Well, first thing’s first, Mama- Congratulations! You have conquered one of the hardest endeavours that a woman can go through- pregnancy and childbirth. Labour kind of felt like you were dying, right? Unfortunately its not the end of the tough journey- in fact, you have signed up for a lifetime of worry and work, but its completely and miraculously all so worth it. Postpartum life can be and will be tricky to adapt to. You will feel like a stranger when you first go home from the hospital. You will feel like you have made the biggest mistake ever, most likely, but there ain’t no going back. You have to be there for this new blessing who you have carefully brought into your life and there really is no one better at that job than you. You have absolutely got this Mama, and you will begin to feel like yourself again, you just have to figure out rhythm of your new normal. Not only are you looking after your new little bambino, but you have gone through quite an ordeal yourself! You need to make sure you are looking after your body and yourself as much as possible… afterall you can’t pour from an empty glass. While it might seem impossible to spend a minute on yourself at this point in time in between all the nappy changes and endless cluster feeds, here is a list of things that I have put together for you to find looking after yourself that bit easier.
New Mama Survival Kit items
Gals, these are not a “precaution”, you are going to need these bad boys whether you want them or not. Let me tell you that it can sometimes feel like you are wearing a door wedge in your panties, but they are amazing- especially if you are breast feeding (because sometimes it takes breast stimulation for more blood to shed away). I bled for about 5 weeks after the birth of my daughter and I know that the maternity pads can be uncomfortable. I also had stitches so I was worried that the heat that they created when placed down there would cause some form of infection, however I was pleasantly surprised that this never happened. I purchased about 6 packets of maternity pads and then when my bleeding subsided to a much slower and weaker flow, I began to wear normal period pads again, which felt like a dream!
Large granny-Bridget-Jones-esque pants
For the days when you just can’t be bothered with anything else. For the first 2 weeks of my daughter’s life (at least), I stuck with a style combination of my delivery dressing gown and black granny pants. Nothing else; that was my outfit of the week, with no shame- the titties were out and airing (which my cracked and chafed nipples appreciated greatly). Its too tricky to fumble around at t-shirts and bras when nursing, so I would say to just leave your gals in the air and free! But you will need to wear pants to hold in those hefty maternity pads.
New bed sheets…
…for mum and dad’s bed-trust me these came in handy when I suddenly had an infant peeing all over the sheets during those moments of being nappy-less while getting changed on the bed. It was too difficult to find the time in the day to wash and dry a bed sheet to replace it by our bedtime, so having at least 3 bed sheets allowed me to have a good rotation without having to do the laundry every other day. ALSO, brushed cotton sheets are the best and so so soft. I have a very deep mattress and I found these amazing soft linen sheets with deep corners on Amazon which are a dream!
Nipple cream and reusable breast pads
This kind of goes without saying- if you are breast feeding, make sure you have these supplied. I prefer to use reusable breast pads- they feel softer on sore nipples and less environmental damage! I would highly recommend the Kiddo Care breast pads from Amazon.
Freezer food for these nights of the first week so that I didn’t have to prepare anything for dinner
If your day has been somewhat of a disaster with the baby, always have dinner to look forward to. You will no doubt find that you have no time to cook a fancy meal anyway, so let yourself have this week of non nutritional frozen food. To begin with, I found myself only finding a chance to cook dinner at about midnight when my other half returned from work and he took the baby. I just couldn’t find the time to tear myself away from a very clingy baby to cook for myself.
The Wonderweeks App
Seriously, without this, I would have been endlessly questioning every slight change in her behaviour. At least with this app, I was able to learn about when the growth spurts and changes were happening to her and it could explain the erratic crying and sleeping at odd intervals.
A soft bedside lamp for middle of the night nursing times
It is so much better than sleeping with *Scottish phrase here* the big light on. It is ideal because it also allows the room to be dim which helps the baby to remain calm when its bed time. Plus, you are going to have to be able to find that nipple, gal- so no dark rooms. Maybe you don’t need the light- thats pretty cool, I hope I get to that level!
…for when you visit the bathroom. Trust me, you may not want to use even the softest of toilet paper at first because lets face it, your vagina may feel a bit upset with you- read all about how the spray bottles can help with your first postpartum poop by clicking here.
A loose dressing gown
Easy to pull off for nursing and its comfortable beyond belief, which is of great value to a new mama! Every Mama should invest in a soft and loose dressing gown… they deserve it. I got mine from Primark for only £14 and I wore it during the birth of our daughter too, so it will always be special to me.
Reusable ice packs…
…for stitches and sore breasts. The cooling effect helped with swelling when it got too warm for me.
A baby tracking app
There are literally thousands of baby tracking apps available, and I used one that helped me to keep on track of how many wet and dirty nappies were happening throughout the day; which breast I last fed on and when she went down for a nap. And lets be honest, mum brain is a real thing, I can’t count how many times I forgot the times when I tried to make a mental note and how many times I had to restart the whole formula making process by forgetting how long ago the kettle boiled. Having something that records your processes and also that sets a timer to remind you of things just helps exhausted new mum brains to have to constantly think less.
