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One of the things you don’t have a lack of when you are expecting, or are a new mom, is advice, whether it’s solicited or not. Everyone tells you what you should be doing, using and must have. Am I doing the same thing? Yes I am! 😄 But I have to back myself up here by saying that, while researching my book, I’ve studied new moms extensively and I think I have a very educated opinion based, not just on my own experience, but input I’ve received from others.
Here are 10 things I think you really must have when you are a new mom:
1. A Good Postnatal
You know that you need extra nutrients when you are pregnant, so you have been taking a prenatal for at least nine months, right? Well, you aren’t done once the baby is born. You’ve heard of the fourth trimester - your body still needs extra nutrient, particularly while you’re breastfeeding.
There are all kinds of post-natal supplements out there, shelves and aisles full. Which one do you choose? While doing research for my book, I came across the Theralogix website. The Lactation Complete formula has the recommended dose of vitamin D and omega 3's you need, plus everything else a postnatal supplement should contain.
I like that this company has a medical advisory board approving every formulation after a thorough review of the current scientific literature. This company has formulations for women in all stages of life, so browse around and see what best suits your needs!
2. A Good Whole Food Supplement
As a lactating, new momma, not only do your vitamin and mineral needs increase, so do your caloric, protein and fluid needs. You will feel like you are parched and starving all the time in the beginning, and with a newborn to take care of, your own needs tend to be put on the back burner. If you have a good whole food supplement, it just makes it that much easier to make sure you are getting your needs met.
I discovered Milk Dust during my research for my book and I just fell in love with the products! Their protein powder is all-inclusive, with not only a lactation formula, but stock-full of nutrient dense berries and greens, and a protein blend that is vegan-friendly, so it’s a great whole food supplement, whether you are lactating or not.
I personally love the versatility of vanilla, but they also have chocolate brownie flavored protein powder, so check it out if you are a choco-holic.
Enter code GIRLFRIEND for a 10% discount! While you are on the site, check out the lactation bar as a great on-the-go snack!
Now that you have your nutrient needs met, you can focus on stuff you need for the baby. I’m sure you’ve seen parents out there with a whole car load of stuff just for the baby, struggling to carry all those things around! I personally like to travel light, so I go for multifunctional items or items that are easy to tote around.
3. A Co-Sleeper
A Cosleeper is one of those items that is well worth the investment. There’s the big debate - co-sleep with your baby or not? This solves that problem because a co-sleeper is an extension of your bed, so the baby is sharing a bed with you, but with his or her own space.
I absolutely loved my Arm’s Reach co-sleeper. It was really one of my best baby investments because I could have my babies right next to me at night, but not actually in my bed. When my babies would wake up at night, it was so easy to pull them in to feed and then put them back when they were done.
Babies make a lot of noises at night, so I could just open an eye to peek and then drift back to sleep if all was OK.
The cosleeper has pockets to store diaper changing essentials, so I literally sat up in bed, changed my baby’s diaper (with the light from a night light) and pulled her in to feed, all without having to fully get up and wake up, making it easy to drift back to sleep.
I had the 3 in 1, which is a co-sleeper, bassinet and a pack 'n play all in one, which makes it a multipurpose baby item that will be invaluable for a few years!
4. Nursing/Support Pillow
Believe it or not, those 6-9 pounds of baby gets heavy after a while, especially after nursing 6-8 times a day! It's so nice to be able to rest your baby on a support pillow and have a hand free.
There are different brands of nursing pillows out there, but I really loved my Boppy. It’s a nursing pillow, but also a support pillow for when a baby gets older and needs a little assistance sitting up or a prop during tummy time.
For nursing, I really liked the design of the original Boppy that has nothing to clip or tie around the back; you just push it in around you and you are all set to go. This is a personal choice and you may find that a different style meets your own needs. Boppy offers different options, so see which one suits you best!
Trust me, you will spend many hours in your rocker/glider. Make sure you get the ottoman that rocks and glides along with the chair. This will be your comfy spot for the many hours you will have your baby on the breast during your waking hours.
I would sit in mine, Boppy around my waist, baby on breast, or asleep after feeding (while I would get to stare down at him or her, kiss his face, count her toes) and just relax and catch up on my reading.
Get one set up in your nursery, or wherever you think you will spend the most time, way before the baby is born. This one is just like the one I had, and it even has side pockets to hold reading material and other essentials.
6. Front Facing Baby Carrier
When you have a little one (newborn on up through the first year), it’s great to not only have your hands free, but also some relief from all of that baby weight resting on one arm. A front facing baby carrier allows you to distribute that weight across your body, much like a backpack does.
Of course, there are many types of carriers out there, but, as I told you, I go for simplistic. I chose the Baby Bjorn for both of my babies. It’s not complicated to put on and take off (you can easily take it off while your baby is sleeping and lay him down in bed with no interruption).
It's also excellent when you are on the go - and you can breastfeed in them too (see my blog about this here). There are more sophisticated styles now that weren't available during my time, but I used the mini you see in the photo with no problem.
