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What a New Mama Needs

On my Navelgazing Midwife Facebook Page, my daughter Meghann, who is 27 weeks pregnant, asked:

"Do you have a list of supplies to have on hand after the baby is born? For me, not the baby."

Following are the fantastic answers.

  • Don't underestimate the number of nursing pads you will need!
  • Lots of pads ( breast and feminine), lanolin, La Leche League leader numbers, lactation consultant numbers, nursing tanks, comfy pjs, a battery powered, hand held fan (I got hot flashes so bad both times!), frozen meals for at least a week or reliable friends to bring food by, plenty of healthy quick grab snacks and fluids, a few close friends to stop by for brief visits toward the end of the week.
  • I think it's all pretty much covered here. All great ideas, and the one I'll put emphasis on is food and water for nursing - especially in the middle of the night. I had snacks and water stashed at every nursing spot around the house. You might also consider an iPod, radio, book, magazine etc too - I loved listening to NPR.
  • Witch hazel and a peri bottle! Wonderful!!!!!! When my milk came in I slept with cloth diapers tucked into my bras... looked crazy, but did the job.
  • I say, “Happily, I will be there with Meghann when she delivers and be her postpartum doula for at least a few weeks (go, Nana!), so the meals will be attended to... plus, she's already cooking and freezing (due 8/30).

    I sent her the sitz bath herbs that will go on the frozen pads. I may have already given her mesh panties, but if not, I think I have some.

    One of the best pieces of advice is the nursing tank-tops. They are the best! Easy as all get out and can be discreet if you want that benefit.
  • With clients, we've used the sitz bath herbs in the peri-bottles and that helps women heal nicely, too. Can make the ‘tea’ warm or cool by what water you add to it.

    I'm also a HUGE proponent of the Healing Nipple Compound (I have the generic version and will post that separately) so discourage the use of lanolin. My preference, I know. And there is a place for each. I'm praying that with a full-time mom/former LLL there she can avoid the major issues too many women experience.
  • Regarding breast pads, I highly discourage the disposable ones, the cotton ones are so much better for your breasts; the environment gets second place on that count.

    And even with disposable diapers, having a couple dozen cloth diapers (I like pre-folds) are invaluable for burp cloths over your shoulder or to clean up barf... or to catch the poop overflow as you dash to the changing table.”
  • I agree about disposable nursing pads. reusable ones make a nice environment for thrush. This isn't a supply item, but you should pay for a postnatal massage therapist to come to your house and give you a full body massage about 3 days after the baby is born. That is about how long it take for the real soreness to set in; that's when you realize you really did run a marathon!!
  • Have a basket with baby supplies and bottled water and snacks to carry around room to room so you don't have to walk back and forth for diapers, wipes, and clean baby clothes. Nothing made me want to cry more than settling down all comfy to nurse and suddenly feel so thirsty I could die. Stash diapers and wipes by the bed so you don't have to get up in the middle of the night. All the books you've been longing to read and didn't have time for… and make learning to nurse lying down a priority. My fondest memories are lying in bed or in a hammock with a book and my baby and dozing off to sleep together... bliss! Some good movies to watch while nursing. A thermos for keeping yummy teas hot and ready and near the bed... wonderful for middle of the night nursing sessions or first thing in the morning when baby is nursing and you need a cuppa. Nice slippers! Traditional Chinese Medicine says to not walk barefoot after birth to reduce cramping and bleeding (it works!). Stay in your jammies to discourage visitors from over-staying their welcome. Getting dressed implies you're recovered; jammies and robe tells visitors you're waiting for them to leave so you can go back to bed!
  • Green Mountain Diaper prefolds are the best in my opinion. Seriously soft and great for just about everything. I use them at night instead of nursing pads. (I still leak like crazy at 10 months postpartum.) I agree that reusable nursing pads are awesome!! However, I use Lansinoh disposables if I go out of the house since I haven't found a reusable that is discreet and contains the flow.
  • Fiber snacks, a basket beside the couch with a book, a small calendar (to write down little important moments) or journal, a favorite camera, fingernail clippers etc. A big water bottle. Maybe a ring or bracelet to wear to remember which side you fed on last. Put it on the hand you just fed on, when you are done, switch hands. Hand lotion, changing diapers all day can dry your hands. Gum.
  • My dream is to get one of those edible fruit baskets, but no one has ever done this for me. It can sit around until eaten... strawberries... pineapple... mmmm.
  • Little trash cans wherever you might be nursing. Bedside, couch side, wherever. You'll be amazed the amount of napkins, nursing pads, what-nots that need to be thrown away and the complete lack of motivation to get up and do so. On that note, grab a healthy supply of little trash bags to fit them, or use plastic grocery bags... nothing worse than having to find a big bag to take them all out in (p.s., breastmilk soaked pads smell within a few days!). Outside of that, I second everything already mentioned. Keep bottled water tucked in every place… and enjoy this time. It's crazy, and it's going to be a hormone clouded haze, but it's really a wonderful time in motherhood.
  • A MilkBand was my best friend during those early weeks of exhaustion and trying to remember when I last fed the baby.
  • I have fed both ways (bracelet or ring comment) with the feed on one and finish on another or feed mostly on one side if not all on one side per feeding. I cannot say what is better, just that I like to just let the baby eat and only switch if needed. But alternating breasts has been important to me to prevent blocked ducts. I get so tired I forget which one I fed on until engorgement begins sometimes.
  • It helped me to set up "nursing stations" in my home. One in my bedroom (next to my bed) and one on the downstairs (or wherever you will be spending the vast majority of the day). Get airtight containers and fill them with trail mixes, nuts, snacky stuff to munch on while nursing, burp cloths, some diapers and wipes, and a big glass of water. With my twins, we moved the water dispenser to be right next to my nursing rocker. They sell table top dispensers and these really came in very handy because I would have no excuse to not be drinking water while nursing (and no excuse for running out). The other thing I would suggest are chux pads. My bleeding the first few days afterwards would always be pretty heavy and I hated washing sheets. This way, if I bled over whatever I was wearing, I could just throw away the chux pad. It comes in handy for baby, as well. I use the leftover chux pad for naked butt time on the twins.
  • Food! Food that is easy to prepare. A freezer full of food or other things that can basically be thawed and cooked.
  • I just used a hair band to remind me which side was next. I made my own nursing pads with the pampered cheeks pattern using PUL, flannel and fleece, they were the very best I ever used. I also recommend having a spray bottle of Witch Hazel ...to spray down below after using the restroom. I also loved the Medela nipple cream before and after nursing. Water, water, water! I really liked having my Boppy nursing pillow. For night time, I recommend a folded up flannel receiving blanket in a shelf bra style cami to contain night time leaks. And of course, pads and a peri bottle.
  • Breast pads (reusable or disposable) for when your milk comes in.

