Question: What can I pack in my bag to bring to the hospital for birth to help get breastfeeding off to a good start?
Karen Prior replies: Planning ahead is definitely a good idea. I do have a list of items that can be taken in your hospital bag that might be handy to have. I call it the Breastfeeding First Aid Kit.
1. No Bottles! sign
Make two copies of this sign. Have one put in your chart when you arrive at the hospital, and keep the other on hand should your baby need to go to the nursery. It can be taped to his bassinette to alert the nurses that your baby is a breastfed baby and you do not want him to receive a bottle.
If your baby does not have time to learn to breastfeed well before receiving a bottle, she is at risk for “nipple confusion.” This puts your milk supply at risk, can even cause your baby to develop an inefficient suck and can cause you to have nipple soreness. Nipple confusion can also cause your baby to refuse the breast.
Lansinoh is a purified lanolin cream that helps treat and prevent sore and bleeding nipples. It is completely safe and does not have to be removed before breastfeeding. Simply place a small amount on your nipple before and after feedings. It can also be used to condition your nipples prior to birth.
You should be able to find it at your local pharmacy or grocery store in the baby care section, or call (800) 292-4794 to order a free sample. The sample size can be enough for most women.
If you do have early or persistent nipple pain, cracking or bleeding, it is a good idea to consult a lactation consultant or La Leche League leader. Nipple soreness can be associated with many things including thrush, nipple confusion, poor latch and improper positioning. Breastfeeding should not be painful.
3. Shot glass and salt packets
Should you get cracked or bleeding nipples, you can start to heal them fast by doing salt water soaks. Add a packet of salt (about half a teaspoon) to 8 ounces of very warm water. Pour the solution into your shot glass. Lean forward and place the cup against your breast with your nipple inside. Now you can sit up while maintaining the cup seal against your breast to create a nipple soak. Hold this for three to five minutes.
The salt helps cleanse the wound and promotes healing. If you experience a burning sensation, you have used too much salt. Repeat this after each feeding, before applying Lansinoh.
4. Nursing shirt or gown
It is quite understandable that you might feel uncomfortable exposing your breasts when your brother or father-in-law are visiting your baby. Having a nursing top will allow you to discreetly breastfeed your baby while you have visitors. This helps ensure that you feed your baby on demand, regardless of who is in the room.
Be sure you take a breastfeeding class or attend a few La Leche League meetings, and you will be all set!
© Karen Prior
Karen Prior’s impressive breadth of knowledge in the therapeutic uses of yoga, nutrition and prenatal fitness is backed by solid credentials: she is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance, a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, a clinical nutritionist and a retired La Leche League leader. Karen runs a Registered Yoga School, where she offers specialized training in prenatal yoga and yoga for children through her programs MamasteYoga and Let'sPlayYoga. Karen lives in Texas with her husband and young daughter.