for cleaning. Price: . The Luxe comes with a “minky” slip cover (like a soft velour on top and regular poly/cotton underneath) and runs $49.99.
All three versions of the Boppy pillow are machine washable and the covers are as well. Just be sure to remove the cover before washing the pillow. Additional covers are available starting at ten bucks for a classic cover, more for the organic version or luxe version. And if you’re worried your baby might have a leaky diaper on occasion, Boppy sells a water resistant cover that goes under a regular slip cover.
What do parents think about the Boppy? It has a very devoted following among our readers who note it worked well for nursing but then could also be used to support baby during tummy time and eventually for sitting up. However, long time fans are unenthusiastic about the quality of the slip covers. And while most said the Boppy fit fine and helped support baby during nursing, a minority of moms felt it was too small to stay in place comfortably.
We think the Boppy is an acceptable alternative to the My Brest Friend pillow if you are looking for a pillow that has other potential uses. It’s also smaller and more compact than MBF and comes in a wider variety of colors. You can toss the whole thing into the washing machine, so that’s a plus too.
FYI: Boppy also makes a nursing pillow called the Best Latch that straps around your waist similar to the My Brest Friend. It has two different surfaces: one firm, one soft. It is thicker than the Boppy and bulkier, which made it harder for some moms to use in our testing. If this style appeals to you, we recommend the My Brest Friend instead.
Best Nursing Pillow, Bra, Nipple Cream, Nipple Shields
Our top pick for best nursing pillow for twins is the My Brest Friend Twins Nursing Pillow. Priced at $59.14, it offers enough room to nurse two babies at a time. Like the regular version of My Brest Friend (MBF), the Twin Plus has a washable pillow cover, adjustable back support, waist belt and accessory pocket. The company also recommends the Twins Plus for curvy moms.
While most moms liked the Twins pillow in our testing, there were complaints that the cover was poorly made and the zipper broke. Also: this pillow is very large–some moms couldn’t get a tight fit with the belt.
These complaints aside, for nursing your twins at the same time, we found this pillow works well—at least when babies are small and not very active. Once they get bigger and more mobile, it can be tough to keep them on the pillow.
Curvy moms told us the My Brest Friend Twins Nursing Pillow definitely fits better than the regular MBF pillow. Best Nursing Pillow, Bra, Nipple Cream, Nipple Shields
When it comes to the best nursing bras, the name of the game is quick access. Trust us, when baby is wailing, there is a difference between three seconds and six seconds!
After testing seven different options, our recommendation for the best nursing bra is Bravado! Designs Maternity and Nursing Bra.
Bravado! has been making excellent quality nursing bras for over 20 years. We like the soft fabric, wireless and seamless design, and easy to release clip. Yep, you can get this bra unhooked for baby in a split second! Included with their bras, Bravado! has foam inserts to calm the “headlight” effect and handle mini leaks. For bigger leaks, you might want a more substantial pad. Check below for recommendations.
Bravado also makes a great bra for those with large breasts up to a size M. The Essential Embrace bra (costs a bit more than the regular version). We like its soft cotton lining and smooth exterior microfiber fabric. It comes with a free bra extender and Bra Conversion Kit, so you can transform it into a regular, non-nursing bra later. Some readers noted that the sizing was a bit on the small size for this bra, so consider ordering it in two sizes if you want to be cautious.
If you’re on a tight budget and looking for a less expensive option for a nursing bra, we recommend HOFISH Nursing Maternity Bralettes ($29.99). This is quite a deal. Included in the price are foam pads, three bra clips (to turn it into a sport style bra) and three bra extenders. Yes, that is a good deal, but here are the trade-offs: the quality is only average say our testers . . . and the foam cups were annoying and tend to fall apart after a few washings, according to our tests.
Hands-Free Pumping Bra
Hands-Free pumping means just what it says: you can literally pump breast milk without holding the bottles in your hands. Yeah, it sounds obvious, but until a few years ago, there were no hands-free pumping bras. The only option was to sit at a table while nursing and hold the pumping flange/bottles with your hands. You couldn’t hug your toddler or eat a snack. And your arms got tired or you might find yourself slumping–all bad things for expressing milk.
Our top pick for best hands free pumping is the Simple Wishes Hands Free Breastpump Bra. Designed like a bustier, this cotton/spandex bra closes with a velcro back panel that can be adjusted up to 10″. To hold in the flanges of your favorite breast pump (it works with Medela, Avent, Lansinoh and Spectra pumps), the Simple Wishes uses four overlapping layers of fabric to keep your flange/bottles attached while you pump.
