There are very few things a brand new mother needs, I’ve discovered. I figured this much going into the last few weeks of pregnancy, which is why I didn’t stock up on much of anything. Breast fed newborns require energy, love, milk, diapers, a few sleepers and outfits, but other than those few basic necessities, they don’t need much.
First necessity: A bassinet or co sleeper.
We have Florence in her bassinet right beside our bed. We discovered early on that, although we don’t really have the room to put her beside our bed, we make it work, and move the bassinet every morning so we can use the bedroom as a functional unit again. I find I’m able to cope much easier if I don’t have to get out of bed to feed her. It’s a no brainer, but for a first time mum, there are so many little tips and tricks you have to learn yourself.
Our bassinet is from the Uppa Baby Vista stroller. it’s larger than most, sturdy and made from organic cotton and soybean fiber. She will outgrow it in a few months, or less, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. I also like that we can move it onto the patio, the living room, or wherever we happen to be.
Second (NOT a) necessity, but helpful: A pacifier, binky, dummy.
Now remember, this is my list, and it doesn’t have to be yours. But I’ve discovered my little sucker needs a pacifier to reassure her. My mum bought a nice natural one for her, and I immediatley returned it. “She doesn’t need that yet. And maybe never will, but thanks.” Well. Come evening time, my milk-full, sleepy baby couldn’t get comfy. She fussed and kicked, and yet her eyes were drooping. I promised myself I’ll just try a pacifier the next day. I picked up the Nuk brand orthodontic pacifiers, and found success. There are only a few points during the day that she roots around for it, and I’m happy to give it to her (usually right after a feed, before a nap). I always make sure she doesn’t want to feed first, and obviously, if she just fed and is still rooting, it’s a given that she just wants to sleep and needs a little gum soothing action. She’s discovered her little fists can also soothe, but she’s not quite capable of getting them in her mouth (and probably never will, unless she realizes her fingers will fit!) Dr. Sears doesn’t recommend introducing a pacifier before 6 weeks, but alas, each mother has to make her own decisions. Before I introduced the pacifier, I made sure our breastfeeding relationship was well established, Florence was gaining weight, and that she really did want some extra sucking time. Infants are born with the intense need to suck, and yes, breast is best, but sometimes baby doesn’t want the breast! Because milk comes out (and chokes her…not always the case, but it’s my case!)
Third necessity: A Sleep Sack
We tried swaddling Florence, after our nurse recommended we stop swaddling her…yes, that’s what I said. Apparently swaddling increases the risks of SIDS, because a baby can become too overheated. Anyway, there are countless books out there recommending swaddling, especially for a fussy or gassy baby. So, we spent a good 10 minutes trying to get her into a swaddle wrap, after dressing her in a short-sleeved onesie. She wouldn’t have it. Her arms flailed, she cried. And then, once we got her tightly bound, she came undone 30 minutes later. She’s a tough cookie, and she doesn’t like being bound. A sleep sack is just the solution. It decreases the risks of SIDS, and is much easier to get on and off. We have a Summer sleep sack, and I recently purchased a Halo micro fleece sleep sack for the fall and winter. The sack still keeps their legs somewhat contained, and it’s warm enough with a sleeper. Definitely can’t live without it!
Fourth necessity: A breastfeeding app
I have an iPhone, and found a free app that I can’t stop using. It lets me know what side I last fed on (which is mostly what I use the app for), and for how long. It also tells me when I last fed her, which I can’t ever remember. For the most part, she’s on her own 3 hour schedule, but sometimes 4 hours will slip by, or she’ll want to cluster feed, and I just like knowing how many hours have passed since her last feed. I started with the bracelet system (wear a bracelet on the last side you fed on), but continually forgot to switch the bracelet from wrist to wrist. The app I have is called Baby Nursing, and I think it’s pretty great.
Fifth necessity: A Moby Wrap
As far as newborns go, the only other wonderful invention I’d recommend is the Moby Wrap. I’ve tried a total of three slings and wraps, and finally settled on the Moby Wrap. I was very blessed to have two slings given to me: the first was the ring sling by Sleeping Baby Productions. It was a high quality, beautiful rainbow sling that worked for one day, and then, blame it on postpartum brain/fatigue or Flo’s long legs, just didn’t work out the following day. She would not fit. She cried. She couldn’t get comfortable and neither could I. I was bummed, because I loved the sling, but after many sweaty, bleary eyed attempts, I decided to try the Seven Sling. This also didn’t work. It was too deep, and yet too short for the cradle hold. I don’t know if it’s my extremely long baby, or just my lack of talent, but I couldn’t get this sling to work for me.
Enter the Moby Wrap! I researched online and tried out the Cuddly Wrap at my neighbourhood baby store. It was alright, but the Moby Wrap was a little cheaper, and had a well established name. I am easily sold by products that are popular, I’ll admit. There is often a great a reason for their popularity!
I drove down to Pebble Baby, the only baby store in Vancouver that carries the Moby. I tried it on, and even managed to slip a sleeping Florence into the wrap. She stayed asleep, nestled against my chest, and that’s when I knew, everything would be okay.
You see, I know there is a small window where babywearing is easiest on the back, and creates an intimate bond between baby and mother. I wanted in on this window, and every day that slipped by caused me some anxiety. I wanted to wear my baby, and I wanted to wear her now!
The Moby Wrap has a pretty big learning curve, but nothing I couldn’t manage (which says a lot). The instructions are simple and clear, and all it takes is some elbow grease and determination. Once you figure out how to wrap it (it’s actually really easy—I say this now), and slip your baby inside, you’re good to go. There are multiple ways to carry a baby, but just a few for newborns. Currently I have Florence in the Newborn Hug Hold, and she loves it. She falls asleep almost immediatley. The only issue I have is her long legs. She will suddenly cry out, and I’m not sure why. I know newborns do this on occasion while in REM sleep, but I feel like perhaps her long legs are a bit too squished when I’m sitting down. They are tucked in the fetal position, but I have a feeling we’ll be moving on to the Kangaroo Wrap and Hold fairly soon.
To read more about the wonderful benefits of babywearing, click here!