My Favorite Newborn + Postpartum Must-Haves!

1:41 PM

We survived the infamous first 6 weeks and are fast approaching the 2 month mark -- Woo! Experiencing parenthood with a newborn (especially the first time) is a roller coaster, lemme tell ya. It's one of those things that if someone told you what all it involves beforehand you would think you were completely incapable...but then day in and day out, by the grace of God, YOU DO IT! πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸŽ‰
Ella has really been a relatively easy baby (and we're SO thankful!) but these early days can't truly be defined as "easy."πŸ˜‰ However! I wanted to make a list of things that I feel made/are making it easier for us! Several of these things I saw on other new mamas "must-have" lists while I was pregnant (yay for them sharing!) so I'm hoping that this will be a helpful resource to someone too. πŸ˜Š

Alright! Let's get down to business! (to DEFEAT...the HU--yeah ok, you get it....) πŸ™ˆ
For Baby:
I cannot say enough good about this adorable product! I have the Boppy Nursing pillow as well that was helpful for the first week as I got accustomed to holding her properly but this little guy is a wonderful thing to have around! Babies that are freshborn often prefer to sleep curled up like they were in the womb and this is the perfect pillow to allow them to do that! It also has been really nice to have a place to set her down where she will be comfortable but also laying at an angle that we can see her face when she's sleeping. You will also find that you can't really safely put a newborn down anywhere because they can't control their movements very much. And holding them 24/7 (though insanely fun) is not always practical. Ella napped beautifully in this for the first several weeks and now it's just a great place to let her sit (at a mild incline so not harmful to her spine!) to look around now that she's focusing on things better. :)

 2.) Wipe Warmer
I can hear the naysayers now, "Oh here we go with the first time mom luxury items. Get over yourself and wipe that kid with a cold wipe!" While a wipe is a wipe is a wipe, I have found that Ella very rarely cries during a diaper change at home (where her wipes are luscious and warm) as opposed to her almost always fussing during a diaper change abroad (with Arctic tundra wipes.)  I know this probably doesn't seem like a necessity but making your baby comfortable (and crying less!) is always a plus in my book. This particular one is great too because its anti-microbial! Its always wet and warm in there and yet never molds. Score! I find it especially nice for a fall/winter baby. 
It came as no surprise to me that one of the funnest parts of parenting a tiny human is the tiny clothes. Putting together outfits is always a joyful adventure but the truth is, when they're so little zippered pajamas are SO much more convenient! I underestimated how difficult it would be to get her tiny self into clothes. Though it feels like dressing up a doll, a newborn's floppy limbs that randomly tense up in opposite directions and their general dislike of being pushed and prodded unnaturally makes things a lot harder than your old childhood pastime. Furthermore, your head will spin when you realize how often you have to change diapers...and you'll be shocked by how much your baby will sleep during the day! Because of these factors, having them in something easy-to-get-on, soft, comfortable, and warm is great. And because they're so cute, it totally suffices for a cute outfit to take them out in. But without the hassle of "Did one of her socks fall off? Are those pants too big? Do you think that shirt is warm enough?" P.S. They don't have to be from Carters, of course. I just like how Carters is affordable and has such cute designs...and you can find them in so many stores! P.P.S. Babies tend to scratch their face and put their hands in their mouth. And germy outsiders who mean well, ignorantly tend to touch babies hands. So bonus points if you get ones that cover their hands as well! Problem solved! Here's my favorite one of Ella's. πŸ’•
This is gonna sound like another extravagant item to some I'm sure, but I have really appreciated this one! Ella was severely jaundiced in her first two weeks so she lost way down below her It was scary! At her one week check-up she had already lost a full pound and later in the week at another check-up she had only gained an ounce. The pediatrician assured me if I kept feeding her often and treated her for the jaundice, she would recover and start gaining. But I certainly didn't want to wait until her one or two month check-up to learn if that was working! Thus, this product. As a breastfeeding mom who can't know just how many ounces my baby is getting at each feeding, it is such a relief to see her weight going up throughout the week. I know some will say "You'll know she's'll be able to tell!" This is true...but I certainly didn't know she had lost so much weight in the beginning until I saw the numbers on the scale. You might not be able to see a big difference in them physically because we're talking about a matter of ounces, but ounces matter when you're talking about someone who only weighs a handful of pounds! Anyways, this is a favorite item of mine to put my mind at ease in between check-ups...and its also super fun to watch your baby's weight go up day to day! I also like that this converts to a toddler scale so I'll be using it for awhile. 
If Ella could write poetry, I'm almost positive she would write an affectionate ode to this swing. It's funny because in the beginning she seemed like she could totally take it or leave it and would only swing in it for a few minutes before getting antsy. Trevor, of course, gave me "a look" when he saw this because he had questioned owning it from the start. It isn't the smallest item in her nursery by any means so if it was a very occasional resource, that'd be a bummer. She went through this stage (for a good solid 3 weeks!) where she would exclusively calm down and or nap when I was holding her. It was exhausting because I am also her only food source (basically I was holding her all day and all night and she would start crying if she was with anyone else.) But! Then one day she was fighting sleep pretty severely and I had to do something without her in my arms. I wrapped her up in a blanket, set her in the swing, turned it on high and exclaimed, "I know you're not gonna like this but I will be right back in here!" I ran in the other room to get or do what I needed and rushed back only to find her laying there silently, going from side to side. "Hmmm, interesting." I thought to myself as I sat down in my rocking chair on the other side of the nursery. She didn't look thrilled as she went back and forth. In fact, it looked like she was glaring at me from across the room. πŸ˜‚ But lo and behold, thirty minutes later she was sound asleep. Without me! (This was very bittersweet.) I thought it might've been a fluke until I put her in it the next day and, in minutes, she was snoozing! The rest is history...if we have trouble calming her down now, the swing is the first thing we try...and often it works its charms quickly and we have the happiest (sleepiest) little girl in minutes or even seconds! Positive features: There are different swinging positions so they can rock side to side or front to back which is nice since different babies prefer different directions. It plays soft music or white noise type sounds if you find that helps calm your baby. It has a mirror and mobile on the top...Ella just focused on hers for the first time the other day and we were so excited! She's growing up!

