Archives for September 2014

How to Use a Breast Pump

So you have decided to give breast pumping a try.

This can be an emotional time for a mother, as many believe it to sever the bond that natural breastfeeding has made with their child. But don’t panic – this is one of the most traditional steps of nursing.

For many women, the idea of using a breast pump can seem incredibly foreign. In some cases, even unnatural. Yet, more often than not, it becomes a necessity. Whether your maternity leave is ending, you would like a steady supply of your milk, or your husband simply wants a chance at feeding, having a contained supply of breast milk will definitely come in handy.

But, before you begin, we recommend going through some of the breast pumping steps to have a better idea of the experience you will soon have.

 

How to Use a Breast PumpHow to use a breast pump

When preparing to use a breast pump, find a quiet, comfortable place and allow yourself a twenty to thirty minute undisturbed time range.

 

Steps:

  • Softly massage breasts.
  • Choose the appropriate size of plastic phalange.
  • Position and center the nipple on the plastic phalange.
  • Begin on the breast pump’s lowest setting and slowly increase speed until comfortable. (If your nipples become sore, try a lower suction setting).
  • While wearing your favorite Loving Moments Nursing Bra, pump each breast until breast milk no longer flows.
  • When the milk flow ends, release suction at the breast.
  • Gently rub your nipples and areola with unused breast milk.
  • Transfer the collected breast milk into a clean container or bottle.
  • Label and date the container and refrigerate immediately if you are not planning to use right away.

Make sure to speak with your lactation consultant so they can help to choose the best course of action for you. Every woman is unique and certain nursing pumps and steps may be recommended.

Whatever is decided, it is always important to remember that you should feel relaxed, comfortable, and safe. Find an area where you will not be disturbed or rushed and remember that the best milk production comes from a peaceful environment and a calm mother.

 

Brushing Baby’s Teeth

One of the most exciting first milestones for your baby will be when he cuts his first tooth.  Usually the front bottom incisors comes in first, and boy does that toothy grin make you melt.  With the development of the first tooth should come a new health routine: brushing baby’s teeth.

Breaking new teeth can be a double-edged sword in many households.  It’s a sign your baby is growing and maturing in a healthy way, but it can also be quite painful for some babies.  A new tooth is often marked by fussiness, lack-of-sleep, refusal to nurse, excessive drool, the desire to bite down and diarrhea.   It’s disruptive for the household, but remember it is only temporary.  Try soothing your baby’s aching mouth with cold teething rings or ice wrapped in a washcloth.  If the pain seems unbearable for your baby, ask your doctor for a recommendation of a natural teething gel that is safe for infants.

Brushing Baby's TeethAs soon as that first tooth cuts through, it’s time to start brushing!  Starting a dental health routine from the beginning will help establish good oral hygiene for years to come.  Many parents underestimate brushing from such an early age.  Even though baby teeth will eventually fall out, the health of the first set of teeth dictates the health of permanent teeth and the lifetime of your child’s gums.  So it is important to start good dental practices from infancy.

For babies, the best tooth brushes are often finger brushes.  They are made of rubber and fit over a caregivers’ finger.  They have soft, bendable rubber bristles that can gently massage baby’s teeth and gums.  For some babies with brand new teeth, the area may be rather sensitive so if you feel brushing the first few days after a tooth appears is too painful, avoid that area.  Other babies find this soft brushing soothing to irritated gums.  If your baby is fussy while brushing his teeth, try singing to him or otherwise distracting him during the process.  Just like many other health habits, this one will take a little getting used to.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using toothpaste from day one of brushing.  Contrary to previous guidelines, the AAP now recommends using a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) once the first tooth erupts through the third birthday.  After three, AAP recommends using a pea-sized portion of fluoride toothpaste.  These guidelines were established after a recent study published in the September 2014 issue of Pediatrics sites fluoride as the most effective method to prevent cavities in children.  Surprising to many, tooth decay is the most chronic disease in children in the U.S.

