Wednesday, July 15, 2015

10 Things A New Mother Needs Before Baby Arrives

When I found out I was pregnant, I just shut down. In my first trimester, I had constant nausea and fatigue. So I spent my days sleeping and threatening the foetus with boarding school if it made me throw up.

Once I was past that and the fabled energy of the second trimester was upon me, I turned to the Internet because it was time to buy things. I ended up being annoyed at how the articles I read online were either sponsored or based on American/Western needs. I ended up buying many things because what if?

Don't think about stuff. Just buy stuff.
So, if like I was, you are pregnant and wondering what you'll need when baby gets here, read this list of the ten things (out of all the things I bought) that were super useful in the first few months after delivery.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I have received no compensation from any of the companies whose products are mentioned below.

1. Breast Pads

The main question I had from all my internet research was whether to buy disposable or cloth breast-pads.

If you plan on breastfeeding, it's best to be prepared for A LOT OF MILK once it comes in. If you start off now convinced that you will make all the milk baby needs, you will. Stressing about breastfeeding can affect your supply.

Pigeon Breast Pads are disposable. These contoured pads have little bits of adhesive that allow for a better fit inside nursing bras (without looking too conspicuous). More absorbent than the Phillips Avent breast-pads, they are comfortable and are the least likely to cling to your nipples haha yes it happens and yes it hurts but it's only until your supply stabilises.

The Mee Mee reusable breast-pads are not as comfortable as a disposable but are more economical. They didn't work at the start of our breastfeeding relationship because the mere sight of E triggered my letdown reflex. As my milk supply evened out and the incidents of leakage reduced, I started wearing them at home when it's okay to have overflow incidents.

Verdict: Buy the biggest pack of Pigeon disposables for now. You could also learn to sew your own breast-pads. You'll have to do this now, if you're pregnant. If you think you'll have the energy to sew when baby's here, you're mad.

2. Nursing Bras

While pregnant, I experienced quite a bit of pain as my breasts metamorphosed into milk jugs did anyone else get those hind-nipple needle poke pains? If you didn't think your breasts can get any bigger, they can and they will.

It was hard to predict their eventual size be so I decided to buy two inches and one cup size above what I was wearing in the last trimester of pregnancy. For example, if you wear 32B, buy three 34C measurement bras. I bought the next set after my milk came in and I had a clearer idea of what my size will be while I was breastfeeding.

Buying cheaper ones I'm talking Daisy Dee for the first few weeks available at your neighbourhood chaddi shop and Amazon.in let me splurge a little on these well-fitting and comfortable Mothercare nursing bras. I bought myself these BHS bras from Dubai for successfully and exclusively breastfeeding E for six months.

Both brands are supremely comfortable, don't make you look like you're Madonna from the early 90s, and provide that vital click signalling a proper clasp and that it isn't going to come undone when you're at the supermarket 2 hours later.

3. Sanitary Napkins

Every list for the new mom includes this critical item. I took the ultra absorbent Whisper Ultra Clean with me to the hospital before finding out that the material really irritated the episiotomy stitches.

My OB suggested I buy the less expensive soft cotton napkins (brands Sofy or Kotex) and while it helped, post-delivery bleeding is the worst. I can't imagine anyone bleeding for three weeks and enjoying it. But at least, I was reasonably comfortable.

4. Betadine

If you do end up needing stitches post-delivery, try to fashion a bath of warm water and a few drops of betadine. I don't have a bath tub so I ended up pouring a mug of warm solution every time I felt any irritation.

Pro-tip - use a blow-dryer to air your stitches a few times a day (especially after you use the washroom). The warm air will increase blood flow to the area and result in faster healing of your stitches.

5. Nursing Nightwear

Fuss-free nightwear is crucial to the successful breastfeeding relationship. If I had to deal with buttons or pulling up my top in the middle of the night, thereby waking completely for E's nighttime feeds, I would've chucked her the bottle at 6-weeks.

I cheated a little for this one and bought nursing nightwear from Mamas and Papas in Dubai and boy, did these babies pay for themselves no they didn't because I didn't sell my breastmilk but you get the idea. These nighties are loose, made of soft t-shirt material and feature an in-built nursing bra and adjustable straps.

6. Lansinoh Lanolin cream

The first few months of breastfeeding is hard. Be prepared for a whole new relationship with your breasts. 

Invest in a small tube of Lansinoh. Yes, it's a little expensive but that's why I used the word, 'invest,' because it's okay to spend a lot of money on something if it's an investment.

Lansinoh works well on cracked nipples and soreness, both of which you will have at least a few times in the early days. It's made from sheep's lanolin so if you're hyper vegetarian, you may want to wipe it off before feeding your baby. For the rest of us, it's an all-natural product and doesn't need to be wiped off although it's probably best if you do.

I didn't even end up using half a tube but the few times I did need it, I was so glad I made the decision to buy.

7. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Newborn E took 20 minutes per breastfeeding session, 20 minutes to burp, and then 30 minutes to fall asleep - meaning I was awake for 70 minutes every two hours at night. This was quite lonely (the arrangement with the husband and Amma was that they take care of E by day and I do night duty - no point in everyone being up all the time). As we were teaching E the difference between night and day one, this added up to a lot of time awake time for me in a semi-dark room.

Just get the Paperwhite. 
The Kindle Paperwhite was my company on these long nights. I actually managed to read three whole books in three months and still manage to read a few pages at night before turning in - all without disturbing my slumbering baby. Because the light from the device isn't jarring (as it is on a phone or iPad), it doesn't interfere with your ability to fall asleep either.

8. Kitted Out Feeding Station

Whether you're breast or bottle feeding, it's a good idea to have an area of the house, relatively free from distraction, demarcated for feeding. In this area, have a:
  1. nice comfortable chair with cushions if needed, for you to sit on;
  2. small step stool to rest your legs - incredibly useful to pull a newborn closer to you;
  3. nursing cushion for baby to rest on - I was gifted this nursing cushion that I use to this day;
  4. small table; 
  5. a bottle of water - near constant feeding will make you thirsty - so keep this handy on a table;
  6. a box of dates - once again, near constant feeding can make you quite hungry especially at night so munch on a few dates while reading your Kindle;
  7. some washcloths to wipe baby's face, your breast etc. I used (highly absorbent) cloth diaper inserts. In the early days, you will leak from the breast that baby is not feeding from so keep a few cloth diaper inserts or breast pads handy because regular washcloths will just soak through;
  8. a bib if baby is prone to reflux;
  9. some hand sanitizer - because you never know.
9. Baby Carrier

There are quite a few options for the first time parent in this department. However, for you, the new mother, the ultimate lifesaver will be a 5-feet long strip of t-shirt material that you can use to keep your newborn with you while you grab a meal or fix your hair or even watch television.

Amazon.in now stocks a whole range of these wraps, starting from the Moby Wrap to Mei Tei and Boba wraps. It didn't when I was pregnant so I ended up buying a wrap from Mamas and Papas in Dubai. Starting at around INR 4000, these wraps are a little expensive but SO WORTH IT once you figure out how to use them.

Contact me if you live in Bangalore and need someone to teach you how to wrap your baby.

10. Perspective

Being a mother for the first time will release a crazy jumble of emotions. It will be hard. There will be many things you will have to do that you've never had to to do before and you are going to be bad at it until one day, you're not.

You will have a choice. You could choose to go on the intense journey that is motherhood or you could fight it and lament all that's lost. You will probably do both and realise that they only way to appreciating what you have done is to ride the rollercoaster.

Balance - you'll find it. And then lose it. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

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