Because I'm breastfeeding I was very hesitant to try the pacifier route. I knew I wanted to wait at least until the recommended 4-5 weeks to try and I'm so glad I did! When she was put back in the hospital for jaundice, they gave her a paci to keep her "calm" while under the blue light. She was right at a week old and we had had no latching or nursing problems whatsoever. But, blame it on the stress of being in the hospital environment or what, but she had a horrible time nursing while we were there! Her latch was bad, she seemed disinterested, and was fussy like she wasn't getting full. They even sent in a lactation consultant because they noticed I was having a hard time. I assured her that this was so out of character compared to how Ella had done in the days prior. She glanced over at the paci in her hospital bassinet and said "That's probably your issue." Thankfully we didn't have any lasting problems once we came home but I definitely wanted to hold off on the paci until I knew for certain that she had nursing down pat. Super glad I made that decision, but also super glad we chose to introduce her to paci eventually. It has been a big help when we know she's not hungry -- just wanting comfort. It's amazing how a baby would just nurse 24/7 if they could depending on their different needs. (Hunger, in need of comfort, sleepy...) Having the paci for some of the in between times has been a life saver. Especially for car rides or for other people trying to get her to sleep instead of me. I have found that this kind, compared to others we've tried, causes little to no "latch confusion" for her when it comes to feeding. 

This dude was recommended to me by a good friend who said they much preferred it to your standard Diaper Genie and the like. One of the coolest perks is you don't have to use the brand specific refill bags like with other diaper pails. It is made to be compatible with any kind of liner or trash bag...cheaper and much more convenient! This is easy to use, keeps in odors, and makes dealing with hundreds of diapers a month not seem so bad. It doesn't hurt that it's cute...especially since we were given a pink one. πŸ˜‰ 
 8.) Boppy Carseat Insert
These seem to make her carseat experience a lot more comfortable and it makes me feel better that it's helping keep her from getting a flat spot on the back of her head. It's also nice that they're removable so you can use them anywhere you lay your baby head down for an extended period of time (like an activity mat.)

For Mama: 
1.) Milkies Milk Saver
While Ella gets to work on her ode for the Puppy Swing, I'll start writing one for this wonderful product. Breastfeeding is a strange, confusing, fascinating, surprising phenomenon. I never would've imagined all that it involves! Or how quickly it becomes your life after you have a baby. One thing that I had heard could happen was leaking from one side while you're feeding on the other. My sister saw a Facebook video ad for this thing and said I should register for it. Since I followed anyone and everyone's advice about what to put on the registry (better safe than sorry, right?) I quickly added it. Never could I have imagined how much this would come in handy! Once I actually experienced what "leaking on one side while you're feeding on the other" is like I was frantically looking for this in the pile of all my baby shower gifts. Leaking is not a pretty thing and once it starts, it takes no prisoners. I figured I would just be sparing my nursing bra and shirt from destruction...I mean, it's like a leaky faucet so we're talking a few drops per feeding, right? WRONG. 30 minutes later when Ella finished eating I pulled the Milkies out of my bra and my jaw dropped. That rubbery piece of brilliance had collected almost 3oz. of milk! Once again, ounces are such minuscule little measurement in a common person's daily life but amongst breastfeeding moms it might as well be a gallon -- a ton, even! 3oz. just wastefully pouring down my clothes or sopped up in a cotton nursing pad? No thanks! Yay Milkies! (And yay for collecting some milk without the hassle of pumping!) 
2.) Kiinde Breastmilk Storage Kit
Speaking of collecting milk, you're gonna need a way to store it, right? This kit has been so nice to have! I love that the bags have screw-top lids instead of just sealing like Ziplocs because you can actually screw a bottle top onto them and feed right from the bag! It's very user friendly and comes with a defroster (that I haven't used yet. I'll update you when I have!) It's also compatible with almost any kind of pump you can think of so for those of you who pump, this is a huge plus!

