Monday, May 31, 2010

Nursing Gear Essentials

Before the baby was born, I stockpiled baby gear, diapers, and rash ointment, froze food and bought enough canned goods and bottled water to get us through the first six weeks of a natural disaster. My registry essentials purchased, nursery assembled and refrigerator full, I was ready. But when I got home from the hospital with my precious newborn baby, we had everything we needed for her first few tender weeks and nothing that I needed. Like most first time breastfeeders, I had forgotten about what I would need to make those first few weeks comfortable. Whether you plan to breastfeed for one week or one year, you will need some basics. Where will you sit when you wake up in the middle of the night with your little baby? And what will you have within arms length to make all those early breastfeeding sessions go as smoothly as possible?


A Nursing Station: The first thing I did when I got back from the hospital was set up a comfy chair in the bedroom and surround it with things that brought me comfort. I had an ottoman to rest my legs, a throw blanket for my cold toes, a side table to rest my water and a rolling set of drawers for all my electronics, breastfeeding gear and burp rags. My husband lined the floor under my chair with an extension cord and power strip for all my electronics (laptop, iPod, phone, camera battery). I put the pump and a small trash can under the side table. The final touch was a pretty floral arrangement.

I know it seems decadent – but I spent about twelve hours a day in that chair for the first week of my baby’s life and I still appreciate every single convenience. The only thing missing is a small refrigerator for my freshly expressed milk. I settled for ice packs in a small cooler.

Nursing Clothes: I washed my daughter’s clothes and folded them into her dresser so they would be ready when she arrived home. But I completely missed the chance to organize my closet with all the button down shirts at the front. In fact, unless I planned to walk around the house naked for the first month of my child’s life, I needed some serious nursing gear. Let’s start with nursing pajamas, since you are in your lounge gear for the first week. The best I found, for the lowest price are at Old Navy.


This little set makes a great gift for only $32.50. And it comes with the most adorable little matching baby sleeper and hat. Old Navy also has two styles of nursing tops that I bought up by the dozen and wear daily.


I have four of these in white and five in black, don't tell my husband. But at only $14.50, they are way cheaper then all the other styles on the market.


This one is $19.50, and the added pop of seductive stripe clearly makes it more valuable. I tried several more expensive nursing tops that I bought from the Solution for Women store at Penn, but I returned them promptly. Most of what is out there is overpriced and preys on the desperation of a new breastfeeding mom just eager to find some comfort.


This $16.50 tank from Old Navy is similar to the $50 Glamour Mama bra, but the Old Navy was softer and offered me better support. I wore this tank to bed at night with a soft pair of drawstring pajama bottoms.

Also an essential if you are nursing is a good nursing bra. I tried them ALL! Literally. I went to the Solutions for Women store at Penn and I tried on every style bra in stock. My issue was that my breasts were ginormous and causing me severe back ache. I needed an underwire, even if they tried to convince me it would inhibit my milk production. Well, my baby is a little fatty and I’ve been wearing this Medela Underwire Seamless Bra since week 1. I maintained my chest measurement and went up a cup size. I highly recommend that you get fit for your nursing bra if you intend to nurse for a long time. I also recommend you get a night bra. I bought the Medela Womens Sleep Nursing Bra. When I saw it, I laughed at the idea of this little thing holding in my mama-jamas – but for the purposes of keeping everything in its place at night it was actually completely awesome. I wish I could wear it all the time, it’s that comfy.

Nursing Cover: I started with the L'ovedbaby 4-in-1 Nursing Shawl and then I bought the Belly Fish. Ehh. The cool factor of the grey suede on the L'ovedbaby is diminished by the fact I can’t see my baby while she nurses. My baby squirms under the hot fabric. But it does slide easily into my diaper bag and offers great coverage. The Belly Fish was great in theory but a mess to use. It's big and bulky, invites stares and offers poor coverage. I am still in search of the right cover, and have ordered the Balboa Baby Nursing Cover. Until it arrives, I find that two thin blankets work just as well as any of these covers.

Nipple Care: I went through a tube of lanolin before I even left the hospital. My poor cracked, blistering, bloddy nipples needed lots of TLC. It was cold in my apartment and the lanolin was hard to get out of the bottle – so I ordered some Bella B Nipple Nurture Butter and this fantastic cream smells good and provides a much more nurturing experience for my nipples.


Also from this line are a product I’ve come to appreciate even more, Bella B Nipple Nurture Cleansing Pads. I use one of these suckers after every feed. Not only does it feel good, but helps avoid things like thrush. It also means I don’t have to go into the bathroom after every feed and wash my nipples. Anything I can do to limit the amount of movement is a good thing.


Don't even think about getting through the first month without a handful of Medela Tender Care HydroGel Pads. These cooling pads of joy have offered countless nights of relief and are well worth the cost. Buy in bulk because each pad is only good for 72 hours. It's like an ice-pack for the nipple.


This list of basic new mom essentials made my first few weeks a lot easier and more comfortable. Those last few days of pregnancy, when everything is ready for baby and you are just waiting for her arrival, take some time to prepare the house for you. Make sure those first few days and weeks are comfortable for everyone.


KarmaPearl said...

I remember the "nursing station" when I was still breastfeeding! Pillows upon pillows, a big water bottle, Lansinoh.. Ahhh the early days!

Amy said...

This is a great post. I didn't do that much prep for nursing when I was pregnant and will definitely do my homework next time around. I could not live with nipple cream (even though my dad harassed me saying it was the same stuff they used on cows growing up on the farm...).

Pop Culture Casualty said...

Amy - Your father sounds a lot like mine. Anytime he can mention utters in relation to nipples, he snatches the opportunity.

KarmaPearl... I no longer really use my station either. I lay on the bed, or the couch, or I walk around the room with the phone tucked between my ear and my shoulder and a baby hanging off my nipple. But it was glorious for those first few weeks.

allie said...

I really wish I had read this post before I had Henry. So helpful!


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