    DEPENDS!! I just had my 4th on Sunday morning (my 1st homebirth after 3 hospital births!) and the midwives recommended Depends. I read on www.thefeministbreeder.com that she put disposable pads IN the Depends and changed them as needed. This is the best advice ever!! It makes bathroom trips so much easier and less messy with less leaking, etc. I highly recommend doing this for post-partum bleeding. Wish I knew to do it with my other 3!

    Lansinoh/Lanolin/nipple cream

    Belly Band (the extra support really helps)

  • No one has said camera? Nothing fancy - a little point-and-shoot. Also, I loved my nursing pillow! Not all nursing pillows are created equal; I used a "Nurture Nest" (from JoAnn Fabrics) which is bigger and wider than a Boppy. It seemed to fit my body shape perfectly. And, for what it's worth, I NEVER used nursing pads. I had some, but in 20 months of nursing, I never needed them.
  • I would add, someone to check in on you when you're nursing... just to see if you need water, an extra hand, a snack. I remember how grateful I was for my husband who would poke his head in so I didn't have to yell out while nursing the babe.
  • Don't forget a little bedside lamp/light to do middle of the night diaper changes without getting out of bed and mainly so you are able to see the latch as you are working on it without making the room super bright.
  • A good water bottle with a straw, because you will be thirsty. LilyPadz because nothing else I have tried caught the flow and they fit even us large gals (before I got them, some mornings I'd have milk from my chest to my knees, I never needed them until I had a normal sized infant and overproduction). Soothies are really good too, but are only for 72 hour use - but most excellent for sore nipples and feel awesome… good easy reads for nursing at night (good literature is a little hard to digest when you re-read the same page over repeatedly). Make sure to have on hand many changes of bottoms, you never know when you will wake up soaking your clothes.
  • My daughter likes Always Infinity pads. Many women haven't worn pads in years so they go to the pad aisle with a confused look. The Always Infinity are really, really thin.
  • Instead of Tucks pads, I recommend Preparation H wipes. They are the same thing but bigger and feel nice. Also Baby Mama Bottom Balm and Bottom spray. Both feel great on healing tissues and helped tremendously with any swelling I had. The spray also works great when you spray it directly on a pad. And I do get the recommendation for reusable nursing pads, but in early days I much prefer the disposables. I leak a lot early on and have ended up leaking through a reusable pad, my bra, and the shirt I was wearing all in the space of 1-2 hours. I've never had a disposable leak!
  • Preparation H wipes, Earth Mama Angel Baby bottom spray, and disposable nursing pads. I used disposable at first because I leaked so much (Johnson worked best for me) and then I kept using them after we dealt with a month of thrush (ugh).
  • Great suggestions. I'd emphasize the food. If she has some friends who'd be up for it (or if someone else could organize, even better), organize food delivery either right after baby is born if she won't have someone helping OR if she does have help right away, for when the help leaves. I didn't need the food when my mom was staying with us, but I would have LOVED to have food delivery for months two and three after my mom was gone.