When your baby is old enough to hold his own toothbrush, supply one made specifically for toddlers.  These will have smaller handles and heads, and the bristles will be extra soft.  Your dentist may have extras so ask for a sample next time you go in for a teeth cleaning.  For all the “do it myself” toddlers, you may want to buy non-fluoride toothpaste that he can apply himself and brush with repeatedly.  Many kids love the taste of toothpaste and it is common for them to want to eat it off their toothbrushes.  As long as they are not consuming excessive fluoride, brushing a few extra times with non-fluoride toothpaste is fine.

Most children see the dentist for the first time during their second year of life.  Your pediatrician should let you know when to schedule your first visit and may have a recommendation for a pediatric dentistry practice.  Ask the dentist if they offer a “trial” visit where your tot can become familiar with the idea of visiting the dentist without actually having a cleaning.  He can explore the waiting room, take a ride in the reclining chair and practice opening his mouth wide under a bright light.  This often makes the first real cleaning go a lot smoother.

Congrats on reaching the milestone of first teeth.  Before you know it, you’ll have a toddler with a mouth full of pearly whites.  Take good care of those beautiful teeth from the beginning to establish a lifetime of great oral hygiene and dental health.

How to Choose a Breast Pump

How to Choose a Breast PumpFor some mothers, the idea of using a breast pump can seem unnatural and distant. And while there is nothing more beautiful than breastfeeding your child naturally, occasionally time is short and a nursing pump becomes necessary. So whether you are deciding to return to work and would like to leave the babysitter a supply of your milk for feedings, or your husband wants a chance to feed his child, a breast pump will make it possible.

Every mother’s life is different and, in certain cases, a breast pump isn’t needed. But, if the time comes and it is, there are a few key things to know before moving forward.

 

Breast Pump Options:

There are two main types of breast pumps for a mother to choose from: electric or manual. Both use a phalange that is attached to the nipple to mimic an infant extracting their mother’s milk. It is essential to choose the phalange size that best fits your nipple and place it correctly to prevent any irritation.

For an electric breast pump, the machine does all the work. You simply attach the phalange to your nipple, turn it on, sit back and wait. We recommend purchasing a hands-free pump so you won’t have to maintain the phalange and can read a magazine or book instead. However, it is always wise to have a manual pump in case of a situation where your electrical power source is unavailable.

For a manual breast pump, a squeezing or plunging mechanism is required to extract your breast milk which is then collected in the attached container. It will usually take much longer than an electric pump, although the situation will be completely controlled by the mother.

Either way, make sure to set up a meeting to speak with your lactation consultant prior to purchasing. Every nursing mother is different and specific breast pumps and steps may be suggested that would be best for you.

 

Try your choice of breast pump while wearing our Loving Moments nursing bras and enjoy the comfort and support you’ll surely need!

Amazingly Cool Breastfeeding Facts

As you’re learning more and more about breastfeeding, there are some basic facts you’ll probably hear over and over again: Breast milk is the best nutrition for your baby.  Breast milk creates healthier, smarter, more emotionally stable children.  Breastfeeding is beneficial for moms too.

All of these wonderful benefits of breastfeeding are true!  But that’s not the whole amazing story on breast milk.  So today we’re sharing some lesser known very cool facts about breastfeeding.

Get this for a happy meal:  Breast milk is constantly adapting to the nutritional needs of a baby.  Milk for a two month old will be different than what mom will produce when baby is 10 months old.

Mom_nursingBabies were born to breastfeed:  At birth, a baby can immediately rely on her senses to achieve her basic needs.  Babies are acutely aware of the unique scent of their own mother’s milk, which is why they will turn into the breast when they are hungry.  Also, babies are born nearsighted and can only see from the exact distance between a mother’s face and her own while breastfeeding.

And moms were born to feed:  Every woman’s breast, no matter what the size, is able to produce enough milk for her baby.

Let it go, Let it go:  The average let-down comes after 56 seconds of breastfeeding, and two-thirds of moms feel their let-downs.  Babies inherently know to suckle fast at the beginning of a feed to stimulate milk, and then they slow to a deep suck once the let-down occurs.

Here’s a big bonus:  Breastfeeding can save families up to $4,000 a year.