While we came across the occasional complaint that the Simple Wishes was not very durable, most moms in our testing like the soft fabric and customizable fit. Bottom line: we recommend the Simple Wishes Hands Free Breastpump Bra.
Best Nursing Pillow, Bra, Nipple Cream, Nipple Shields
There are two options with nursing pads: disposable and reusable. Common sense tells you that reusable breast pads make the most economical sense, particularly if you plan to have more children. Still, if you aren’t a big leaker, don’t plan to breast feed for long or just need something quick and easy when you’re on the go, disposables are handy.
What’s the secret to the Lansinoh disposables nursing pads? The same type of super absorbent polymer that makes your baby’s diapers so absorbent. That makes them super thin too so you aren’t embarrassed by telltale “bulls-eyes” in your bra.
Moms also love the individually wrapped pads because they can just grab a couple and throw them in the diaper bag on the way out of the house. Interestingly, moms were divided on whether they like contoured or flat pads or those with adhesive strips or without—you may have to sample a few varieties to see what works best for you.
If you prefer reusable, washable pads, Avent is a good bet. Another pad recommended by a reader is LilyPadz made from silicone; they are streamlined and reusable. They can be worn with or without a bra but they cost substantially more than other pads.
So how many nursing pads will you need? With disposable pads, buy the smaller package—don’t buy the Costco-sized box. You may not need that many or may not like the brand. As for reusable pads, we recommend starting with three pair. That gives you one to wear, one to wash and an extra just in case. Best Nursing Pillow, Bra, Nipple Cream, Nipple Shields
Cracked nipples from nursing or pumping or both? We feel your pain. So let’s talk relief.
Surprisingly, you don’t have to buy a separate cream to heal cracked nipples. Lactation consultants recommend moms rub sore nipples with their own expressed breast milk. And it works! But (there’s always a but), some moms tell us they want a moisturizing product or don’t feel breast milk is helping.
In that case, we recommend Motherlove Nipple Cream (pictured above) for sore nipples. Motherlove is certified by the USDA as organic and includes olive oil, beeswax, shea butter, marshmallow root, and calendula flower. There is no lanolin or petroleum products in Motherlove. Our testers loved the texture: smooth, jelly-like—not sticky or too thick.
Motherlove does rub off on clothes and stain, so our readers recommend using a nursing pad over nipples to avoid staining. A handful of our testers didn’t care for the scent of the product and some moms have claimed their babies are allergic to the cream (caused a red rash around their child’s mouth)—so it might be worth doing a small test at first. Finally, some parents complained that it was rather expensive.
Lanolin is another option to consider for cracked nipples. Moms seem to be less than enthusiastic about lanolin because it’s expensive, can be allergenic and is often difficult to apply (too thick and sticky). We did find a great source for an affordable lanolin-based ointment: Corona Multi-Purpose Ointment (that’s a mere $1.04 per ounce!). Yes, it is designed for horses—but it works great for humans as well, say our readers!
Best Nursing Pillow, Bra, Nipple Cream, Nipple Shields
Sometimes referred to as a breast shell, a nipple shield is a piece of thin plastic placed over mom’s nipple and surrounding tissue (areola). It typically has four holes in it that allows breast milk to pass to your baby. You would use a nipple shield if you have sore, cracked and/or bleeding nipples.
Nipple shields are a temporary solution that should allow your nipples to avoid further damage and give you time to heal. Shields can also be used to help women who have flat or inverted nipples and are experiencing difficulties nursing.
Our top recommended nipple shield is Medela’s Contact Nipple Shield. It comes in small, medium or large sizes. We like this type of nipple shield because it has a cutout that allows more skin to skin contact between mom and baby. Medela also makes a traditional nipple shield that is completely round without a cut out. See in picture #2 below.
Best Nursing Pillow, Bra, Nipple Cream, Nipple Shields
What to do when engorgement sets in? Your significant other may be impressed with the size and scope of your problem, but it’s darned uncomfortable. So what’s a girl to do? Grab an ice pack, which also can help with sore nipples.
But wait—what if you have trouble with let down, a plugged duct or mastitis (breast infection)? A warm compress can help with these issues.
When we went looking for our top recommendation for a gel pack, we wanted to find one that could be frozen and warmed–the ultimate soother for any situation. We also wanted a a pack that was comfortable, preferably with a circular shape to lay easily on a breast. Our top pick for best gel pack for the nursing mom is Lansinoh’s Thera-Pearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy pack.
