March 12, 2014 04:00 PM

Courtesy Belly Armor

Breastfeeding may just be the most unnatural natural thing a new mother can do.

While the rewards are ultimately great, it’s far from easy in the beginning. There’s a steep learning curve with plenty of stumbling blocks along the way, and your little partner in the journey is pretty darn demanding.

And for those who return to work outside the home and want to continue nursing, there’s a whole new set of complicating factors.

Luckily, there are plenty of products out there to help moms along. Is it possible to breastfeed without such accessories? Of course.

But adding a few key pieces to your arsenal only makes things easier. And what new mom doesn’t like easy?

Check out my top picks below:

Belly Armor Radiation Protection Cover, $49

There’s nothing like having a baby to make you question the safety of your everyday activities. Since the jury is still out as to just how safe exposure to everyday radiation really is, I’m airing on the side of caution with my little one.

This attractive, functional nursing cover serves double duty with its special liner fabric that shields radiation from cell phones, laptops and other devices. For Gisele, this may be multitasking on set, but for me, it means feeding my kiddo while using my laptop. And this cover makes me feel more secure about doing so.

Courtesy Bravado Designs

Bravado Body Silk seamless nursing bra, $49

Simply the most comfortable clip-down nursing bra around. It’s got removable foam cups and tons of hooks to accommodate your changing postpartum shape

Courtesy Lansinoh

Lansinoh disposable nursing pads, $9 for 60

Yep, there are going to be leaks. Of all the pads I’ve tried, disposable and reusable, these are my favorite. They’re soft and absorbent, stay firmly in place, and they can’t be seen through clothing.

Courtesy Total Baby

Total Baby app, $5

Many moms like to track their baby’s feedings when they get home from the hospital … or, in my case, for the first several months of the baby’s life! But it’s harder than you’d think to keep track of how long your little one nurses and which side you started on last.

This app keeps track of all of that, plus diaper changes, naps and more. A total sanity-saver and the best five bucks I spent on my newborn.

Courtesy Medela

Medela Pump in Style Advanced, $270

I absolutely love this pump — and I never thought I’d use “love” and “pump” in the same sentence. There’s a reason this is the one that everyone (lactation consultants included) seems to recommend. Compared to other double electric pumps I’ve tried, the “PISA” gives me more ounces in less time.

It’s all contained in a plain black tote back for discreet portability between home and office. The shields are comfortable, the suction is top-notch for a retail pump, and it even comes with a handy cooler bag and custom ice pack for keeping the four included bottles cold for up to 10 hours.

Courtesy Tommy Tippee

Tommee Tippee bottles, $21 for three 9oz. bottles

Babies are quite particular when it comes to bottle preferences, but mine took right away to the unique shape of Tommee Tippee, and many other breastfed babies do, too.

Uniquely designed to look and feel most like the real thing, these bottles have been a smashing success for us from the start. Sticking with the slowest flow (lactation consultant-recommended) makes alternating between bottle and breast a breeze.

Courtesy Au Lait

Au Lait seamless lounge nursing bra, $30

A simpler, incredibly soft option, this clip-free, hook-free bra perfect is for wearing to sleep during those early days, and transitions easily to daytime wear—even if you don’t change for a few days and nights!

Courtesy Earth Mama Angel Baby

Earth Mama Angel Baby Booby Tubes, $20

Aches and pains are par for the course when nursing is new, and these all-natural (organic cotton filled with flax seed) bra inserts serve two pain-relieving purposes: they can be frozen to help reduce swelling between feedings or heated to encourage milk flow and prevent clogged ducts.

Courtesy Simples Wishes

Simple Wishes Hands-Free Pumping Bra, $39

This is a real game-changer if you want to continue working (or typing, or talking on the phone, or doing anything else that requires two hands) while pumping.

What sets it apart from its competition is the construction of the openings. It holds the bottles firmly in place while providing you with some cover as well.

Courtesy Japanese Weekend

Japanese Weekend D&A faux wrap dress, $102

Japanese Weekend’s D&A line stands for during and after pregnancy, and they do a nice job of flattering both of those figures.

With luxe material that can be dressed up or down, and easy access for nursing or pumping at work, this is a great way to look professional without having to strip down in the office pumping room.

Courtesy Pumpin' Pal

Pumpin’ Pal Super Shields, $37

For moms who find standard flanges to be uncomfortable or ill-fitting, the Pumpin’ Pal shields provide much-needed comfort.

Designed to mimic the way a baby nurses, they also eliminate constriction of milk ducts and promote better flow, according to the manufacturer.

Courtesy Milkscreen

Milkscreen, $10 for 5 strips

Simply put, this provides peace of mind. While it’s probably perfectly safe to have one drink (especially right after nursing or pumping), it’s nice to know for sure whether any alcohol is in your milk before feeding.

These easy-to-read strips turn positive if even a small amount is present.

Courtesy Chewbeads

Chewbeads necklace, $29.50 – $36.50

There comes a time in every nursing relationship that the baby is no longer happy to sit quietly while having lunch. Those rogue hands just to love to scratch, explore and even snap bra straps.

Wear a necklace like this one and it gives baby something to do with those busy hands. Makes a great teething toy (it’s 100 percent silicone) as well.

Courtesy Boob Design

Boob Design B-Warmer nursing hoodie, $99

When I’m not working, I’m pretty much living in this hoodie. Comfy, flattering, and easy to feed my little one with discretion, it’s come in quite handy when I’ve been brave enough to nurse in public.

Courtesy Medela

Medela Harmony, $40

For those times that a double electric pump isn’t necessary (to take the edge off engorgement before nursing in the early days) or convenient (in a car, on a plane, or even in a bathroom stall in a pinch), this is a great little investment.

Simple and comfortable to use, it’s come in handy for me more times than I can count.

–Rennie Dyball

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