Belinda's Blog,  Life

After the shower: what you actually need to have before your baby is born

Happy mamas = happy babies. You have to take care of yourself too! And note the outfit here- no frills. Henry loves to go au naturel!
Happy mamas = happy babies. You have to take care of yourself too! And note the outfit here, no frills. Henry loves to go au naturel!

In keeping with the fact that this blog is about our lives and our lives have recently been changed by the birth of our new babies, we decided to post a hopefully helpful list for new moms and moms to-be. The registry lists out there currently are great and all, but the thing is, a lot of the stuff that is recommended you just do not need. It’s like the wedding registry lists. Remember those hours you spent at Bed Bath & Beyond while your fiancé scanned every random thing from As Seen on TV and you tried to diligently check off items from the suggested list, all the while wondering when you might actually need or use a French fry slicer?

The following suggested items are probably not on your registry yet. I can also guarantee that these are not the things you have been swooning over for the last couple of anticipatory, uncomfortable and “glowing” months of your pregnancy. There is a good reason for that, since most of them are not super glamorous. When most people think of newborn babies, their minds go straight to pink ruffled booties, not nipple cream. That is, of course, unless they’ve breastfed a newborn baby every 90 minutes through a sleepless night and emerged the next morning a sore and triumphant zombie warrior mother. #thankyouforbreastfeeding

Some things you should know about us and therefore, the list:

  • We are each lucky enough to be able to breastfeed our babies fairly easily and very happily, which we know is not always the case or choice for everyone, and that’s a-ok with us.
  • These are also our first children, so our choices reflect the convenience and, perhaps, naivety of that position.
  • We both were extremely fortunate to have had 4 months of maternity leave, and have since returned to work.
  • And finally, if you have any questions about specific brands or types of items that we have enjoyed, please follow the links provided and/or leave a comment and we will be sure to respond!

You should absolutely have these things before you come home from the hospital:

  • Tylenol- no awards are given out for “toughest mom.” The fact that you already delivered a baby makes you tough enough. So take the pain relievers that are offered if they agree with you. Our stomachs don’t agree with the hard stuff so we depended on the breastfeeding safe Tylenol that was recommended by our nurses. (Shout out to nurses! They are the key to your delivery experience so unlock a good one with a smile and a friendly attitude when you meet them. They will be your saving grace and breast friends post-partum. I say breast because they provided more help for me than the lactation experts did, given that they are with you for a much longer duration.)
  • Nail Clippers newborn nails grow as alarming rates. Three days after you get home it will already be time to trim them again. I was terrified at first to approach the nail clipper. It looked more like a chainsaw next to my tiny baby’s little hands. We survived, and in fact, I now have a strange obsession with cutting Sir Henry’s nails. It’s fun. And that, folks is the definition of motherhood. Thinking random menial things like clipping a child’s nails is “fun.”
  • Thermometer for yourself and for baby. To assuage the new mom worry of “is my kid alright?” and to check yourself for the dreaded mastitis. which brings us to…
  • Pump and breast milk storage bags- we thought this was something that could be put off, since we planned to only feed our babies by breast. After all, we were lucky enough to each have long maternity leaves and we were dedicated to giving breastfeeding a good college try. However, we didn’t realize that the supply and demand of breastfeeding could take a little while to regulate. And so, ever the procrastinator, Venise ended up sending a very confused farmer Ross to Target at 7 am the day after her milk came in to buy the $300 Medela Pump that would have been free through her insurance provider had she ordered it in advance through one of their approved retailers. Luckily, the pump is a workhorse and proved to be a great investment for both of us. Still, please do not let this expensive lesson be in vain. We are warning you now- buy the pump before you go to the hospital, and if you forgot, make it your husband’s mission to make sure it is ordered before you leave the postpartum room. Once your milk comes in, it often does so at full force. These swollen bags of life force are, at the least, uncomfortable. And if your sleepy baby, who is going through the monumental task of learning how to feed itself for the first time, cannot keep up with your body’s supreme supply, the oversupply could lead to clogged ducts or mastitis, which is no fun at all. Have a pump and bags (your pump usually only comes with 1-2 so pick up a full 100 ct pack as well) at the ready and you will already have frozen milk ready to try the first bottle feeding a few weeks later.
  • An extra bottle of pre-natal vitamins– I had no clue you were supposed to continue taking them after delivery. They are recommended to help your body recover and support lactation, so it can’t hurt to have an extra bottle lying around.
  • Vitamin D drops your pediatrician will likely recommend these for breastfed babies at their first appointment. This is the one piece of nutrition that is not passed from mother to baby via breastmilk.
  • Diaper rash cream- we are not big believers in any one particular brand, but do get multiple. You will want a tube for each diaper changing station in your home and one for the diaper bag.
  • Sleeping arrangement– not a crib. It is recommended you keep your baby in your room for the first 6 months of his or her life. Whether or not you intend to go that long, (Sir Henry is now sleeping in his crib in his own room at 4 months of age, while Deyton co-sleeps with mom and dad half the night and uses a pack and play the other half) for at least the first two months the sheer convenience, let alone coziness and security that this move will provide you with is so worth the purchase of an extra sleeping apparatus. Venise used a bassinet, I used a Summer Infant Resting Up Napper, and many of our friends used pack and plays with bassinet attachments. Still others recommend moving the swing into your room as a sleeping option.
  • Newborn diapers and wipes- they will give you 1-2 packs in the hospital, but have an extra big box at home too if you are using disposable diapers.
  • Baby Carrier bjorn or boba, mobi or ergo, its your choice. Carrying our babies has been an extremely practical life saver for work around the house, walks with baby, shopping outings and eating at restaurants. It has also been a lovely way to bond and keep our babies close while still enjoying the rest of the world. The sheer freedom of having both hands back was a real game changer for us.
The babies' first trip to Pike Place Market, brought to you by the Boba baby carrier and a ring sling baby carrier
The babies’ first trip to Pike Place Market, brought to you by the Boba baby carrier and a ring sling baby carrier. (and yes, Henry is not in the Boba correctly here, I moved aside part of the wrap so you could see him.)
  • Velcro Swaddle Sack we followed the tutorials and learned how to wrap a mean swaddle and we received many beautiful big swaddle blankets at our showers. Those were great for daytime. In the middle of the night, however, the velcro Halo sleep sacks that I picked up at the local baby consignment store are easy and quick and so necessary.
  • Nipple Butter, multiple nursing tank tops, Nursing Pads if you plan to breastfeed or pump breast milk, you will not be wearing a crew neck t-shirt for a while. Your dedication to the cause (again, #thankyouforbreastfeeding) will require around the clock access to your girls, so multiple nursing tanks and bras will be your new wardrobe. Target’s Gillian ‘O Malley brand is my favorite for comfy and cute nursing tanks. The breast pads will help with leaks during the supply- demand adjustment period and Johnson and Johnson’s get our vote.
  • Feminine Products in gradually reducing sizes- just trust us
  • Slow flow bottles with newborn size nipples- again there is a lot of debate about which bottle is best. Just be sure that whatever kind you get is appropriate for newborns. Even if you plan to exclusively breastfeed you may want a few extra hours of sleep here or there or to go out for a beer with your husband at some point. Our aunt, a 35 year rockstar labor and delivery nurse, recommended that we introduce a bottle around 3-4 weeks of age, after breastfeeding was well established but early enough that the babies would learn to accept a bottle.
  • Hospital care package- don’t be shy. ask for extras. your downstairs will thank you. ice packs, tucks pads, and some awesome non-slide giant yellow socks were the equivalent of an Oscar party gift bag for us from Swedish.  and the diapers are free, so go ahead and be shameless. You are paying for all of these things with your delivery bill so you might as well get your money worth.
  • A big fake smile and a go to vague answer- you’re probably getting good at this since people love to boss around pregnant ladies too. People love babies. It’s evolution. And people love giving you opinions about babies. I guess that evolution too. It does “take a village” and all. But if the village elder is recommending you something you already know does not work for your baby, or is telling you your baby “must be hungry” because she is crying five minutes after her last feeding, just give a polite, canned response and move on. Stay flexible, because some suggestions are great, but follow your own instincts first and foremost. The best advice we each received came from our aunt and the other nurses at Swedish who told us to trust ourselves and listen to our babies. If it doesn’t feel natural to you, don’t do it, “expert,” grandma, or even (gasp!) our good advice be damned.
photo 3 (38)
Big fake smile example- even though I think we were both actually pretty darned happy here. Just imagine that someone behind the camera is saying “shouldn’t those babies be in bed?” and “what are the babies doing at a barn party? Don’t you know that they could freeze to death in any room under 72 degrees?!”

