After seeing a few pregnant mamas looking overwhelmed at the options, I thought I'd put together a list of what I consider breastfeeding essentials for a baby registry. Please note that the list does not call out any specific brand names, only item categories.
- A pump? A very common misconception is that all breastfeeding mothers need breast pumps. If you won't be away from your baby for extended periods of time, you may want to consider not getting a pump at all. Go down to number 4 on this list.
If you'll be heading back to work, contact your insurance company or local WIC office if you have Medicaid. Since most US insurance plans are now required to provide moms with a new breast pump or cover the cost of pump rental, you may want to pass on adding a double electric pump to your registry. Instead, consider adding a manual pump to use as back up.
- Pump parts and storage bags. If you'll be receiving a pump from insurance, consider adding spare parts to your list. If you're going to be pumping on a regular basis (like at work), you can expect membranes and valves to wear out. In fact, many pump manufacturers recommend replacing parts every few months. Save yourself some stress and some money by adding these to your registry. Don't forget breastmilk storage bags!
- Bottles and their accessories. If you plan on using bottles, realize that your baby may not like the particular brand you get. Some babies are very selective when it comes to bottles. A sterilizer, drying rack, and bottle brush will make it very easy for your partner to clean the bottles ;-)
- Nursing pads, soothing pads, and balms. I've found reusable nursing pads to be much softer than disposables. I'd recommend adding several sets to your registry, as they can get misplaced. Soothing balms helped me immensely during the first several weeks of breastfeeding. I also recommend adding heating and cooling soothing pads. They feel wonderful when your breasts are engorged.
- The cover. The age old (breastfeeding in public) question: to cover or not to cover? The only answer to that is to do what you're comfortable with. I started breastfeeding in public using a cover. Juggling a hungry and floppy newborn and my gigantic breast were difficult enough without worrying about accidentally flashing the place. Once baby was older and we had our latch down, I was able to ditch the cover and nurse by layering my shirts. I used a nursing cover like a kid uses training wheels on a bike. Anyway, if you'd feel more comfortable with a cover (whether it's just for the first few months or forever), add it to your registry.
- Breastfeeding pillow and stool. A nursing pillow was key for me during the early months of breastfeeding. It helped me bring baby to breast and the nursing stool helped make sure I wasn't leaning forward in an uncomfortable way.
- Breastfeeding underthings. I lived in camisoles for the first several weeks. They provided support, coverage, and I would throw a t-shirt on top of them when going out. I had easy breast access and they were very comfortable.
Consider adding a sleep bra to your registry rather than a traditional nursing bra. A nursing mother's bra size can fluctuate quite a bit initially. Sleep bras are typically sized S, M, L, XL, and are very stretchy.
If you plan on returning to work, add a hands free pumping bra. Many moms cut small holes into an inexpensive sports bra, but who wants to disrobe from the waist up when you're pumping at work?