There is one piece of advice I would give any mum (or dada) to be … everything you think you are going to need, all those lovely things you have waiting in the nursery ready for baby’s arrival home and the lovely little clothes all neatly washed and hanging ready … you won’t touch any of it for months!!
We, like every other excited mummy & daddy to be did all the research, got the perfect crib, the perfect pram, pretty muslin’s and lots of lovely clothes for our little one, I should have picked up on the silent knowing smiles my friends with babies already were giving me, when telling them how we had prepared for our little human to arrive earth side … they knew then what I didn’t, and bless them they were not going to pop my fluffy bubble and tell me that there was just one thing I needed in the first few months of being a brand new mummy to a teeny tiny little … TO SURVIVE!!!
This was an something that dawned pretty quickly, in a scenario which I shall wait till my fourth trimester post to share!
From then on a Ray Mears style survival kit evolved, not representative of the fluffy ideals of motherhood that I had, but one that has helped make the last 9 weeks in the haze easier for both me and Mark,
The List …
The Cocoonababy – This was one of the biggest savers for us! Bodhi slept in a cot … for two nights, in hospital! From the moment we got him home he wouldn’t settle anywhere but my arms, so I would end up sitting up for hours throughout the night surrounded by cushions, wired, too scared to fall asleep and then a lifeline in the form of a Facebook message from a close new mummy friend, sharing her wisdom and the secret to sleep … a Cocoonababy. Her little one, like our little guy, was premature and teeny tiny and therefore needed to feel safe and secure and everything was just far too big and roomy; the Cocoonababy however does just that, wraps round the shape of your baby like they are being held in arms and therefore feeling a lot more content and happy to settle. The price tag is a little expensive, especially for what you may think is just a bit of foam, but it is worth every penny of every minute of sleep deprivation saved.
Buy it from amazon here
Stock up on these as if you were buying out the worlds supply, as within the first week they will have all been through the washing machine at least 3 times and by the second month you would have lost well over half. Keep one everywhere and I mean everywhere, your bags, underneah the sofa, the kitchen cupboards, your bed, the car, coat pocket … they are the most used and useful thing in the first few months, whether with poospolsions, reflux, spit, runny noses, as a giant tissue for you when the boo hoos come, wiping breast milk off your tops, as a blanket, sun visor … the list can go on.
We’ve got many different brands, but my favourite are Molly and Moo Muslin squares, as they are a good size to double up as a light blanket and after going through the wash a million times are still soft and the same size.
Hundreds of plain Babygrows (and some lovely ones too for later on!)
This again took us by surprise, especially as although we knew our little cub was going to be small we didn’t realise just how small and that there really arent many places you can get good basic babygrows from locally for small babies, so after the first day at home when all 5 of our small babygrows had found themselves in the washing basket we had family rushing around town trying to hunt down some more, which proved quite a mission. Especially as you dont want to be paying much for these first few weeks of babygrows, as whatever comes out of your baby will be nuclear and won’t wash out. I still think that white is he most ridiculous colour for babies, however I suppose a tie dyed many shades of yellow, green and brown may not look so cute! Some of the best ones we have bought are;
Baby Mori Organic Bamboo Bodysuit (for the special, soft, lovely ones!)
Changing stations everywhere
If not everywhere, then at least get your stations set up downstairs and upstairs, you will never appreciate the distance from rooms until you have poop oozing out of the top of your babies nappy. Although you may have a beautiful nursery all set up with a changing station all nice and neat and tidy, it’s doubtful you’ll use it … our first weeks of changing were done on a mat on the floor in front of the tv to aid as a distraction from the screaming when cub got a cold bum and right at the end of the bed to make life easier in the middle of the night .. just don’t leave any dirty nappies laying around in the dark!!
My darling husband researched and purchased all ingredients for these. Having had an episiotomy my vagina was in a whole world of discomfort, I imagine that even without an open wound it would have felt just as bad having had a little head pushed up against my perineum for hours causing swelling .. this is where the padsicles come in. basically a giant sanitary towel with soothing, cooling and anti inflammatory gels and lotions mixed over it and then frozen.
Mark used; Witch Hazel & Arnica Gel (you can also use aloe vera gel) he also moulded them around a round container, so they came out frozen in the right shape for the area, rather than sitting on a surf board.
Also bear in mind that the synthetic pads cause more irritation, try and get cotton or reusable pads, your delicate bits will thank you for it.
Lansinoh Nipple Cream
Lansinoh is a nipple saver, whether you breastfed for a day or a year, stock up on this, it will become your “breast” friend. Just smear it on whenever you can, your nipples and your baby will thank you for it. You can also feed with it on, and it acts like a barrier to prevent your nipples getting cracked when little one spends hours self comforting during cluster feeding.
A blend of the homeopathic tinctures calendula & hypericum that a wonderful friend shared with me to help my episiotomy scars heal … and it really did. I put it on to a nipple pad every morning and evening and held it on the wound, which can be a little stingy, but the relief and the outcome from it is worth the tingle. It is obviously a huge part down to the good stitch up job that the surgeon did, but everything “down there” looks and feels good as new and I really do believe that from the moment I started using it the heeling sped up.