    Oh, and a one of those little squirt/spray bottles to make her own bidet for the bathroom. Best suggestion I got from a friend.

    And a little, thin pillow. This helped me when I was trying to get good support for a better latch during breastfeeding.

    One of those Boppy or other breastfeeding pillows.

    Books to read during breastfeeding (if her baby nurses for long periods, like mine, it's nice to have something to read).

    Lasinoh gel for sore nipples.
  • One little tiny thing that isn't mentioned in any lists but really helped was a very low wattage light bulb that I put in the lamp next to my bed. In those early nursing weeks when I needed to see what I was doing, I didn't feel bad to turn on the light next to by sleeping husband - he didn't budge, but I could still see.
  • About the reusable breast pads and thrush, your body and system shouldn't be susceptible to thrush, if you have good gut flora and whole health. Take probiotics, and consider bamboo cloth nursing pads as they are naturally antibacterial and anti-viral.
  • A rocking chair with a stool so you are nursing comfortably and can help support your back. I lived in my rocking chair for about 8 years straight, it was reclinable and the baby and I took many naps there, too.
  • Also, a stack of fun books you want to read… and magazines. Lots of quiet time to nurse and rock and read.
  • I bought a pretty nursing nightgown and robe that I wore in the first week whenever we had visitors. It signals to them that you are still recovering and they keep their visit short. Also have plenty of pillows around to prop under arms and stuff while nursing. I didn't have enough last time and got pretty sore. I highly recommend "laying in" for 10 days. I think staying in bed and being taken care of that first week helped a lot in preventing postpartum depression. Such a huge difference from when I had my first and felt like once I left the hospital, I was supposed to be up and capable of normal activity again. Stay in pajamas and take all your meals in bed! Gradually join normal life and retreat back to the bedroom when things feel overwhelming.
  • Depends, Depends, Depends. Also, Kristina's idea of a very low wattage light -- we used an LED "tap light." A Costco-sized box of Clif Bars or whatever your favorite pseudo-food brand is; there is no hunger like the nursing hunger!! If you live somewhere where Amazon Fresh delivers, consider signing up for a recurring delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables for a few weeks. And sport-top water bottles ALL OVER THE HOUSE.

    Also, consider something interesting that you can manage with one hand. A newborn nurses a TON and if you're like me and get stressed when you get bored, you'll really appreciate it. I loved my Kindle for this purpose.
  • If she has a Kindle or other ebook, load it up with fun reads! Ebooks are a lot lighter and easier to use one-handed while nursing than real paper ones.
  • A step stool for your feet while you breastfeed. Doesn't necessarily sound like it will make a difference, but it totally does.
  • Comfy chair and ottoman for breastfeeding. Lots of nice drinks, juices, waters and fun reading material. Good pads like Always, extra panties, comfy pajamas, good nursing bras. A camera and a journal. One time, a neighbor brought me a batch of bake-as-you-go bran muffin batter when I had my baby. It was really appreciated!
  • Soft toilet paper… if ever there is a time to splurge, this is it!
  • A TV series in Netflix that you haven't seen yet. I watched The Wire. And Dexter. God, I am a terrible mother.
  • I couldn't manage reading long books, but short, easy magazine articles and "easy" crosswords kept me entertained. I also couldn't focus on lengthy movies with an actual plot, but that was probably due to Postpartum Mood Disorder. I think stand-up comedy with quick punchlines might work for most moms.
  • I second the soft toilet paper comment and the ebook one, too. I went so far as to take a nice roll of toilet paper with me to the hospital. It was one of THE best ideas I had.
  • Speaking of the suggestion of toilet paper, if anyone calls and asks if they need to bring anything, say YES. If you don't need anything, have them bring toilet paper or paper towels. Even if you already have some, have them bring more. It's nice to not have to think about having to replenish the basics during this time and it's something that will not go unused. I left a load of clean laundry in a basket in my living room. It amazed me that it always got folded by whoever was visiting. If you leave stuff out for people to do, a few dishes here and there, let them do it. They'll feel good helping, you'll feel so much better seeing a clean sink and basket of folded burp cloths. People always say 'let me know if I can help with anything...' so let them go for it. They get to cuddle with the baby as a reward (after they wash their hands of course!)
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby makes fab, toxin-free, organic products for mom & baby. Everything from Milkmaid Tea to New Mama Bottom Spray (safe alternative to Dermoplast) & C-Mama Healing Salve. I've heard excellent reviews for everything they sell.
  • I loved my nursing tanks (that I got at Walmart of all places) because it was totally open fronted with the drop sides and I could tuck baby in my top for cuddling naked and still have my breasts covered.

