Finding out that there is a baby on the way can be some really exciting news for the new mom to be as well as her family. It can also be a time for a lot of questions to arise, most of which aren't necessarily practical.
Questions like: Will it be a boy or a girl? What will we name the new baby? Do we have enough room? Should I have taken that promotion? What if the baby doesn't like the dog? What if the dog tries to bite the baby? Will I breastfeed or formula feed?
But if the decision to breastfeed is one that a new mom finally lands on, there are some key items that moms to be should definitely buy, and others that are more for the bells and whistles of new motherhood. When I chose to breastfeed I asked the only other two mothers I knew had breastfed successfully for advice, and neither of them was nursing at a time when half of what is available on the market now even existed.
Not so helpful, right? So I did what savvy new mom in the 21st century would do, I took to the internet, joined mom groups, and of course asked a lactation specialist. I've compiled a list based on my findings and my own personal experiences, though other women's experiences may vary, I must say this list is pretty compelling. Want to know what 10 items are absolutely necessary for breastfeeding the new baby and which ones are just a waste? Read on savvy mom.
15 Go The Electric Route
Picture this: two days post emergency cesarean section, a screaming newborn who will not latch no matter how much I pleaded, a migraine the size of Mount Everest and pain all over to match. Not awesome.
Luckily, I was finally able to figure out how to use my electric pump in order to get enough colostrum (that's the thick, high protein, ultra-nutritious milk that comes out when your newborn is just born) to feed my fussy baby.
Later on, after coming back from the hospital and seeing a lactation consultant for a few pointers on developing a healthy latch, it was discovered that my newborn had what is known as a tongue tie, or connective tissue attaching the tip of the bottom of his tongue to the base of his mouth. This led to suckling issues making his ability to latch that much harder.
My lactation consultants suggestion?
Give him the bottle and a pacifier so he develops a better suckle.
Since I was still unwilling to substitute with formula my good ol' electric pump came in handy again. I pumped enough milk daily to feed my little one until I felt more confident he could latch and eat enough to sustain himself.
When it comes to choosing an electric pump there are several on the market and many may even be available through your insurance. Medela, Spectra, Lansinoh, and Ameda are all great options, just to name a few. Depending on your lifestyle finding an electric pump can be a lifesaver, literally. And for you savvy working moms, pumping after maternity leave allows your little one to still get your nutrients while you're on the go.
14 Bagging It To Go
Milk storage bags kick sandwich and freezer bags butt. They are made to store liquid. In short, they're awesome, here's why: I was working on building up a stock and filling up my freezer for my first extended work trip without my little one.
Before that, I had pumped directly into bottles to make it easier for whoever was watching him at the time. But when it came down to an extended stay versus just a few hours, I realized freezer storage space is limited and also that dating everything, as to keep track of when my milk would spoil, was super important, I turned to milk storage bags.
Like I said, they're awesome. You can write the amount of milk, time and date it was pumped, and even the name of your little one if the milk is traveling to a daycare all on the front of the bag. There are a few options of milk storage bags, the most well known are Milkies, Lansinoh, and Medela. They vary in price based on the quantity of milk bags you want to purchase.
13 Reusable Pads For The Girls
Bamboo, microfiber, cotton, or that weird absorbent gel material, whether you make your own or buy them online, reusable nursing pads are a lifesaver when breastfeeding. Deciding to breastfeed is half the battle, or so you think. During the first two to five days after your baby is born breast engorgement is almost inevitable, and it is a normal process in lactation. But once the engorgement finally goes away then the leaking begins. Some women have more issues with leaking than others.
One mom, LinkRN, on Reddit shared: "My breasts are so engorged/swollen and nothing seems to be relieving it. When baby nurses, they get softer from the middle down to my areola, but the top fourth and around to my armpit stays rock hard. It's red and itchy and hard underneath and the skin is stretched. I can't seem to get it to empty by nursing or hand expressing. Is that normal?"
