For many pregnant women, pregnancy is a time of planning and dreaming about what it will be like once baby arrives. In the US many women have baby showers and receive gifts of clothes and supplies for the new baby. Pregnancy and baby magazines are full of advertisements of all of the cute clothes, toys, furniture and gadgets that promise to make life with baby easier. But what do you really need to have ready before your baby arrives? And what supplies will you really need to breastfeed?
“The newborn has but three demands: warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breast, and security in the knowledge of her presence— breastfeeding satisfies all three.”
La Leche League used this quote by Dr. Dick-Read for many years and it is as true today as it was in the 1950s when he first said it.
Babies need their mothers, and especially at first, they don’t need much more. But there are some things that are convenient to have with a new baby, especially in our society. We certainly don’t need everything the magazines want to sell us, so what are the essentials?
- Wet wipes
- Cotton onesies or footie pyjamas
- Baby blankets
Not much! Then there are a few more things that are not absolutely essential, but very useful:
- Sling or other style of baby carrier
- Carseat (if you will be taking your baby in a car at all you need this!)
- Nursing bras
Some things you most likely already have:
- A backpack or other bag to use for a diaper bag
These are things many women find handy:
- Breast pads (not all women need these…)
- Bouncy chair for baby
- Breastfeeding pillow
There are quite a few things I didn’t mention that might be surprising. What about a stroller? What about a crib? What about a special chair for nursing?
Women and babies in cultures all around the world survive and thrive without these things, and in fact cribs and other separate sleep surfaces may be detrimental to the breastfeeding relationship. Dr. James McKenna has studied breastfeeding and sleep for many years and has coined the term, “breastsleeping” to describe what he believes is a fundamental aspect of the breastfeeding relationship. He describes how mothers who bedshare with their babies breastfeed two to three times as often during the night as mothers who sleep on separate surfaces, and how this encourages optimal milk supply and longer term breastfeeding. You can learn more about safe bedsharing in Sweet Sleep, a book recently published by La Leche League.
You can learn more about breastsleeping from this article by Dr. James McKenna: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apa.13161/full
The list of things that are absolutely necessary to take care of a baby is actually very short! Many of the items you will need are very inexpensive or can be bought used. All you really need for baby is some diapers and a few clothes and blankets. And all you need for breastfeeding is you and your baby.