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By Nina, Modern Alternative Pregnancy Editor
Today’s Daily Tip: Ask your family to get on board with your new plan, so that they can both remind you and cheer you on. They may even join you!
When you think of preparing for baby, what comes to mind? Drawers full of adorable little clothes? Plush and tiny newborn cloth diapers? The co-sleeper bassinet that you hope your parents will get you?
Plenty of thought goes into figuring out what to put on the registry for your new babe, but what about the stuff you need? You know, things that will make the transition to life with your newborn easier and less stressful (and less painful)? After I had my first baby, I quickly realized that I got a lot of stuff I wouldn’t use and hadn’t thought to ask for things that I find absoutely essential now.
Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot about what makes for an easier postpartum period and I’ve also gotten lots of input from wise women who know what a new mom really needs:
1. Baby Wrap
Babywearing is a great way to bond with your baby and have your hands free to do other important things (like eat or go to the bathroom). While there are many different products out there, my favorite to use with a newborn is a wrap. A wrap is a long piece of fabric that you wrap around your body, then snugly fit your baby into.
There are lots of different ways to tie them (and, thankfully, YouTube demonstrations), including ways that allow you to breastfeed while your baby is snug in the wrap. Many moms rave about the Moby wrap, which I used with my 2nd baby. My favorite, though, is the Boba wrap. It’s stretchy but snug and allows you to take baby out and put him back in without having to re-tie.
2. Nursing Bra/Tank
One of my favorite postpartum products is the nursing tank. I breastfed in public often without a cover, mostly because I discovered a method that made me feel comfortable. I always layered a nursing tank under a t-shirt. Then, I’d just have to pull up my top shirt to feed my baby.
My breast and my stomach stayed covered (frankly, this was more for my own comfort than anyone else’s) and my baby wouldn’t get too hot under a cover or a blanket. A great nursing bra, like this one from Bravado, that provides good support and easy access for nursing your baby is a must-have, too.
3. Coconut Oil
This oil has become such a staple in our house that we buy it by the gallon. Antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal, I recommend applying it to your nipples after breastfeeding. This will moisturize and heal chapped skin and help prevent thrush. It’s a great carrier oil to use for infant massage and can help prevent and heal diaper rash. Coconut oil is also a great source of healthy fats, the necessary building blocks for producing hormones.
4. Frozen meals
One of the best baby presents I’ve heard of was a friend who’s sister made her 2 weeks worth of healthy meals for her freezer. When you’re exhausted, sore and starving, it’s so awesome to know that all you (or better yet, someone else) have to do is pull something healthy out of the freezer and warm it up.
There are several nourishing meals that can be made in advance and frozen, like meatballs, casseroles and calzones (stuffed pizza dough). For more ideas, check out Wholesome Comfort, which contains healthy versions of your favorite comfort foods (and it’s only $5 until the end of January).
5. Nursing Pillow
Proper positioning is important while breastfeeding and having some sort of support is helpful. You can do this by setting up a pillow or two for your baby to lay on, or you can get a pillow specifically for breastfeeding. Two favorites are the Boppy and My Breast Friend.
6. Essential Oils
Having trouble sleeping? Apply lavender essential oil before bed. Feeling a little anxious? Diffuse that same lavender oil in your house to help ease tension and stress. Start off your morning with a drop of lavender and frankincense applied to your forehead and the bottoms of your feet to help elevate your mood and handle stress. Or, mix a drop of lavender with a tablespoon of coconut oil to give your infant a relaxing massage. There are a lot of ways essential oils can benefit your life, especially in the postpartum period.
7. Bottom-Soothing Salve/Spray
Whether you make your own or purchase them from a trusted source like Earth Mama Angel Baby, certain postpartum products are essential to have on hand. Postpartum bath herbs will help soothe inflammation and speed healing of tender tissues. And a new mama bottom spray or salve will provide relief and healing for your sore areas.
The first time I got pregnant, I didn’t think there was any possible way that I would ever be so hungry again. And then I gave birth. I was hungry all the time! Between nourishing yourself and helping a newborn babe grow and thrive, new moms need to make sure they’re getting plenty to eat. Healthy snacks are very handy to have all over your house, especially in spots where you like to nurse your baby. Need some snack ideas? Here are some simple ones to prepare ahead of time:
- Popcorn (with butter from grass-fed cows on top)
- Smoothies (make a big batch that will last a couple days – throw in some whole milk yogurt for fat and protein)
- Hummus (try this tomato basil hummus recipe – don’t forget to soak the garbanzo beans!)
- Veggie and cheese sticks
- Hardboiled eggs
9. Comfy clothes
Might I suggest yoga pants, a nursing tank and soft comfy t-shirt as some of the most important items a new mom needs? Any comfy clothing, really, is helpful so that you can relax as you heal and breastfeed. Look for cotton shirts that aren’t skin-tight and that don’t make you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious. Soft pants with a roll-over waistband are great because they don’t have tight elastic that leaves marks on your belly.
You need help after having a baby and lots of it. If you have a good relationship with your (or your spouse’s) family, ask if they can help when the baby is born. I also highly recommend hiring a postpartum doula. These women are so wonderful! They’ll answer breastfeeding/babywearing/diapering/life with newborn questions, cook, clean and listen to you when you just need to talk to someone.
What are your new mama must-haves?