I discovered the sling when my son was 13 months old. He was officially a toddler - big and heavy, but he still wanted to be carried (like all of them do!). I used the sling to support his weight on my hip and it was so awesome, it was like I discovered an oasis in the desert!
When my daughter was born, I used the sling right from birth and I loved it. I could breastfeed her discreetly and could keep her in there even while sitting down, like when going out to dinner, not as easy to do with a traditional baby front facing baby carrier.
You don’t have both hands free with a sling and it doesn’t distribute the weight the same as a front facing carrier for a longer standing or walking stint, so I would use my Baby Bjorn when I would go on hikes or need my hands free.
Unfortunately, the company that made the sling I used with my daughter is no longer in business, but I found one that seems to be very similar called the Lite-on-Shoulder baby sling. I loved the cinching rings, so I could pull it real tight or loosen it, depending on my needs. A sling is inexpensive and pays dividends as you use it well into your baby’s second year.
8. Breast Pump
I was a stay at home mom, so I figured I didn’t need a fancy breast pump and just got one of those hand-held trigger pumps. After around 6 months of struggling with that thing, barely able to get even a half a bottle at a time, I finally bit the bullet and invested in a double-sided electric breast pump and it was one of my best investments ever!
I used the Medela Pump in Style because I liked that the pump was in a bag that looked like a purse. I was able to take it traveling with me because, since it looked like a purse, no one knew I was toting around a breast pump. Plus, there was space for my wallet and essentials, along with a small cooler with cool packs to keep that precious milk safe.
When I pumped, I had to sit in bed and hold the collecting bottles in place with my arms. Now you can get a bra specifically designed to hold those pumps in place to give you some freedom of movement.
If you really need to be able to walk around, there are pumps that you can attach to your body (still with the tubing attached to the collector bottles) or even pumps that you just stick in your bra with no tubing, like the Willow or the Elvie, so the pump itself has the collector cup or bag inside of it. These are excellent if you have a job where you just can’t get away to pump, like a nurse or hairdresser.
If you happen to be a leaker, whether you’re out and about or you have a big let down while feeding, you can capture that milk with breast shells. Elvie makes a wearable silicone “pump” that has a natural suction that gently expresses milk. The nice thing about this is that they (somewhat) discretely fit in your bra, and allow you to be hands-free. We moms can always use an extra hand!
9. Nursing Tops
One of the great things about breastfeeding is the ease of having the perfect food at the perfect temperature ready at any time. When you are out in public, there’s no need to juggle with bottles, water at the right temperature and mixing formula while your hungry baby is screaming. You just pop him or her on your breast and keep going!
While there are many women who have no problem popping out that boob whenever their baby needs to be fed, there are also many women who are just uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. I’ve had many friends who go through the hassle of pumping their milk and carrying bottles around to feed their baby while out and about.
While the baby is still getting breastmilk, it just takes the convenience out of the whole thing. You always have to have that pumped bottle (which isn’t so easy for many women) and you always have to be organized and plan ahead to bring one along. We already lose so much spontaneity when having kids, having to plan to bring a bottle of pumped milk makes it that much more complicated. Plus, if your baby isn’t on your breast when she’s hungry, it means you are creating less demand, so this could lead you down the road of reduced supply.
Plan ahead and get yourself some nursing tops! Some are God-awful, but some are actually cute and you would never know it was a nursing top. Try wearing and using them at home, get comfortable with them, and then when you’re out in public, getting your baby on the breast is so discreet no one will even know. Especially if you have your baby in a sling, everyone will just think your baby is sleeping. Check out some styles that I personally thought were adorable on my site.
10. Breastfeeding Book
My list wouldn’t be complete without promoting my book, Breastfeeding, Nursing and Just Plain Udderance. You read books about what to expect during pregnancy and how to handle labor and delivery - what about breastfeeding? It seems this part of the birthing process is too often overlooked.
I’m not trying to toot my own horn (well, maybe a little bit), but honestly, I wouldn’t have written a book that I didn’t believe would truly help women in their breastfeeding journey.
The best time to read it is while you are still pregnant, just as you would read a book about labor and delivery, so you know what to expect and you can prepare yourself in advance. But it’s not too late to read it after giving birth.
If you already have your wee one and are perhaps struggling a bit with breastfeeding, please get help - hire a lactation consultant and read my book.
If you are already breastfeeding like a pro, but are uncertain about what you should be eating (or not eating), get my book!
As a registered dietitian, I included a whole nutrition section that tells you which nutrients you need more of, why you may not be losing the weight you thought you would, and what to fill your plate with that will optimize your health and give you that fuel you need to run after that little one as he or she starts to move around.
Being a new mom is no easy feat! If it’s your first baby, it’s a whole new world. If it’s not your first, it’s still a whole new world as you juggle the needs of your newborn and your other child(ren).
You will fumble your way around in the beginning, but rest assured, it will become second nature in no time. Trust your instincts and set yourself up by planning ahead.
Have yourself armed and ready with tools that will make your life that much easier! You will thank me later, so I will say “you’re welcome” in advance.
Once you are in full swing and have started to get the hang of things, let me know which item(s) you feel like you just couldn’t do without!