Questions About Breastfeeding Supplies

Updated on January 12, 2009
B.V. asks from Sherwood, OR
17 answers

Many of you on here have helped me in the past regarding my son's hydrocephalus condition and I am looking to guidance again. I am scheduled for a c-section on January 19th and want to breastfeed and pump for him as I think it will help him tremendously as he will likely have surgery for a shunt placement within a few days of being born. The good news is that I was able to carry him to term so he will not have preemie concerns on top of the surgery itself. I am not sure what if any supplies I should be purchasing for breastfeeding. I plan to rent a pump from the hospital, but don't know which bottles/storage items I should have ready in advance. For the breastfeeding moms out there that may have had to start pumping in the hospital for their little one that had surgery, what items did you find helpful? I want to plan ahead in case I need to pump and store my milk if he is not able to nurse right away in the NICU. I would appreciate any advice, stories or recommendations about how to best prepare for being successful breastfeeding and storing everything to help him.

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answers from Portland on

Having just read the previous post I just thought it was worth mentioning that Avent bottles have historically had BPA in them which is not good for anyone but especially baby boy's reproductive system. I don't know if they are now making them without this chemical but if not there are a lot of new BPA free choices. I haven't needed bottles in a while but wish I had known about BPA when I bought all of the Avent supplies which will now be replaced.

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answers from Seattle on

One thing I'm not seeing in other posts (which have great advice) is a nursing pillow like the Boppy. I brought mine to the hospital so that when nurses were helping me learn how to get baby to latch, I was using the same support I'd have at home. Regular pillows are just hard to use right, and baby is so small, that having the right nursing pillow really is nice.
I'd call the hospital to see what kind of pump they have for you to use. I used a Medela Pump in Style at home, and I used and LOVED the Dr Brown's bottles for both of my boys (not the wide mouth ones). They fit right onto the Medela Pump, so it was really easy. I did not formuala feed, so the boys were either using my breast, or the Dr Browns and I never had any trouble.

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answers from Seattle on

B. - I didn't read your previous post about what is happening with you son but wanted to know if you were going to be at Children's Hospital? When I was there they provide breast pumping rooms along with the breast pump, feed you (if you are nursing, they know that the milk you make feeds your son), that hospital was GREAT with using my milk right away, no formula.
The only thing I would really advise you to do is pump ALL THE TIME. Especially since you will not get to nurse right away, that's when all the colostrom (sp?) is going to "come out". I pumped for almost a month when my son was in the PICU at Children's. I desperatly wanted to nurse when my son was off life support. I lost a lot of my supply, but do to diligently pumping (approx every 3 to 4 hours) I was able to build back up to exclusive breastfeeding.
Good Luck to you, L.

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answers from Portland on

Most of the hospital pumps are Medela, so I would suggest buying Medela supplies...such as the little bottles to store milk in. You could also buy the milk storage bags (any brand you like) They should at the hospital provide you with most of what you need for the pump......but the extras they don't provide normally.

I agree, breast pads for leakage, a couple comfy cotton nursing bras with NO underwire, some BPA free bottles....a lot of companies have gone BPA free...Dr. Browns. I also think you can get nipples to go on the Medela bottles that store the milk.

You can rent from the hospital, but I would suggest buying a pump too..because your insurance won't let you keep the pump long enough...even if he ends up having feeding issues. You may end up pumping and bottle feeding and not really breast feeding...but breast milk is still better even if it comes in a bottle. My sister in law exclusivly pumps and feeds my neice in a bottle. It was her personal choice though, not a medical problem.

Check your local re-sale shop for a used Medela Pump in Style. If you use your own products that they give you at the hospital...the little tubes...and things that attach to your breast...with a used's sanitary....some people have issues buying pumps used. It's not a big deal..milk never touches the pump part. And they are CONSIDERABLY cheaper.

I never used the nipple cream stuff...mine never got sore or chapped...but yours might...if you think you need it...pick some up. It will come in handy if you do have latch on problems and start to get sore.

i say a good old trusty Sharpie to mark dates on your milk. I saved all my milk from the first few days in the hospital...we used it for months (I was a milk making machine)

I hope that helps, that's all I can think of right now. Maybe a nursing night gown, just so you don't have to wear those nasty hospital ones.

Also, if he's in the NCIU push for them to USE your pumped milk and no formula.

J. Van Riper
Are you a CityMommy yet?

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answers from Portland on

Hi Brooke. Three pieces of advice:

1. Go for a breastfeeding consultation--often FREE--through your pediatrician's office or OB's office. A lactation consult can help you figure out what size Medela parts you'll need, whether or not you have any shape issues to factor in, etc.

