Packing a maternity bag for a hospital or birthing centre? Don’t forget things to help you and your baby get breastfeeding off to a good start.
Your maternity bag checklist
So you’ve packed the teeny-tiny sleepsuits, relaxing music, toothbrush, toiletries and all-important going-home outfit – but does your delivery bag include anything to help with breastfeeding? While the most important things are your breasts and your baby, the right clothing and accessories will give you extra support. Add some of our gallery suggestions to your maternity bag checklist – and good luck with the start of your breastfeeding journey!
1: Nursing bras and vests
You’ll need nursing bras or vest tops in soft, comfortable fabric with no wires that could dig into your breasts, which might soon be feeling rather tender! Buy them on the large side, as your breasts are likely to fill out further once your milk ‘comes in’. And choose a style with clips so you can undo it one-handed, while holding your baby in the other arm.
“I bought nursing tank tops that were quick to unclip, allowing my baby to reach my breasts easily. They had a supportive panel inside that held my breasts very well, and were more comfortable than all the bras I tried.” Peggy, mum of one, Switzerland.
2: Nursing or breast pads
Leaky breasts aren’t typically a problem in the first couple of days of breastfeeding, as your milk hasn’t yet come in properly. But it’s worth packing a few absorbent nursing pads (also known as breast pads) in case your first breast milk – colostrum – leaks from your nipples. Disposable nursing pads are handy for taking to hospital and convenient when you get home.
3: Breastfeeding nightwear
The nightdresses or pyjamas you pack will need to be ultra-comfortable and allow easy access to your breasts. Many mums also like to wear a comfy night-time nursing bra while sleeping, to support their breasts and keep nursing pads in position.
“I wore stretchy bra tops in bed. I could pull them up easily for night feeds and they also held my breast pads in place.” Julie, mum of one, UK.
4: Nursing tops and dresses
Choose clothes that will allow your newborn to feed easily and comfortably, with plenty of room for your post-partum belly and bigger breasts. A couple of specially designed breastfeeding tops or dresses, with discreet flaps, slits or wrap-over panels for nursing, can make breastfeeding easier, especially in the early days.
“Essentials are feeding dresses or tops that are easy to use and don’t need a bra as well. I found these were most comfortable straight after I’d given birth.” Amy, mum of two, Australia.
5: Lanolin cream
Nipple soreness is common in the first few days of breastfeeding, so pack some lanolin cream to soothe and moisturise irritated skin. Pure lanolin is non-toxic and hypoallergenic, so there’s no need to wash it off before breastfeeding your baby.
“The best thing I packed was lanolin nipple cream – along with the knowledge from friends that, even though breastfeeding can be difficult at first, it soon gets easier.” Katie, mum of two, UK.
6: Breastfeeding cover or apron
You might want to add a nursing cover, apron or shawl to your hospital packing list if the prospect of breastfeeding when you have visitors makes you self-conscious. This way you can have some privacy while you feed.
“Second time round I got a cover with a scooped neckline – it made me feel so much more at ease than trying to latch with a bare breast.” Gina, mum of two, Germany.
Other breastfeeding accessories you might need before the birth
It’s a good idea to find out whether your hospital or birth facility has a qualified lactation consultant on the staff. If it doesn’t, get a local lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist’s contact details before the birth so you’re prepared for any potential breastfeeding problems.
To avoid having to rush to the shops with a newborn, it’s worth gathering things that might help you breastfeed at home before the birth too.
A moon- or U-shaped nursing pillow may make breastfeeding your newborn easier and more comfortable once you get home. You may be allowed to take one into hospital but, if not, there might be one in the nursing room you can borrow. “My first child was born by c-section and I found U-shaped pillows helped me feed comfortably.” Gina, mum of two, Germany.
Some mums also find that cooling hydrogel pads can be soothing in the days following the birth, especially when their milk starts coming in.
*Products shown in images may not be available in your country.