Hospital Bag Must Haves

Hospital Bag Must Haves

May 02, 2018

A Lactation Consultant’s Guide to Your Breastfeeding Hospital Bag

While you might think that you only need your breasts, my experience has taught me to expect the unexpected and be prepared for it.

What might you need? Let me tell you what I’ve learned....

Pillow Perfection: Bring your favorite pillow, with your own pillow case, for behind your head, neck, shoulders or back. Extra pillows for under your knees when on your back or one for between your legs when side lying might be needed. Ask the hospital staff for 4 more pillows as soon as you get to your postpartum bed to support your just born from head-to-toe for breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding Pillow: If you’ve got one and you have the space...bring it. Those extra hospital pillows are your breastfeeding pillows so no need to bring your own. If you are staying in the hospital for several days, a breastfeeding pillow might be needed and can be brought from home later. The hospital’s lactation consultant can show you how to correctly position the pillows and your baby during the first feedings.

Cooling/Warming Nursing Pads: Cooling or warming gel nursing pads might be needed to ease initial breastfeeding discomfort associated with early engorgement and they can soften your breast tissue so that your baby can latch deeply.  Mommy Knows Best Breast Therapy Gel Packs can be warmed or cooled in tap water if no fridge or microwave is available.

Lactation Cookies and Protein Bars: Bake a batch of lactation cookies, or better yet, ask a friend to bake several batches...and bring a dozen with you in your bag. Mommy Knows Best has developed the only lactation boosting cookie available with blessed thistle herb, flaxseed, brewer's yeast, and oats baked into each cookie to help boost breast milk quickly. Expect to have cravings of your favorite foods (non-refrigerated) and have them in your bag ready to go. Granola bars, pretzels, peanut butter, dark chocolate and ask visitors to bring fresh fruit. Fresh fruit and raw vegetables might be needed to supplement the hospital food and keep your gut regular.

Pajamas, robes, nursing bras: Hospitals are either too cold or too warm. Pack comfortable layers so that you can be just right throughout your stay and clothing is always optional. You’ll want clothing that is easy to slip, tuck or otherwise expose your breasts to your newborn so she can remain skin-to-skin as much as possible.  Wear a loose-fitting, stretchy bra if you are uncomfortable without one and slippers, a few sizes larger than your normal size, might be needed if you have swollen feet. The socks with the grips on the bottom supplied by the hospital are fine in the short-term, and I have seen a new mom practically swoon over a soft towel from home, after her first shower.

“Breastfeeding All Day and Night. Always Knock” sign:  You have the right to your privacy.  Make and place a sign on your door that sends the message that you are an individual and you require recognition.  Keep your privacy curtain pulled around you and create your own recovery cocoon in which to recuperate and breastfeed comfortably - without hall walkers peering in. Your care providers, friends and family won’t be offended if they are asked for your “all clear” before entering.

Envelope for Paperwork: You will be handed documents, hospital pamphlets, new baby educational materials and more important information. Put a large envelope or folder into your bag so that you have a place to safely store these items while your thoughts are understandably scattered.

Extra Bag for Freebies: Accept all offers! Take diapers, mesh underwear, sanitary pads, those blue absorbent liners for under you and your baby and any gifts or flowers you might have received. Fold up a light tote and put it at the bottom of your bag so that you have room to take these items home.

My most recent client, Adelaide, is 37 weeks pregnant. She is expecting her 2nd baby.  I asked her what she brought in her breastfeeding bag for her 1st birth and she replied, “Nothing.”

“What might you bring this time?” I asked.

“Nothing”, she replied. “Once I’m home, I have a Medela hand pump, collection bottles, an SNS (Medela supplemental nursing system), support pillow, foot stool, formula, gel cooling breast pads and a lactation consultant, YOU, who will help me and my baby ASAP.”

Addie went on to add, “Having used Medela’s manual pump, several consumer electric brands and hospital electrics last time, I opted only to have the manual to start this time. I will rent a hospital grade pump if the need arises.  It can be delivered same day by https://yummymummystore.com . Since my work schedule was so unpredictable, the manual was great to just always have in my purse in case I needed to take the edge off while I was on the go. I know more stuff might be needed but since I live where deliveries are easy, I’m gonna wait.”

Some expectant mothers like to be over-prepared, others adopt a wait-and-see attitude and travel light. With this wise list of items for your breastfeeding hospital bag, choose what might be just right for you.

P.S. Save the ID bracelets that were placed on you and your newborn.  They will be treasured when you’re older.

Paula Zindler
RN IBCLC



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