One last note for my baby Meggie, several suggestions stood out as they were mentioned. The disposable pads for going out; the low wattage bulb next to your bed… someone recently told me about red LED lights and how they don’t affect night vision; making sure visitors help with something; making sure everyone washes their hands when they walk in the house!!!; and I love all the food and water suggestions. You’re going to laugh when you see how incredibly hungry and thirsty you are while nursing. And one last thing, I think every woman should get a battery-powered hand-fan and put it in their Bring to the Hospital bag. She’ll use it in labor and then postpartum as she sweats herself silly getting rid of all the pregnant fluids. I love the idea of a spritzy fan. If I go to Disneyland soon, I’ll get you one there. Laughingwink

I’m so excited to help my daughter as she traverses this journey. How exciting is this?   

Gabriella Grace at 27w0d. Gorgeous!

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Reader Comments (9)

I'm going to stay anon for this one because it's a little gross, but I found the Depends also helped with that first PP poop for myself. I'd been cut and sewn up and really worried about the pain, so when I felt it coming on, I was lying in bed nursing my daughter and pretty relaxed, and I was able to just go without having to get up and position myself in a way that didn't hurt.

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnon

Reading all the suggestions and "necessary" items makes me wonder how women in less affluent countries manage <g>

I told my daughter that she really didn't need much stuff at first-- but she went ahead and bought tons of stuff and gadgets -- and three months on, has confessed to me that 80% of it was unnecessary. Managed not to say "I told you so". There is such a HUGE childbearing, childrearing, lactation INDUSTRY out there!

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAntigonos

Antigonos, there is a huge industry out there, agreed...but as for the women in less privileged countries...they often have a strong social support network plus traditions in place that would do a lot of the things that we try to get gadgets to do for us...not to romanticize the post-partum period in those places, which I know can also be very dangerous to women and their newborns, but if I were in confinement and had several people taking care of me, I probably wouldn't be as concerned about making sure everything is in place before the birth of my next child. As is, I'll be lucky to get a few meals from friends, and my toddler will accept her father as her primary caregiver for a few weeks, but that's about it for me.

June 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVW

Something to keep her stools loose (I have torn both times and have terrible problems with staying regular) so either stool softener, flax seed oil, or metamucil. I also agree with having a TV series to watch. I love to read, but with the tearing I spent several days cuddling my baby lying down in bed. I would watch and nurse, then sleep. I've got wonderful memories of cuddling her for what felt like two days straight in my bedroom. Oh! The ability to darken the room. While some babies sleep anytime anywhere, a lot of babies also need darkness to settle and not fuss.

June 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeg

With my first I wished I had Colace or Milk of Magnesia on hand. Bowel movements scared me to death for the first week and a half.

June 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnother Anon.

I agree with your comment Antigonos :) . It seems like the less people you have around you and the less time tested wisdom shared the more stuff we need to buy. I thought the list was good and mostly quite basic, but (unsurprisingly) very Western and not very eco friendly :( .

June 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Just this time around (my fourth) I found LilyPadz. They are a very thin, self adhering, silicone breast pad that actually stops most leaks... and will contain a small amount of milk. They are about $20-$25, but they will last 3-4 months. I tend to leak forever so these are great bc they can't be seen under clothing, you can wear them with EVERYTHING, and I love the green factor of only buying it once! My husband was great at filling up water bottles and just leaving them around the house for me! I LOVED my sitz baths... makes healing a breeze.

June 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndreaW

I was told that while red is good for your night vision, it does disturb your sleep patterns, and that blue light doesn't. The BEST night light I ever found was called "Spooka" at IKEA kid's section. They come in red, blue or green, and the blue and green were the best. They plug in, and charge up, and once unplugged, will last a whole night with a nice glow instead of a spot of light. They did change the designs recently, but I think they still have the same colours.
I found that Reader's Digest (got a stack from the library or thrift shop) were the best to read while nursing. No ads to flip through, the stories are printed continuously so you don't have to flip to the back, and there's a lot of "easy" reading in them and you can hold them one handed.

June 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTracyKM

The only thing about using disposable nursing pads- I use them for the first few days/weeks until I get back into the swing of doing laundry, then I use only cloth.

June 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermarie

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