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I was four days postpartum and felt abandoned. Yes, "abandoned." At least that's how my hormone-induced emotional low left me feeling as I sat in the middle of my bed, a mere 15 feet from my showering husband and overly helpful mother-in-law in the kitchen. I felt alone.
I sat precariously on a hemorrhoid pillow, holding my barely sleeping infant, and felt my blood sugar crashing. I didn't want to yell to my family in fear of waking my baby, but I couldn't reach my water. I needed food like a starving captive and I felt trapped. I was in pain and moving an inch sent shockwaves through my throbbing lady parts. The tears fell fast and furious as I sat helpless on a donut pillow until my mother-in-law found me.
That was six years and three children ago. I've learned some things since then that helped me immensely with babies number two and three. Having a comfortable nursing station set up with everything you need within reach is essential.
Nursing station essentials
1. A comfortable chair: Have a designated nursing chair that fits your body size and type. The most comfortable chair in our house is my husband's rocking recliner. The only problem is it's built for a 6' 3" man and not someone a foot shorter than that. I liked being able to recline in his chair, but I don't like that my feet don't touch the floor.
Given that you'll be using this chair daily it's worth spending a little money finding something that fits you. You'll appreciate being able to stand easily when you are stiff and sore after laboring. You'll also want to be able to rock and snag a nap with your sleeping baby at times. I like that this one from Angel Line is wide and has an easy-pull lever on the side. (Amazon)
2. Support pillows: Everyone is aware of the Boppy pillow and I've loved mine. It was great not only for nursing, but later on for supporting my daughter when we did tummy time (when also I took a million pictures of her). It was also helpful when my older children were holding their new baby sister.
I've tried the My Brest Friend pillow and the Boppy. I didn't like having to snap the Brest Friend pillow around my waist. I mistakenly thought that feature meant I could carry my daughter around with me, but it explicitly states on the packaging not to do that. So, for me the Boppy has remained a nursing station staple. (Amazon)
3. Baby blankets: I gave burp rags a chance, but found I just reached for the closest thing available -- often a baby blanket, and sometimes even the one my child is in. They do the job. I love the Aden + Anais brand because they're breathable, and great for swaddling. They come in beautiful prints too. (Amazon)
4. Shower caddy: Okay, this may sound a bit weird, but I like their size, shape, and portability. You could use a diaper bag, a cleaning caddy from the Dollar Store or even just a basket to keep your nursing supplies together. But whatever you use, keep it stocked with these items: water bottle, wipes, granola bars (or other easily eaten nonperishable items), binkies, nipple pads, nipple cream (coconut oil works great), and nipple shields, if you need them. The fact that it's portable makes it easy to take to a second location, like the nursery you spent so much time perfecting.
I liked this one from mDesign because it doesn't look like your typical shower caddy. It has firm walls, which I prefer to a bag or something that collapses when it's less full. You'll want to be able to easily see what you have in there. I like just having one caddy to restock. It's easier to keep track of what you need. This one looks like it can hold all your essentials, and depending on what you need, maybe some supplies for your baby too. (Amazon)
5. A charging station: You'll want your phone near you. Even if it's just to capture a picture of your baby in various stages of sleep. Or maybe you want to catalogue your nursing statistics on the latest app. You'll be thankful to have a spot to plug in your phone. Keep the remote handy too. I usually loved keeping the distractions to a minimum at times when I nursed my babies. But other times I just wanted to zone out with another episode of The Office.
This one allows you to charge multiple devices at once and includes a 4-pack of charging connectors. I like that there is a spot for my Fitbit and I could prop my phone, Kindle, or tablet up if needed. The bamboo looks sturdy too so it won't get unbalanced easily. (Amazon)
These are my essentials. As your body (and your baby's!) adjusts to nursing, you'll soon be able to nurse anywhere. But be kind to yourself those first few weeks. You'll be glad you did.
Photos by Amazon, Tré Wilbanks & Kelly Wilbanks
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Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.