3.) Baby Nursing App
Oh man. This also deserves a mighty eloquent ode for sure.  I found it randomly when Ella was two or three days old (and my brain was thoroughly mush) because I wanted something to keep up with how long she was eating and which side I had finished on the previous feeding. I had been trying to set a stopwatch on my phone, jotting down on a piece of paper, using sheer memory...yeah. Trainwreck. But then this jewel was discovered! *sheen, sparkle, sparkle* It didn't take me long to realize it was incredibly valuable. For nursing, all I have to do is hit the "L" or "R" depending on what side she's on and it automatically starts a timer! Then I click stop when she's finished. The feedings are all logged together and averaged for me to see when she's cluster feeding or if her eating habits are changing in anyway. But it doesn't stop there! It also has a section to track height, weight, and head circumference. And a timer for pumping if you pump! And a tracker for bottle feeding if you're doing that! And a sleep tracker to help with sleep scheduling when they're older! And a chart to keep up with solids when they start eating those! And a timer/chart for bath time! And a chart to log doctor visits, medication, and vaccinations when those come along! AND a place to chart diapers! Besides the nursing feature, the diaper log has been the most helpful. Now hear me out...before I had Ella I probably would've questioned the necessity of tracking wet and dirty diapers. And I certainly would've been grossed out at the thought of *pauses to scrunch nose in disgust* photographing them. BUT! This feature was incredibly useful and needed when she was first born. First with the jaundice, her dirty diapers were not the color they should be. And even after her billirubin numbers started to improve, she was still having dark dark dirty diapers. (Sounds gross but as a new mom it's scary and heartbreaking knowing something is up health-wise with your itty bitty!) By taking pictures of the diapers (that are saved only in the app! so your actual photo album isn't clogged -- pardon the pun -- with poopy pictures!) I was able to show them to the pediatrician rather than just trying to describe them. (Believe me, you never realize how many questions there are to answer about poop until you become a parent.) He was able to quickly identify that I was feeding her too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk. He suggested encouraging her to feed twice on a side before switching to the other side to make sure she was getting the richest milk. Within a few days her diapers started yellow-ing up! πŸŽ‰ Trust me, this app is essential in EASILY and EFFICIENTLY keeping up with all the things that your pediatrician will ask you!

4.) Tight Camis
These were a plus for me in several ways. First off, postpartum pudge is life. It's not just normal, it's inevitable. You had an entire human in your abdomen for crying out loud! (Maybe even more than one! *looking at you heroic moms of multiples*) Despite the "okayness" of this remaining soft, loose bread dough belly it can be frustrating knowing what to *do* with it. Wearing your maternity clothes can make you still feel and look pregnant and this can be a serious bummer (especially when dealing with all those crazy postpartum hormones.) You've been waiting 9 months to feel like yourself again and you definitely do not like you thought you would when that baby comes out. Maybe its the contrast of going from having a tight round belly to empty's a strange feeling! Another issue I dealt with was mild diastsis recti (separation of the ab muscles.) Because of this (and just the soreness from pushing a baby out. ha.) my core felt completely a time when I kinda needed it a lot. Can't change diapers or feed a baby or pick up that baby (or even pick up a blanket really!) without functioning core muscles. Having something that held my middle in tightly really helped with this. It probably didn't hold my abs together as efficiently as a legit belly binder girdle type thing would have but it was a cheaper, less bulky, more normal option that I appreciated. New motherhood is a stark contrast between desperately trying to find your old normal and slowly accepting a new normal. Gotta help both emotions out when you can! The third reason these have been great is because I do the double shirt nursing method. (Having a tight cami isn't essential for this but because I'm wearing them for the other reasons, it works.) The basic rundown of what that is: you wear a cami/tank top under any shirt and when it comes time to nurse your baby, you pull the cami down and the over-shirt up just enough for baby to latch on. No judgement on anyone who nurses differently but this, for me, has felt like the most discreet way to nurse Ella anywhere. I have even nursed in front of my uncle this way (who is typically very uncomfortable being around nursing mamas! some people just are!) and he later said he had no idea I had been feeding her! Score! I have tried using a nursing cover once and it immediately felt bulky, cumbersome, and like I was wearing a huge neon sign letting the world know I was dealing with my breast. Yikes! Kudos to all you mamas who are able to do that swiftly and gracefully because I am certainly not one of them. I'm also not totally comfortable with nursing without any attempt at coverage at all so the two shirt method is perfect for me. And it didn't take long to master which was a huge confidence boost. I live for the moments when people are shocked to discover I had nursed right in front of them and they never knew. *fist pump*
For reference, this was the day before I had Ella vs. the day after

And this is 4 days postpartum! It felt so good to be "contained." 

