10 Baby Registry Must Haves for Breastfeeding
SO. You are expecting, and you want to breastfeed, Or maybe you're not so sure you are going to breastfeed. Perhaps you think, in theory, it sounds good. You hear all about the benefits for mom and baby. You've been told since you were old enough to know about breastfeeding that "breast is best" - heck you've even read it plastered on the back of mass transit buses. You think, sure, I'll give it a shot. If I can, I'll breastfeed. Or perhaps you commit to seeing how it goes, and say to yourself "if I can produce enough milk, I'll breastfeed." Because the truth is, outside of hearing you should be breastfeeding, all you're hearing is how hard it is.
No doubt, nursing comes with challenges, as new parenthood does. Even more truthful, the problems associated with breastfeeding encompass a highly emotional element. It becomes personal, and as a society, we don't do well with supporting struggling mothers. And we're not just talking about first-time moms. A seasoned nursing mother can encounter breastfeeding problems, as no two children or situations are the same.
It's fantastic that we're managing expectations on the front end. Labor and birth are hard work; we know that, and we expect it, and we prepare (hopefully) accordingly. Breastfeeding is no different. It has the potential to be hard work in the beginning, but there is also a lot we can do ahead of time to give ourselves the best foot forward. Before I lose you because you think you've already heard what I am about to say, stick with me for just a moment.
This is not a blog about prenatal breastfeeding education, support systems, or managing expectations. This article contains a list of tangible items you should have on hand ahead of time that will make breastfeeding more convenient and more comfortable for you. If breastfeeding is more convenient and comfortable, you are more likely going to have an easier go of it.
I should preface this by sharing something about my recent experiences working with moms. I have helped more women stop breastfeeding in the past six months; then I have helped continue to breastfeed. What gives right?! There are two significant things that are happening. First, moms are reaching out too late in the game. They are enduring unnecessary problems, alone, for too long. By the time they get to me, they are over it. While I love when I can help a mom nurse her baby, it's more important to me that I support mom - even if that means assisting her while she weans.
Second, many of them do not know about some of the breastfeeding products available that help makes breastfeeding SO much more convenient. Or, in many cases, they were told not to waste money on them because it probably wouldn't work out for them. I can see how the last bit is often coming from a well-meaning place, but it's very counterproductive to mom's potential breastfeeding success. As a result, breastfeeding/pumping becomes cumbersome, time-consuming, and isolating.
So let's talk about some things, that you can get up front (think your registry here, ladies) that will make your life easier. If you don't end up nursing as long as you like or intend, you're not out anything. Real talk here, if you plan on nursing, even just for a little bit, you need these items more than you need a little vibrating bouncing chair.
1. Nursing Bra
For the love of your sanity buy. Nursing. Bras. If you're not so sure about the whole thing, skip pricey Motherhood Maternity or Pea in the Pod and opt for Target, Ross, TJ Max, or even Wal-Mart for your selections. I recommend 2-4 cotton (for home and sleep), wireless nursing bralettes, and three wireless nursing bras (with a little lining, so your nursing pad doesn't show). Lastly, if you are an active gal, spring for the nursing sports bra.
2. Nursing Camis
I recommend 2-3 to use as PJ tops to make nighttime feedings a breeze. As well as, 3-4 seamless camis (light pink, black, white) that you can wear under your everyday apparel (instead of a bra). Why do you ask? As a three-time nursing mother, my ultimate breastfeeding hack is to ditch your nursing burka altogether. They are hot, annoying, and just one more thing you have to lug around.
Instead, wear a seamless nursing cami with a chic slouchy top and nurse by lifting the bottom of the slouchy top and latching baby underneath. You can then arrange the loose fabric of your blouse to fully cover yourself, while still looking at baby (and not suffocating them). The benefit of the nursing cami underneath is that you will be covered from your torso down to your hips. I did not discover this method until baby number two. It was a game changer. And believe me, far more discrete than awkwardly putting on a boldly patterned cape.
3. Breastfeeding Friendly Apparel
Chances are you will need to pick up some new clothes for the 1st year postpartum. Do yourself a favor and opt for breastfeeding friendly options. They need not be from expensive maternity stores, have secret pockets, or MacGiver like features. They need to be functional for breastfeeding. You need to look for the following styles:
- V Necks (for home use, pajamas, or if you opt for the burka over the cami) Elastic Necklines and Stretchy fabrics (again, if you will not be using the cami method above)
- Slouchy, loose, or stretchy style tops (if wearing a cami under)
- Top with skirt combination vs. dresses (I have always found dresses to be least nursing/pumping friendly
4. Nursing Pillow
Skip the boppy and go straight for the My Breast Friend. My Breast Friend is more substantial, thicker, and more supportive. It even doubles as a buffet tray in the early weeks. Seriously! I digress. It is a little pricier, but your back will thank you, and it will last longer (think future babies). Get two covers and a liner. Three words: spit up, and milk.
Just joking! Walk away from that lanolin and never look back. Fun fact: Lanolin users consistently have the highest rate of infection when coping with cracked nipples (nipple trauma). Instead: express a little bit of breast milk and let it air dry on the nipple before closing your nursing bra. You will start to see nipples heal and feel better as soon as 24 hours. Truth.
6. Hands-Free Pumping Bra
So. Many. Bras. I know, but we are dealing with a task that involves your breasts 24/7. These bras pair with double breast pumps and allow you to pump both breasts hands free. The ability to pump both breasts at the same time will yield more milk. It will save you time, and free up your hands (think: checking emails, reading a book, playing cards, or whatever tickles your pickle).
7. Microwave Steam Bags
If you own a pump, you need these bags. You toss your pump parts, bottles, nipples, or pacifiers into the bag. Add 1 oz of water, and pop in the microwave for 3 minutes. Voila. Sterilization central.
8. Car Power Adapter
I'll repeat it if you own a pump, Annnnd want to have a life. Get the car adapter. You can pump anywhere (so long as there is a vehicle). I don't know about you, but I much prefer my cozy car, with the Windshield reflectors up, as a pumping location over the public restroom. Working mamas, fancy a pumping session on your commute?! With your car power adapter, you can!
9. Cleaning Wipes
If you're in the car and don't have the luxury of a microwave or soap and water, these wipes are a life saver. Give your pump parts a good wipe down to prevent bacteria build up before you can adequately sterilize the items later. I would recommend that you wash lightly with soap and water, followed by the microwave steam bag once you have the opportunity.
10. Know Where to Find Help
Ok. I have to; I can't help myself. Ask around a little bit while you're pregnant. Did any of your friends get help breastfeeding? If so where did they go, or with who did they work? Ask your OB/GYN if they have someone who they recommend. The sooner you can get help the better. If nothing more, it's nice to have it in your back pocket; Just in case.