So my BFF is pregnant with her first bambino and she begged asked that I post tips for new moms as if I have the key to unlocking the secrets of being a perfect mother. HAHA! If only she could see how messy my house was she’d know better. I kid, I kid. No, really, it is bad. There is food caked on my son’s high chair tray. There is cereal still on the floor from when he threw it down from his jumper…probably from yesterday. The diaper pail seriously needs changing out but trash only comes every TWO WEEKS in Germany, dude! That’s real life, BFF…you’ll see.
So I decided to post every thing/tip/product that I think every expectant mother should know/have. This is not everything, but I’ve tried to narrow it down to the must-haves and the critical. These are based solely on my experience, so if you are a mother and have another tip, please leave it in the comments for my BFF. I am sure she’ll be checking back multiple times a day.
1. BOPPY PILLOW. Every single mother should have a Boppy, imo. I like it better than My Breast Friend (I can’t even type that without gagging a little) because it is soft and when baby is learning to sit up it fits snugly around his booty just in case he falls back, which he will.
2. Baby socks as hand covers. Use baby socks for hand covers (so they don’t scratch their tiny perfect faces); do not waste your money on actual hand covers. Socks stay on much better!
3. GERBER CLOTH DIAPERS as burp cloths. Go to Wal-Mart and stock up on Gerber plain white cloth diapers. Wash them and use them as your burp cloths. You will not want to use anything else. They absorb better and will last you a long time. If it says ‘burp cloth’ on the label, don’t buy it..they suck.
4. If you are using disposable diapers, a DIAPER CHAMP. I have used the same Diaper Champ for both boys (they are 5 years apart). The reason I like the Diaper Champ instead of the Diaper Genie is because you can use regular trash bags instead of having to buy the special liners.
5. PORTABLE CHANGING PAD. Most diaper bags come with one, but if yours doesn’t, buy one. Most public changing tables don’t have padding (one thing I’ve learned that is much better in Germany! Every changing pad is soft and usually has a cover on it!)
6. Stretchy receiving blankets! If you buy the kind that doesn’t have any stretch, it won’t stay tight around baby when they are swaddled. I hate flannel receiving blankets. If you get some as gifts, take them with a smile and return them the next day.
7. If you plan to use bottles at some point, TOMMEE TIPPEE BOTTLES are awesome. I heard Dr. Brown’s were great too, but I did not want to deal with washing all of the parts. Believe me, you’ll get sick of washing bottles! And that leads me to…
8. BOTTLE DRYING RACK. This one by Munchkin is fabulous-o and holds tons of bottles and parts.
9. Oh, and a DISHWASHER DRYING RACK for nipples and small parts.
10. If you are planning on going back to work and need a good breast pump MEDELA PUMP IN STYLE is awesome. I have not used any other brand, but I will say that after 5 years my same pump still worked, so that says something. You will want to buy extra storage bottles and I even suggest ordering this pack of different sized shields from PumpinPal. I ended up having to use a different size shield than what came with the pump to get the most milk pumped at one time.
11. Get a GOOD sleep nursing bra. You want one without clips that is easy to move and feel comfortable in like this one. I wore this pretty much all day unless I was going out…at least for the first couple of weeks.
12. If you plan on using a nursing cover, get a good one. Well, let me rephrase…if you are thinking you’ll just be using a blanket to cover up, go ahead and get the cover. I’m not comfortable with whipping my boob out in public. I am envious of women who are, but I am just not. With Thing 1 I vividly remember being in the back of church fumbling with the blanket I was attempting to cover my hooters with as I was trying to get baby to nurse. It was a helluva scene, let me tell you. I’m sitting there trying to listen to the the sermon, trying to be quiet, baby is crying and squirming, which causes the blanket to keep sliding down my front, causing hubs to try and hold it in place. I’m pretty sure I flashed some church members a few times. I finally left and nursed baby in the car because it was too dang stressful! I wish I would’ve invested in a good nursing cover back then. Bebe Au Lait is my favorite brand. It has an adjustable neck, it opens on the top (which I didn’t realize how important that was until I began using it…it allows air flow under the wrap while baby is nursing), and it even has terry cloth sew into the end corners so you can use it for quick clean up if need be.