If you suffer from engorgement standing in a hot shower can be so relieving, but once the milk gets flowing it can be hard to stop. Especially if your little one is just starting to regulate your supply instead of drinking everything at one time. If you've got a hot date or are just going to the grocery store reusable nursing pads can help with keeping the news that you're nursing, under wraps. Not everyone needs to see that it's time to latch your baby.
12 A Shield To Protect You
Nipple shields can be a great band-aid like solutions for any mom who has inverted nipples, nipples that do not protrude enough for their baby to latch comfortably, nipple pain, or just anyone with a picky baby.
These silicone shields sit on top of the areola and nipple when feeding the baby; they have holes on the top that allow milk to pass while providing baby with enough nipple cover to allow for an easy latch. I may have only used a nipple shield once or twice since
they are more of a short-term solution for latching issues and other breastfeeding problems, but I was really glad I had them when I needed them.
Also, since the shields are reusable one does not need to worry about purchasing a bunch or running out of any shields.
One mom said in her nipple shield review, "I know this seems like such an insignificant buy, but it was one of the most important items when my son was born. I was bound and determined to make breastfeeding work no matter what. 2 weeks in and I was ready to quit the pain was so bad. Not only were my nipples cracked, bleeding, and sore, but I could barely give my baby more than 30 seconds after he latched before I had to take him off because it hurt so badly. So each nursing session was a disaster and frustrating for both of us. I finally pulled out the nipple shields and was able to sit through a whole feeding without either of us crying. The shields allowed my nipples to heal while still allowing me to nurse."
Yeah, they're that good.
11 Get Bottles Even If Nursing
It's pretty hard to feed a baby expressed breast milk without a bottle, or for the baby to go anywhere without his breastfeeding mother for that matter. I said before I gave birth that I wanted to exclusively breastfeed, on demand, all the time so I could bond with my baby or something.
I'm still not sure what I was thinking.
In addition to all of the complications that arose in the hospital and post with my child's latch, week two of sleep deprivation made me so glad I got bottles as a baby shower gift so I could have someone else take over feeding my hungry little one at 4 am.
For me, bottles are an absolute MUST even for our breastfeeding journey. For newborns, any bottles with slow flow nipples are recommended as they most resemble the flow from moms breast. This makes it easier for newborns to not develop nipple confusion (getting frustrated or confused when moms nipple isn't letting out as much milk as quickly as the one on the bottle) or a nipple preference (rejecting the breast over preference for the bottle), both of these things can lead to a very difficult breastfeeding journey.
10 Investing In A Nursing Cami
We have all heard of a nursing bra, which can also be convenient, but in my experience only a quarter of as convenient, helpful, useful, and awesome as a nursing camisole. When you get tired of the hospital gowns or even after you get home from your postpartum hospital stay throwing on a nursing camisole can feel life-changing.
Even this mom, HappyRoobee, shared: "I'm currently in love with naked tanks (nakedtanks.com). I mostly just lift my shirt up, nurse and I didn't like having a bare, cold belly. These solved that problem."
Get this, they will fit your crazy sized chest and expand over your holy-cow-there's-no-longer-a-baby-in-there, belly.
But also, nursing camisoles are perfect for pop in visitors whom you were not expecting while you're sitting on the couch nursing the baby. Many of the camisoles operate the same as the bras; they come equipped with hooks and eyes at the straps allowing moms to detach one side while still remaining covered up on the other side, only now you don't need to wear anything else on top. Pure magic.
9 ... And A Whole Wardrobe Too
After nine months of watching your body transform to support your growing baby I bet you're pumped to get back into those dresses and turtlenecks you wore before you found out you were pregnant am I right? Well if you've decided you want to breastfeed, you may not want to pull those items out just yet. Nursing requires easy access to your chest and clothes like turtlenecks and crew neck mini dresses just aren't conducive to feeding your baby, unless flashing everyone or removing your shirt every few hours is your thing. No? Didn't think so.
Try opting for button-down shirts, nursing camisoles with a cardigan, plunging v-neck t-shirts, blazers with cute nursing camisoles, big sweaters, or open side muscle tank tops with comfortable bras underneath.