The Lansinoh’s Thera-Pearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy pack comes with two gel packs and two covers that snap on over the packs. You can put them in the microwave to warm them up or store them in the refrigerator or freezer. The unique round shape with the opening allows you to use the pack (when warmed) around the flange on your breast pump to stimulate let down.
One caution: parents told us it’s easy to explode your gel pack in the microwave, so be sure to follow directions carefully. We doubt you want to be cleaning goo off the inside of your microwave.
Which brings us to a complaint about the Thera-Pearl packs: some of our testers were disappointed that the packs didn’t stay warm long enough to be helpful (by contrast, an electric heating pad might be more effective, despite being bulky to use).
As for the cool function, most of our testers said the Lansinoh’s Thera-Pearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy pack were excellent frozen. Overall, we like the Thera-Pearl packs.
Other cheaper options to consider: in a pinch you can grab a bag of frozen veggies from the freezer. Clean, chilled and crushed cabbage leaves can also relieve pain. (Our resident lactation consultant notes you should change the wilted leaves every 15 minutes for 45 minutes, and repeat three times daily. Thanks to Linda Hill, RN.) Still another trick to consider if you’re trying to encourage let down is a hot shower plus breast massage. Check with your lactation consultant or pediatrician for more tricks. Best Nursing Pillow, Bra, Nipple Cream, Nipple Shields
Why Trust Us
We’ve been rating and reviewing baby products since 1994. In addition to hands on inspections, we have interviewed and surveyed parents.
We look to our reader feedback to give us a real world perspective on baby products—our message boards have over 100,000 (!) threads. We also evaluate consumer reviews posted on sites like Amazon. Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples for contests, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Baby Bargains is your independent and unbiased source for expert baby gear reviews. We’ve been writing and reviewing baby gear since 1994. Yes, that long! Learn more about our work and how to support our site.
How we picked a winner
We evaluate baby products like nursing pillows and breastfeeding products like nipple shields and creams with hands on inspections, checking fabric quality, durability and comfort for both mom and baby. We also gather significant research, checking ingredients in products like nipple cream for quality and safety.
Besides interviewing parents, we also frequently talk with pediatricians and lactation consultants, the folks on the front lines. They see what products work and which don’t. Our secret sauce is our readers. They share their opinions on products through interviews, our vast message boards and surveys. We synthesize all this information to create our recommendations of best nursing products.
7 Things No One Tells You About Buying Nursing Products!
1. You may not need a specialized nursing pillow.
If you are short-waisted or petite, a regular pillow (like above) may be all the lift you need. Some folks also find nursing pillows constricting or too stiff and prefer softer surfaces like a regular pillow. The key is to make sure you aren’t slumping forward when nursing–this can cause back pain.
2. If you have twins, you can nurse them together in tandem.
A twins pillow may be just the ticket to do this (our top pick is the My Brest Friend Twins Nursing Pillow). You’ll still need someone to assist you with settling both babies on the pillow but if you are determined, it’s possible. If you do nurse in tandem, make sure you switch sides every time you nurse.
3. The keys to a great nursing bra are comfort and access.
Stay away from underwires (they can cause plugged ducts and lead to mastitis). Look for soft fabrics and ample support. Try them on and practice unlatching the cups from the straps. Is it easy to do it one handed? How about reattaching them–is that easy too?
4. Most moms prefer disposable nursing pads.
We surveyed over 1000 of our readers and found disposable nursing pads were by far the favorite over reusable pads. Moms told us they liked “grab ‘n go” and sanitary aspects of individually wrapped disposable nursing pads.
5. Commercial nipple creams aren’t the only option for sore, cracked and dry nipples.
Moms tell us they have been successful using olive oil or coconut oil to moisturize their nipples. Check with your doctor or lactation consultant first before trying any home remedy, however!
6. If you have inverted nipples, consider wearing nipple shields during your pregnancy.
Once you give birth, you can use a breast pump to help bring our your nipples. And avoid baby bottles and pacifiers with newborns–they’ll prefer these artificial nipples to your real ones since they are easier to latch on to.
7. Breastfeeding is not always easy-peasy.
Please don’t give up. You’ll be tired, you’ll be frustrated, your baby won’t necessarily latch on like a pro. But you have lots of help to rely on. Even before you leave the hospital, you can pick the brains and experience of the nurses–do it! Get the number of a lactation consultant. Call your pediatrician. Call a friend.
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