|Breasts and loving arms are the best
"equipment", of course! Many devices and products
actually interfere with breastfeeding and other natural parenting
practices. But there are a few items that do come in handy:
A big bed makes for cozy family sleeping.
A crib with its rail down, pushed next to the parents' bed,
also allows for closeness and easy breastfeeding. Some
families sell their beds and cover the floor with wall-to-wall
futons or other mattresses. Babies should not sleep on
waterbeds, as they are unable to push themselves away if
necessary. Parents sleeping near a baby should also avoid
alcohol, drugs, and prescription medicines which interfere
A baby sling, which can also be used for
nursing. They're indispensable for "wearing" the
baby and keeping hands free for working or shopping.
Pillows are very helpful for both comfort and
support while breastfeeding. They can be placed behind the
back, for supporting and lifting the baby on the mother's lap,
and for leg support while nursing lying down. Various sizes
are useful for different positions, and for growing babies.
Specially-designed pillows for supporting the nursing baby,
such as the "My
Brest Friend Feeding Pillow" can be very helpful.
A footstool, such as the Medela Nursing Stool. This simple item can
be remarkably useful in relieving back pressure when
breastfeeding in a sitting position. Foot support also helps
raise baby to breast level for the most effective and
comfortable nursing position. Phone books will do, but a
sturdy footstool is better, and having it reminds the mother
to use it.
What to avoid:
Baby bottles are unnecessary. If challenges arise necessitating
supplementation, cups or spoons can be used - while continuing to
breastfeed. If a doctor suggests weaning, check with a La Leche
or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (ask the
local hospital or health department for a referral) for expert
help in making such an important decision. In the vast majority of
cases, there are alternatives to weaning.
Cribs, playpens, dummies (pacifiers), baby swings, nursery
monitors, and strollers (especially those that block baby's vision
of the parent) subtly and not-so-subtly alter natural parenting,
and can interfere with the mother-child bond.
What can parents do if they receive gifts they don't want to
use? The problem here is that if there is an unwanted baby device
in the house, someone will try it sooner or later. Parents
shouldn't feel obligated to accept any gift. If they receive one
they don't want, they could thank the giver for thinking of them,
then add, "I don't think we will use this. Could we go and
exchange it?" (Shopping together could be fun.) Or, if they
don't expect to be asked about its use, they can return or sell
the item privately, break the item and recycle the materials, or
donate it to a breastfeeding support group for educational
displays. After all, baby equipment should only be used to enhance
the bond between parents and baby.