2. Other moms have said it, and I concur: buy a Medela off of Craig's List. The price you pay for a used one will be half of what you'll pay to rent one for a month--and you'll get a lot of use out of it later.

3. Moms who exclusively pump for their children often see a decrease in supply around week 5 or 6. Two drugs are used, Reglan which has horrible side effects but is legal. The other is Domperidone which has to be ordered through New Zealand (long story). Both are used to help increase milk supply. I've taken both, and Domperidone is superior to Reglan.

Best of luck with the birth of your son,




answers from Portland on

Hi I work in the NICU at my local hospital, we have bottles for moms to pump in to, I would think every hospital would do that. We want babies on breastmilk they do so much better. Call the hospital where baby will be and ask for the lactation specialist, she should be happy to let you know the hospital policies and let you know what you will need. She should also inform you of local resources. I would also suggest looking into buying your own medal pump if you can, some pediatricians sell them at their cost, look on the medal site for retailers and see which ones are clinics, this is your best bet for getting a new one at cost (I bought mine from a pedicatric clinic for $250). When baby is home from the hospital, you will need your own supplies. I froze my milk in plastic bag liners for bottles, like playtex, I would pour the milk into the bags and then use my food saver to seal the top. This was much cheaper than buying zip top bags and didn't leak. You can stack the bags flat on top of each other in the freezer takes less room and then the flat bags thaw quickly in bowl of hot/warm water.



answers from Seattle on

Hello B.,

congrats on your baby boy and your decision to breastfeed.

Fortunately you won't need to many supplies - since you will have everything he needs.

I second the suggestion to get a good nursing bra, I got a cheap one (Motherhood Maternity) for nights, which was fine, but for during the day you will want to go to a higher end store and get fitted at least once (I would suggest Nordstrom's, these ladies know what they are doing!). It's a bit pricey (my favorite cost about $60) but absolutely worth it.

As for milk storage I used Lansinoh Zipper Bags or Evenflo Glass Nursers - it depends on your freezer capacity. When I was pumping for storage, before I went back to work, the bags were nicer because they store flat. Once I was on a day to day basis, just leaving the milk in the bottles worked better. The evenflo glass bottles are compatible with the Medela PIS (pretty sure they will fit other pumps too) and pretty much every kind of regular sized nipple, which is nice when you have to switch nipples to meet your baby's preference. They come with the little bottle stoppers and caps. Not only are they cheaper than the "breastmilk storage systems" but they also hold up better in the dishwasher - and I yet have to have one break on me, even though my baby is now a toddler and they have flown over the edge of the high chair sometimes. I also have Medela storage bottle that came with my pump and I bought one more set - but they discolor in the dishwasher and look pretty yucky by now.

One thing that is an absolute must in my eyes is some Lanolin (Lansinoh or Medela 100 % Lanolin). I ALWAYS use it when I pump. It protects your nipples from chafing and gives a nice and tight seal.

Just one more thing... if you have not done so yet, visit the NICU before you have your c/s. If you make an appointment they usually are happy to show you around and answer all your questions. Also try to meet the lactation consultant beforehand.
Good luck!



answers from Seattle on

I think the first post covers just about everything you need. If you rent a hospital grade pump, try to get the medela symphony. The rythm most closely matches that of a nursing baby. Also, you may need to purchase different size breash shields (the plastic part that you fit over your breast). You should be able to find them locally in the portland area - just be prepared for it.

I hope all goes well for you and your baby!



answers from Portland on

You will need a few things to make sure you are comfortable and able to pump regularly. Remember that nursing will mean you need more calorie everyday as well (you actually need more calories nursing than when you are pregnant!).

1. Lansinoh: This is a cream that you can rub on sore nipples. Breastfeeding is hard the first couple weeks and this is a lifesaver!

2. Breast pads: You will undoubtedly leak so these handy little pads are great for the day. I slept with a towel over my chest at night.

3. The type of pump may determine the type of bottle you use. Bottle come in all shapes and sizes and brands. More than likely the pump will be an avent pump (their hand pumps are really easy to use). I used Avent for my kiddos since it has a nice, wide mouth and the nipple are more breast shaped. It also transitions nicely into a sippy for later use. However, if baby is colicky I have heard that Dr. Brown's are the best.

4. Storage bags and a storage container. Most of your pumped milk will go into the freezer. Special storage baggies can be purchased anywhere wth a baby aisle and have nice labels to record date of pump. Keep organized so that the day before you can pull out frozen milk and put it into the fridge for quick use.

