All in all, breastfeeding is free. The only thing you have to have is breasts (I would suppose one would say breasts that work since some, unfortunately, don't). However, breastfeeding can be a lot of work and there are a number of tools that can make it a whole lot easier for the breastfeeding mom.

Nursing bras.
If you can't afford to spend a ton of money on tools for breastfeeding, consider the nursing bra as one of the top most useful pieces of equipment that you can buy. The nursing bra provides support while you are feeding and makes it easier to feed the baby because the each cup of the bra can be lowered without removing any other part to expose the breast and feed the baby. Getting a pair is usually enough since the baby will probably make you do a fair amount of laundry anyhow and you can throw it in the wash each night.

  • Tip: eBay can be a great place to buy nursing bras though you may need to look around a bit to find the right size and style to meet your needs.
  • Warning: Nursing bras come in a wide range of styles and many of them are under wire bras. While under wire bras can and often do provide more support, it isn't recommended that you wear any sort of under wire bra while nursing.

Nursing tops.
Another tool that can make life loads easier is nursing tops. These actually come in a wide variety of styles, colors, patterns, materials, and even price ranges. Having a couple makes it possible to at least wear them on days you are going out. That way breast feeding in public (should you decide to do it) is easier.

  • Tip: Shop around. Not very many local shops have things and if they do chances are they are specialty shops (mommy and baby shops) that charge a lot more. Check out Old Navy online and you can likely find a deal (I paid $10 a top and $7 shipping and handling no matter how many tops I bought).
  • Warning: Take a close look at how the top works and how your breast is exposed. Some work better for different sizes and shapes, as well as for what position you usually hold your baby in. Think about how it will work for the two of you before you buy it.
  • Thoughts: You can buy an entire nursing wardrobe that includes a huge variety of dresses as well as tops. You may want to consider a few items for each type of activity that you participate it, but also be aware of how much you spend on the clothing for how long you will likely breastfeed. For example, if you are one who is planning on breastfeeding for six months you should spend less on clothing then if you will be breastfeeding for two or three years.

Nursing pillow.
Nursing pillows can make nursing a lot easier. They support the baby and allow the body to relax in a much more comfortable positions. There are actually quite a few different options out there. However, the Boppy is one of the highest reviewed nursing pillows. While I haven't tried other nursing pillows, the Boppy is a wonderful tool. To find out more check out the article The Boppy Nursing Pillow.

  • Tip: Most nursing pillows come as is and are difficult to wash. The Boppy can come this way or it can come as a "Bare Naked Boppy" which is in the same material as regular pillows and you can purchase a huge variety of covers for it. This lets you take the cover off and wash it as needed. This is often worth the few dollars extra!

Even a breastfeeding mom who doesn't spend a lot of time away from her baby can take advantage of having a pump for occasional use. There are a wide range of options available to you and you can find one that will meet your needs. See Choosing a Breast Pump That Meets Your Needs for additional information.

  • Tip: You shouldn't ever buy a used pump because of sanitary issues. However, you can get a wide range and variety of breast pumps that have never been used on eBay. Many of these options are much cheaper then in other locations.

In addition to a pump you will need containers or plastic bags specifically made for the storage of breast milk, bottles that are designed to aid in the switch between bottle and breast, and slow flow nipples (breastfed babies should always use slow flow nipples to help prevent nipple confusion).

Nursing pads.
There is no doubt about it, many (if not most) breastfeeding mothers leak (at least occasionally). Because of this nursing pads or breast pads can be a great help in keeping yourself dry and comfortable as well as protecting your clothes. You can get them in disposable types or in washable ones.

  • Thoughts: Washable ones can save money and often feel nice against the breast, but there are times when you have dirtied all your washable ones and are left without anything to wear. It is at these times that having a box of disposable ones can be really helpful.

Lanolin is actually a substance that sheep produce to protect their skin from the tightness of the wool. It is rather greasy and really good for the skin. It can be rubbed on your nipples providing relief from soreness and isn't bad for the baby. In fact, you don't even need to wash it off before feeding the baby.

  • Warning: Lanolin is a safe product, but there are other products out there that aren't safe. Make sure you choose a product that is 100% lanolin (such as Lansinoh).

Cover up.
There are a few options when it comes to covering yourself for more discreet public nursing. One is to simply use a blanket, but this can be hard to hold especially as the baby grows and tries to pull it away. They make a wide range of cover ups that have a strap that goes around the neck to provide hands free (safe from falling or being pulled down) protection.

  • Tip: These can get rather expensive, if you have sewing skills you will save a lot of money by making your own. It just needs to be much like a blanket and have something to hold it around your neck.

There are a few slings that are designed to carry your baby in and they can even be used for feeding your baby. This can make a hands free feeding experience and it can also make it a little more discreet.

  • Warning: Not all mothers and babies can get comfortable in the sling and make it through breastfeeding sessions.

These are definitely not things you have to have in order to breastfeed, however they can make your life a lot easier. You may want to consider your must have list based on how long you plan to breastfeed. Try out a few things and add to your breastfeeding tool box as needed. Tools can definitely make life easier.