Big smiles:  Breast milk has bacteria-fighting properties that help the health of babies developing teeth and gums.  Breastfeeding may also reduce the need for braces later in life.  The suckle action of breastfeeding encourages proper formation of the jaw, palette and teeth.  The longer a baby is breastfed, the more benefit she’ll reap.

It’s hard work, but somebody’s gotta do it:  Producing breast milk takes about 25% of a mom’s body energy.  In comparison, the brain only consumes 20%.

Watch the pounds melt away:  Supplying one baby with breast milk requires around 1,000 extra calories a day.  It’s recommended for mothers to consume an extra 500 calories to keep up with the demand on her body.  But the other 500 can go towards dropping those pregnancy pounds.

Reach for a helping hand:  Almost 75% of women seek help with breastfeeding.  That’s why there is an entire profession dedicated to it.  It’s not shameful to get help when breastfeeding becomes challenging, it’s smart.

Good eater, coming up:  Breastfeeding may make your baby’s pallet more amenable to a variety of foods.  The taste of breast milk is constantly changing based on foods that the mother has consumed.  This expands her taste buds before she even takes her first spoonful of solid food.

Motherly thermostat:  A mother’s breast can detect even the slightest temperature change in her baby and mom’s body will adjust accordingly to cool or warm the baby during skin-to-skin contact.

Breastfeeding to reduce breast cancer:  It’s well-known that breastfeeding has benefits for moms including reducing her risk of breast and ovarian cancer.  Breastfeeding also reduces a baby girl’s risk of getting breast cancer by 25%.

Holy Mama:  Breast milk comes from many small holes around the nipple, not just the one in the center.

Are you a righty or a lefty:  Three-fourths of mothers are able to express more milk from their right breast than their left, regardless of their predominant hand.

Pretty cool, huh?  Enjoy this marvelous time in your life and embrace the amazingly cool natural wonders of breastfeeding!

Better Breast Pumps, Here We Come

If you ask a group of new moms, many of them will say that their breast pump sucks, literally and figuratively.  Breast pumps have come a long way since their invention, but many moms would argue there is still a lot of work to be done to bring the breast pump into our technologically advanced society. In fact, some great minds of America agree that there is much room for improvement for breast pumps, and they are doing something about it.

Better Breast Pumps, Here We ComeThis past weekend, a group of engineers, parents, and medical advisers convened for a “hackathon” at prestigious MIT to make suggestions on how to improve breast pumps for the modern mom.  Their singular goal: “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck.”  In this case, strictly figurative.

The two-day conference stemmed from an earlier MIT think tank that drew so much attention researchers decided to expand the project to include more brains, more experts and more ideas.  Over the weekend, participants worked in groups of five to develop ways to solve complaints many moms have with breast pumps.  These include breast pumps are uncomfortable, too loud, too bulky and have too many components.

As a necessity for many moms, especially those who intend to meet the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of exclusively breastfeeding for at least 6 months, pumping is a necessity.  Women who return to work or are otherwise separated from their babies for hours at a time each day rely on breast pumps to provide nutrition for their babies and keep their milk viable for breastfeeding.  Some women find breastfeeding challenging, the hope of this project is to eliminate breast pumps from being a barrier to providing breast milk to babies.

MIT’s “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” hackathon solicited ideas from the public, which they used as inspiration during their brainstorming weekend.  While they do not have plans to manufacture a mass market breast pump, they do plan to use materials to develop prototypes.  And they hope their ideas will catch they eye of some breast pump manufacturers to encourage breast pumps that are more in sync with the contemporary mom’s needs.

We can’t wait to hear what these great minds have come up with to improve modern motherhood.  Until then, pump on ladies!

14 Ways to Wear Maternity Leggings this Fall

Maternity leggings are quite possibly the most versatile piece in every expecting and new moms’ wardrobe.  They are so comfortable, so soft and so easy to wear, they are perfect for just about any occasion.  Don’t believe us?  Check out these 14 ways you can wear Loving Moments maternity leggings this fall:

14 Ways to Wear Maternity Leggings this Fall

Baby Shower:  You’ll definitely be the subject of lots of pictures at your baby shower so you’ll want to look cute and trendy.  Usually the guest of honor sits in front of friends to open gifts.  If you plan to wear a dress for your fall-time baby shower, adding maternity leggings is a smart idea.  Keep it looking snazzy in pumps or some feminine flats.