5. Bottle warmers. Sooooo handy and wonderful! I had one for on the go (it plugs into the lighter adapter) and one for bedside. Great for resting bottle and keeping it warm or warming one up.

6. Cleaners: Most people use some kind of nipple container to put bottle tops into their dishwasher. Keep in mind you still need to santize them once a month or so by microwaving them or boiling them. Also a bottle brush is very handy to have on hand.

7. Some tidbits for you: Keeping hydrated is a must - drink plenty of fluids so get yourself a water bottle to keep in reach (especially at he NICU). Also pack your bag with individual snack items so you can have something to eat while you pump as well. My sister did this in the NICU to keep up her supply for her twins.

That is all I can think of but I am sure someone else will catch what I missed. Take care and call to find out what kind of a pump you will be renting. This may help with final bottle choices for purchase.

P.S. It is so wonderful that this traumatic time is giving way to a beautiful miracle for you. My son was born two days before my birthday. Please be sure to write to us all who have followed this saga so we can know how it all turns out! HUGS!



answers from Medford on

Hi B., best of luck with your son, I know it is scary for your little baby to be having surgery, but it is truly amazing what the doctors can do now. My first son was born with a cleft lip and palate - a delivery room surprise - and now at age 3 has had 3 surgeries. All 3 have gone much easier than I expected, babies heal so amazingly quick.

With a cleft palate babies can not breastfeed and need to use a special kind of bottle, so I pumped for him for about 8-9 months. I have tried several pumps, and highly recommend the hospital grade one, MUCH faster. Also, do both sides at the same time. You will want some breast milk ziplocks - should find them by bottles in the grocery store - to freeze the milk in. Or if you are going to use it fresh I had about 8 bottles that I would fill and rotate through the fridge.

Good luck, and I will say a prayer for your little guy.



answers from Portland on

I had a scheduled c-section and my son was sent up to the NICU @ Dorenbecher within hours of being born. They encouraged me to start pumping right after I came out of recovery (and to pump every 2 hours, but my doc said just start at every 3). They wanted me to send milk up to them as soon as I could, so they could start giving it to him thru his feeding tube. Even though he was on iv's, the dr's wanted him to start on breastmilk also as soon as possible. Due to my history of having my milk not come in for about a week, this time my dr had me start taking fenugreek and blessed thistle (3 pills each, 3 times a day) after I delivered. Amazingly, I started getting a few drops of colustrum that night. The hosp I delivered at gave me a pumping kit and storage bottles to use with their pump while I was there. (The storage bottle were great, they were interchangable with the pump and with the disposable rings and nipples the hospital uses). I just wrote name, date, and time on the bottles and the NICU would store them until he was ready for them. After I got out of the hosp and could go visit my son @ Dorenbecher, they also had pumping rooms and gave me another kit to use with their pumps and storage bottles. They also worked with me on teaching him to nurse when he was finally able to. The pumps I used at the hospitals were Medela Symphony, and my own pump is a Medela pump in style, and it was a lifesaver. I pumped and stored milk exclusively for about 3 weeks and was also able to freeze some milk at home to. I just used the Gerber milk storage bags and wrote how many ounces I put in and the date. I found the drs and nurses are very supportive and patient in the nicu with the transition to nursing from the feeding tube. Congratulations and Good luck! I will keep you and your son in my prayers that everything goes smoothly.



answers from Bellingham on

Hi B.,

Congratulations and good luck, I know this is a scary time. I too had a C section, and I also got a little electric Madela pump, but didn't really use it much past the first few weeks to reduce leakage or pressure because I too was a milk making machine. Also the plastic bottle thing is absolutely true as well. When plastic is heated it releases chemicals like PCB's into the liquid contained in them. I went on ebay and found glass baby bottles, in fact I still have some and you are welcome to them as my daughter is now using a cup. Just email me if you are interested and I can mail them to you. I did use the little medela bags and put them in the freezer right away and dated them. Then I would just thaw them in the fridge, pour the milk into a glass bottle and reheat it in a pan of hot water. As for leakage, I didn't like the little paperlike pads so I bought a package of cloth diapers and sewed circles into them and cut them out into little round pads. They were reusable that way and the cotton felt much better on my sore nipples than those pads you buy at the store. Prefolded Cloth diapers were indispensable! I used them for burp pads, changing pads, milk pads over my chest when I napped, they were great. and they are all cotton and reusable, which I liked. They are so absorbant and get softer with use.

