Becoming a newborn mum can be; amongst other things, overwhelming.
First comes the reality hit - "shit, i'm actually pregnant" and you realise that you're actually going to be solely responsible for another beings health, happiness and safety. It is no longer just a dream. WOAH.
Then comes the unknown of pregnancy. The bodily changes, the emotional ups and downs and the magic of hearing your babies heartbeat or seeing their features at your scans.
Then eventually you begin to think about the practical things that you'll need for baby and perhaps the trendy things that you don't really need, but want anyway.
Which pram do I choose? Do I really need a baby monitor? Are all carriers created equal?
We are inundated with options and choice (and ads!) and during both my pregnancies it got me thinking... do I really need everything?
I am not a professional, i'm in no way shape or form an expert and I definitely do not have it all figured out, but on my journey to becoming a mother, I was lucky enough to have the support of a huge community of women and mothers at my fingertips. My very own mothers group, if you will, along for the ride over at @link_and_luna
With all of the wonderful advice I was given by these women, along with what i've learnt along the way, i've put together a list of all of the things, products & advice that I have used and loved myself. Some I would say were on the need list and others although I didn't 'need' them, i'm most certainly grateful I didn't go without.
In no particular order.
- Olive oil and/or Coconut Oil for baths, cradle cap, moisturiser for skin folds and massage (spot test coco oil as it’s a nut and baby could have allergies).
- Baby Bum Cleanser - by Petit Kiddo - It's so gentle on bub, all natural ingredients and as you use it with cotton wipes, it's much less irritating than regular wipes. Its so effective for stubborn poo on the skin and when they're older, reduces nappy rash. I use water wipes when we're out and about.
- Ural for hospital bag (to help with painful stinging after birth when you go to the toilet). THIS IS A MUST!!!
- Lots of Bonds (or other) singlet onesies/suits for bedtime or under outfits. Waaaaaay better than actual singlets that just ride up!
- My Son, Finn loved his Love to Dream swaddles (and so did we coz we were so shit at swaddling him!) and it was good to have a few handy in case of accidents overnight. You can get other brands with no arms which Finn loved when he was really little. They kept him nice and tight.
- Chekoh wrap - I get's lots of questions about this. I used my wrap daily when he was newborn and as he stopped cluster feeding and I became more mobile (and less one armed lounge lizard) I began using it at least 3 times a day as this was how he napped. Now he's 5 months old I have just started using the Chekoh sling for around the house, throughout the day because he's prefers more of a hip position if he's awake and he now naps in his cot.
- Ergobaby carrier - Without a doubt I use this daily. We are always out and about of a morning and I would say that 4 out of 7 days he has one nap a day in the ergo. I also like to use this more than my pram where possible. It just feels easy and natural to carry/wear him and I don't have to bother getting the pram out of the car, especially if it's just a quick visit to the post office or something. I know he definitely prefers this too and he wont be little for long so i'm cherishing the closeness while I still can.
- Nappy Pouch - by In Our Nest - I brought a pouch from In Our Nest when I was pregnant with Finn and I feel like it's part of me now! I use it that much. It's a nappy pouch with a change mat that fits all of bubs essentials like nappies, wipes, change of clothes etc etc and it fits neatly under the pram and it completely replaces a big heavy nappy bag. Buy two, and keep one for the pram and the other for the home (I now only ever change Finn on the lounge room floor or the bed during the night) or buy one and just move it around with you throughout the day. Because I loved it SO much, I have since decided to become a stockist. So you can purchase from In Our Nest using the link above or you can purchase the limited edition (a creative collaboration between myself and the girls from I.O.N) designs exclusive to linkandluna.com right HERE. Im super proud to be stocking these pouches and would not sell or recommend a product that I don't 100% believe in an find valuable.
- Play Gym - I bought 3 flimsy, plastic play gyms that were completely generic and would fall over all the time. I finally paid for a quality timber frame and realised I had of done so sooner. I got mine from Lilah & Co and Finn loves it.
- Swing, bouncer or moses basket - My mother in law bought a Fisher & Price swing chair from Big W and it was really handy to sit bubs in while we had dinner - if he let us haha. I also use our Moses Basket for when i'm in the kitchen cooking or when i'm showering, or out on the deck working. Finn never naps in his though (where as plenty of my customers say that their babies will only sleep in theirs) it's just super handy to cart around the house as needed.
- Mama body tea - Baby Bliss Blend - I found that if Finn was really uncomfortable with wind, I would drink this (about 5 cups) to help him out or I would try to drink (a cup or two) daily for ongoing management.
- Bellies and Beyond - bamboo swaddles. They are by far the best ones I own. Nice and big and super soft and good to use over the pram because they’re more breathable than cotton. I also use on the ground for tummy time and he's become to really like it as a comforter and I sometimes even wear it as a scarf. After using these wraps for Finn myself and since reopening linkandluna.com, I have since become a proud stockist of these too. As I mentioned above I 100% genuinely use and love this product. You can purchase from me at linkandluna.com or Bellies & Beyond
- Sun shield for car window
- Tummy time rug or mat - I just use a swaddle on my rug in the lounge room or one of the many quilts we have been gifted. I personally didn't start giving Finn tummy time until about 3 months of age. The 1 or 2 times I put him down for it sooner, he absolutely hated it and something about it just didn't feel right for me. I didn't like seeing him struggle and be uncomfortable, just for the sake of doing something that is "recommended". I just waited until he gave me signs that he was ready (like constantly pushing up on me or pushing back from my chest when he was in the carrier or wriggling around more than usual) and when I did eventually give it to him, he loved it and he started rolling really soon after. Also they do get "tummy time" when they are held or sleep on your chest, on their tummies and they do get opportunities to develop their muscles when being held etc. That being said, I am not a professional and it is my personal choice not to follow the recommended advice. The recommended advice can be found here at raisingchildren.net.au
- Dr Bronners Castile soap - I use this for bubs laundry and I also wash my nursing singlets and bras (and fav shirts and jumpers) with the baby clothes using this (as I dont want him breathing in the nasty chemicals while he feeds or sleeps on me). It’s chemical free and you only need a small amount.