The only picture I have of myself nursing with the two shirt method. It was while she was in the hospital getting phototherapy for her severe jaundice so the bluelight is what is making this picture look wonky. But maybe you can shirt goes all the way to her face and you can't see any of me! 

I have to admit I have been admiring Solly Wraps since long before I got pregnant. In fact, one of my first thoughts when I found out I was a mom was, "I get to carry my baby in a Solly!" (Such a nerd, I know.) A kind friend gave me a black one and I recently purchased the wrap that Solly collaborated with Rifle Paper Co. on. I am an absolute Rifle fanatic (Ella's nursery is basically Rifle themed!) so when I saw that this wrap existed I knew it wouldn't hurt to have it along with my black one. Two is better than one, right? Anywho! This takes a little practice getting it positioned correctly and tightly but I have really enjoyed every time I've carried her in it. Feeling her close and being able to still walk around and use both hands is a plus and she almost always drifts right off to sleep in it so it's a huge score for when naptime is a struggle! And I love the stretchy, jersey knit, t-shirt type material it's made of. It's breathable and super comfy! 
P.S. Daddies can be baby wearers too.

6.) Always Discreet Underwear
Aaaand ending on a hashtag keeping it really real note: these guys. I had already been warned that postpartum involved mesh panties and life raft sized pads so I felt prepared for the unglamorous days ahead. But then! I saw Depends on a friend's "Hospital Bag for Birth" list and was intrigued. (It's quite a day when you're excited about the possibility of wearing disposable underwear because it appears to be a better option than what you were prepared for.) Then when my mom and I went shopping for my hospital bag supplies we found these from Always next to the Depends and I was even more stoked. (The pitifulness continues...) I have long preferred Always' period products so this felt comforting and familiar to buy such a product with their name on it. (It's amazing how much more it made me feel like I was just a young woman shopping for my period rather than buying diapers intended for the elderly which is what my mind associated with the brand name Depends! It's the little things!)  Suffice it to say, if you're pregnant or have just given birth -- you already know, either by reading or starting to experience it -- postpartum will not be the most dignified time in your life. Bleeding for the first time in 9 months along with shocking and embarrassing struggles with incontinence...all while caring for an infant! Though it's a tough truth, it's life (and being her mama is worth it all!!) and I feel like these are easier to manage than ginormous pads...especially in the beginning! They aren't uncomfortable and they don't feel bulky under clothes and they also have a low-rise option that is great for wearing jeans! Anways....*insert Forrest Gump's "And that's all I have to say about that."*

In Conclusion!
Wow! I got exceedingly more longwinded about all of these than I intended to but I hope some of my rambling proves to be helpful for at least one new mama out there in the crowd! My final bit of advice for the day? You are doing this, girl! You are making it! And if you feel like you're just barely getting by, DON'T REFUSE HELP! Just don't do it! It won't stunt your ability to pick things up on your own. You don't have to tough it out and figure it out on your own. Those veterans that want to give you a hand? It's because someone gave them a hand way back when. Also, postpartum hormones and emotions are REAL (and crazy, exhausting, horrible, evil, etc.) Don't keep that yuckiness to yourself. Talk to whoever will listen: the Lord, your husband, your mom, your best friend, the cashier at Wal-mart. Get it OUT of you! We're all in this mama thing together and though you may be bombarded with ridiculous "mom guilt" along the way, you've joined a pretty welcoming group over all. And keep snuggling that baby! Don't underestimate the incredible power of that newborn smell and softness. Also, remember when Christ said "Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest?" Number one: Christ's promises are true and He never breaks them. Number two: A new parent is hyper qualified to be called "weary and heavy laden" so, yay! This promise definitely applies to you! Keep coming to Him and...

Enjoy those babies, friends!

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  1. I laughed so hard at your funny inserts! And I loved every bit of information you gave! I'm not a mom quite yet, but I REALLY am looking forward to it, and want to soak up every bit of information as I possibly can! I started babysitting when I was 11, and then became full time by the time I was 14. The plus side of being a baby sitter is you don't have to deal with post-baby body life, and you can go home when you're tired. But I always longed for having my own baby and experiencing all the things I wasn't able to experience! I love your posts on all of your social media! Little Ella is such a doll! I'm so excited for you and Trevor! Keep looking to our Savior and don't stop posting!

    -A not yet mom. But a sister in Christ.

  2. Thank you for sharing! I've had 2 babies and didn't know about several things on this list! Your girl is beautiful! ��