Also those waterproof pads were a must. I got them at Fred Meyer in the bedding section. They are a large square, about 3x2 feet, and they helped keep my bed from always smelling like milk. I got 3 or 4 of them and then you just wash them. I am not a fan of bleach so I use vinegar and baking soda to control odors in laundry. They were great for putting in my daughter's bed later during potty training.

For sore nipples, the best thing I found was sunlight and a cool washcloth. The creams and salves they gave me didn't really work, and they I had to wipe a sore nipple to remove it before I could nurse because I didn't want my baby ingesting them.

One thing I wish I had known before having a C section was ice packs are a must! I am not a fan being on any medication, but they of course gave me lots of pain medication and prescriptions after the surgery. But what I found that work 100 times better was those soft ice packs. I discovered that the reason I was getting pain at the incision site was from swelling and inflammation, both of which were controlled much better with a constant ice pack, than with any medication they gave me. And that way my baby wasn't getting a bunch of pain medication for weeks after the surgery while I was recovering. Ice packs ice packs ice packs! You will love them. Another thing is take your own water bottle to the hospital. They gave me this gross water bottle that tasted like plastic after just a little while and I know what feeding me plenty of chemicals from the plastic. If I had it to do again, I would take my own glass water bottle, ( a sobe bottle is what I use) and a bigger glass bottle to store water in. We drink a lot of water so I found a glass milk jug in cost cutter from twin B. creamery, and rewashed the bottle and used it for storing drinking water. We bought water from the store from those filtering dispensers in those water jugs then transferred it to the glass jugs at home. We now have a reverse osmosis filtering system under our sink.

Also a nice nursing bra is a must. Shot around and find 3 or 4 that you find comfortable and easy to use. Some women like the boppy, but I used it mostly during the time she was learning to sit up. I would sit her in the middle of it and play with her lol.

I wish you all the best with the upcoming surgery, both you and your son.



answers from Seattle on

You can call the hospital where you are going to have your son at, and they should have the supplies that you will need there. My daughter( who is 4 now) had to have surgery right after birth, and then 2 weeks later had a shunt placed due to hydrocephalus. I also had a c-section. The hospital where Tiffany was born had everything that we needed. They even had a pumping room that had all of the supplies that you needed. You will just need a pump for at home. Hang in there. It will be tough at first, but you can make it!!!!!! My husband is in the army and he missed Tiffany's birth and her first 4 surgeries. I know that the emotions can get overwhelming, but things will get better. Once you see your precious little boy, nothing else will matter. I applaude you for preparing prior to his birth. I did not do that and I had a rough go. If you ever need to talk to a fellow mom whose child has similiar medical problems, feel free to e-mail or call. My name is S., ans my e-mail address is: [email protected], and my phone number is:###-###-####. You and your family are in our prayers. Take Care,


answers from Seattle on


I tried pumping for my hubby to feed my daughter (he felt a little left out with our son) and absolutely loved the Medela brand for storage, and the Playtex Ventair for bottles.

Long story short, I stopped pumping and just nursed her. We later used the bottles for formula (she weaned at 8 months like her brother).

Hope this helps,



answers from Seattle on

Lots of good advice already, but here's my two cents:

Go to Target's bottle aisle. Most things I recommend are right there together. Get:

A tube of lanolin, Target brand is fine
Lansinoh breastmilk storage bags, get the big box
Lansinoh disposable milk pads, helps hide leakage
A Hooter Hider if you're on the modest side
A Medela pump, symphony is good for frequent pumpers

Talk with the hospital and see if they have bottles they recommend for babies similar to yours. Anything without BPA is better than anything with. I hear good things about Dr. Brown's and Born Free. The hospital should have a nursing pillow and stool that you can try before you buy. I have a boppy but only used it a little when my daughter was nursing, but never when I was pumping. Your milk supply and breasts will fluctuate A LOT in the first little while that you're making milk. I bought a couple cheap bras at Motherhood Maternity and they did the job until I knew what my size would really be. Once my milk stabilized, I went to Evergreen hospital and bought a couple GREAT nursing bras for about $20 less than they were at Nordstrom. They know what they're doing and have lots of other misc. nursing supplies if you need anything else while you're there.



answers from Seattle on

I LOVED the Medela Breast Pump which enabled me to pump out of both sides at once and adjust for my sensitivity so it wasn't painful.

You can store your breast milk in the Medela bags you can purchase and freeze them, or I imagine you could also put the milk into freezer bags - which probably would be better, since they are thicker.



answers from Portland on

I would encourage you to call The Nursing Mothers Counsel of Oregon. There are some of the volunteers who have gone through having their babies in NICU. They also offer hospital grade pump rentals and lower cost regular pumps.

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