Gifts for a Baby Shower: What does a breastfeeding mom really need?

Every must-have list for new moms reflects the biases of the writer. (Well I guess all writing does.) I usually cringe a bit as I read the lists because I rarely agree with all the choices.

So I am going to reveal my biases up front and then give you my list. First I am a grandmother (6 times now!). Thus I am drawn to the latest, cutest stuff I never had when I had babies. The “emotional buy”. The first time I heard I was about to be a grandmother, I bought a fluffy, super-soft yellow duck blanket. I have no idea how useful it was, but it was sure cute.

Second, I am a lactation consultant. That brings out the super practical side of me. This is what I’m going to focus on: the practical reality for a new breastfeeding mom.

  1. Bras. This is not an easy gift to give at a shower, but it is the most important gift a new mom could have. If you want to make it a great gift, package the offer to go to lunch and go shopping with her. Go to a store where there is great selection and someone can help with fit. Notice I said “bras” plural, not just one bra. She will most likely be wearing a bra 24/7, leaking milk and perspiring because of all those wild hormones still raging. She needs:
    1. Unstructured bras2-4 soft bras for sleeping and the first few weeks of breastfeeding. One or two of these could be a tank top designed for nursing that takes the place of a bra. Moms live in these tanks.
    2. 1-3 more structured bras. After a couple of weeks she’ll have a pretty good idea of her size. These can be underwire if she likes underwires, but they must fit really well and she should never sleep in an underwire. (Here’s the grandmother in me: there are some great colors and styles now. Have fun with these!)
  2. Burp cloths and blankets.The first few weeks with a new baby are all about cleaning things up: spit-up, drool, leaking milk, overflowing diapers. Old cloth diapers work great if you have them, but my favorite are the Aden and Anais burp cloths. They just seem to keep absorbing and absorbing and then still soak up more.
  3. bamboobiesBra pads. Essential for most moms, especially at the beginning. Disposable are a good back-up to have stashed away, but there are some really nice reusable bra pads that some moms wouldn’t buy for themselves. (There’s the definition of a great gift.) My favorite are Bamboobies — super soft and absorbent bamboo pads that lay fairly flat inside a bra and have a moisture barrier to avoid leak-through. The fact that they’re adorably shaped like hearts is just an added bonus.
  4. Nipple creamSome moms don’t need this but you can’t go wrong having it just in case. Any not used for nipples now will be used for cuts, scrapes and burns around the house for years to come. Motherlove, Medela and Lansinoh are all good choices. Get a couple: one for where she nurses, one for her purse or diaper bag.
  5. Hands-free pumping brasMost of these aren’t really bras you wear, they are just tools to help with pumping. Any mom who will be doing much pumping will consider these an absolute necessity… even famous moms like Kourtney Kardashian who can be seen sporting what looks like a Medela bustier in this picture:

    kourtney-kardashian-breast-milk
    Photo Credit: Instagram
  6. Lactation supportAgain not an easy shower gift, but a gift certificate for a session or two with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant can sometimes make the difference between a mom achieving her goals and the disappointment of ending breastfeeding earlier than she intended.

I think an important part of any shower is a time to share the wisdom of those attending. How about a card everyone signs which includes their favorite parenting tip? Every mom has someone who helped her along in those early days. Sharing those stories can be entertaining, encouraging and inspiring.

We want to know what you think!