Strike a Pose:  The super stretchy cotton/spandex blend of your Loving Moments maternity leggings will give you the flexibility to strike any yoga pose your body can handle.  On top, go for our crossover active-wear shirt, which also stretches and allows maximum mobility during yoga.  Pre-natal yoga is an excellent source of exercise to keep muscles strong and toned during pregnancy.  It also teaches breathing techniques and will power that may come in handy during labor, delivery and beyond.

Carpool Line:  Baseball cap – check!  Hubby’s oversized t-shirt – check!  Maternity leggings – check!  Flip flops – check!  You are ready to take your older kids to school!

Gabbing with Girlfriends:  Lunching with your lady friends can still be fashionable during pregnancy.  Pair your Loving Moments maternity leggings with a belted empire waist top and colorful wedges for a super chic look.  Don’t forget to add a few pieces of fun jewelry too.

No One is Looking:  As hormones surge during and after pregnancy, hot flashes are normal.  When you’re home alone, what could be more comfy than your snuggly maternity leggings and our crossover cotton maternity bra?  Seriously, no one is looking and if you’ve already had your baby, feedings will be a snap.

Pre- & Post-Natal Power Walking:  If your doctor says you’re fit for some physical activity, walking is one of the best things you can do before and after your baby is born.  It’s pretty low impact but can be aerobic and keeps the blood flowing throughout your body.  Lace up your sneakers and get moving with maternity leggings and our crossover active-wear top.

Baby’s Coming:  When you feel the signs that your baby is about to make her debut, nothing could be easier than to slip on a pair of maternity leggings, grab your bag and head straight for the hospital.  Trust us, at that point, any top and shoes will do.

Bringing Baby Home:  No need to pack tons of clothes for your hospital stay.  Your maternity leggings are so versatile, you can wear them post-partum too.  Loving Moments’ maternity leggings feature an inner adjustable band that cinches in after your baby is born to fit comfortably both before and after your baby arrives.  Bring a cute top to wear home because you’ll probably want to take some commemorative photos to mark the occasion.

Baby Registry Mission:  Picking out all the gear and adorable items you want for your baby can be a marathon process.  Stay comfy in maternity leggings, a breezy blouse, an open cardigan and some cozy riding boots.  Ready…Set…Register!

Rainy Day:  Nothing could be more uncomfortable than a pregnant lady in wet maternity jeans.  Instead grab your maternity leggings, galoshes and raincoat to keep dry on a rainy day.  If your raincoat doesn’t fit, borrow your husband’s.  He’ll probably relinquish it for the cause.

Sweet Dreams:  Catching some zzz’s is sacred during your last few months of pregnancy and first few months with baby.  Make sure you are wearing comfortable clothes to bed.  Yes, maternity leggings are great pajama pants, especially in the cooler nights of fall.  Wear them with Loving Moments nursing cami to be ready for middle-of-the-night feedings once your baby arrives.

Date Night:  You’ll want to get in as many date nights as you can before baby arrives.  Pair your maternity leggings with some knee-high boots and a shimmery maternity top.  Add some big earrings or a chunky necklace to feel super glam.  Combined with your natural pregnancy glow, you’re sure to capture your love’s heart all over again.

Lazy Sunday:  Lounging at home for a television marathon or cozying up with a good book at your corner coffee shop?  Keep it cool and casual in your maternity leggings, oversized sweatshirt and trendy sneakers.

Nesting:  You are not alone if you are frantically cleaning your house and organizing every last inch of your nursery.  It’s natural for expectant moms to want to get their lives in order before baby comes.  Remember, play it safe.  No harsh chemicals or paints and no high ladders.  Otherwise, nest away in your comfy maternity leggings and “bun in the oven” t-shirt.

