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!