Top 9 New Mom Must-Haves
When you are expecting, everyone is all about the baby. We throw baby showers, give baby gifts and baby gear. But what about you? How do you prepare for your own transition? As a new mom, what will you need for you? Recovering from birth and blood loss. Embarking on breastfeeding. Significant sleep deprivation. Major hormonal shifts. A lot is happening to mom in those early days of welcoming a new baby. The following are my nine favorite and most used new mom items to have in the arsenal for that precious and sometimes bumpy transition period.
1) Arnica - Popular for treating bruising, swelling and soreness. I keep this remedy on hand at all times and carry it with me in my purse and diaper bag. It will help boost a speedy recovery from birth, whether your little bundle arrives naturally or via c-section.
2) After Ease - "After pains" can be a serious pain, literally. The uterus continues to contract after birth in order to shrink down to its normal size, and the pain can be experienced for several days following birth. This process can be uncomfortable enough to warrant some assistance to deal with the process. I didn't have this stuff with my first, and was really glad I found it before I had my second. Hands down, one of my favorite postpartum recovery items. Caulophyllum Thalictroides and Cimicifua Racemosa are also helpful in this arena, and are commonly used as a remedy for menstrual cramps.
3) Electric tea kettle - For moms that give birth vaginally, rinsing with a peri-bottle after each visit to the restroom is a must. I found that in my bathroom it took a solid two minutes for hot water to arrive in the sink, which is not only a waste of water, but a waste of time in the middle of the night. The tea kettle worked perfectly to get warm water within seconds.
4) Soothies - This is no exaggeration when I say I heard angels singing in the heavens each time I applied these babies after nursing. The breaking-in period to breastfeeding can be rough on the nipples. No amount of lanolin or other nipple cream can even compare to the pain relief these provided in those first three weeks. They are reusable and last about a week. I went through three boxes/sets before I no longer needed them. As a bonus, I rarely needed to use any nipple cream.
5) Nursing pads - I always suggest having at least one box of disposables on hand. Some women don't experience any leaking during their breastfeeding career, but it is nice to be prepared. If you end up being a heavy leaker, there are lots of great options both disposable and reusable. I was a very heavy leaker in the first few months, but by about month five I only needed mild protection during letdowns, and used something like these little handy, multi-purpose pads. They are perfect for removing eye makeup or replacing cotton balls, too!
6) Nursing pillow - I have a love/hate relationship with nursing pillows. I feel like they all have their flaws and not one of them is perfect. I've used the Luna, which has a great shape for beginning nursers and is especially perfect for the "football" hold, my favorite hold when embarking on the breastfeeding relationship. It has a long shelf life as far as being able to support (and fit!) an older baby, well beyond a year, and was easily our favorite when my third baby grew so big so fast, yet continued to want the support and comfort of a pillow under her when she nursed. On the downside, it is constructed of really, really soft filling which doesn't support a newborn very well and baby tends to easily sink into the crack between mom and pillow. Same thing with the Boppy, which is probably by far the most popular nursing pillow. Sinking into the crack is probably the main complaint with the Boppy, although I find the filling to be more firm than the Luna, which is better for supporting a newborn. The third one I tried and used the most was My Brest Friend. Its most redeeming quality is its solid construction. It is perfect for supporting a newborn, baby never sinks into the crack, and there are even small head rests on both ends to give baby's head a little lift. Its firmness and rigidity makes it a little less flexible if you want to feed using the football hold and I don't like the foam construction. It is obviously made of petrochemicals, which I didn't feel very good about using with my newborn. I really like the idea behind the Born Free Nursing Pillow, however there are very few reviews, I have yet to try it and have no idea how it stands up to practical use (if you have used one, please leave a comment with your review!). The design claims appear to remedy many flaws that other pillows have. Overall, I find having a nursing pillow is better than going without. You will develop significant back and shoulder pain if you nurse or feed baby without proper support.
7) Breast pump - Get one before baby arrives. It can be helpful if you have an oversupply in the beginning to relieve some of the pressure from engorgement (just some of the pressure, it is not recommended to pump a lot during engorgement), or it can help stimulate greater milk supply if there seems to be supply issues. Additionally, I always recommend introducing a bottle. At some point you will want to get out of the house without the baby for more than an hour or two and not feel rushed to get back for a feeding. It can also be helpful to know the baby will not reject a bottle should a supply issue arise and supplementing become necessary. Offering a bottle once a week, starting between three and five weeks of age, should be sufficient to keep up the familiarity with it. It can also be a sweet bonding thing for dad to take charge of.
8) Stainless Steel mug or thermos - Breastfeeding takes a lot out of a new mom as the body burns a lot of calories to provide the nutrients to nourish that little one. My favorite way for mom to stay nourished and fed in the middle of the night is to make an easy to eat/drink soup that is kept warm in a thermos or travel mug with lid. My favorite nourishing and easy to drink soup is from Holistic Squid, check out her soup for breakfast.
And one final miscellaneous...
9) Night vision - Either a night light, a dimmer switch on a bedside lamp or a book light are all good options for those middle of the night awakenings. I found both a book lamp and this cute little constellation night light worked well for illuminating just enough of the room for me to see what I was doing without disturbing baby too much. I actually stuck some clear red tape over the book lamp as the LED light was a bit bright on the eyes in a dark room.
Is there anything you found you couldn't live without in those first few days as you recovered from birth and settled into mommyhood? Please share!