Breastfeeding Support Groups: How They Can Help and Where to Find Them

Whether you are just starting to nurse your very first baby, or you’ve been breastfeeding for awhile now, breastfeeding support groups can be extremely helpful to mothers.  Each mom and baby has a unique breastfeeding experience however many moms run into similar challenges at various stages of breastfeeding.  Learning from other moms and sharing your experiences can not only help you towards your breastfeeding goals, but can also build a sense of pride and community with like-minded moms who also care about giving their baby the best nutrition and starting them on a healthy path in life.

The breastfeeding journey should begin during pregnancy when you are gathering information, reading books, talking to your pediatrician, gabbing with veteran moms and taking a breastfeeding class at a local hospital or community center.  As soon as your baby arrives, you’ll have nurses and hopefully a lactation consultant to lean on for a few days while you are in the hospital.

But then the day arrives when you are home with your baby and the responsibility of feeding her on your own is very real.  For some moms, that is a daunting task and can be quite discouraging if things are not going well.  On top of recovering from delivery and being very tired, hormones are rebalancing and emotions are high.  Getting frustrated when breastfeeding isn’t going exactly how you had imagined can lead to major set backs.

If that sounds like your story, it’s time to seek out a breastfeeding support group!

Breastfeeding Support Groups:  How They Can Help and Where to Find Them

Breastfeeding support groups are organized sessions of moms coming together to discuss the benefits, logistics, challenges and joys of breastfeeding.  By making a connection with other moms who are currently breastfeeding, you can get real-time advice on questions you have about breastfeeding and learn ways to improve feedings.  Support groups discuss everything from nursing positions, proper latch and breast pumps, to managing acid reflux, getting your baby to sleep better and how to engage your partner in feedings.  When new moms are talking shop, nothing is off limits and most groups have rules about not passing judgment on other moms. After all, your goals are the same:  to provide the best health for your baby in the most loving way you see fit.

Along with getting the scoop on which stores have the best lactation lounges, peer breastfeeding support groups improve mothers’ mental health and wellbeing by creating a sense of community.  The idea is that your life is better from a suggestion that someone else has given you, and you’ll want to pay it forward and help someone else.  This is the way all major change takes place – in this case it’s a matter of public health for babies, moms and the entire family unit.  Moms gain self-confidence to breastfeed but also pride in being part of a productive environment.  Sometimes all it takes is encouragement to get through a few bumps in the road and who better to help you through it than someone who is walking in your shoes.  Women can develop friendships with other moms who have babies around the same age and live in their neighborhoods.  These lasting relationships can carry over well past the breastfeeding stage as families continue to grow and become more entrenched in their community activities and schools.

Finding a breastfeeding support group is easier than you may think.  Here are some places to start:

La Leche League:  This nonprofit organization is a terrific resource for many breastfeeding topics and also has a database of breastfeeding support groups.

Women, Infants and Children (WIC): This government initiative works within groups and one-on-one to provide breastfeeding support to women on a community level.

Hospitals:  Many hospitals have breastfeeding support groups as an extension of their pre and post natal education.  They may offer an on-staff lactation consultant to answer questions during sessions.

Community Centers:  Community facilities such as YMCAs and religious establishments may offer breastfeeding support groups that are open to members and non-members.

Moms Groups:  Larger neighborhoods often have moms groups.  If there are many new moms in the group, start separate gatherings to talk about breastfeeding and infant care.

Online and Facebook:  If you can’t make it to meetings in person, chat with other moms online.  Some virtual meetings are video and/or audio conferences, while others are text chat-based.  Still others are forums to pose questions and get a variety of answers over time.

If you think you are a lone ranger in breastfeeding, think again.  Breastfeeding can be a team sport if you take advantage of the support in your community.  Don’t go it alone, seek out a breastfeeding support group in your area to not only solidify your commitment to breastfeeding, but to improve your mental wellbeing by connecting with new moms like you.

How to Take a Selfie with Your Baby

You’re probably all about taking pictures of your little one these days.  As you’re trying to capture her most adorable expressions, why not jump in a few of them yourself?  You’ll get to show her off plus you’ll have a sweet keepsake image of the two of you together.  It’s a win-win!

