“I’m expecting! What do I need for my newborn? What should I put on my registry?”
Newborns are adorable and snuggly and have some pretty gosh-darned important needs, but sometimes I think the postpartum period tends to be a little heavy on the baby focus and a little empty on the momma focus in our culture. Nourish is determined to even that out a bit. In some cultures there is a time following birth where the mother and her newborn are cared for 100% by their community in their home. It’s pretty amazing and while I’m not sure it’s entirely feasible for our particular culture, I think it’s a pretty fantastic aspiration.
When mothers focus on building a community of support first, they are loved and have a pool of resources when things get tough. When ideas come from experienced people, they don’t often come heavy with the baggage of sales pitches, sponsors, and login requirements like parenting websites and corporations. Initially, I got much of my information from well-known corporate websites which I now know are often sponsored by companies which sell products that do not align with evidence-based practices. In some cases, the products even make moms and babes feel kind of crummy.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, build a community. Early postpartum can be tough if you aren’t surrounded by educated, positive, supportive people.
Educated. Positive. Supportive.
1. Your Community.
An important part of healing from birth includes talking about your birth experiences and your hopes and fears for your family. Visit some local support groups to connect with other moms who can offer positive support. It’s also important to remember that YOU ARE NOT A HOSTESS. This is not the time for your grandma and your neighbor and your dog walker to come “hold the baby” while you make them tea. Wear your baby close and set visiting guidelines. Also, it really wouldn’t hurt to ask for a cleaning service for one of your baby shower gifts…
2. Breastfeeding Stuff
Everyone who’s ever had a baby likes to give lots of helpful advice for nipple pain and milk supply. Seek qualified support from a certified lactation counselor. Breastfeeding doesn’t require a lot of stuff, but there are some comforts that might make the transition with your newborn a bit more smooth.
Home Lactation Support:
The keyword here is home. Yes, you will have the option of meeting with hospital lactation support if you are planning a hospital birth and I recommend you take advantage of that while you are there. However, it’s very important to know that breastfeeding support exists outside the hospital walls and it is an entirely different thing to meet with a trained lactation counselor in your home where you are safe and warm and comfortable and you don’t have to do all the work to get out of the house for an appointment. She will come to you. The local mommas love Alicia Fonder, IBCLC for home visits.
Nursing pillows and bras:
After several years of nearly continuous nursing, I’ve discovered that the best postpartum nursing pillows are made by Boppy and MyBreast Friend and the best bra is made by Bravado. My personal baby splurge was on the Boppy Organic Cotton Slipcover. ohhhh, so soft. As for bras, I recommend you buy the good Bravado one now, spend the money, and buy other fancier bras later when your breast size has leveled out a bit. Oooor stick it to The Man and go bra-less. You have my full support (har har).
The hormones of breastfeeding respond best when your newborn is put to the breast immediately and at every cue for the first few months. However, I understand that situations occur where a bottle is sometimes needed before 10 weeks. Based on many many conversations with many moms, Dr. Brown’s and Tommee Tippee are the favorite brands. Only Level 1 nipples are ever needed. For this to work, you’ll also want to chat with your lactation counselor about hand expression or purchase a double electric pump like the Medela Pump In Style or the Spectra.
-Breast pads: Some women need them, some women don’t. Purchase a small box to start to see if you need them and then you can sew your own, buy them locally from Mama Threads, or purchase a larger box on Amazon. They come in disposable or reusable. I’ve heard good things about bamboo.
3. Chiropractic Care
I said it and I’ll say it again. Your body and your newborn’s bodies are all funky following birth. You had that baby squishing all your organs and flopping out your pelvis and then your baby squeezed through a tunnel, getting the most intense hug of his life. It’s time for an adjustment. Even if you don’t regularly seek chiropractic care, this is an ideal time to check it out. Your chiropractor should have experience with pregnant women, newborns and children. He or she should have certifications in CranioSacral services.
4. A Postpartum Doula
A postpartum doula provides support with infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, mother–baby bonding, infant soothing, and basic newborn care. She is there to help a your family in those first days and weeks after bringing home your new baby. Connect with a doula here to grab tea and chat about how a postpartum doula might be just the ticket for you and your family.
4. Baby Book
If you’re anything like me, you’re gonna want to document every single little thing that nugget does. Buy a baby book. Add to it during your quiet times together. Put down your smartphone.
I know. I said put down your smartphone. But if you haven’t taken the plunge yet, now is the time. You’re going to want to look stuff up on a moment’s notice “just to make sure”, take millions of photos, post them to the Internets, and videotape your kid eating his toes. Upgrade.
6. Bottom Care
-Coconut oil: Unrefined, organic, cold-pressed CO is your new best friend. This glorious (inexpensive) oil can be used in hundreds of ways, guilt-free. We prefer the Kirkland’s brand from Costco and we like to portion it out into smaller glass Ball containers with plastic lids to use for different purposes around our house. We slather it on baby bottoms during every diaper change to prevent rash (you can probably toss out your diaper creams). It’s also great for cooking, skin care, deep conditioner…I could go on and on and on and on. Go buy it now.
-Diapers: There are a b’gillion kinds and every family has their favorite. And they will SWEAR by it and tell you it’s the ONLY kind you should ever buy. You can choose cloth, disposable, or a combination of both. I’ve heard good things about Best Bottoms and Target Up & Up brands. We’ve also used the “free” Pampers swaddlers from the hospital in the early days since it has a handy blue wet stripe. Many parents like to use up all the “freebie” newborn stuff from the hospital and baby showers and then start in with the official choice. If you go for cloth diapers, you might want to check out this page to review more reviews and learn about detergent.
7. Babywearing Gear
For centuries mothers have carried their babies close day and night and they were in-tune with each other and she knew her baby was safe with her. I would encourage you to seek out a formal group of babywearing families in your area to learn more about how to wear your baby safely. There are several different carry options available. I won’t go into a bunch of detail here, but also be sure to check out carriers like a girasole, a mai tai, or a ring sling. Facebook has a great group called the “Babywearing Swap” where you can buy lovely, broken-in carriers at a doable price. These are two of my favorite types of carriers:
I love the Wrapsody Stretch Hybrid. It comes in a bunch of designs and can be used for newborns and both front and back carries (once your baby had head and neck control). There are also options like the Moby and Boba, but those aren’t recommended for back carry.
Soft Structured Carriers (SSC):
These are the must-have newborn items in my book. You’ve likely heard about the abundance of baby stuff that exists but I like to keep it simple and prioritize what’s really needed in the beginning. Sure there are other items that were handy, but certainly not critical. When you start with less, you learn more and then buy what you really need. If you want to buy something, buy knowledge and support.
You don’t need much more newborn stuff than love and breast milk.
(and maybe a diaper or two if you care about your carpet)