BABY ESSENTIALS FOR NEW MOMS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BREASTFEEDING
June 4, 2021
Starting Your Breastfeeding Journey
No matter what stage of parenting or pregnancy you’re currently in, preparing to welcome a new baby to your family is an amazing experience that requires a lot of preparation and decision making. Some of the choices you’ll make are fun and can involve other friends and family members, like choosing which color to paint the nursery. However, the decision to breastfeed is highly personal and can only be made by mom.
If breastfeeding is what works best for your family, there are some key baby essentials for new moms that will make life a little easier and a lot more comfortable!
It’s impossible to know whether your baby will naturally take to breastfeeding or need some attentive training to get comfortable and full at each feeding. Instead of rushing out to get every available product that promises to solve breastfeeding problems, we highly encourage you to stick to the essentials and add from there as you get to know your baby and your own needs. We’ve created a baby feeding supplies list to help you make your little one’s transition from womb to world a little bit easier.
There’s a reason that nursing pillows top every list of baby essentials for new moms - they’re simply a must-have for breastfeeding.
What is it?
A nursing pillow is a C-shaped cushion with a soft cover that is designed to rest on your lap and support your arms while breastfeeding. While there are several different holds that work for breastfeeding, each hold relies on a basic method of cradling your baby’s body in line with your breast. When placed on your lap, a nursing pillow is perfectly situated to support the baby, regardless of your feeding position.
Why Do You Need it?
First and foremost, a nursing pillow will allow you to transfer the weight of your baby to the cushion instead of your shoulders, forearms and elbows. Even though newborns and infants only weigh eight or ten pounds, constantly shifting their body and holding the same position for long periods of time can get exhausting. It’s guaranteed that your arms will get tired without a soft, supportive cushion that’s easy on your elbows.
Most moms realize soon after they start breastfeeding (especially in the first few weeks) that all of their attention and effort goes toward specific feeding techniques, including getting the baby to latch properly. Getting a baby to latch and feed comfortably might require a unique approach, and many moms have to multitask while feeding by conducting manual breast massage or more. The unique shape of a nursing pillow allows you to precisely position and readjust your baby’s body or head for the best angle and height.
Dads will also appreciate nursing pillows when holding napping babies or bottle feeding. Additionally, the pillow can be positioned around your little one once they start sitting up to provide extra support!
If you plan to leave the house at all while breastfeeding (which you deserve), a nursing cover is crucial for getting some privacy and nursing with confidence.
What is a Nursing Cover?
Nursing covers are an outerwear garment designed to be used over your clothes when breastfeeding. Often made from comfortable and lightweight fabrics, nursing covers typically attach around the neck and extend to the mid-thigh. We highly recommend using a nursing cover that has these specific design features:
- An adjustable neck strap to get the exact fit you need.
- A neckline made with adjustable, semi-rigid material that can hold the cover away from your baby and give you full visibility.
- Interior pockets for discreet storage.
- A pattern that adds some stylish flair to your outfit!
Why Do You Need a Nursing Cover?
While nursing covers might seem like more of a fashion accessory than an essential breastfeeding item, they actually have a surprising amount of utility for helping your baby breastfeed in a public area. Babies (particularly those without siblings) are often easily distracted by noises, lights, motion or basically anything that’s different from the quiet, calm room where they normally feed. This propensity for distraction can make breastfeeding outside the home difficult and a little exasperating.
By limiting their field of vision, a nursing cover will help keep your baby focused on the task at hand: feeding! Reducing distractions will cut down on the total amount of time spent breastfeeding and help ensure that your baby eats enough during their nursing session, no matter where you are.
Accompanying the joyful, intimate moments with your baby are a host of other surprises that breastfeeding moms will experience along the way. Once their milk comes in, one of the first things new moms discover is frequent milk leakage that can stain bras and shirts, sometimes showing through clothing. This dripping can happen unexpectedly, unpredictably, imperceptibly and well before your baby is even born (as early as the 2nd trimester).
What are Nursing Pads?
Usually made from cotton, nursing pads are a circular padded cloth insert design to fit directly into a nursing bra. Most nursing pads are machine washable and reusable.
Why Do You Need Nursing Pads?
Nursing pads are the best way to absorb excess milk, colostrum or any other discharges that could stain and leak through clothes. Beyond the practical benefits of their absorption, nursing pads can also provide some soothing relief for sore nipples and breasts. For example, gel nursing pads have a cooling, calming effect for irritated areas.
Breast Pumps, Bottles & Accessories
A list of baby essentials for new moms should definitely include a breast pump, effective bottles for your baby and a host of helpful accessories. Breast pumps are required for many reasons, including for working moms who need to pump at work and save breast milk for later, or for parents who split feeding responsibilities by letting dad use the bottle.
There are an almost overwhelming number of options for breast pumps, but you can make this decision easier by matching a pump’s features to your exact needs, including if you plan to pump frequently while traveling or if you need a powerful pump to get the job done quickly at home or work.
A discreet and portable single electric pump makes the whole process much easier for moms on the go. Small pumps will be easier to place in a purse, tote bag or back-pack and offer battery operated modes for added convenience.
Larger pumps are less portable but can easily express milk from both breasts simultaneously and offer a greater range of control over the power settings. Some large pumps are thoughtfully designed to look like a tote bag or a backpack, making them easier to carry and store.
In addition to electric pumps, many moms also opt to get a hand pump for simpler extraction that doesn’t make sound or require access to any power source. Hand operated pumps are incredibly easy to take anywhere.
Many breastfeeding moms use bottles to feed their babies breastmilk that was previously pumped or to supplement with formula. There are numerous sizes and styles of baby bottles available, but here are a few criteria to consider as you’re shopping:
- Some bottles are designed to more closely mimic the natural shape of a breast to help prevent nipple confusion. This shape is often considered the best feeding bottle for newborns.
- Flow rate is the primary difference between nipple options, and you’ll want to choose a slower flow for newborns then gradually change over time as your baby is able to handle the increased rate.
- Newborns typically (not always) only drink a few ounces of milk at a time, so consider getting multiple bottle sizes or a complete set so you’re prepared for the larger bottles your baby will want as they get older.
- You might not get it right on the first try. Many moms end up trying several brands and only learn what works best for their child through trial and error - give yourself some grace!
Now that your baby feeding supplies list is almost complete, let’s finish up with a few crucial accessories that will help you get the most out of your other items.
- A beautiful, sleek bag for carrying your nursing cover.
- Freezer-safe containers or bags for long-term storage of breast milk.
- Lanolin nipple cream to soothe cracked, dry or sore nipples.
- Drying rack for bottles, pump pieces and other nursing equipment
- Steam sterilizers to keep bottles safe and clean.
- Bottle cleaning brushes.
- Bottle warmers to get reheated breast milk to just the right temperature before feeding.
- A handy dishwasher container for washing all of your accessories at one time.
- A cooler bag for taking breast milk on the go.