Tuesday, August 2, 2011

getting ready for baby: feeding, breast and bottle

if you haven't read any of our other "getting ready for baby" posts, you can find some other useful tips here:

again, just to restate what we've said before, while we are mommies with experience, we're not experts with your baby. any decisions you need to make for you and your baby have to be focuses on what works for you. still, here are some tips about what has worked for us.

breast feeding:

let's begin with the items you will need first. these are items you should have with you at the hospital when your sweet baby arrives.

nursing bra: these make nursing so much easier. you'll be asked to nurse a lot in the hospital so bring some with you. buy nursing bras that fit your pregnancy boobies well. there is nothing more uncomfortable than overflowing out of your nursing bras.
lanolin: i'm not going to lie, getting started nursing isn't easy. the baby has to learn how to latch on properly and you'll need to learn how to teach him or her. it is a process and it can be a painful one. lanolin can really help with sore nipples. i know, it's probably more than you want to hear in the pre-baby planning bliss but it is reality. have lanolin at the hospital. you won't be sorry.
nursing pads: while you won't need these as desperately until your milk comes in, it's still a good idea to have them at the hospital. again, you'll want to use lanolin after you nurse. it is a bit greasy and nursing pads will save your clothes. they will be extremely valuable later when you hear another baby cry and you're trying to get checked out at target. nothing more embarrassing than giant wet spots on your boobies...just saying.
those will get you through the hospital visit. you may be really prepared and want some of the later items at the hospital, especially if you are incredibly modest. here's the way i looked at it. these people had just recently seen my legs up in stirrups and they have been back in to check me out for hemorrhoids. i'm pretty sure my nursing in my room is the least of my modesty worries.

nursing cover: these will make nursing in public so much more comfortable for you, and for those around you. i nursed my kids just about everywhere and a little bit of modesty on my part went a long way.
nursing pillow: i'm a fan of "my breast friend." the name alone makes me want to buy it. i've also used the boppy and find it works just as well. anything that can get your baby in the right position to nurse makes life easier and saves your arms as well.
breast pump: almost all nursing mothers at some point need to pump their breast milk for their baby. if this is your first baby and you plan on having more and you plan on nursing throughout your pregnancy, you may just want to purchase a good breast pump. i'm a firm believer in buying a top quality breast pump. the best ones are fast and efficient. don't skimp on this. you will be sorry you didn't get a nicer one and you'll probably end up buying a good one anyway. some people have a tough time nursing, however, and don't end up nursing past the baby's first few weeks. you may want to see how nursing goes for you and your baby before you invest in a breast pump. you can also rent these from most hospitals. i'd way all the options first and decide whether or not the investment is right for you. i did buy one with my first baby and am so happy i did.
milk storage bags: if you are going to use a breast pump, you'll need these as well. you'll also need bottles. my favorites are listed below.
a good place to nurse: nursing takes a while. it can take up big chunks of your day and night. find a place that is comfortable for you and the baby and stock it with things you like to do. stick your kindle there or a magazine you've been wanting to read. have the remote handy if you'd like to watch a show. get a large glass of water and have a coaster ready. grab the telephone and have it within arms reach. the last thing you want to do once you get settled nursing is to move at all. being prepared can make nursing a relaxing experience for you and the baby.

bottle feeding:

bottles and nipples: you'll want some bottles for newborns and some for older babies. bottle nipples vary by the age of your baby as well so purchase the various sizes and have them ready. my favorite bottles are dr. brown's bottles. they have been the best for my babies and their sensitive tummies.
formula: your doctor may recommend a formula for your baby. always follow your doctor's advice when feeding your baby. i was so careful with my first baby and then i compared the ingredients in the brand name formulas with the target brand of formulas and found they were identical and about $5.00 less per can. i started buying the generic. my kids survived. you can also go online and register for the various formula brands and they will not only send you a free sample canister but they will also send you coupons for $5.00 off of the cans of formula. it's so expensive and $5.00 buys you a starbucks.
formula dispenser: pre-measure your formula ahead of time and make a bottle fast. hungry babies are cranky. feeding them quickly lowers every one's stress levels. these also make traveling a breeze.
bottle brush: bottles aren't easy to clean and sometimes they get thrown by your baby into odd corners of their room where you'll find them a week later. you need a bottle brush to get into the bottles and clean them. they are cheap. buy two. most come with a nipple brush to wash out the nipples as well. spend the extra quarter and make sure the brush has a nipple cleaning attachment.
dishwasher bottle basket: some people go through so many steps to clean and sanitize their baby's bottles. i don't have time to be that detailed. i scrub mine out with a bottle brush and put it in the dishwasher. my dishwasher has an anti-bacterial setting and i'll use that one. even if your dishwasher doesn't have that setting, have you opened a dishwasher while it's running? do you feel the steam that comes out? i usually feel like i'm getting a facial. the bottle sanitizer that you would buy at the store uses the steam principle to clean your baby's bottle. that just seems like a lot of work when your dishwasher will do it for you. the bottle basket does make things easier and keeps all the bottle parts together in one handy place.
bottle warmer: i did use a bottle warmer as i transitioned from breast to bottle feeding my kids. it did seem to make the transition easier. i also used these when i didn't want to walk downstairs in the middle of the night. i had the warmer on my bedside table with a bottle filled with the right amount of water. when the baby cried, i turned on the warmer. when the water was warm, i used my formula dispenser and had a bottle ready without leaving my bed. i did eventually have to get out to go feed my baby but at that point, my husband sometimes could be convinced to do that for me.

for all babies, you'll want to have the following things handy:

burp clothes: babies spit up. some babies really spit up...a lot. having a burp cloth will save some of your clothes some of the time. they are totally worth it. if you're looking for something really easy to use as a burp cloth, buy a package of cloth diapers and use one to throw over your shoulder. they are inexpensive and absorbent...just what you'll need.
journal: this can be a little note pad or a nicer journal. the first few weeks of your babies life, you'll get asked how often they are eating, if they are nursing from both sides, how long they are nursing, how often they are pooping, how many ounces they are drinking with each bottle and how often. if you are nursing, you'll want to nurse starting on one side one time and the other side the next. there are so many little details to remember that it's easier to just jot them down in a journal. remember, you'll be exhausted and your brain won't be running on a full night's sleep. give yourself a break and jot down some notes.
i will throw something out here. i know some people swear by the little gadgets that are like baby beepers. they beep when it's time to eat, beep when it's time to sleep, beep all the time. i think this is going a bit far. i'm still pretty capable of looking at the clock and if a timer ever tells me to wake up my baby that i just got to sleep to feed him or her, that beeper is getting thrown across the room. beepers might be great if they were specifically designed for your baby, anticipating your day and your baby's needs. they are machines, however, and will never be able to read you or your baby like you will. trust yourself. you can be a great parent without a baby beeper.

that's the basics. did we forget anything? if there's something you couldn't live without, let us know. we're always eager to learn from other mommy experts.