There are so many lists out there for what to pack in your hospital bag.
But I’ve never seen THIS on one…
And you NEED it if you plan to breastfeed!
So… what is it?
What to pack in your hospital bag: A SPOON!
Yes, I’m serious.
Hear me out.
Why would I need a spoon?
Sometimes breastfeeding doesn’t start off easy. Some babies have small mouths or are tired. Babies born a little early might have more trouble. Just because breastfeeding doesn’t start off perfectly, your baby can still have your breast milk!
The BEST way to do this in the first few days is with a spoon.
On day one of baby’s life, ONE TEASPOON is enough for a full meal (because of their tiny tummy).
It’s best not to introduce a bottle to a newborn baby if possible. That’s because the baby may become averse to the breast and desire to eat from only the bottle instead. Therefore, other options for feeding baby in the first days are much better.
How does it work?
It’s actually simpler than you would think.
A new baby has a very tiny tummy. They don’t need much to satisfy them.
Your body produces colostrum in the first few days after birth. It’s very thick and nutrient rich, with the consistency of honey. Colostrum lasts a few days until your milk starts to come in. Those first few days, baby doesn’t need large volumes of milk, they just need the colostrum that your body produces.
Here’s how you get the colostrum with the spoon:
1. Hand express the colostrum from your breast.
Start with your thumb and fingers on either side of your nipple, cupping your breast. They should be about 1-2 inches from your nipple. Apply pressure inward, towards your chest. Then press your thumb and fingers together while rolling outward towards your nipple. You should see drops of thick, yellow liquid come out. This is the colostrum.
If you have trouble with hand expression, try asking if there’s a lactation consultant in the hospital or try to find one in the community. You can also check out this video tutorial.
2. Catch the colostrum with the spoon.
While expressing, hold the spoon beneath your nipple. Catch the yellow liquid on the spoon. Continue to hand express until the spoon gathers more colostrum on it. This is what you’ll feed your baby!
3. Feed your baby
Take the expressed colostrum on the spoon and hold the spoon to your baby’s mouth. Tip the spoon towards your baby, but don’t pour the colostrum into their mouth. Instead let the colostrum sit right on the edge of your baby’s lips. Then, your baby will open their mouth and stick their tongue out for the colostrum. They will try to lap at it and lick the spoon to get the colostrum off.
The amazing thing about spoon feeding is that it encourages breastfeeding! When given a bottle, babies keep their tongues inside their mouth and utilize different muscles. But with spoon feeding, your baby’s tongue muscles extend their tongue forward and mimic the movement of breastfeeding.
Now I hope you can see why I always include a spoon when people ask me what to pack in their hospital bag!
After the first few days
Spoon feeding is the most effective in the first days when you’re producing colostrum. Colostrum is small in quantity and has a thicker consistency than mature milk so it’s very safe to spoon feed. Once your mature milk comes in (around day 4), spoon feeding becomes more difficult because there’s more to work with and baby starts to need more at each feeding.
Continue to work at breastfeeding and happy moments at the breast. Hopefully with patience and endurance, you and baby will get breastfeeding down by day 4 and things will start to get easier.
Sometimes, breastfeeding continues to be difficult for moms and babies.
If that’s you, don’t hesitate to reach out for help! Hospitals often offer breastfeeding classes or there are often local lactation consultants that can help.
Kealy is a Registered Nurse, Certified Lactation Counselor, and most importantly a mommy! Her own breastfeeding struggles gave her a passion to help moms throughout their breastfeeding journey. She offers one-on-one lactation consultations, breastfeeding classes, and shares her knowledge to equip and empower moms. If you’re interested in talking with her or taking one of her breastfeeding classes, visit www.littlebearcare.com.
If you want an online option, I’m a nurse and Certified Lactation Counselor offering breastfeeding classes and lactation consults over the phone! And if anyone asks you what to pack in their hospital bag… don’t forget the spoon!