I'm a new mum! It's true what they say - nothing compares to holding your baby in your arms for the first time, and the rush of oxytocin (for me it was like I'd taken ecstasy - I was high for days on end!) is second to none.
Of course, there are challenges - sleep deprivation and the concern that my right nipple may never fully recover from it's first few weeks of breast feeding; I've been incredibly lucky to have a positive post natal journey so far - and I wanted to share some of the products that have been truly life saving for me during this time.
Most are pretty affordable, basic items - nothing fancy - just things that either make me or my angel Isabella more comfortable, or have eased our journey with breast feeding or sleeping unattached.
Starting with my biggest recommendation: colostrum collectors! I used these syringes from 37 weeks to collect my liquid gold, and it was invaluable to me for a few reasons. Firstly, I felt like it gave me an opportunity to learn my boobs! Before then, my nipples were purely ornamental, and not things I was used to touching much at all. Learning to hand express, and figure out how my breasts would feed my baby down the line, was such a great skill to start to master before the birth of Isabella. Having a bunch of full syringes of colostrum before my milk came in was also a life saver. My daughter was naturally a bit unsettled, and having a back log of sweet, sticky colostrum to soothe her with, as well as start to build her immune system and gut health was such a comfort. My husband was even able to feed it to her.
The Haaka Syringes are great because you can collect AND feed from them with ease. I personally found expressing straight into the open vial was easier than trying to suck up drops - but it's a personal choice. The only other thing I think worth noting is that I was lucky to express pretty large amounts of colostrum with relative ease as I had been leaking for a long time prior - even if you only manage to get a few drops or half a syringe over time, don't be disheartened, I still think the exercise of learning to hand express, and stimulating your nipples (and therefore your hormones!) is a truly valuable experience.
I was recommended these by my friend Alison Rice, who had her first baby in January and swore by their effectiveness - so I ordered some the same day. Silver is a natural antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial metal that also contains anti-inflammatory agents. They are recommended to be used 24/7 between every nursing session for at least two weeks; these cups help support healing and prevent cuts, wounds, cracks, soreness, and infections that can occur while breastfeeding. The cups retain milk contact with the nipple which makes them even more effective, allowing any cracks to heal quickly. I have worn them religiously day and night since having Isabella - and have found my nipples certainly recover from a painful feed quickly. An added benefit for me is that the shields mean that my nipples aren't touching clothing or nursing pads - so there's no rubbing against material to add to discomfort - they're left untouched to rest and heal.
Babies love to be swaddled! The word is that it reminds them of being in our tummies, tucked up safe and warm with not too much room to wriggle around in. Isabella has the arm strength of a 45 year old seasoned sailor, so we needed to find a GOOD material to swaddle her in, that she couldn't escape from. Having her arms flail around can wake her up, and she also would manage to scratch her gorgeous face with her fiercely sharp nails.
We tried many a blanket until one day, our darling Milly sent us a gorgeous gift that included a Halcyon Nights swaddle. We have exclusively used this one ever since - it's stretchy material secures bub so nicely.
PS - Muslin wraps are bloody useless - I have no idea why people seem to think babies need hundreds of them - but perhaps in time I will use them with the pram, but if you're a new mum, my two cents is don't even bother trying to swaddle them with one!
4. A Mini Foam Roller
Breast feeding - or any kind of feeding for that matter - takes its toll on your back and shoulders. I went from being completely anal about time seated, and my postural alignment, to being grounded to a chair, or in our bed for hours on end feeding Isabella, and my back has felt it! Taking a minute or two, a couple of times a day, to roll out my back between feeds has been so, so helpful. The relief is instant - if you don't have a foam roller at home, definitely pick one up before your bub arrives and aim to use it daily - your spine will thank you!
Being hands free as a parent, while still giving your baby the comfort of being close to you is golden. I absolutely love our Konny carrier as it's simple and comfortable - it has the look and feel of a wrap carrier, but is far easier to use. The main part of the carrier you simply put on like a t-shirt, then you secure bub with an added sash. They have great colours and materials - there's even a mesh one you can wear directly into the water (hello summer swims!). My only advice here is to read the sizing info carefully - it's an Asian brand so they run small. We bought a medium as I was hoping that both my husband Chris and I could wear it, but it was laughable seeing him try to put it on, so now we own two - an XL for hubs and a M for me, which is a tiny bit loose currently but will be perfect when Isabella is a little bigger.
My darling Bec handed a nursing pillow down to me, and I've used it for every single feed. Having your arms supported takes so much pressure off your shoulders, I can't recommend getting one enough. If I ever try a quick feed without the support of this bad boy, I notice right away how much extra pressure my body is under. The one I have is an ErgoBaby - don't bother with anything too 'pillow' like. Soft will mean you have no support, you want it to be firm AF!