- Pilates/fit ball - We couldn't live without this. It's still our go to for our movement obsessed little bubba.
- Best n less or Bonds nursing singlets
- Hospital bag Checklist - I had no idea what I was doing so I used the Hospital Bag Checklist from September Baby as a guide.
- Corn Flour - for nappy rash when they're a bit older. Works like magic!
VIDEOS I RECOMMEND
- YouTube - Patricia Dunstan baby language - it’s an oprah video!! This is honestly a life saver. Takes all the guess work out of trying to figure out which cry means what. A MUST WATCH!
- YouTube - How to breastfeed using the Thompson Method - I found this really helpful as a newborn mum. I came from hospital being told different things by different midwives and we also discovered Finn had a tongue tie so the first week of feeding was a little bit stressful for me. Although Finn has only ever fed from one breast at a time, I found this video extremely helpful.
- YouTube - Car seat carrying tip - will save those mummas backs who use a car capsule (instead of car seat).
BOOKS I LOVED
1. Pram - I have the City Mini Gt pram and absolutely love it. It's light, small and SUPER easy to fold. It has foam wheels so they never need pumping!
2. Baby Monitor - I don't have one and haven't felt like I needed one. We co slept for the first few months and all day naps were in the wrap or carrier. Now that Finn is sleeping in his cot (in our room) I just hear him when he's finished his nap or when he needs resettling.
3. Car capsule or seat - Such a personal choice. We had a capsule but got a car seat at about 3 months. I found Finn was getting squished and uncomfortable and too heavy for me to carry.
4. Breast Pump - I have a spectra and LOVE it. It is so powerful. It was a life saver in the first 2 weeks when I needed to pump to help Finn get more milk because he wasn't feeding properly because of his tongue tie but since about week 3 I haven't used it. I'm sure I will need it though for if/when we start spending time apart.
5. Lula Doll (or similar) - Finn has one and doesn't use it/like it. He will only settle/sleep with loud PINK noise and we use the White Noise Lite app on apple (we use the pink noise) on our ipad or phone and set it to aeroplane mode while in use.
So there you have my recommendations for any newborn mumma's out there.
As far as advice goes, I think the one piece of advice or knowledge I personally wish I had known sooner, was that newborns (generally) can only last an hour of awake time (including feeds). Knowing this sooner would've saved us because Finn was SUCH an overtired little baby in those first few weeks because we didn't yet know his cues and we really couldn't get him to sleep. It seemed like nothing worked. Hours would pass and we'd be like "is this baby supposed to sleep or what?". Had we realised how overtired he was or had we realised that we really should've helped him out sooner, we would've actively tried to settle him before he went past the point of no return. The thing is though, when you're a newborn mum and there is a revolving door of visitors and hours go by like minutes, it's really challenging to find your footing amongst the chaos. If Finn was ever super upset or sleepy, eventually I found that being in his love to dream, in the dark bedroom (newborns are very sensitive to light and can become overtired if overstimulated by too much light, sounds, stimuli etc) with the loud pink noise and bouncing worked the best to calm him or get him to sleep as this environment mimicked the womb and this still works best now at 5 months (minus the swaddle as he's grown our of it).
Another thing I think is worth mentioning is that it is VERY common to not feel the love or like you're in the newborn blissed out "love bubble" at first. I remember in the first 5 weeks being really concerned that I just wasn't feeling it with Finn. I just wasn't feeling connected to him.
All I had to compare it to was when Link was born. I know the circumstances were different, but when Link was born I was completely consumed by love. I literally, physically felt the hormones & endorphins rush through my body and was completely in love, at first sight. And even though I was grieving, that high lasted for at least a week.
With Finn, I guess I just expected that the same thing would happen, but it didn't. And I really felt worried that it never would. I was concerned that the trauma of losing Link completely striped me of my ability to fall in love with another baby and I felt like my fears could easily become a reality. I mean, I LOVED him. With every fibre of my being, I loved Finn at first sight and I felt SUPER protective of him, but I wasn't blissed out and I wasn't in "the bubble" that everyone speaks of. You don't get any positive reinforcement from baby in the early days and I never really thought about this, or how much it would effect me.
This all changed at around about week 5 when Finn smiled. Omg it broke me! It cracked me wide open and I have been obsessed ever since. So mama, if you're not feeling it just yet, please don't worry. You're not alone in your thoughts and there is nothing wrong with you. It's normal. My advice would be to talk about how you're feeling, if you are feeling this way, because it will make you feel a thousand times better for having the courage to speak up about it.
However if you feel there's something more serious going on and these feelings of disconnection continue, please talk to someone and get help HERE.
Out of all the advice though, the best i've received so far has been to take in all the advice you get, read all the blogs, listen to all the people, but at the end of the day just use and do WHAT FEELS RIGHT FOR YOU.
TRUST your instincts. Your intuition will never be higher than right now and it is by far the BEST guidance you have through this special but unknown time.
What works for me might not work for you. We are all different and so are our babies. So with that said, take all of this with a grain of salt and do with it what you will.
Also, because this was intended to help new mum's, if you have any recommendations that i've missed that you think might be helpful, let me know and I can add them on.
*Disclaimer - I am not a professional and it is my personal choice not to follow the recommended advice (as mentioned above eg co sleeping & tummy time). The recommended advice can be found here at raisingchildren.net.au