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Nursing a newborn is like a part-time job: A sweet and sometimes blissful job, but a job nonetheless. It helps to prepare and have the right equipment.
Consider setting up a special spot where you and your baby are comfortable and you have everything you need at your fingertips.
Your nursing sanctuary could be in a private nook in your home where you can close the door and dim the lights – or in the center of things so you can ask for help when you need it or chat with whoever else is around. Or you may want both options.
Here are ideas for what to include in your sanctuary.
A seat that supports your body
Some moms enjoy the gentle rocking of a glider or rocker, but any comfortable seat in your house will probably do, with a few adjustments.
Make sure you have support for your back and arms. (If you're hunched over your baby you can end up with back and neck pain.) A foot rest for your feet is also comfortable.
Arm rests can help support your arms as you hold your nursing baby, or they may feel too confining if you're using a nursing pillow that wraps around your waist.
Finally, it's nice to have a soft, high chair back or pillow to rest your head on.
"I used a glider with arms in the baby's room and felt very comfortable breastfeeding that way."
"Just sitting on the bed is easiest. My feet are level with my buns and I use my knees to help prop up my baby. Second to that would be on the couch with my feet on the coffee table. Any chair with arms gets in my way and annoys me more than it helps."
"Breastfeeding was my excuse to buy myself a good ol' recliner. I chose a La-Z-Boy – they're the only ones I found that will let you recline and still use your feet to rock. With most you can't recline unless your feet are up."
"My favorite place to nurse was in my husband's big recliner. I have a very large bust and at the beginning I had to use one hand to support my breast while my son nursed. I liked having the arm rests for support."
"I sat on the couch with my son. For the longest time the only position he would nurse in was the football hold, and that wouldn't have worked in a chair. I have a glider but I think I'll still use the couch so I can watch TV in the middle of the night."
"I recommend a comfy chair with arms, but ones that are low."
"I love my glider. Before it arrived I breastfed in bed at night and it gave me horrible back pain and posture."
Pillows to support your baby
You can use a combination of bed or throw pillows to support your wobbly newborn in your lap and give your arms a break. Or a nursing pillow may work better to keep your baby in a comfortable nursing position.
Note: Be careful not to doze off while breastfeeding your baby on a soft surface like a pillow, or while sitting or lying on a couch or in a comfortable chair. This raises your baby's risk for suffocation and, if your baby falls asleep as well, for SIDS.
"I was most comfortable on the couch with a dozen pillows squished around me."
"I have the best nursing pillow. It clips behind your back and keeps your baby close to your breasts and in a good position. I also have a little wooden foot stool for nursing. Having my knees up higher helps support the pillow."
"I usually sit cross-legged with the nursing pillow on my legs and my baby across it. He's 6 months old now, and that's still our preferred position."
"I used four or five regular bed pillows. I have a breastfeeding pillow, but ended up using it as a neck pillow."
"I nurse on my bed with three pillows behind my back (up against the headboard), my knees bent, and my nursing pillow."
A stash of supplies
You may want to gather all your essentials in a basket next to your preferred nursing spot, be it rocker, glider, bed, or couch.
Your list of must-haves might include:
- Breast pads and nipple cream.
- Burp cloths
- Baby nail clippers
Nursing is a great distraction, so your baby may finally let you clip his tiny nails without a struggle!
- A water bottle
- A tablet or laptop
- The remote
- Reading material
- An app or other spot to note when and how long you nursed
In the first few weeks or months it can be helpful to track information about feeding sessions.
- A supply of healthy nonperishable snacks.
Fresh or dried fruit, nuts, protein bars, granola bars, or energy bars will help you replace the energy you burn as you nurse. Many moms find that they're famished during breastfeeding sessions.
- A blanket or space heater if it's chilly.
"My essentials are water, a snack of some kind, burp cloths, a book, the remote, my phone, gum, my iPod, a pillow, and the nursing pillow. Good snacks are apples, whole-grain chips or pretzels, or anything that you don't need to refrigerate and can be eaten with one hand."
"I would get insanely thirsty while breastfeeding, so I quickly learned to keep a glass of water nearby. A clock is a good idea at first when you're so sleep-deprived and lose track of how long your baby has been on your breast!"
"My must-haves are breast pads, nipple cream, books about breastfeeding and baby care, my phone, water, food, burp cloths, the remote, tissues, my nursing pillow, an extra pillow, baby grooming stuff like cotton swabs and nail clippers, my laptop or iPad, and wet wipes."
Entertainment and communication options
Phones and tablets can be a mom's best friend – especially when you're up in the wee hours nursing and everyone else is asleep. You may become adept at going online and checking email and your social media feeds with one hand while the other supports your baby.
And there are plenty of other options. Moms say they love watching movies and shows while nursing (with headphones on or the volume turned low); playing games; listening to music, podcasts, or audio books; and, of course, calling and texting friends once the sun comes up.
"I breastfeed exclusively with my iPhone! It gets boring and you need something to do."
"I play games on my phone when I'm nursing."
"I often use breastfeeding time to sort through, edit, post (a select few), and organize the zillions of photos I take of my baby."