Welcome to the Pregnancy Necessities Carnival!
This post was written for inclusion in the Pregnancy Necessities Carnival hosted by Parenting God’s Children. Today, participants share what they simply cannot live without during their pregnancies or simply what to gather for their upcoming new addition. Please see the full list of links to the other carnival submissions at the end of this post. Enjoy!
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So, you are an expectant mom, you plan to breastfeed, and you wonder what products you should have on your list to buy before baby arrives? As breastfeeding regains popularity in our society, more and more products are available on the market for nursing moms. Here is a list of things you may want to put on your shopping list. Or not. You may not need to buy many of these after all.

1. Nursing bras - These bras allow you to unclip one side for easy access to your boob at feeding time. They are pretty useful, but not necessary for everyone. I have one friend who doesn’t wear a bra ever – nursing or not! My regular bra has enough elastic, and my breasts are small enough, that I can just pull one side down under my boob for access, without the need to use specialized bras. Also consider nursing tanks instead, which also cover your tummy.

2. Nursing pads – Put them in your bra to catch the milk you leak. These come in washable or disposable varieties, as well as LilyPadz. I liked the contoured pads best and felt like they didn’t show as much through my shirt as the flat variety. I actually started wearing these when I was still pregnant and started leaking colostrum, but not everyone leaks. They are most helpful for the first few months with baby, and you probably won’t continue to need them later on in your nursing career. If you are crafty, you could also make these yourself pretty easily using scraps.

3. Nursing shirts/dresses – These clothes are designed with openings underneath so that you can nurse very discreetly in public. I found them really essential in the beginning, when I was not very comfortable with nursing in public yet. I bought some online from Motherwear and Expressiva, but I found them to be quite expensive. I got the rest of mine at consignment sales, usually mixed in with the maternity clothes, where they were much cheaper! As time went on, I got better at nursing in public and felt fine just pulling up my regular shirt without needing special nursing clothes. I do still wear specialized nursing dresses though. Most of my regular dresses are not nursing friendly though, and obviously I can’t just pull them up to nurse the way I do with a shirt! Some styles of dresses are more nursing friendly though, where you can pull them down from the top.

4. Nursing coversThese are typically a sheet of fabric that covers the baby while nursing and attaches around your neck so that it doesn’t fall off. These are also meant to ease nursing in public if you are uncomfortable with others seeing baby nursing. Some people love them, others hate them. Personally, I never used one. This is another item that you could probably easily make yourself.

5. Breastfeeding pillow- The Boppy and My Breast Friend are the most popular examples of breastfeeding pillows. They are designed to prop the baby close to your breast to put baby in a comfortable position for feeding. Some people find these very helpful. They are completely optional though. You can get the same effect from a few throw pillows under your elbow. I used it with my first, but never did with my second.

6. Lanolin – You put lanolin on your nipples if they hurt. It’s like ultimate chap stick to heal the cracks. It is particularly useful in the first few weeks, when your nipples are still adjusting to nursing. Some people use a ton of it, but I only used a tiny bit and found I had lots left over. I never actually purchased it. You can email Medela and Lansinoh and tell them you are an expectant mother and ask if they have any free samples they can send. They both sent me free tubes of lanolin, and it was way more than I ever needed. One thing to consider is that lanolin can promote thrush, so be aware that not all nipple pain should be treated with lanolin. There are non-lanolin nipple cream options too, for those looking for an alternative.

7. Breast Pump – Are you going to be separated from baby, ie work or school? If so, you probably want a quality, double electric pump. The most popular brands for this are Medela, Ameda, and the newer Hygeia. If you are not planning to be separated from baby, you do not need a pump unless you want one. It is in no way true that all nursing mothers need to have a pump. It is your choice. For occasional pumping, I’d say once per day or less, I would recommend just a manual or a cheap electric – you don’t need an expensive pump in this situation. Now, if you end up dealing with an unusual circumstance, such as prematurity or cleft palate, then you will want to use a high quality pump. You don’t need the pump in advance though. I think it is fine to wait until baby is born and see what your situation is. Even if you do use it, it likely won’t be until several weeks out with a healthy baby if you do not plan to be separated.

8. Hands-free pumping bra – If you will be pumping more than once per day, this may be useful for you. I never used one when pumping at work for my first, but I did for my second and thought it was really helpful just so I could do other things while pumping, such as writing, typing, or turning the pages of a book. If you will only be pumping once per day or less often, I probably wouldn’t bother with this though. The more common style can only be used for pumping, but I needed one that could be used for nursing or pumping, because I pumped at work, but nursed on my lunch break, and didn’t want to change my bra several times per day! You could also make your own DIY hands-free pump setup using hair-ties, as demonstrated on Kellymom.

9. Bottles and bottle nipples – If you do use a pump, you will also likely use bottles. If you don’t pump, then you may not need bottles at all – not all babies use bottles! If/when you do buy bottles, I recommend only getting the smaller 4-5 oz size, and not the big 8 oz size. Formula fed babies typically do need the larger bottles eventually, but breastfed babies rarely take more than 4-5 oz in a bottle (mine never took more than 3oz). Along with bottles go nipples. Use the slowest flow nipple you can find to prevent nipple preference; there is no need to ever increase the flow as your baby gets older. Keep in mind that some brands of “slow flow” or “stage 1″ nipples are slower than others. And some babies are picky and will only take certain brands. I made the mistake of buying a bunch of one kind, and then not being able to use them. I say wait and see what you need; you don’t need this in advance either.

10. Milk storage bags – Most people who pump end up freezing milk too, and most freeze milk in special storage bags. I preferred the Lansinoh brand for this, personally. Some other brands were hard for me to seal properly and leaked on me. Don’t freeze in too large of amounts. Just because the bag can hold 8 oz, doesn’t mean you should freeze 8 oz – then you have to thaw 8 oz! If your baby only drinks 3 oz servings, then you’ve just wasted the rest. If you freeze in smaller amounts, you can always thaw another bag if needed. I didn’t freeze in bags at all for my second baby; I used ice cube trays. They freeze in nice 1 oz portions, which I can then pop out and store in plain ziplock freezer storage bags. No expensive milk bags to buy, and always easy to thaw the number of ounces that I want.

Bottom line: none of this stuff is essential for every nursing mom. All you really need to breastfeed are your baby and your boobs. Some products can help ease the process, but it’s optional. Pumping is not required for breastfeeding, and half of these products are irrelevant if you never pump.

When I was pregnant with my first, we ended up buying all sorts of things that seemed so essential at the time, but that we never actually needed at all (a bottle warmer that plugs into the car for my baby who never even took a bottle!). When I was pregnant with my second, I really wanted to buy stuff (I guess I was “nesting”), but couldn’t find anything that I needed! You really don’t need all the stuff at all!

**Disclaimer: No links are affiliate links and I have received no free products or monetary payment in exchange mentionimg or linking any products. Product mentions and links are simply for illustration and examples for readers’ convenience. Product preferences mentioned reflect only my personal opinions of products with which I am familiar.**

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Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants!