What are the best gifts for a breastfeeding mother?
I thought a lot about this question as I prepared for the arrival of my second child and people asked me what we needed. We needed nothing at all for him! But what would I have if I could receive any gift? What would be most helpful?
The first would be a gift certificate for some TLC! Maybe your breastfeeding-mama-friend needs a nap. Heck, of course your friend needs a nap! You could offer to wear or hold the baby while mama takes a nap–this gift requires you to be really flexible, because it’ll be most effective if mama naps immediately after a feeding and we all know new nurslings are anything but predictable!
In the first few months, particularly after a cesarean, I really depended upon my nursing pillow. I even used it under my own neck while I was sleeping sometimes!
One of my very favorite material possessions is my nursing necklace. My first son LOVED fiddling with it while he nursed, which was more than two years, and even after we weaned he still wears “mommy’s beads” when he plays dress up. He still likes to chew on them and he certainly has all his teeth. A new nursing necklace was one of the few things I bought in preparation for my second baby and he also loves playing with it. I can’t say enough good things about this–it works as a diversion at restaurants, standing in line, and of course during nursing sessions. The boutique has lots of different styles.
The only other new thing I bought for baby #2 was a new baby carrier. Babywearing is so important to me and I see it as vital to my breastfeeding relationship, even though I rarely nurse wearing the actual baby carrier. Wearing my babies lets me get to know them, soothe them, take them out into the world while keeping my hands free. I have a whole library of baby carriers, and I bought most of them used for my first kiddo. Some had even been through 4 kids before this recent bambino, so I figured he needed a nice new carrier.
If you’re going to give a nursing mom a baby carrier, you might want to take her shopping with you to see which style fits her best and suits her baby best. For instance, since I had a cesarean, some of my favorite carriers for older children actually had my newborn’s feet dangling right at the incision, causing discomfort. Lucky for me, both my boys liked being vertical, but some kiddos like the cradle hold a wrap or sling allows for. You just never know until mama and baby are wearing the carrier.
The one baby carrier I don’t own but totally covet is the Koala Kin hands-free nursing carrier. I did a *lot* of one-handed typing this time around. I think my baby has outgrown this carrier (he’s just about 8 months), but it sure would have been nice when he was young. If you’re giving a gift to a work-at-home nursing mother, this could be awesome.
The last physical thing I’d say a nursing mom would love would be nursing clothes. Not all nursing moms even know there are lovely clothes designed just for nursing. Even if mama has gone back to work, nursing shirts work just as well for pumping sessions.
Finally, don’t forget to give breastfeeding moms the gift of your support. Each mom needs different things while she’s nursing, but everyone needs reinforcement that this is a hard, hard job, that she is doing a great job, and that these moments are fleeting–even the 1 and 3 and 5 am sessions will pass. Really, they will pass. What a gift it would be for each nursing mom to hear, “You’re doing it! You work so hard. You’re amazing.”