*The number of pictures I have of Hill/Emory and I in permutations of this exact pose in my bed is…uncountable.
As a follow up to my post sharing 15 must-have items for newborns (read the comments — some great additions/caveats!), sharing some must-haves for new moms…
+Water bottle. I was so thirsty — always — while breast-feeding and recovering and often immobilized because I was either nursing or rocking baby. I learned to keep a full water bottle at my bedside constantly (can’t tell you how often I’d send Mr. Magpie for a refill), and I specifically loved my Klean Kanteen with the sports nozzle attached because I could drink one-handed/without having to screw anything off. However, I did find it leaked when turned on its side in the bed, which happened…several times. Bonus points for one that does not leak if turned on its side in a bed — maybe the hydroflask is better in this regard!
+Nursing pads — some mothers prefer the reusable ones but I used the disposable. It’s important to replace them frequently to prevent infection/irritation and I found that aspect easier to stay on top of with the disposable ones.
+Post-partum underwear. These are the best! Very soft and non-cinching. I also found the high-rise waist a must with the c-section scar, but imagine these would be fantastic regardless of how you’ve delivered.
+Nursing bras — I tried a lot of different brands but Bravado was my favorite. Soft, comfortable, yet thick/supportive, and not all nursing bras fold down/unclasp with the ease/simplicity of this style. I also liked Majamas when I was first starting out — it’s a pull-down style so good when you are just getting the hang of things.
+Nursing nightgowns — I preferred these to pajamas while immediately recovering from my c-section (nothing close to the incision, pls and thank you). These Gap ones are inexpensive, soft, and pretty.
+Cotton bathrobe — I would layer a robe over my nightgowns most nights, and I liked this ultra-soft, breathable cotton layer.
+Nursing pajamas — A little further out from the c-section, I started living in my Lake nursing pajamas. Super soft, well-designed for nursing, and I love the fun stripes/prints. I also loved my Cosabella maternity sets — they work with an enormous bump and in the weeks/months following delivery!
+Mother’s milk tea and lactation bars — To be honest, I have no idea if these worked or not. I was never able to produce enough milk to exclusively breastfeed either of my children despite a fervent desire to do so. These made me feel as though I was doing something to help. I am pretty sure water and pumping are the best things for increasing supply (the more you pump, the more your body will receive the message that more milk is needed, and — supposedly — the body will eventually catch up. I say supposedly because I tried my hardest at this and my body never caught up. Then again, I think the round-the-clock pumping created so much stress that it inhibited milk production and so was literally counter-productive.) Anyhow, I honestly liked the licorice tea and didn’t hate the taste of the bars, which brings me to the next point —
+Snacks on snacks on snacks. Breastfeeding and caring for a newborn left me insatiably hungry at all hours of the day. I started lining up snacks on my bedside table for my middle-of-the-night feeds so I wouldn’t have to get out of bed! I ate a lot of these Nature Valley Soft Oat bars in the middle of the night. Probably not the healthiest snack but I couldn’t get enough of them and they were blessedly quiet to eat. I also kept a fully loaded fridge with sandwich fixings (ham and swiss on rye, toasted in butter in a pan, is about the most delicious treat you can have at 11 p.m.), tons of fruit, oat milk for bowls of cereal, frozen waffles to slather in peanut butter, good cheese (Eataly sells these incredible little nuggets of individually-wrapped hunks of parmesan that I loveeee), and lots of flavored seltzer water. My advice is to think of quick little meals you can fix in a matter of minutes at any time of day…and then to stock your cupboard with quick grab-and-go snacks. I wish I were the type of woman who would snack on raw almonds and dried fruit, but that’s disingenuous — I’m talking spicy cheez-its level snacking.
+Kindle! My best friend while breastfeeding.
+Extra long charging cord. It’s all about making life as comfortable as possible and not having to move from your bed at night. Also good for when in hospital, when the bed is often far from an outlet! We were also advised to bring an extension cord which came in handy for a laptop to watch re-runs of The Office.
+Breast pump — you can get one for free through your insurance carrier (ask your doctor for a prescription and they will follow up with details). With Emory, I rented a hospital-grade pump for for the first few weeks and it was incredible in terms of efficiency. Then I switched to the insurance-provided Medela Freestyle, which I hated — it felt like it was wheezing and sputtering with every use. With Hill, I had a Spectra S2, which I hated a little bit less — quieter and more powerful than the Medela. I did not like that the pump parts were not dishwasher-safe and I found the “bottles” easy to tip over (ahhhh). But honestly I have bad memories of pumping in general so my emotions are coloring everything! I pray the same not prove true for those you expecting; I know some Magpie Moms have enjoyed their pumping time and/or had the gracious perspective that these tools enabled them to feed their babies while working/if nursing did not work out. I have heard good things about the Elvie wearable pump but not sure how/if that works with insurance — perhaps worth the investment regardless if you are planning to pump a lot. I will recommend buying a set or two of spare pump parts that are compatible with the breast pump you buy so you aren’t hand-washing these items 1,000 times a day. Mr. Magpie still has PTSD from dealing with all of the pump part washing we endured with mini in particular — there was never a moment where those damn things weren’t cluttering the sink! Ha! And then of course you MUST buy a pumping bra so you can pump hands-free.