Don't have any of these? Despite you just buying new clothes for maternity its time for new clothes, again. Some lines like Asos, Milk, and Seraphine all have a pretty good variety of nursing friendly clothing. Think of it as a much-needed mom gift after delivery. You'll be glad you did.
Kurlysoo shared her experience on Reddit: "I wear anything/everything I find that I like. For dresses, I pay particular attention to the neckline, to make sure it's big enough to pull down and not break threads or tear seams. Otherwise, v neck shirts with a tank underneath work great (you can either pull up the top shirt and down the bottom shirt, or just pull your boob out the top, LOVE a v neck) or anything button down works great, too. Layering is key for me, so that even if I have to pull up the top layer of clothing, I'll always have something covering my belly, which I don't particularly care to show off."
8 Don't Forget About The Hands-Free Convenience
If you are anything like me sitting around holding a pump to your breast for a quarter of an hour is brutal. The list of things one could do instead is so long. That is why hands-free pumping bras were invented. To give moms the opportunity to multitask when they need to. Hands-free pump bras can range from standard bras with space to insert a pump, to a bandu-style support system that your pump flanges slide into.
Whichever you choose, they are practical and so necessary if you care about getting anything done ever.
"Being able to pump hands free makes it a much less annoying activity--I can go online to relax or read a book with my daughter while I pump. It's really convenient the way it works: it goes right on over my body silk tank (which I am currently living in) and holds the flanges right in place," said Clara, mother and pump-bra wearer.
JaneCatt similarly shares that: "The basic simple wishes (I think) amazon pumping bra has worked great for me. Get 2 though, you’ll need to wash it and need a clean one!" Great tip!
7 And Trying The Old-Fashioned Way
Two pumps may sound excessive until you are packing for a weekend trip and are a little tight on space. Manual pumps are smaller and perfect for international travel (none of those pesky outlets to worry about converting). Even if you're traveling by road, it is really liberating to pump without being tethered to a cord and socket.
Yellow-submarining also brings up a good point on Reddit: "I used a double electric pump with my first baby, but with my second I'm thinking a manual might be nice to have on hand. It's hard to picture myself hooked up to a machine while my toddler runs around." Just for simplicity's sake, it might be something worth considering if you already have a little one running around while you'll be feeding the newcomer.
The average manual pump ranges from $20-$40 so you aren't spending a ton, but as the old adage goes you get what you pay for so if you do settle on one of the lower end pumps, don't be surprised if it starts to lose suction rather quickly. Some manual pumps can also release milk more quickly, but since you control your pump speed this can also lead to engorgement since it will less likely to mimic the suckle of your little one. For that reason, manual pumps are not my preference for daily use.
6 Lather It On For Major Relief
Nipple cream has been a lifesaver on my breastfeeding journey. I, like so many other moms, would have probably quit breastfeeding if it were not for my nipple cream. Okay so here's the deal with nipple cream. Lanolin (which is basically sheeps fat) cocoa butter, vaseline, coconut oil, organic balms, or shea butter, whatever your preference work to care and protect the sensitive skin around the areola and nipple.
You will hear, "breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt," about several hundred times. For the most part it does not, especially when your little one gets the hang of things, but in the beginning, it can feel like skinning the entire right side of your body on the pavement on a hot summer's day.
I use my nipple cream daily after I get out of the shower, this prevents cracking, bleeding, and has helped so much in overall soreness brought on by nursing on demand during my little one's growth spurts. Save yourself some pain and get a nipple cream.
5 Total Waste: A Nursing Bra
Unlike nursing camisoles, nursing bras are a complete waste of time. If you are not wearing a nursing friendly top a normal bra will not inhibit you from nursing any more than your top will. There really are not many exceptions to this rule, unfortunately. Sports bras, push up bras, padded bras, even bralettes allow about the same amount of access as any nursing bra, especially when wearing a non-nurse friendly top.
However, some lactation consultants like Dr. Sears advise breastfeeding mothers to avoid underwire bras as they can be more restrictive and can decrease blood flow,
and sometimes cause clogged milk ducts. However, if an underwire is an absolute necessity, Dr. Sears suggests being very cautious about the fit and making sure that the underwire itself sits comfortably beneath the breast to avoid milk restrictions. In addition, for the price of the average nursing bra, about $35, it may be wiser to spend that money on clothing that will actually be seen.