13. BUMBO SEAT. These seats are great for 4-8 month babies because they can sit up with full support, but you have your hands free. And don’t get The Prince Lionheart or some knock-off-brand. The magic with the Bumbo is in the curvature of the design; it holds and cradles baby in place. I tried a knock off brand with my first one and he was so skinny he just slid right out of it because it had no shape.
1. There’s nothing wrong with using a pacifier. You may have to buy a few different kinds and have them waiting because you never know what bambino will prefer.
2. Don’t waste your money on expensive changing pads for your nursery. Good gracious, there are some pricey ones out there! Just get a normal standard size. There’s no reason to splurge on something like that.
3. Say yes to help. And ask for it. You’ll need it once baby is born and you come home. Ask mom to make dinner. Ask family to take the baby so you can go sleep or get a shower. It’s okay…baby will be fine.
4. Keep in mind that your milk probably won’t come in until after you get home. And when it does, you’ll definitely know it! You’ll want to stock up on nursing pads. I’ve never used washable ones, just the disposable, so if anyone has tips on good washable ones, please link to some!
5. Be prepared that your ‘birth plan’ may not end up happening. I love and hate birth plans. I had one with my first child and didn’t use it at all once everything got going. The truth is, if this is your first baby, you do not know how you will feel once you go through what you are about to go through. All I’m saying is be open to options…
6. Consider a birthing photographer or someone there holding a camera. One of the things I regretted with our first one was how we didn’t have many pics of baby’s first moments. Hubs was busy helping me out, cutting the cord, etc. I have ONE good pic of my husband holding my son for the first time and it is blurry! With our second we had a photographer and it was great because she was able to catch moments we just wouldn’t have been able to. Even moments after…like baby’s first bath, being weighed, family members visiting, etc.
7. Be open to the mirror. I know, I know, some people cringe at the thought of having a mirror facing THERE, but, well, I can’t explain it to you. There is something about watching the birth of your baby that you will never feel again. Consider and be open to fully being in the moment.
8. If you plan on breastfeeding, you definitely want to go to a breastfeeding class before giving birth. It is a must.
For all my expectant mommies planning on giving birth in a military hospital:
9. Be prepared to share a room with another mom. I did both times. It’s not that bad, just be prepared that it is probably going to happen.
10. If you have a scheduled induction time, be prepared to have to wait. There are a lot of pregnant women on military bases. Just sayin’.
11. I had my last baby at Fort Bragg and they were actually very good about being open to skin-to-skin time after birth. But if your hospital doesn’t ask you about it, ask about it. No, TELL THEM you want skin-to-skin time. Tell them how long you want it for. I had it for a solid hour.
12. Be prepared to room-in immediately with your baby. There is no such thing as a nursery in military hospitals.
13. Depending on where you are, be prepared that your spouse may not be able to stay the night in your room with you in postpartum. I was in Okinawa for my first son’s birth and my husband was not allowed to stay the night in a shared room. However, at Fort Bragg he was. I think it had to do with the room size, but it may happen. Definitely ask about it.
What to pack in your hospital bag:
1. Lansinoh Cooling Nursing Pads. Some women do not have problems nursing form the get-go. I did with my first child. Major problems. I bruised, bled..it was not pretty. I SO wish I would’ve had these cooling gel pads. I used them with my second one as well just to give myself some relief in those early days. Pack them just in case. They are awesome.
2. Boppy. You’ll need the extra support when holding and nursing your teeny tiny ball of perfection.
3. Thin overnight pads. The hospital will give you these ginormous monster pads made for someone twice your size. Seriously. They are comical. Save yourself the awkwardness and bring extra long thin overnight pads like Always makes. You’ll be much more comfortable.
4. IF YOU ARE GIVING BIRTH IN A MILITARY HOSPITAL: flip flops for the shower. And Lysol wipes. You will more than likely be sharing a bathroom with other new moms. I shared a bathroom with four girls the first time. It was like college all over again!
5. Socks and/or slippers
6. Your own pillow! You will be much more comfortable with your own…especially if you are in labor for 48 hours like meeee!
7. Bathing suit. If your hospital provides showers it can really be a good way to ease some of the pain. You don’t have to wear a suit, but if you prefer it, it is something to think about.
8. Camera, video cam, and the charger! Don’t forget the charger!