This will be your happy music, it is a miracle for calming your baby and helping them to stay asleep (I type this whist my cold ridden baby that has not been out of my arms for 48 hours is now snoozing beside me listening to “mothers heartbeat”. Forget lovely playlists you have been researching and making on Spotify of “music for babies” and find an app to have on your phone, so you can have it to hand at all times and play it to your little person right from day 1. Our little man seemed to favour the sound of a doppler ultrasound, probably as he heard so many whilst in my tummy.
If you are breastfeeding (and even if you are not!) your body in the early days will be loosing lots of fluids so it is important you stay well hydrated (as this also helps with preventing the baby blues!). From the moment I started breastfeeding I have never known a thirst like it, it was overpowering and I would shout for mark to fill up my water bottle only minutes after he’d just done it. I got some great advice just before the labour to get a plastic water bottle with a built in pop up straw. This was not only my best friend in labour (and easily the number one labour essential, if nothing else!) but also in the last 8 weeks finding myself multitasking and on many occasions having no hands free whilst feeding cub in one arm and expressing in the other, Mark has literally been my waterboy holding it for me to drink.
Lots of baggy tops
Don’t Make the same mistake that I did and get nursing tops, they are a complete waste of money and you will find yourself getting in a right faff with them. Some good nursing bras, yes … but otherwise just lots (and lots) of tops that you can whip up (or down) quickly, as your new baby cries for food will come out of nowhere and hit top decibels in seconds, easy access for you and him / her is the key for a stress free situation. You will also go through a few changes of clothes if like me you have a sicky baby, that always waits until they are in the sling before you find your cleavage covered in lumpy milk.
Hands Free Helpers
There will come a point in the first few weeks where you are suddenly faced with the reality you will never have the use of two free hands again … eating dinner, going to the toilet, getting dressed .. you will have the pleasure of the company of your new little person who will want to hang onto you every minute of every day. There are two accessories that will become your alies in this; a breastfeeding pillow and a sling.
The pillow, although great for feeding, whether breast or bottle as helps to relieve pressure on your arms really proves its worth when without failure at every meal time your little one will sense mummy’s excitement for eating and will wake up, wanting comforting, to snuggle or to feed, if like me you are feeling a little hangry from the sleep deprivation and the thought of having to wait any longer to scoff a plate of delicious food makes you burst into tears, the solution was simple … baby tucks up close in the cushion for cuddles or boobie time, a tea towel goes over him / her and mummy has both hands free for feeding herself … spaghetti however is not recommended!
The Sling an equal saviour, especially in the fourth trimester when your little person just wants to feel like they are still in the womb, many studies have shown the amazing benefits to the social, physical and mental development of your baby by “wearing” them, it helps them to feel attached, happier, and calmer, it also reduces rates of postpartum depression I just love having our little cub snuggled up against me, I spent 9 months with him right next to my heart and it only feels right still having him there. I’ve got a few different slings, the best for me however is a Solly Baby wrap, its lightweight stretchy, but really supportive and isn’t constrictive at all, its also dyed with environmentally friendly dyes.
A treat for mummy
This is a huge one, you need to have one thing everyday that is a “treat”. Being a mum is the most beautiful, rewarding and magical experience, but you are giving your whole self to a tiny little person, who relies on you for everything and this is really overwhelming and exhausting, you need to give yourself a little reward everyday, if only to thank yourself for the amazing job you are doing.
I have a few happy little things that make a frazzled mama go “ahhhh” and relax.
A shower –
It is as simple as that! I will try and make sure our cub has a good feed just before my love comes home from work, so therefore I can take 15 mins (sometimes 5 mins, sometimes 30!!) of me time … I put on some music, have clean pjs warming on the radiator, get lots of lotions and positions ready and have the most wonderful shower with Neals Yard Mummy bath oil … and it’s utter bliss! 15 mins of showering, moisturising and singing feels like spending a week at an exotic spa.
A glass of prosecco –
I’m prepared for the sharp intakes of breath or tutting here. Yes I am breastfeeding and yes I co sleep, but weighing up the evidence for how much alcohol reaches my baby through the milk (which is less than a glass of fruit juice by the way!) against taking time to enjoy grown up time and a drink with my husband makes me happy and relaxed and therefore my baby is happier, it’s that simple.
A meal for one –
You get pretty used to eating one handed or eating cold food being a mum, but every now and then there is the amazing moment when you get to enjoy a meal with both hands and is warm. This is the best feeling and easily outshines any Michelin starred meal you could eat in the most perfect restaurant. I cannot stress how good this feels, try and plan (as much as you can) for it, with easy but yummy food (chocolate does count in this circumstance!) ask daddy to take the role of chief carer if baby wakes or wants to play and just enjoy and savour every mouthful of something delicious, without rushing, spilling it on your babies head (i do this ALOT!) or getting indigestion.
A hug –
Above all the most simple, but re energising and restoring thing you can do. You spend all day everyday holding and hugging your baby, which is just amazing, but taking the time to have someone give you a great big hug makes all the happy cells relight, your body relax, all those stress hormones disappear and you have a new found energy to be all that you can be for your baby again.
A friend commented on one of my posts recently that you can’t pour from an empty cup and this is so true and is something to hold in your mind at all times.
One thing I have learnt in the last 9 weeks is that YOU do what YOU need to do to get through and if that is with hugs, a glass of prosecco here and there and days hibernating on the sofa having cuddles with your baby in your special bubble then that’s just what you do.
Happy Parenting x