A baby-wearing wrap
My baby is rather clingy at specific times during the day and no matter how deep a sleep she is in, if she wakes up and is not in someone’s arms she cries for cuddles and to be held. Its a very common newborn thing- getting used to being separate from mum is a pretty traumatic thing, so we have to cut them some slack and just cuddle them close. As frustrating as it can feel when you can’t get up to make yourself some food or to do anything else, just look down and drink up that sweet little moment of your baby cuddling into you, feeling safe, cosy and comfortable enough to sleep. Drink it in, because these are the things you want to remember!
Wearing a baby wrap helps mum’s to continue on with necessary actions throughout the day without having to do it one-handed. Before I realised that there was a baby-wearing wrap in my baby box, I was struggling to prepare formula/wash bottles/ cook some dinner for myself while I held my gorgeous baby in my other arm. I had 3 baby carriers (the ready-made baby holders) (2 of these were gifted to us from some lovely friends and family) but they were all only suitable for slightly larger babies from 7.5lbs onwards- Lonje, 6 weeks into life is still not 7 lbs as she was born so small, so until I found the wrap I struggled on. Then I injured my leg because my dog ran into it during a walk, and I had to use crutches to get around and I realised that I really needed to find a way to hands-free carry baby around the house- and the wrap was the answer!
Ewan the dream sheep
Its not just a necessary item for baby to use for sleeping- its actually a sanity saver for new parents. For some reason, little babies enjoy the sound of white noise and it somehow sends them to sleep because it reminds them of being in the womb. I used to play a YouTube video of baby white noise but it meant that my phone had to be on charge all night to keep the sound going. Thats when my wonderful sister suggested Ewan the Dream Sheep and let me tell you all, this little sheep has saved my sanity many a night when Lonje won’t settle. There are different sounds for every leg that the sheep has and they are all very relaxing even for parents- we fall asleep to the lullaby all the time!
A Baby Sleeping Bag
Now depending on the warmth of your climate, a sleeping bag is very helpful to settle a baby who doesn’t like to be swaddled. It keeps them cosy and comfortable and is so easy to pop onto a sleeping baby without waking them. Sometimes I wish I had a sleeping bag like Lonje’s. It also offers new mum’s with paranoia the knowledge that the sleeping bag cannot accidentally cover the baby’s face- so it has helped me to sleep knowing that she was safely tucked in. This was the one that we use and its amazing!
A Diaper Caddy and easy-to-move changing mat
I know, I know, you have the gorgeous changing table with carefully organised drawers filled with nappies/diapers, baby wipes, socks, babies… you name it. If you are going through vigorous cluster feeds like I was during the first few weeks, the last thing you want to do is pull yourself off that couch and run through to the nursery to change your rapidly pooping and peeing baby. Make it easy for yourself. Grab the changing mat from the changing table or ensure you have a portable one, grab the diaper caddy and ensure it is filled with what you need (read this post here for the diaper caddy essentials) and set up shop on your floor or bed or dining room table. Wherever you find yourself for the day, bring the essentials to that place and accept that you are making the job easier for you in the long-run. You will get the chance to use the changing table later on. These first few weeks are critical and you need to conserve your energy. I would recommend this diaper caddy and this changing mat!
A Nursing pillow/boppy
This thing came in handy during pregnancy, childbirth AND in my postpartum life and heck, I am still using it today. The best £19.99 I EVER spent on anything (I got mine from TK Maxx in the baby section). Seriously, for postpartum life you can use it to sit on to prevent your stitches from being aggravated as your butt will be raised off the sofa. I also used it for the main purpose- nursing. You can use this pillow to prop your baby up a bit and it will allow the nursing experience to be a bit smoother. One way that I use this pillow while nursing is by holding my baby close to me, bending up my knees (while I’m lying on my bed with my back upright) and the pillow going just above my knees, this helps push Lonje forward to my breasts. Its also great for neck pain when you are trying to nap on the sofa.
A little pamper for Mama/Papa
I know its not top priority, and it definitely shouldn’t come before baby’s needs, but new parents are probably going to be exhausted, overwhelmed and perhaps on the verge of insanity. We need rest and we need it now- well after the baby has been fed, burped effectively, played with, changed and carefully laid down for a nap. So when you get that shower that you were sorely needing, just treat yourself to a hair mask, or some nice smelling shower gel. My suggestion would be a Lush hair mask or Aussie shampoo. Note to new mamas: I would advise you to not use a bath bomb or bubble bath during your first couple of weeks, especially if you have had stitches as apparently it can cause infection.
Do you have anything else to add to the list? Postpartum life is supposed to be hard, so please don’t doubt your mama capabilities. When have we ever been perfect at a brand new job? So, put less pressure on yourself to perform perfectly, you WILL get there naturally. Good luck mamas and welcome to your new life!