What to Have In Your Hospital Bag If You Plan to Breastfeed

Preparing for your newborn’s arrival can be a lot of work— there’s getting the nursery ready, working on your birth plan, and of course packing your bag to take with you to the hospital! In addition to onesies, swaddles, and baby gear, if you’re planning to breastfeed there are a few essentials you’ll want to have packed to help make the start of your breastfeeding journey easier. Here is a handy checklist from Nannie Reinert, one of our certified pediatric sleep consultants and a lactation education counselor.

  • Breastfeeding pillow: Getting the positioning of your baby right (important for ensuring a good latch!) can be tricky, so bringing a nursing pillow from home can help a lot. Pro tip: look for one with at least one very firm side (it may also be called a newborn side)— a soft surface can make things harder when you’ve got a brand new baby with no head/neck control.
  • Nipple cream: The truth is, getting the hang of breastfeeding can be a bit uncomfortable, as your nipples have to get used to having a baby latched on. Nipple cream can help with this “breaking in” period though. Moms generally like lanolin-based ones, and olive-oil based ones are popular plant-based alternatives. The hospital may have samples of these, too.
  • Nursing pads: You may leak, or you may just find the pads are a convenient way to keep the nipple cream on your nipples without staining your clothes/bra. These are a good thing to have on hand! You can either get reusable or disposable varieties.
  • Gel pads: Another great option for sore nipples is gel pads— you can stick them in the refrigerator for extra cooling relief! If you have any trouble finding these, ask your postpartum nurses, because hospitals often have them available for moms to use.
  • Nursing clothes: The most important thing to pack is probably a well-fitting nursing bra. As your milk starts to come in, your breasts may feel heavy and uncomfortable, so getting a good bra is key. It’s also a good idea to pack a bra you can both nurse and pump in, just in case you’ll do both during your hospital stay. You can of course nurse while wearing a hospital gown, but if you’d prefer to wear your own clothes, make sure to pack some button-down pajamas or nursing camisoles, too. 
  • Snacks: Breastfeeding is a round-the-clock job, and all that feeding can make you hungry! Make sure to pack some of your favorite quick, easy, one-handed snacks. Good choices include energy bars, nuts or trail mix, dried fruit, jerky, and other shelf-stable, filling foods.
  • Water bottle: Breastfeeding also makes you very thirsty! It’s a good idea to bring a large-capacity water bottle from home, keeping it filled and within arms reach.
  • Silicon suction pump (like the Haakaa): This is a “nice to have” that can help you start storing milk immediately! These hands-free “pumps” suction to whichever breast you aren’t using to feed your baby, and can collect your milk letdowns as your baby nurses. It’s a super easy way to start to build a stash of milk, and they can also be more effective at catching colostrum than traditional pumps. 
  • Breast pump: Depending on your individualized nursing journey, it may or may not be needed, but if you already have a pump and you have room to bring it with you, it can’t hurt to have on hand.
  • Milk storage bottles/bags: If you do pump at all while in the hospital, you’ll want to save everything you get! Make sure to have something to keep that precious liquid in. 
  • Phone charger: Nursing sessions can be loooong, especially at the beginning! Bring a phone charger to scroll, listen to podcasts, etc. while you feed (and bring an extension cord, too— sometimes the outlets in the hospital rooms are far from the beds).
  • Baby tracking app: It’s a good idea to pick out what app you plan to use before you head to the hospital! These apps are handy for keeping track of feedings (you’ll be feeding your baby between 2-3 hours from the start of their previous feed, so the apps make remembering what time that was much simpler) and dirty/wet diapers, which you’ll also be counting during the early days. Huckleberry and Baby Tracker are popular choices!

If you find you need other supplies, ask the lactation consultant at the hospital: they can usually help you get breast shields, nipple shields, and other tools that your individual breastfeeding journey may need. Still struggling? Don’t hesitate to reach out to Nannie Reinert, lactation education counselor and one of our certified pediatric sleep consultants schedule your 30 minute phone consultation with her here.

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