Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rookie (nursing) Mom's Survival Guide

When I was making my baby registry and shopping to prep for the arrival of my little girl it was kind of hard to know what I would need. Here's some items and tips I'd consider important after my first few weeks as a rookie, breastfeeding mom.  I've learned that you'll probably be bombarded with more clothes and blankets (new and hand-me-downs) than you will probably need. Consider adding a few of these items to your registry or stocking up on them yourself. Even though this list is mostly geared towards breastfeeding mom's, some items still apply to other mommies too.

Top Four Items (no one told you) to Have on Hand before Baby Arrives
  1. Breast pump accessories: Here's a PSA for you: You should be able to get a breast pump for free or at least fairly cheap. Under the Healthcare Reform Act, breast pumps are now covered by insurance. What that means might vary, some companies provide you with a free pump (I got my choice of two double electric pumps for free), some might charge a co-pay, and some might reimburse you. The point is, if you're insured: call your company and find out what they offer. If you aren't insured, WIC also provides things like breast pumps. All this brings me back to item #1 of stuff you probably didn't think about getting but you'll want on hand in the early days: breast pump accessories. With the big ticket expense of the pump itself taken care of, you'll want to invest in necessary accessories that aren't included. Go ahead and get flanges in a variety of sizes (that's the funnel part that goes on your boob). Having a good flange fit is really important and you won't know what size you'll need until you try them. Don't worry about wasting money on non-returnable parts that don't fit. Your nipples will change in size, up and down, so odds are you will need a variety of sizes over the months or years of use you get from your pump. *Make sure these are the same brand as your pump.* Other items to stock up on: freezer safe milk storage bags or other storage containers, and breast pads (disposable or washable) Why you want these before baby arrives: ENGORGEMENT! It sucks. Your boobs will be uncomfortably full and probably a little painful in the first few days when your milk comes in. Pumping can help relieve the pressure and help establish a good milk supply. You might also experience some leakage. Even though you're probably just bumming around the hospital or your home in these early days, it's no fun to have to change a soaking wet shirt every time baby eats or cries. 
  2. Non-perishable snacks: Being a new mommy is a 24/7 job and especially early on it's hard to juggle all the new demands of baby and taking care of yourself too and that means eating regularly, especially if you are breastfeeding. Snacks are important and it's a huge lifesaver to have something readily available in the middle of the night. Think granola, nuts, dried fruit... bonus points for fiber because the first days also bring constipation. Keep a stash near your bed or wherever you care for baby at night. During the day it's easier to get fresh or complex snacks like fruits, veggies, chips & dip etc. so save this grab n' go stash for midnight snacking and your diaper bag. 
  3. Tumbler with a straw or a water bottle: This is yours and should go with you everywhere. Especially if you're breastfeeding. Keep it filled! It's always important to stay hydrated but even more so when pregnant and breastfeeding. Start using it now before baby arrives. Having a container with a straw is especially nice because it's easier to drink from while nursing. It takes a little practice to get your hands free to do other things while nursing so it's really nice for your Mr or whoever to be able to just hold a straw to your mouth to give you a sip of water. Bonus points for something pretty: just cause and to make it more noticeable so a) you don't forget it and leave it laying around when you move to a different room and b) it catches other people's attention so they ask, "hey, need a refill?" 
  4. Maxi-pads and Depends: Not fun to think about but here it is... you're going to be a bit of a wreak in your lady parts. Bleeding, soreness, temporary lack of bladder control... it's not pretty. Now, I went home the day my daughter was born so if you're delivering in a hospital with a longer postpartum stay they might provide these items for you and you may not need some of this at home. In my experience though, I wore Depends and frozen maxi pads (more on that in a minute) for the first few days. The Depends took care of the mess of heavy bleeding, the melting pads, and occasional leaky bladder. Before baby arrived I poured a small amount of water over some maxi pads, wrapped them in plastic wrap and froze them in a bowl to give them a curve. These are great for soothing the soreness down there after delivery. While it's hit-or-miss if you'll need the other two items ( I think it's worthwhile to have them just in case) you'll definitely need maxi-pads until your bleeding subsides.
Other things to think about
  • Nursing cover: If  you're modest like me, you'll want to be able to practice with your nursing cover in the privacy of home before trying it out in public or when guests finally break through the barricade and start arriving to visit your precious bundle. 
  • Extra slipcover for your breastfeeding support pillow if you're using one: I didn't think of all the ways this could get gross:leaking breast milk, spit-up, drool, diaper blow-outs.... I'm glad I had more than one slipcover so I could switch out while one was in the wash. Look for a water resistant cover to go under your decorative covers too. 
  • Nursing bras and camis: self-explanatory. These make nursing much easier and the sleep style nursing bras are super comfy. My favorite are Gillgan & O' Malley from Target;comfortable and cute. 

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