Even Lutya shared on Reddit that, "So sad. I really like underwire bras. They don't make a 40E underwire bra :(". It's also something to consider that a woman's chest expands while she's breastfeeding, so finding a comfortable fit will also be a challenge.
4 Total Waste: The Gel Pads
Gel pads are great in theory, but in reality, they do not do very much and actually can cause a bit of irritation. Gel pads are intended to work like nursing pads, just with some soothing or cooling gel on them. The idea behind the gel pads is to place the pads in your bra or directly on the nipple to relieve soreness and cool down the area. There are multiple kinds of gel pads.
Some pads you can freeze, but those are just too cold and others are adhesive and are equipped with cooling gel can be irritating and only stay cool for a few minutes.
Peeling them off is torturous with sore nipples.
Unfortunately, this remains true with almost every brand of gel pads. So although some might say that gel pads are a nursing must have, in reality, they are more often than not a complete waste of time.
If you do insist on using the, SoDoesYourFace shares: "Bamboobies win for comfort, hands down. They are amazing for light leakage and just peace of mind when going out, and they are very slim. I don't think cloth is great for heavy leaking in general. I use these when I am not very full."
3 Total Waste: Sterilizer Bags
Sterilizing bags are bags meant to steam your bottles and pump parts in the microwave after use so they will be sterilized and ready for your next pump and feeding session. Sounds great in theory right? The only drawback is that these bags are basically just a plastic bag that you throw in the microwave. So microwaving plastic, in plastic, to sterilize? That does not sound safe for a baby to ingest. And according to Harvard Health Publishing, it is not.
Microwaving plastic is not safe since there is no sure way to tell what chemical is found in "plastic" since plastic itself is a combination of elements and therefore there is no way to predict how it will migrate or react. Simple organic dishwashing liquid is good enough and safe to use on baby feeding items, it is also safer for the environment. Although throwing bottles in a bag may sound easier may as well opt for the traditional cleaning route on this one.
Alternatively, Tercerero says on Reddit that: "I boiled my pump exactly once. Then I just washed it daily in hot water and soap and ran it through the dishwasher every weekend. No harm, no foul."
2 Total Waste: Nursing Covers
As a mother do not be shamed into covering yourself in order to feel comfortable feeding your child. According to the law in 47 of the United States, women have the right to nurse in any public space (the only exceptions being in Virginia, Idaho, and South Dakota). Though you may occasionally encounter the less than educated citizen wanting to challenge you on your decision to nurse and while they are at it, possibly even the entire way you parent, take it from these celebrities and nurse on!
Choosing to cover your baby's face while nursing during warmer weather months is a health risk unless you monitor their breathing constantly.
If the choice to cover up while nursing is personal and not one imposed upon you, nursing covers are still a waste of time since one could just as easily use a light scarf or large burping cloth.
1 Total Waste: Alcohol Milk Test Strips
UpSpring, Milkscreen, or Miloo brands milk-screen alcohol test strips are all a complete waste of time and money. These test strips guarantee a positive or negative alcohol presence result within two minutes of adding a few drops of breastmilk to test for the presence of alcohol.
The thing is, there's no need to test for alcohol in breastmilk because unless you are so drunk you can barely stand or at risk for alcohol poisoning the presence of alcohol in your breastmilk will be less than 1 percent; meaning, less than anything that could actually affect your child. Dr. Jack Newman physician, breastfeeding consultant, and clinician at Canada's International Breastfeeding Centre, says there is no need to worry about discarding breastmilk after having a drink or two.
"Think of it this way," he said, "in most jurisdictions, you are too impaired to drive if you have 0.05% alcohol in your blood. Alcohol appears in the milk in the same concentration as in the blood. Thus if you have 0.05% alcohol in your blood you will have 0.05% alcohol in your milk..." So buying alcohol test strips, no thank you.
References: My personal experiences, Reddit.com/r/breastfeeding