We recently celebrated my daughter’s first birthday, but if I take a moment and close my eyes, I can easily slip back in time to the weeks leading up to her birth. It feels like just yesterday that I was sitting at this very computer staring blankly at the Babies R Usregistration page while I rubbed my pregnant belly furiously, as though trying to conjure a genie to help me with my online shopping. I remember clicking, navigating and practicing deep breathing techniques. I wasn’t breathing through early labor contractions or intense kicks from baby. I was breathing through the panic of feeling disorganized and unprepared for the biggest deadline of my life–baby’s arrival.
I have a confession: I am not an organized person. My dresser drawers look like a discount clothing store projectile vomited all over them. My bed is rarely made, unless tossing my duvet on top of wrinkled sheets counts as being “made.” Being an expectant mother was intense enough without the pressure of having to prepare. Buying what felt like hundreds of bouncing, singing and vibrating items was alien to me. It felt like a huge and daunting task, and I wish someone would have pulled me away from the online registry and told me that ordering 50 bibs was 45 bibs too many.
Almost every “must-have” list out there on the World Wide Web will tell you to buy bouncy chairs, Bumbo chairs, burpy cloths and onesies, so here is my gift to all of you expectant moms: my list of must-haves for new mommies. Some don’t even cost any money and I couldn’t have remained sane(ish) without them.
- Swaddling blanket
Swaddling my baby seemed as intricate as origami at first. One of the earliest videos we took of our sweet girl was of the nurse swaddling her hours after she was born. I’ll admit the impulse to videotape was not brought on by a rush of overwhelming love. It was brought on by a rush of anxiety at the thought of having to master the swaddle ourselves, because unfortunately, you don’t get to bring the nice nurse home with you. We practiced over and over until we were able to transform our wailing baby into a tightly wrapped bundle of snooze. I recommend Aden and Anais muslin swaddling blankets. They are nice, lightweight and oh so pretty!
- Boppy nursing pillow
Guess what? Breastfeeding a newborn wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. The cradle, the cross-over, the football hold… I had problems with every breastfeeding position in the book. Once I started to use a breastfeeding pillow, I struggled less and relaxed more. My Boppy nursing pillow was my best pal. I wandered around our apartment with ole’ Bopster around my waist like an inflatable swimming ring. The pillow is designed to lift your baby to a more ergonomic position for comfortable feedings. It can also be used as a prop for sitting and tummy time as your baby gets a little older. I may have used my faithful friend as a prop for more than my baby once or twice and I may have spilled a few things on it, so the removable slipcover was an added bonus!
- Monthly massage
Twelve months later and I’m still being pulled and prodded in all the wrong places. There is nothing like checking out for an hour once a month and getting a pair of trained hands to massage away the spit-up trails and sticky fingerprints from my weary body. We new mothers stoop down a lot, we bend a lot, we ache a lot. Unless your dream is to be cast as an extra in the next “Planet of the Apes” movie, a stooped posture is not a good thing. Taking the time to get a relaxing and therapeutic massage is not only good for your body – it’s good for your sanity. Find Massage Online can help you find a massage therapist near you.
- Infant CPR
Chances are your newborn won’t be jamming anything into his mouth other than a nipple for the few months of his life, but as he gets older, the sharpest and tiniest of objects become irresistible to most babies. It’s good to be prepared and knowing how to perform CPR on an infant/toddler is better than being hopeless in a choking emergency. Hospitals, community centers and local chapters of the American Red Cross and American Heart Association offer CPR classes.To find a class in your area, visit the Red Cross website or call (800) 733-2767 (800-RED-CROSS).
- Baby Bjorn baby carrier
Oh, Baby Bjorn, how I loved thee. If, like me, you live in an urban setting, then a stroller can sometimes be a bulky pain. As soon as my daughter hit the 8-pound mark, I strapped her into the carrier and we were Bjorn free! I wore her while I did errands in my neighborhood. I wore her and took nice long walks in the park. I wore her while attempting to do a little housecleaning, little being the operative word. I never got any cleaning done, really. But I had free hands the whole time!
- Comfortable loungewear
So many body parts will be sore, there’s no need to make the pain worse by wearing uncomfortable clothes. Any woman who has experienced childbirth, via natural delivery or C-section, is a super hero, so I recommend these!
- Daily outings
You don’t want to end up hiding in the bedroom with the baby’s Sleep Sheep set to “ocean” while bitterly fantasizing about escaping to the beach. Make time to get out. Leave baby with your spouse or someone you trust and WALK AWAY. Go grab a quiet tea or coffee. Window shop for an hour. Browse the bookstore. Getting out doesn’t have to be complicated, but it is a necessity. Everyone will be happier in the end.
- Decent camera
Let’s face it, having a baby is a pretty. Big. Deal. I won’t tell you what camera to buy, but I do suggest investing in something that takes a decent picture. The investment will be worth it and in no time you’ll be snapping away. You don’t want to miss out on the first time your little nugget smiles, or frowns, or blinks, or rolls…
- Witch hazel pads
Okay I knew it would hurt, I really did. I guess I just blocked the part about how long the pain would last out. Witch hazel pads are cool and soothing, and your lady parts will thank you for using them. Mine did anyway. I’m not going to tell you how to use them–you’ll figure it out!
- Floradix liquid iron supplement
Be prepared; you may lose enough blood during labor to be prescribed iron supplements. I was sent home with a tiny baby and a tiny bottle of seemingly harmless white iron pills. I am no doctor, but I do know this: those pills I took made my life sheer hell. I won’t go into tons of detail here, but let’s just say going to the bathroom felt more like another bout of labor, only this time I was giving birth to those giant creepy stone statues on Easter Island. Wrap your butthole around that vision. Not nice. Floradix is a liquid iron supplement and is easier to absorb and less–for lack of a prettier word–constipating.
Okay, so duh, I know… but the more food, the better. In fact, I just heard of a great baby shower idea where the guests each bring one prepared meal to put in the new parent’s freezer. GENIUS! I thought a few yogurt containers of soup and some frozen vegetables would suffice. Was I wrong! The last thing I felt like doing was worrying about preparing a meal–any of them! Thankfully friends and family showed up with prepared meals, otherwise we would have been living on dry crackers and water. Just say yes to casseroles and stews, fruit baskets and veggie trays! If you plan to breastfeed, you will need to eat more because producing milk can burn up to 500 calories a day.
Throw in a little patience, love and understanding and that, in a nutshell, is my list of must-haves for new moms.