Today we’re giving tips on how to take a selfie with your baby:

How to Take a Selfie with Your Baby

Whether your baby is in a happy-go-lucky mood or oh-so-sad one, taking a selfie can be fun and engaging for your baby.  Plus you’ll have a cool pic to share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  If your baby is happy, emulate her with a big smile of your own.  If she’s making her famous funny face – perhaps roaring like a lion or looking completely surprised – give that pose your best shot.  If she’s pouty or crying, play off her mood with a frown or other humorous reaction to what all your friends and family know is a trying moment.  It actually may reduce your frustration if you can make light of the situation.  And the calmer you are, the better you’ll be able to handle even the fussiest times.

While you may be concerned about your hair, makeup and wardrobe, don’t worry about these hang-ups for your baby.  What could be cuter than a little drool on your baby’s onesie and a disheveled “yeh, I just woke up” hairdo?  When you’re under three, it’s completely acceptable!

A great time to take a selfie is during “first moments.”  First trip to the zoo, first time on an airplane, first time standing on her own – these are awesome opportunities to commemorate with a selfie.  Be sure to get some indication of where you are or what’s happening in the background so the picture will be as meaningful to others as it is to you.

When you’re ready to snap the photo, show your baby the camera or your phone briefly and then extend it out.  She’ll probably be interested in the device, which will make her look in its direction.  Try to position yourselves in a well-lit area so you do not need the flash; it may startle your baby and cause some scared tears.  Remember, a baby’s attention span is pretty short so after a few moments she may get bored of looking towards the camera and release her gaze elsewhere.  If you are using a smart phone camera, try reversing the camera screen so your baby can see herself while you’re taking the picture.  That will engage her attention longer and give you a second shot at the picture.  And if you have a very tech savvy little tot, see if she can press the button herself.  Now that will be a shot to remember!

Some of the best selfies with babies are the most tender, loving moments.  A kiss from mommy to baby, or better yet a kiss from baby to mommy, makes a very sweet picture to share with family and friends.  Or take a picture of yourself breastfeeding your baby as a reminder of the special bond you share during these early years of life.

What to do with all these selfies?  After you share them online, make a collage of the images and hang them in your baby’s room.  She’ll love looking at the two of you together now, and especially as she gets older.  You can also make a photo book to “read” to your baby to remind her of the many fun things you’ve done together.

We can’t wait to see how you take a selfie with your baby!  Share them with us on Facebook!

Lifelong Healthy Eating Habits Start at Birth

Most parents want their children to have healthy eating habits.  Getting proper nutrition helps our bodies in every way, from becoming strong and fit and developing more fine-tuned brains, to getting better sleep and being emotionally balanced.  Wondering how to teach your children about healthy eating?  Well, it starts at the very beginning of life.

New research released as part of the Infant Feeding Practices Study indicates that healthy eating habits start at birth.  In the study, mothers and babies were tracked from the third trimester of pregnancy through the first year of life.  They were again contacted when the children reached age six to examine which infant feeding practices were related to healthier diets in older children.  Overwhelmingly the study revealed that babies who were breastfed and given healthier food options in their first year of life were more likely to remain healthy and develop healthy eating habits.

tendernessSpecifically, the study showed that the longer babies were breastfed, the less likely they were to develop ear, throat or sinus infections.  Breastfed children also eat more fruit and vegetables and drink more water.  Most children followed the same pattern that was established in infancy – if they were given healthy options, they continued to eat healthy.  If the were given sugary drinks and snacks, they continued to eat that way at age six.

Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic in the U.S. and many resources are being used to educate parents and children on healthy eating habits.  But the first step starts with moms giving babies the best start in life through breastfeeding.  Beyond the perfect, wholesome nutrition breastfeeding gives babies, it creates stronger, smarter, healthier children.  It also creates a loving, intimate connection and a mealtime routine of being together for special family time.   The safety and security of this routine is an association that will remain with your baby throughout childhood and adulthood.  The long-term benefits of breastfeeding are undoubtedly the best gift you can give your baby.

