When it comes to making a list of what you need for breastfeeding, there are a few extra items to consider after listing baby and boobs. Not everything needs to be hauled into the maternity ward though and the following are five things I found essential for the first few days of motherhood and nursing.
1. Vest tops: these will become a wardrobe staple because they make access to boob pretty simple! You can wear a vest top under basically any regular t-shirt and when baby is ready to nurse, you simply lift your t-shirt up and pull the vest neckline down. This exposes just as much boob as baby needs and gives you a nice discreet amount of cover if you so wish. Also, when it comes to hospital wards it’s pretty much the seventh circle of Hell when it comes to heat so a vest top is about as heavy as you’ll want to go!
2. Breast pads: To add to the list of indignities, you are going to leak! Once milk comes in around day three there will be a couple of weeks of getting levels right. Baby will feed furiously some days (it’s baby’s way of upping your supply during times of growth spurt) and then baby will settle back into a routine of sorts. During this period you’ll need breast pads to soak up the excess. Don’t bring hundreds of them in your hospital bag, in fairness with all going well you should only be there 3 – 5 days but do bring a supply of maybe 5 pairs to get you started. If you leave the box in a handy place back home you can easily send for more if needed when your visitors are coming and going. Pads are available in disposable or reusable forms.
3. Burp Cloths/Muslin: these will show themselves to be handy in a multitude of ways and you’ll likely have one (be it clean or not!) thrown over your shoulder like the latest accessory constantly in the next few months! Apart from having one to hand for beautiful big milky burps (babies!) they are also a nice light item to drape over your shoulder and around baby to provide a little cover for you both until you’re comfortable to go without.
4. Nipple creams and compresses: It’s a whole new world for your boobies in the weeks when baby arrives and to prevent dryness or chapping it’s a good idea to pack a lanolin cream or compress. Lanolin is naturally occurring oil that is a safe to use during nursing. Two brands I found particularly good were Lansinoh or Multi-Mam. Lansinoh comes in a cream and Multi-Mam has really brilliant compresses that you can pop inside your nursing bra.
5. Nursing bra: As I mentioned in My Top Tip for Successful Breastfeeding post, your boobies need a little extra comfort and support and you need handy access. Bring two or three good nursing bras in your hospital, you’ll likely have moments when your supply starts to go up and a few unexpected leaks and spurts can lead to soggy bra syndrome! Not comfortable. (Although there is something to be said for actually allowing breast milk to dry on the nipple occasionally as breast milk is so full of nutrients it’s even good for your skin)