These things are the best! They're basically a rectangle pillow with raised edges, to keep baby happy and safe when you put them down. We use ours constantly - the best part is you can move it around - we pop Isabella on the couch, up on the kitchen bench, or on the dining room table in her nest, and all of her day time changes are done in it (we simply use a towel nappy underneath her incase there is mess). While the instagram nests are appealing to the eye, with their earthy tones and promises of linen blends, we did some research and found that most of them are far too small for the money you spend - bub would grow out of it way too fast. We went for a Done By Deer nest and have been really happy with it.
Post natal bleeding - what a bugger. It's a thing though, and from my experience it lasts for quite some time. I am still needing pads 2.5 weeks after giving birth, so I'm really glad I invested in some comfortable ones. The Toms pads are by far the best ones I have tried, they are like a big fluffy cloud, and feel far less plastic-y than most of the competing brands. They're made from organic cotton and are hypoallergenic. Toms also has a great business ethos and are more environmentally friendly than other options - win!
9. The Haaka Lady Bug Milk Collector
Omg - I wish I had started using this little guy sooner! I have been blessed with a great milk supply - which also means I am rather leaky! My left boob is particularly excitable, and I've grown used to feeling gushes of unidentified liquid at all times of the day and night - which always turns out to be 'let down'. It's such a shame to waste this precious milk on my sheets or on yet another drenched crop top - the lady bug catches this milk and you can then easily pour it into a bottle. This 'bonus milk' has been awesome as a top up for our Issy - and there's the added benefit of her daddy being able to feed her. Plus - she's now had the chance to try bottle feeding - which will be handy down the line for when I want to express and (can you imagine) leave the house without her - or give her formula should she need it.
The Lady Bug is amazingly durable - it suctions on to your booby with a surprising strength - I have had it stay on through lying on my side, doing stretches (even downward dog!) and it has never come off. This is probably one of the first things I would buy a friend who is a new mum, along with the Silverettes and the Colostrum Collectors. I was gifted it by one of my oldest friends, and I think of her every time I use it!
This one is probably common knowledge, but just incase you've been stocking up on adorable onesies, without thinking about how you do them up, LISTEN TO ME NOW, MAMA: you want dat zip, gurl.
This is particularly important at night, when you're changing the nappy of a screaming baby (newborns apparently LOATHE being changed, I am promised this stage will pass) - the last thing you want is to be fiddling around with buttons - even clippy ones. A zippy onsie is a non negotiable for Isabella's jammies - we have a few by Bonds that we love.
11. A 'Five Second Swaddle' by Happiest Baby
Hear me out, friends. You don't need a Snoo to enjoy this masterpiece! The Five Second Swaddle makes wrapping your baby up so easy - for new parents who are struggling to get their swaddling skills down pat, this is such a great tool! You simply use the straps to velcro your baby into a secure position, and zip them up! We've found putting Issy in one of these keeps her calm (much like any swaddle would) and she can't escape it as easily.
Isabella had her hearing test in one of these guys, and she didn't wake up once! I can imagine using one of these at bed time would be super handy for new parents - while we use a Snoo that clips into the sides of the bassinet, these Five Second Swaddles don't have the clips and can be used anywhere!
I have left this one for last, as it's the one item on the list that isn't relatively affordable. A Snoo may not be suitable for many of you, and I can 100% appreciate that this tip hence isn't helpful. BUT, if you've been on the fence when it comes to making the investment, all I can say is that IMO, they are truly worth it. The peace of mind I have gotten from knowing Isabella is securely clipped into her bassinet has been a game changer for my sleep. I really struggled with even having her sleep off my chest the first couple of nights of her life, and when we transitioned into a bassinet, I became super paranoid that she would roll onto her face and suffocate. The Snoo's clips mean that bub goes no where while they're asleep, and the gentle rocking and white noise it makes is legitimately like having an extra pair of hands in the room with you.
We haven't found it to be too noisy, but I should say that hubs and I are quite partial to white noise, and addicted to having our pedestal fan on at night. The sleep reports are also really useful when you're starting to learn your baby's sleeping patterns. If you can borrow, rent or buy one, do it!
**For transparency - we had planned to purchase a Snoo but ended up being gifted one as we are working with Happiest Baby for a couple of collaborations - stay tuned as there's an opportunity for one lucky mama to WIN a Snoo coming up. **
I hope this list has been helpful to you, dear mama. The transition into motherhood is one that is truly magical - but it can take a toll on your body. Setting yourself up with tools that are effective and comforting make a huge difference. Let me know how you get on.
All my love,