The Breastfeeding Buyer's Guide
Breastfeeding is free. All you need to get started is one breast and a baby. There are plenty of websites and advertisements that will tell you differently. After all, ours is a capitalist society, someone has to make money.
There are many websites aimed at mothers that both sell products and offer advice. A critical look at the advice reveals a cleverly disguised push to buy the sites products. Some sites offer recommendations of things to buy before the birth in order to succeed in breastfeeding when the time comes. For instance the website of a lesser known breast pump manufactures features a "Breastfeeding Buyers List," in which breast pumps appear high on the list with a misleading claim about the vital role of breast pumps in the "breastfeeding process." If your baby is able to breastfeed, she is the pump that you need.
What You Really Need to Breastfeed Successfully
Besides the baby and the breast the only thing that most mothers need is knowledge. Though breastfeeding is instinctual for babies and in a large part for mothers, it is worthwhile to learn about breastfeeding during the pregnancy and how to get off to the best start. Factual, up to date information can be found for free on the web and in the library. After the birth, breastfeeding women need self-confidence to listen to their inner voices, trust in their bodies, trust in their babies' abilities and a supportive environment. These are not things that you buy on a website or in a store.
In certain circumstances you may need to pay someone or buy something. If you are having difficulties breastfeeding, a meeting with a professional lactation consultant is well worth the money. Your insurance may reimburse you. If you need to return to work or school in your babies first 6 months, you may need to rent or buy a high quality breast pump. A good nursing bra is helpful though some of us just pull up our regular bras and many women need pads in the early weeks because of leaking. Reusable washable pads will save you money.
The Not To Buy List
A special pillow designed for breastfeeding. If you like to nurse with pillows, take one off of your bed or from the couch. Play with what you have at home to find what works for you.
A special chair for breastfeeding. You probably have a chair, bed and couch at home. Try them all and see where you are comfortable. You don't have to have a special chair for breastfeeding.
Pills, teas, and tinctures for making more milk or "better" milk. Though some of the products for increasing milk supply actually do help, many don't. If you are really having a problem with milk supply consult with a breastfeeding expert. She can tell you what will really help. Besides that no one needs a pill to make her milk better, your milk is just what your baby needs, naturally.
Silicone nipples, breast shields and feeding devices. These specialty devices are needed in specific cases only and should be used with professional guidance.