The Joys of In-Hospital Shopping

You’ve probably heard of in-flight shopping even if, like me, you’ve never purchased anything from the Sky Mall while traveling. But in-hospital shopping? Seriously? That was a new one for me until about a week ago.

I delivered baby at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. And my doctor was totally correct when he said it was a nice place to have a baby. You pretty much take a tour of some of the most expensive real estate in D.C. on your way to the hospital and then once admitted, you really do get pretty darn good care. About my biggest complaint was that the nurses kept forgetting to reload the hand sanitizer in my room, so if you were looking for a shot of the germ-killing gel, you had to walk out into the hallway, where there was another dispenser located right outside my room.

As part of the Sibley experience, new mommies get a lot of in-hospital support for breastfeeding. There’s a class new moms can attend every morning at 10:30 am with baby (I did) and you are going to see a lactation consultant at least once a day whether you like it or not (I loved it). Not to mention that you can call for a consultant on-demand, if you like. (I never had to do that because the consultants always seemed to have perfect timing; I was always nursing when they walked in.)

If you attend the class, which I totally recommend even if you, like me, took a pre-birth breastfeeding class, there’s a worksheet that you fill out where you identify your concerns, describe your breastfeeding experience to date, and also indicate whether you are interested in a fitting for a nursing bra. The consultants then work with you one-on-one on some of the issues you may be experiencing.

This personal attention was really an awesome service and a great follow-up to the class. These women (I apologize in advance if there were male lactation consultants on staff; I just didn’t see any) would come into your room and talk you through nursing. It’s sounds weird that you would appreciate a stranger touching your boobs, but I loved that they would take a good look at the latch and give me a thumbs up or thumbs down on it. If it wasn’t quite right, they’d help me adjust my position or the baby to improve the latch. Heck, they’d even look at your nipples and examine any hotspots and instruct you as to how to remedy them.

Honestly, I still have a bit of trouble with the latch on my right side–I think I’m just gimpy on that side for whatever reason–but I think I made darn good use of their expertise in the limited time that I had access to them. And as an added bonus, they are available for advice and help even after you leave the hospital. (That’s something on my growing to-do list if the baby will sleep long enough to let me.) Plus, they give you a sheet with a whole list of breastfeeding support centers and consultants in the D.C. area. (Not to worry, I’ll share that later, too.)

At any rate, to get back to the story, I had checked that I wanted to see someone about a fitting. Pre-baby, I was hesitant to go overboard on the nursing gear. I didn’t buy a super pump or nipple shields or anything like that. I bought one Gilligan & O’Malley nursing bra in black from Target, a tube of lanolin, a box of nursing pads, and a small package of Soothies by Lansinoh Gel Packs, which my friend Betsy swore by. And to be honest, I only bought the last three items because I had a discount coupon and wanted to try out Diapers.com to see if they were all they were cracked up to be. (They are.)

So, the morning of my discharge, in walks one of the lactation consultants to see about a fitting. I really wasn’t in the mood at that point–I just wanted to get out of Dodge–but I felt bad because I had indicated some interest and here she was, so I obliged. (Incidentally, I measured what she called a “full C or small D,” as if there was such a thing as a small D.)

She tells me she’s going to look to see what she’s got in my size–she had left her cart parked in the hallway–and returns seconds later with about six different packages, telling me she’s got every style in about six different colors.

I was really wanting a nursing tank, which I thought would be great for summer, so I immediately gravitated to that. I had checked out the selection at Target when I bought my regular nursing bra but had not purchased a tank, mainly because I was a bit freaked out by the style. The tanks at Target had the clip on the strap, but when you folded the front panel down, there were two holes for your boobs. I was so not digging that; it appeared a little too S&M for my tastes.

At any rate, the Bravado Designs tanks that she was peddling were so much more normal, so I decided to purchase two–one in a hot pink (shown here)

My First In-Hospital Purchase

and one in black (you can never go wrong with black). Although these were more expensive than than the Target variety, I still got them at a discount just for going to the breastfeeding class. And I think they were worth the money. Not only are there no cop-a-feel holes, but I feel like they are better constructed. They run a little bit longer–all the better to cover the post-postpartum pudge–are much more supportive–think more elastic than regular cotton–and come with a really nifty quick-release clasp that I

A Clasp I Can Actually Undo with One Hand

actually can undo and button up with one hand. The only thing is I wish I would’ve bought one size larger because when my boobs are really full, I feel a little constricted. But maybe that won’t be an issue a few more weeks down the road when things settle into a routine.

