Here are some of the things I’ve found useful and great to have in the first month after becoming a mom. If you don’t care to read a few nitty gritty details about breastfeeding or postpartum recovery you may want to skip over this post. I just thought writing this all out could be a good reference for myself and maybe a few others might find some of the info useful. I’ll start of with the baby stuff we’ve been using quite a bit with Aiden.
Soothie Pacifier – We tried one other standard pacifier that Aiden refused to take before trying this one.
Miracle Blanket Swaddler – These are great for swaddling and Aiden’s little arms never escape. It much easier for us than a blanket. We’ve even tried using the velco swaddlers but he usually managed to get his arms free.
Diaper Genie (Elite) – Almost everyone’s heard of a diaper genie when it comes to baby supplies and we’ve put both of ours to good use. We keep one upstairs and one downstairs. I’d recommend the Elite version (vs. the Essential), as I’ve found having the foot pedal to be a great feature. I thought I’d be annoyed with needing special bags but I really like they way they work and haven’t noticed any issues with odor.
Swing – Aiden sleeps in his swing quite a bit, specifically at night right now. He seems to sleep longer that way. I chose this particular swing because it plugs in and I didn’t want to be tearing through batteries constantly. It swings in multiple ways and speeds, also has battery powered vibration in the seat, and has several options for sounds (white noise, music, or ipod hook up). It pretty much covers anything you might want in a swing.
Bouncer – Aiden spends time during the day sleeping or just hanging out in his bouncer. It vibrates and rocks or you can prop it up with a kickstand to recline it back for sleeping, and we’ve found this to be a useful feature (he seems to slump down into the seat otherwise when he’s tired).
Boppy Pillow – We’ve been using this for tummy time with Aiden. I’ve also propped him up in it while Skyping with the grandparents.
Baby Blankets – I originally thought the amount of blankets we had was excessive, and it does depend on the season, but I’m realizing we have just enough. Aside from the obvious spit up and diaper mishaps that use up blankets quickly, I’ve also learned it’s easier to have several in every room of the house rather than trying to run around and find one when it’s needed, there are some in his room, our room, the living room, the stroller, etc. We probably have somewhere around 15-20 baby blankets floating around our house.
A List of Benefits – I found breastfeeding exhausting and challenging at first (I still do, but it’s has become drastically better) so being reminded of why we’re doing this gives me motivation to continue. I don’t have a physical list but when I would get frustrated Andrew was right there to give me support and remind me of why we made this a priority.
Disposable Nursing Pads – I was blessed with quite an abundance of breast milk, a good thing but it came with it’s own issues. I found these disposable pads to be very effective. I don’t notice them through my clothes and they can hold quite a bit of liquid. I tried using the washable cotton pads but was very disappointed. For one, if you leak too much it leaks right through the pad to your clothes, and secondly, they did not pull the moisture away from my skin. I found my skin sticking to the pad and every time I took them off they caused a little bit of damage and pain.
Gel Soothies – During the first two weeks of breastfeeding I found these to be quite amazing. To be blunt, they feel great on traumatized, damaged nipples. A lifesaver. You should note they don’t prevent or absorb any leaking, so if that’s an issue I’d also put a nursing pad on over it. I had a few instances of leaking through my clothes (not at all embarrassing).
Lanonlin – Another product that feels great on nipples that are getting used to breastfeeding.
Bacitracin – This is an over the counter antibiotic ointment, useful if you have damage from breastfeeding. It’s usually in the pharmacy/first aid section near the Neosporin. We did not find out about this stuff until the second appointment with our doula and after calling a lactation consultant for advice. It prevents infection and promotes healing, which I needed.
Bactroban – This is a prescription antibiotic cream that I received after meeting with a lactation consultant. She had to call my OBGYN and recommend the prescription be written because I was having quite a bit of pain and damage from nursing. I’m listing it here so others know what to ask for from their doctor because when I saw my doctor I specifically asked for something stronger than the over the counter lanolin or bacitracin I’d been using and she did not offer up any other options.
Breast Pump – I am using the Medela Pump In Style that I purchased second hand on Craigslist for $80 (don’t judge me, I bought new accessories to use with it). I’ve been happy with the pump so far and I think there are several good pump options out there. I got this one because I plan to pump once I’m back at work. I think the important part is to have some type of pump before baby arrives. Once my milk came in on day 3 or so, I had severe engorgement and could not get Aiden latched to eat. I was able to avoid a great amount of stress and panic because I pump enough milk to allow him to latch, and him feeding alleviated the pain of engorgement. I previously mentioned that I had a substantial milk supply, but this often left me engorged so having the pump was a great convenience. Hand expressing is always an option, but to be honest, I found this more effective.
Gilligan & O’Malley Nursing Bras – These bras are available at Target and they come in small, medium, large so you don’t have to stress over exactly what size you think you are or might be later. They are comfortable, no weird cup shape, and for $17 you can’t really go wrong. These are pretty much all I’ve been using so far.
A “Nursing Basket” – This is pretty much just a basket of stuff… burp clothes (I use lots of these), water bottle, nursing pads, snacks, nipple cream, my phone, Advil, etc. I can easily move it around the house with me and know I have everything I need to nurse at a moments notice. It’s especially convenient at night when I’m tired and can’t think. It sits right next to my bed and I don’t have to search for each item.
Help – I felt like I needed lots of assistance and support when I started out breastfeeding. There is definitely a learning curve. Luckily, after Aiden was born I had two visits from our very knowledgable doula. Plus, our hospital had a Breastfeeding Center where you could see a lactation consultant or just call for advice, both services I used. Andrew has also been a great support. If I didn’t have a partner helping me and committed to this as well I’m not sure how I would have continued at certain points.
Peri Bottle – This little squirt bottle makes using the bathroom a far more pleasant experience. Toilet paper is evil.
Hospital Stuff – Swipe as many of those mesh underwear and pads that you can from the hospital. We asked the nurse and she brought me more to take home. It’s better than anything you can find in the store or at home. I also purchased a package of Depends preemptively based on several recommendations from other online mom forums. I didn’t end up using them but I could see how they’d be useful.
Bath Tub – My doula recommended that I soak in the tub at least 10 minutes daily. It helps to redistribute scar tisse and feels great. Not to mention sitting in the tub everyday was mentally relaxing and gave me a little time to myself. We also have a removable shower head so I was able to wash and rinse my hair while sitting, which was especially nice in those first few days (not to mention efficient).
Ibuprofen and Tylenol – These were my only sources of pain relief during recovery and as long as I took them on schedule they were very effective. My doctor suggested I start with these and if I needed something stronger call.
Tucks Pads and New Mama Bottom Spray – These were both great items for postpartum soreness. I was able to find the Tucks Pads at the store but I ordered the spray online.