This post is part of a mini-series on preparing for birth. You can see the other posts, or my home birth house tour video here.
After three years of nursing my preschooler, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of what I’ll want close by during those early weeks of breastfeeding. While last time around I had a whole “Nursing Nook,”I think I’ll be moving a bit more from room to room as I nurse and play with my older daughter. So, I’ve created a portable basket that I can bring with me wherever we may be!
Burp Cloths/Cloth Diapers
Each mama is different, but since I know that I have an overabundance of milk, having cloths and breastpads readily available at all times is a must. To deal with a fast and furious letdown, I’d often remove AnaBella from the breast, catch the fire-hose spray with a cloth diaper or burp cloth, and then relatch. Sometimes the fast spray can cause gulping, which in turn causes gas, and a frustrated and bloated baby. (Read more about oversupply and forceful letdown here.)
Breastpads or something to catch your milk!
And while one breast was spraying my newborn in the face, the other was leaking down my chest, my stomach, all over my shirt – not exactly a pleasant feeling (or smell, after it dried…). I’d usually put a breastpad on the other side to catch the leaks and keep myself more comfortable. If you’re a heavy leaker, you may want to wear them for part of the day when you’re not nursing, too. I have a few disposable ones for going out and about, but while in the home I’ll use these affordable organic cotton ones or even wool. I also have a stash of cut up old receiving blankets, towels, or cloth diapers. I go through a lot of these each day in those early weeks! If you do buy some actual breastpads, make sure you wash them in a lingerie bag!
Water, water, water
This may seem obvious, but how often did I forget to get a glass of water as I sat down to nurse? It was like the second I had all the pillows arranged and AnaBella latched, a wave of intense thirst would come over me. My husband was constantly running water. I’ll put bottles of water around the house for the first few weeks, in addition to my stainless steel water bottle, but having a few in the basket will ensure that I won’t be left parched.
I don’t have any snacks in the basket just yet, but when little girl arrives, we’ll stock it with dried fruit, nuts, fresh fruit, and some energy bars. I found I was much hungrier when nursing than I was pregnant!
As a first time mom, I had terrible cracked and bloodied nipples. I know now that AnaBella’s latch was not right, but the day I got out of the hospital, I picked up some prescription nipple cream. I never used it. Just the idea that I was putting chemicals on my nipples, and then my baby was putting her mouth there, was unappealing. I muscled through the pain, and let my breasts air dry, dipped my nipples in hot, salty water, and expressed breastmilk on them to heal. It worked, but not as quickly as I’d hoped. While I’m more experienced in recognizing a poor latch now, I did make a batch of nipple cream just in case. AnaBella and I have already used half of it on our hands during these dry winter months. I will DEFINITELY be making this again!
1 part cocoa butter
1 part coconut oil
1 part shea butter
Warm all ingredients (cocoa butter may need to be softened beforehand in a double boiler) and mix well. Put in a glass jar and tightly seal. Use on any dry parts of your body!
I read a lot during nursing sessions last time, but somehow I have a feeling I won’t be getting much reading in this time around! I do have two of my favorite nursing books on hand just in case issues crop up though – The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and Baby-led Breastfeeding. If you haven’t read The Other Baby Book yet, that’s also a great one to pick up!
For those practicing EC, having a bowl or little potty on hand is helpful. It’s a lot easier to have a receptacle on hand, than have to disturb the nursing session, or clean a dirty diaper afterward! Some people really like these potty bowls. We didn’t have one the first time and I didn’t find it necessary, as I used an old plastic bowl, or something from the dollar store–or even, if I can maneuver it–strategically get her bum over the sink!
This is totally personal preference. Some people are comfortable just holding the baby in the arms, some like special breastfeeding pillows (though please do check what materials may be in the pillow first–many are treated with dangerous chemicals to meet flammability requirements) or buckwheat pillows that mold to the baby, and some just practice laid back breastfeeding, and keep baby on their chest! You’ll figure out what works for you, but having couch pillows and a bed pillow or two handy isn’t a bad idea.
KellyMom also has a great list of items you may–or may not–need for nursing your baby.
Would you add anything to this list?
Check out our other posts here!
Part 4: Creating a Nursing Basket
Megan McGrory Massaro is a mother, freelance writer, and author. She wrote The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year to empower women to make the best choices for their families.