I also ended up buying a third nursing bra, one that the consultant had described as “not supportive but great for wearing around the house.” I

My Favorite Nursing Bra

absolutely love, love, love this nursing bra. The fabric is super soft, so it doesn’t irritate sensitive nipples and there are no clasps to fuss with; you just sort of pull down one side and you’re good to go. As the woman had said, it’s not super supportive, but I find that it’s holds me in pretty darn well. I mean, I wouldn’t go jogging in it, but I could definitely wear it under a shirt and go out in public without feeling indecent. In retrospect, I wish I

Stretchy + Soft = Super

would’ve bought two of these bad boys and only one of the nursing tanks. But I would rethink my color selection. I chose white because it looked clean and fresh, but a few lanolin application later and it’s stained. (The things that I wish I’d known about lanolin before I started applying it all the time.) So, to do it over again, I’d also choose black or brown or some other dark color.

My in-hospital shopping excursion had a grand total of about $106 for the three bras, which even though my husband rolled his eyes as I handed over my debit card, I thought it was fairly reasonable. Not as cheap as Target, but not ridiculously overpriced either.

At any rate, I thought this shopping experience was rather interesting and had a lot of potential to be expanded. Granted, you could also buy baby’s first portrait in the hospital also; I passed on that shopping opportunity because the brochure made all the babies look not so cute, so I figured it’d be a waste of money at the end of the day.

But it occurred to me that there were other things that I’m sure a lot of newly minted moms would buy from their hospital beds. I totally would’ve purchased a recovery care gift set, complete with mesh underoos, pain spray, and perineal ice packs, if the hospital had been selling them. And I know a couple of moms who thought that the little kimono style outfits that the babies are in during their hospital stay were not only cute but also super functional; given that a few of those outfits sneaked into their overnight bags when they went home, I’m sure there’s a market for selling them. Or even a baby care starter kit or a breastfeeding essentials kit, with products endorsed by the hospital, could be marketable.

Maybe by the next time I have a baby, there’ll be a whole catalog that I can peruse from my hospital bed.

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4 Comments

Filed under birthing, breastfeeding, hospital, moms, newbie parents, shopping

4 responses to “The Joys of In-Hospital Shopping

  1. Jen

    I’m so jealous of your bra shopping experience. Finding a comfortable and well fitting nursing bra is next to impossible. I’m still looking.

    As I write this, I’m wearing that very same style of “not suportive yet super comfortable” bra. I have 2 and love them to death. I usually put them on at night after i know I’m home for the evening. In have 2 nursing sports bras too, which are almost as comfortable.

    By the way, you can usually get lanolin stains out by putting some Dawn dish soap on them and letting it soak before washing them in hot water.

    One more thing and I’ll shut up. I highly, highly recommend washable nursing pads, and ironically the cheapest ones I found (Nuk) are most comfortable and stay flat when you wash them. The more expensive brands and styles get all lumpy and pilly.

    • I agree. I was finding that my regular sports bra from Target was doing as good a job as any nursing bra that I had found; it was stretchy, breathable, and supportive. However, I really love the sleep bras that I mentioned in this post, although I find that I wear them more during the day than at night. And thank you for the lanolin removal tip and the Nuk recommendation! I’ll definitely give the dish detergent a go and fortunately for me, I bought Nuk pads just to try. I haven’t needed them yet, but if it will save my favorite nursing bra then they’re worth a shot.

  2. Sandi M.

    I love reading your blog. Who knew that it was even possible to “shop” in the hospital? It’s great that you young mothers have so many more choices in nursing bras, etc. than we ever had, although I did get pretty good at the “one hand release” even with the ones we had. That’s the best way, and much less obvious to others. I really like your ideas for the “kits” to take home. Wish I was more ambitious, I’d make one up and start a business here.

    • Thanks, Sandi! It’s an experiment in progress and so far it’s been fun. I love seeing the responses. Everyone has such great info to share. I wish I was more ambitious as well because I think there’s definitely a lot of business potential for in-hospital shopping. Maybe I need to find some hospital administrator or labor & delivery nurse friends.

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