It’s also important for parents to be role models for healthy eating habits too.  That includes showing your children how you eat all of the same healthy foods you offer your child; sitting down together for family meals; and setting an example by not over-eating.  Learning to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full are hard concepts for children but they are essential to healthy lifestyles.  Also, talking to babies and children about the value of good nutrition, which foods are healthy and where food comes from is helpful in creating a big-picture view.

Breastfeeding offers a wonderful opportunity to establish healthy habits in your children for many years to come.  Start your baby on the best path to health and wellness by being her advocate from birth.  She may not thank you now, but she will be very grateful in the future.

Prepare your Hospital Bag for Breastfeeding

You’ve probably been told already that as you enter your 8th month of pregnancy, you should have a hospital bag packed and ready to grab on the way out the door.  The last thing you want is your partner fumbling around trying to find the things you need as you’re having contractions.  So hopefully you’ve thought about the toiletries, snacks and adorable onesies you want to bring to the hospital when the big day arrives.  But have you thought about what you’ll need for breastfeeding?

Luckily, breastfeeding doesn’t require a whole lot of stuff.  After all, at its core, breastfeeding is about mother and baby and the most natural act of love and health on the planet.  But in these modern times, there are a few things you may want to have on hand to make breastfeeding more comfortable and to get yourself started off on the best possible path for a long and healthy breastfeeding experience.

Mom_nursingSoon after delivery, you’ll probably want to get out of your hospital gown and put on your own clothes, especially when you’re able to greet visitors.  In these first few days with your baby, you’ll want to nurse as much as possible.  Usually post-partum nurses and lactation specialists will recommend trying to breastfeed every three hours, or more often if your baby is fussy, seems hungry or just needs comfort.  Studies show the most successful breastfeeding begins when babies room with their mothers rather than going to the nursery for long stretches.

Pack nursing friendly night gowns and tops to make it simple to feed your baby day and night.  Gowns and shirts that cross over the chest or button down allow for easy access.  Bring at least three nursing bras with you to the hospital to wear under your nightgown and shirts.  You’ll want to make sure your breasts remain supported, even during the night.  Nursing bras made of soft, stretchy, breathable fabrics are best during this early stage of breastfeeding.  Nursing tank tops with clasps that allow you to drop each side one at a time are another great choice for the hospital, and they pair nicely with elastic waist pants.  Do not bring anything that will fit snuggly on your belly.

Every new mom should be prepared with some breast-comforting supplies.  Although you may not need them in the hospital, bring along cooling gel pads and lanolin cream in case your nipples get sore.  Not all women experience pain, but as hormones are rebalancing and your baby is learning to latch properly, your nipples may become sensitive.  Discontinue use of any cream if you feel it deters your baby from latching.  Usually cool gel pads or cold compresses can ease soreness.  Also bring your washable nursing pads in case your milk comes in full force while you’re in the hospital.  These will prevent leakage onto your bras and clothes.  If you expect many visitors, you may want to bring a nursing cover as well.

If you already have a breast pump – a great gift for grandma to give you and baby! – bring it to the hospital.  While the best way to stimulate milk and nourish your baby will be through breastfeeding, it’s important to know how to use your pump when you eventually need it.  A nurse or lactation consultant will be able to show you how to use it.  Should you or your baby experience any complications, you’ll want to pump in the hospital to encourage milk production while you are separated from your little one.  Along with the pump, you’ll need some bottles and storage bags, plus a marker to label your milk.

Lastly, bring along any books, pamphlets or other materials that you gathered about breastfeeding during pregnancy.  Skimming information you learned in a breastfeeding class or from your OB may strike a chord and make things easier as you and your baby are learning to breastfeed.  For example, these materials usually show pictures of different nursing positions or remind you how to achieve proper latch, which can be very helpful if this is your first time breastfeeding.  Also be sure to have you birth plan on hand that includes your breastfeeding intentions.  This will remind the hospital staff of how you want to feed your baby, including if you plan to nurse immediately after birth and keep your baby in your room with you.

With these few items – nursing friendly attire, nursing bras, comfort supplies, a breast pump and breastfeeding information – your breastfeeding hospital bag should be complete.  Congrats and we wish you much love and success in breastfeeding!