What are the essential items I’ll need to start nursing?
There are so many different supplies available in both retail and online stores that it can be overwhelming and confusing for new parents. Let’s try to narrow it down to the absolute essentials to keep things simple and easy:
You’ll want to have a bra that fits properly and provides support to prevent soreness and back pain due to the increased weight of your breasts. A comfortable sleep style bra is also a must-have. Washable cotton or paper nursing pads and some nipple cream are also key elements in your nursing supplies.
The herbal ingredients in many nipple creams provide both healing and soothing comfort to tender, sore nipples.
- Lanolin-based nipple cream or ointments provide a barrier of protection over the nipple but do not heal nipples that are cracked or are sore from the trauma of a shallow latch. If you are using a lanolin based cream, you may wish to switch to encourage the healing process. You don’t need to wipe off any of the nipple treatments before nursing your baby.
Soothing gel pads can be used to protect the nipple from trauma and the associated pain caused by clothing such as a bra, bra pads, a shirt or pajamas. Place the gel pads in the fridge while you are nursing or pumping and wear them between feedings or pumping sessions. The pads can be gently washed with cool water if they get gooey and can last for about 4 – 6 days. Most moms feel better before the recommendation for normal use expires.
Breast shells are useful for moms with sore nipples or moms with flat or inverted nipples. If you’re concerned that you might have flat or inverted nipples, consult your physician, midwife or lactation consultant as soon as possible. Expectant moms should not start wearing breast shells until the 37th week of pregnancy since the pressure the shells exert on the nipples can cause uterine contractions in some high risk moms. Normal, healthy and uncomplicated pregnancies after 37 weeks can wear breast shells to term, but you should still discuss when to wear them with your physician or lactation consultant.
Nipple shields are another type of breastfeeding aid made of silicone that can be used by moms who have flat or inverted nipples, or nipples that are hard to latch for one reason or another.
- A lactation consultant can help you determine if you need nipple shields to achieve a successful latch on.
- In many cases, nipple shields can help moms who are having pain while latching or during feeding while the nipple heals.
- Nipple shields typically do not reduce the amount of milk being produced by the breast or restrict flow to the baby.
- Weekly weight checks can help eliminate any anxiety you might experience regarding available milk supply.
Sometimes less is more. Again, there are many products that can help you and your baby have a positive nursing experience. Start with some of the essentials above and if you feel like something is missing or you’re working harder than you should be, chat with your lactation consultant and revisit the baby store to find the appropriate solution.
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