+A reader made this point in a comment on my newborn gear post, but treat yourself to some new duds that make you feel good! When I was at home and it was cool out, I liked to wear leggings with a nursing tank and a long/duster cardigan. When it was warm, I loved wearing easy button-front dresses — my favorite was this one from Sleeper, which worked with bump, too, and I currently LIVE in my nap dresses (even while not nursing!) and several of them work while breastfeeding. LOVE and can’t recommend strongly enough. Would probably have bought several as a present to myself if I were giving birth this year. Hatch also has some cute ones (I find this brand runs really big), and I LOVED shirtdresses while nursing. I’d pair with Chanel ballet flats or spiffy statement shoes to make myself feel put-together.
+Life lines in the form of other moms going through the newborn days or very empathetic to the travails they entail. I could not have survived without round-the-clock texts of support from my mom, sister, sister-in-law, and a few very close friends (Steph, thank you thank you thank you).
+A couple of TV series you can lose yourself into. One of the fun parts of those hazy newborn days was burning through entire seasons of shows you’ve always been curious about. I watched and loved “Gilmore Girls,” “Downton Abbey,” “Veep,” all of Mindy Kaling’s shows, “The Great British Baking Show,” and I’m sure a few others I can’t now recall.
+Stepstool — if you’re having a scheduled c-section, you will almost certainly need a stool to climb into bed. I did!
+A night light! So handy to not have to turn on all the lights in the room when you are up in the middle of the night. We achieved this with Philips Hue lightbulbs, which we’ve gradually installed in all of our lamps. You can turn it on with Alexa/Siri or your phone and dim it to whatever brightness you like. I know other moms love the Hatch (also a sound machine) — you could keep it in your bedroom until baby is sleeping in the nursery!
Not a Must-Have, but the Luxury I Wish I’d Treated Myself To…
This is not a must-have by any stretch of the imagination — rather, a tremendous and indulgent luxury! — but one thing I really wish I had done for myself after Hill was born was hire a housekeeper. Landon and I drove ourselves insane trying to keep a tidy house during those early months (we are both neatniks, and there is so much stuff going on with bottles, hasty meals, laundry, visitors, and — of course — a toddler in tow that it was an exhausting and constant up-hill battle) and I wish we’d sought help in that department. I would blissfully have spent the extra time doing a million other things — probably would still not have rested (ha!) but it would have been so wonderful to have outsourced that aspect of keeping things afloat.
Maybe for you, the luxury would not be housekeeping — but outsourcing meals (delivery or one of those meal prep services), or laundry (in NY, there are wash and fold services that deliver to your door), or a night nurse.
Or maybe you are in a position where you can ask a parent or sibling to temporarily move in with you or help you out on a regular basis?
The point here is — if there is any way you can get help in a specific category, do it…!
Popular Items That Did Not Work for Me.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge a few items you might consider that did not work for me, but that many other mothers swear by…
+Haakaa — so many moms love this! A lot of the time, moms use these to catch the milk on one side while you are nursing on the other (so horrible to waste the milk your body works so hard to produce!). I never got into the groove with this — I felt like it was just one more thing to fuss with while baby was clamoring for milk, and the bottle was easy to tip over (you can buy stoppers, though), and it was another thing to clean, and sometimes it got things going too well, and then baby would have very little left on the other side. Probably worth a shot, though, if you have more determination than I do.
+Nursing pillows — I never got the hang of these either. I found it much more comfortable/natural to just prop up my arm on a spare bed pillow. I liked these for positioning baby in front of me/to my side while bottle-feeding, though!
+Papablic sterilizer — We simply did not have the counter space in our apartment for something like this, but I see the virtue in it. I have heard conflicting things on sterilizing bottles — my own doctor said it was unnecessary (after an initial sterilization when you first take bottles out of the packaging, which can be done with boiling water on stovetop) given that both of my babies had healthy immune systems and thorough washing with soap and water does kill most germs. With Hill, we ended up dish-washing bottles most of the time to save our sanity, so not even sure we would have used it. The most attractive feature for me? The fact that it reports to fully dry all parts. Even after using the Boon drying grass and leaving out for a few hours, I often used a clean dish towel to wipe bottle parts dry.
+Frida Mom post partum essentials kit. I had two c-sections so did not need these items, but, had I been able to do a VBAC, would have ordered this kit. I believe it has a lot of the same types of items that the hospital provides you with, but have also heard a lot of moms loved this brand in particular for when back at home!
I’m sure I’m missing a couple of things. Mamas, help me out with any holes!
P.S. Oh man, revisiting these breastfeeding and weaning posts gives me all the feels. I feel the rawness and sensitivity in them — ahh! New motherhood is wild, even the second time around. (And some thoughts on that here.)
P.P.S. A random roundup of fun things.
P.P.P.S. New home finds!