- Lanolin: Be prepared because your nipples are about to become baby’s chew toy. They will give you samples at the hospital so take home as many there as you can, but also invest in a big tube. What makes Lanolin so great is that it’s safe for baby so you don’t have to worry about wiping it off before breast feeding. Apply often.
- Breast pump: I have United Healthcare and my insurance covered one 100% so find out if your insurance does before you buy one. Just call your insurance, and they will give you a list of wholesale providers. You pick the one you want and order from there. I wish I had mine to start with because I could have been pumping right from the beginning instead of waiting two weeks for mine to arrive. (Note: Tucked within the Affordable Care Act is a provision requiring insurance companies to cover breast pumps and visits to lactation consultants at no cost to the patient.)
- Breast milk storage kit: If you are going to pump you will need bottles to pump into, get a storage kit and a few bottles to feed your baby with. Look for one that has freezer bags so you can stash some for later like when you return back to work. Being able to pump a bottle gives me the freedom to leave the house and attend yoga for an hour which has been a sanity saver to say the least.
- Breast pads: You won’t think you’ll need these until you leak through your first bra or tank top, but you will. I have been so paranoid about clogged ducts so I change mine often. Invest in a box of 60 or more to start with but you’ll need more guaranteed. They also have washable ones that you can reuse, but if they are anything like baby socks they will probably disappear in your laundry.
- Colase: Here is the not so pretty truth – childbirth and then breast feeding takes a lot out of you. You need to drink more water than ever so you don’t get dehydrated and get, well, backed up. They will probably give you colase in the hospital but keep some on hand at home too. With the million other things going on in your mind you will probably forget to hydrate, and this will come in handy when you do. That being said, remember to keep a glass of water by you when you breast feed and drink the whole thing, and then you won’t need the colase to begin with.
- Medicated Wipes: When you are in the hospital you will get your very own squirt bottle, and I suggest you bring it home. You will use this as a means to clean yourself after you use the bathroom (don’t worry you’ll figure out what I mean after giving birth if you have your baby vaginally). Medicated wipes with witch hazel will help you on your bathroom adventure as well. The non-generic types go by the name of Tucks, and they can be found by Preparation H, which you might as well throw in the shopping cart tool. I know some of you reading this aren’t going to do this… and then you will send your husband out for these items so save him the trouble and get them now
- Nightime nursing bra: Buy yourself a nice nursing bra before you have your baby but don’t go crazy stocking up because you won’t know how big your boobs will be until your milk comes in. Then they will be huge and then they will settle to meet the needs of your baby/pumping. You will also need a nursing bra to wear at night, which ideally is made from stretchy sports-bra like material. My boobs hurt so much in the beginning I didn’t want anything touching them so I slept without a bra – big mistake for my sheets the next day. Tuck some nursing pads in them, and you’ll be set until baby wakes you up at 1:30AM.
- Nursing tank tops: Although you may be able to fit into your regular clothes post-partum the trick then becomes finding something to wear that is “nursing friendly”. Basically you will need a few tops that you can wear out in public and easily nurse in without completely having to undress yourself. Also you will find with your expanded bra size many of your shirts are too small so invest in a few, you’ll be happy you did. If you plan on breastfeeding a year than consider that when purchasing new tops.
- Pads: Another not so pretty fact of vaginal childbirth is the postpartum bleeding. I recommend an assortment of absorbances because you have no idea how long you might hemorrhage. Another item you do not want to run out and have to buy at the store postpartum. As a side note stock up on the mesh panties the hospital gives you. Trust me.
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About the Author: Natalie Magee writes a regular column for Happiness Series about what motherhood and beyond - from prenatal to postpartum. Her intention with her column, "Baby & Beyond - What No One Else Will Tell You" is to give practical advice and tips to the busy mom and mom-to-be. She also shares her experiences good, bad and ugly as a woman, wife, mom, flight attendant and fitness instructor. Natalie is also a regular fitness contributor on Happiness Series. She will continue to create great, effective workouts for anyone - including the busy moms out there - who wants to get fit and stay in shape.