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But baby *needs* it my dear! Part 2

But baby *needs* it my dear! Part 2

If you saw Part 1, you'll be expecting this post to be about what gear you need for feeding a baby. And it is. You already know that when they first appear, the only choice is between breast and bottle, or a mixture of the two. No doubt you're aware of the many benefits of breast feeding, so we'll skip straight through that bit.  

Breast feeding

You could be forgiven for thinking that all you needed for breast feeding was a pair of knockers, which you probably already have (although not necessarily) but you do really need a few other bits and bobs.

Essential

First and foremost are nursing bras. Not the most attractive underpinnings in the world, they're all about the practical. Trying to feed in a normal bra would be downright uncomfortable, fiddly and may end in tears as to empty the milk ducts properly, the breast needs to lie naturally, not squashed to one side with bits poking into it. Finding the right fit for a nursing bra can be tricky. Quite apart from the fact you're not in the mood to go traipsing round the shops when 9 months pregnant, your knockers can and do change size between being pregnant, milk coming in and the supply being established. It's definitely worth getting properly fitted though, so if you can't get to a specialist such as Bravissimo or one of the department stores, it may be worth seeing if a company that does home fittings, such as Bosom Buddy can come out to you. Breast pads. Washable, disposable - doesn't matter. You'll definitely need a good supply of them unless you want to look very very weird on occasion. (No WAY I'm googling for a picture to go with that one.) You also need someone to be at your beck and call. You'll get a thirst on you like you wouldn't believe whilst breast feeding. You can't possibly be expected to make your own cup of tea or fetch the remote control. This excuse for being a bossy boots rocks, and must be milked (arf!) to the max.

Recommended

Breast pump. More than likely you will need one, but it's not worth getting until the milk supply is properly established until around 6 weeks. If you try before then, you'll probably fail to get more than a couple of millilitres, and the disappointment will cause you to go on a snot and tears fuelled hormonal rampage. Also, be very careful after pumping not to knock the bottle over. It's at that point you first understand why anyone bothered inventing phrases about crying over spilt milk.

There are two types of breast pump, electric and manual. I'd certainly recommend an electric one. It's quicker and more comfortable than a manual one. However, they're so noisy they drown out the telly and have a tendency to make you feel like a dairy cow. Manual pumps are much cheaper, so are probably better if you're breast feeding exclusively and only need to pump occasionally. You will need arm muscles like Popeye to work it. Feeding cushion. Of course you can use a normal cushion or pillow, but the horseshoe or triangular shaped pillows designed for the job really do provide more support. Glider chair. Yes they are a bit extravagant, and often have fixed covers that can't be washed, making them horrendously impractical, but they are super comfy, especially for night feeds, and really nice to snuggle up in.

Meh products

Nipple shields. Some people swear by them, Midwives and health visitors hate them. Do what's right for you & your baby. Nipple creams. I don't see how these can't taste vile for the baby. Traditional wisdom says a drop of breast milk rubbed onto the nipple after the feed is finished does just as good a job.

Cack products

A busy mum with lots to do will no doubt be wanting to invest in one of these. For the love of god, why?  

 

Bottle feeding

Essential

Warning: you will be taught to suck eggs for the next few paragraphs. Bottles. Well duh. Lots of different types, lots of different claims. The only hard and fast rule is that plastic bottles should be BPA free. If your baby doesn't like the first kind of bottle you try, it's easier and cheaper to try different teats rather than different bottles. It seems to be very individual to each baby as to which style of teat they prefer, so it's a case of trial and error. The teeny weeny 3oz bottles for newborns are a bit of a waste of time. They'll outgrow them in weeks. If you're bottle-feeding exclusively, you'll need about a dozen bottles. If mixed feeding, half that. Milk powder. Again, duh. Again, a case of personal preference for the baby. Cleaning & sterilising equipment. All your baby's feeding equipment must be sterilised until they're 6 months, and it's worth doing bottles and teats for longer than that, prone as they are to harbouring tiny traces of milk in their nooks and crannies. Personally, I like microwave sterilisers because they're quick. Have a practise with your steriliser before the baby arrives, as they can be like some kind of fiendish 3-D jigsaw, and you're much better off getting to grips with it whilst relatively fresh, than whilst hormonal, knackered and holding a crying, hungry baby. Manufacturers also tend to design microwave sterilisers to only fit their bottles, which is bit cheeky and worth watching out for.

Recommended

Very very highly recommended are the Fisher Price flask, and a milk powder doser. Not only are they great for preparing feeds whilst you're out and about, they are brilliant at home. We make up a tray each night with the flask, bottles and doser and take it upstairs - this way you can make up a feed in the middle of the night quickly, without having to go down to the kitchen. Less time to sort out the feed means less time awake for everyone. Bonus. The ideal proportions of cooled boiled water to hot water from the flask is 2:1. These two products are recommended for people who live in single storey flats, and essential for people who have an upstairs. Glider chair. See breast feeding. For travelling, disposable single use bottles, and microwave sterilising pouches are aces. Except if you're Planet Earth :(

Meh/cack products

Pretty much everything else to do with bottle feeding.  

Mixed feeding

Advantage: you get all the benefits of both breast and bottle feeding. Disadvantage: you also need to buy everything on both lists. No doubt there's a gazillion things I've forgotten, and haven't even started on weaning yet, but that's a whole other story.....