What do I need for breastfeeding?
6 Breastfeeding Necessities Every Mom Needs Before they Leave the Hospital
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Before I had my first son, I had no clue what was involved in breastfeeding; I didn’t know about things like low milk supply, a good latch, tongue ties, or cluster feedings. I didn’t know how excruciatingly sore my nipples would feel, especially during the first few days following delivery.
Breastfeeding was WAY harder than I could have ever imagined and ultimately…it didn’t work out for me. But it wasn’t because of lack of effort or desire – I did absolutely EVERYTHING I could to try, but it just didn’t work. If you want to read about that, you can find my story that has been shared by over 200 people on Facebook here.
But I digress. Before I had my son, I took a class at the hospital to learn the basics of breastfeeding. I left there bound and determine to succeed. Fortunately, I had several close friends who had babies a few months before mine was due, so I could get the low down on exactly what I needed to do to set myself up for success. In combination with my own experiences, I have put together a list of essential items that every woman should buy before their baby arrives.
These are the 6 breastfeeding necessities that every mom needs and quite honestly, shouldn’t be be allowed to leave the hospital without:
1. Baby Scale
You want to make sure you buy one that goes to at least ½ ounce increments. The one I’ve linked to is the one I used when I was breastfeeding. It weighs to the 1/2 ounce increment and is battery operated. You can use the scale to weigh your baby before feeding them and then weigh them immediately after. The difference in the weight is how much milk they drank (in ounces).
When I first got home from the hospital, I realized my son was transferring next to nothing. In my delirious and emotional postpartum state, I did not want to give my baby a bottle of formula, because I had been told it would destroy my supply. My logical husband saw that our child was starving and fed him. The scale will not lie to you, trust it. If it’s showing that your baby isn’t gaining any weight during feedings, be sure to get help.
Tip: You do not have to strip them down or get them naked before weighing them, just don’t change their diaper during the process (their total weight doesn’t matter, you just want to find the difference in weight before and after the feeding).
2. Breast Pump
It doesn’t matter if you are planning to go back to work or not, unless you are NEVER planning to leave your baby, you are going to need a breast pump.
At minimum, I would suggest you get a hand pump. You never know what could come up and if you don’t have a back up plan to express milk, you’re going to be in trouble. Even if you have an electric breast pump, a hand pump is nice if you are out and about and don’t want to lug an electric pump around (although I have to say, I’ve seen it done). The hand pumps are small and will allow you to pump indiscreetly in your car or wherever you may be.
I would also recommend getting a good double electric breast pump. I’ve had both a Medela Pump in Style and a Spectra S2 pump. You should check with your insurance to see if they will purchase one for you (some companies will only pay for certain pumps).
Tip: My hospital lactation consultants gave me hand pumps for free! You should ask them!
3. Different sizes of Breast Shields
I recommend you ask the hospital lactation consultants to look at your breast shields to ensure that they are the right size for you. Depending on what pump you have, the lactation consultants may be able to give you correctly sized breast shields for free! These shields cost $10-15 per pair.
4. A support system (hospital, LLL, local mom groups, etc)
After I first got home from the hospital, I was terrified to go anywhere with my baby. I didn’t feel like leaving the house. Getting everything and everyone packed up and ready was nothing short of exhausting.
One of the best things for me though was attending nursing support groups. I routinely attended a couple of them; one at the hospital and one at a local consignment shop. These groups helped me realize that I was not alone in my struggles and really helped me.
Try to find a couple of nursing groups before you deliver, so you are mentally prepared to attend them. (I am a planner and if I have thought about it and planned to go, I do better.) You could even attend the group while pregnant and get expert tips from the moms there!
5. Nipple Cream
During my entire duration of breastfeeding, my nipples were beyond sore. When I would latch my son, I experienced what some would call the “60 second sizzle.” (I do think both of my sons had tongue ties and maybe even lip ties).
Before your child is born, buy some Lanisoh ointment (I’ve heard some mom’s say they used coconut oil). Rub it on your nipples a couple times a day to help condition them because they will dry out fast once your baby starts nursing.
I know you are planning to breastfeed, but what if it doesn’t work out? What if you decide it’s not for you? What if you find you have a low supply (or no supply)? Just in case, get some formula as a back up. Typically you can get free samples from your pediatrician or hospital. You can also just buy a small container from the store. If you don’t end up needing it, you can pass it along to a friend.
If you want to know all about formula prices, like what store has the best price and how the prices of the different brands compare, be sure to check out my post “Everything You Need To Know About Buying Formula.”
That wraps up the 7 things you need to have on hand BEFORE your baby is born. There are a number of things you can get afterwards, like soothing gel pads, nipple shields, or a hands free pumping bra, but they aren’t essential to success early on.
Wishing you the very best during this extremely special and exciting time. As I mentioned, breastfeeding didn’t work out for me, but I gave it everything I had and tried EVERYTHING I could for 3 months. I am planning to put together a few more posts about breastfeeding in hopes that it will help someone else!
Now get out there and rock your busy mom life!