Things we still haven’t used by 5 months of age:

  • Nose sucking bulb things- I hear these become life savers as your child gets older and sicknesses pop up every five seconds from the germ breeding grounds we call grocery stores and daycares. However, for now, they languish in the dresser drawer waiting for their big moment.
  • Pretty ribbon, twig, glitter mobile- Venise made a beautiful one for Deyton’s nursery with willow branches from the farm. It made her happy to do so. But the truth is, it never brough Deyton any happiness. There is a reason that the majority of manufactured baby things light up, vibrate, wiggle, etc. I was firm in my belief that these unattractive obnoxious toys would overwhelm my baby while cluttering up my beautiful home. What I came to find out is that they make them like that for a reason- babies love it. By the time your baby can actually see far enough to care about a mobile, the pretty ribbon will not likely entertain them for long. Go ahead and get one and make your nursery perfectly adorable, I know I did. Down the road you may also cave like I did and allow your relatives to buy your little one the blingey toys they adore.
  • Vibrating chairs– this one is kid specific, as I hear that some kids love them. For Henry and Deyton, significant swinging movement was needed for calming through the first three months, and now they love anything with lights and music. These chairs have been helpful for us as a place to set the babies down while going to the bathroom or folding laundry, but we never use the special features.
  • Fluffy, fancy, adorable non-stretchy long sleeved outfits- if you’re like us, you will never use these. Ever. They are murder to put on your child, and in the first few months your baby will live in warm sleepers, onesies and swaddles because they are easy and comfy. If you have one cute outfit a month for a pretty picture, you will be set.
  • High Horse– admittedly, we’ve each taken a ride once or twice. But an overwhelming lesson we have learned since becoming mamas is that the last thing we want is to be judged for our mothering approach, so to do so is pretty rude. We were kicked off of our high horses shortly after leaving the hospital. Babies are individuals, mothers are individuals, and what works for some may not work for others. We have learned that as similar as we are as sisters, our mothering is actually very different. All of the well-intentioned proclamations we made while pregnant and all of our judgey Mc. Judgerson moments have been disproven. We have learned that the most important thing is to support each other as mamas, whether you’re team Bjorn, team Boba, pro-boobie, or pro-bottle. This sisterhood of motherhood commercial below that has been making the social media rounds makes this point in a fun to watch, worth 3 minutes of your busy day and, if you’re pregnant or overtired, probably tear-inducing way.

The "glass" behind the garden to glass cocktails, Belinda is the owner of the Happy Camper Cocktail Company, bartender, recipe developer, younger sister and karaoke lover.

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