The following is a guest post by Ashley who blogs at Such Great Heights.
Just like anything else, you can spend a lot of money on breastfeeding supplies and goodies. While overall, breastfeeding is much less expensive than formula feeding but if you buy everything available to the breastfeeding mother, you will find yourself wondering where your savings went.
Here are some practical tips for what to buy and what to save on:
Nursing Cover- While some moms swear by these, a lot of moms I’ve talked to say they are nothing more than something else to fool with.
My baby won’t allow a blanket to be placed over her head while she’s eating. Plus, some see the wildly patterned nursing covers as a sign that reads “Hey! Look over here! I’m feeding a baby!” The key to discreet nursing is planning. Shirts that can be untucked and lifted from the waist up provide coverage over the top of the breast and the baby covers the mother’s abdomen. Nursing discreetly can take practice, so I recommend nursing in front of people you know as a practice run.
Expensive Reminder Bracelet- Remembering which side you last nursed on is difficult in the postpartum haze but a specially designed bracelet is not necessary. Some moms put a safety pin on their bra straps to remind them. Other moms transfer a ring (like your wedding band) from hand to hand with each nursing session. The point is, you don’t have to spend money on a special contraption.
Breast pump- There are a ton of really great breast pumps out on the market. Before you sink $300 into a breast pump because “it’s the best” look at your needs. Are you going to be pumping every day at work? Then a quality, double pump is necessary. Are you going to occasionally pump? Maybe a hand pump or a single automatic is more appropriate for you. Remember that many moms find hand expression much easier and simpler than pumping. All you need is a clean container to express into. If you are having supply issues or are exclusively pumping, a hospital grade rental breast pump is necessary in order to maintain your milk supply.
Disposable Nursing Pads- If you are a mom who leaks you will need some sort of nursing pad to soak up leaks. Buying disposable nursing pads and throwing them away can create a lot of waste and put a dent in your budget. Washable, reusable nursing pads are a nice alternative. You can buy them in most retail stores or some work-at-home moms make them and sell them online.
Lotions and Potions- There are as many creams on the market to treat sore nipples as there are causes of the problem. While you may find some of these products soothing if you have a problem, the cause of the problem really needs to be addressed to provide you relief.
Baby Timer- In our culture we tend to want to put babies on schedules very early. This is not the best idea for a breastfed baby. Newborns need to be nursed every two to three hours but many babies nurse more often than this in the beginning. Attempting to put a breastfeeding baby on a schedule can cause poor weight gain and low milk supply in the mother.
Now, there are some things that I absolutely think require an investment. They are below:
Good Lactation Care- After you have a baby you should meet with a lactation support professional to see how things are going. Most hospitals will have a lactation consultant visit you during your stay. Should you encounter a problem, find a lactation consultant and get their advice.
Breastfeeding Pillow- You should choose a breastfeeding pillow that is made only for breastfeeding. U-shaped pillows that claim to be baby loungers or tummy-time supports are generally not thick or supportive enough for a breastfeeding baby. My favorite nursing pillow is the My Breast Friend nursing pillow. Often, you can find these on Craigslist for much less than you would pay in the store.
Ashley is a wife, mother, breastfeeding advocate and certified lactation counselor, doula and Speech Pathology graduate student. Everyday she is learning to balance all of the blessings that she has received.