Oh wonderful knowledgable internet how you lead me astray. This happens much too frequently and yet I never seem to learn. As a first time mama there were (and still are) so many questions and so many things unknown. Ultimately these are mostly things that we all need to learn for ourselves. People can tell you a stroller is essential and people can tell you that strollers are a luxury, but until you have a baby for yourself, you won’t really know which applies to you. (Hence I say WAIT until you have said baby before purchasing a stroller).
So whilst I’m not very useful for much right now except as a source of nourishment and fulltime carer for this beautiful wee bird we have produced – I feel compelled to share my 2 cents and cast it into the abyss of the internet. This is speaking from our experience – it’s not gospel. Presenting….
What do I really need for the first month of my newborn baby’s life?
In other words: The No-Bullshit List of Stuff for Baby’s First Month.
- A car seat/capsule. (Get this about 2 weeks before your due date so you are ready. We hired ours for $150 NZD for 6 months from BabyOnTheMove.co.nz)
- Something for baby to sleep in. A bassinet perhaps. We have a Cariboo Gentle Motions Bassinet. We got it secondhand on TradeMe and it’s in great condition. But it’s quite big and will only last about 5 months. Second time round I think I’d opt for something much smaller – maybe a moses basket with a stand.
- Some baby clothes. You don’t need many because people buy you LOTS. See below for more on what clothes to get.
- Diapers/nappies. We plan on using reusable diapers when Mika is a bit bigger (maybe a month old). But when she is so tiny it’s a lot easier to have a box or two of newborn sized disposables. We used Huggies Newborn Diapers and they are quite amazingly easy to use.
- Breast pads (See below under ‘will my boobs leak?’)
- Baby wipes (We bought some unscented ones from the supermarket. But for the first three days we used damp sheets of bamboo liner)
- Change mats (We bought disposable ones. But I also have a reusable one that I keep in my bag for outings).
- Nursing bra(s). Oh wonderful nursing bras. I love mine. I got them for $60 each from Hot Milk Lingerie and they’re hot. I only have two, but because I have such wonderful breast pads (see below) and because I do laundry most days, it’s really all I need.
- Swaddles. Huh? Yeah – this is a big bit of cloth that you can use to wrap baby up mega tight. It is essential, trust me. It keeps them from waking themselves up and helps them sleep for longer. We use old fashioned cloth nappies sometimes, but she’s quickly getting too big for them. Our favourite are the organic cotton wraps from Nature Baby. The stretchier the material the better!
Really nice to haves and but not essential
- Change table (We have a little detachable thing that can fit over Mika’s bassinet. It’s great cause we can move it upstairs during the day and she can kick around on it. Not essential though, just handy. Seriously, babies can be changed on any flat surface so long as you have some kind of change mat under them)
- A disposal unit for dirty disposable diapers. Holy moly this thing is wonderful. Sure, we could take each diaper out to the trash each time we change her but who wants to do that? Not I. This thing can stay in our room and hold about a weeks worth of diapers without smelling AT ALL. Magical. Wonderful. Not essential, but very awesome.
- Baby carrier. We have two. We have a Baby Bjorn Carrier and a Nature Baby Sling. At first she was a little small for the Baby Bjorn which is why we purchased the sling – but now I love the sling so much that I tend to use the sling and Ivan uses the Baby Bjorn. Both are so wonderful for getting her to sleep and having our hands free to do whatever!
- Pacifier/dummy. We bought one when she was about 2 weeks old. She doesn’t really like it – but sometimes she takes it and it soothes her and it’s bliss.
- A stroller/pram. We were kindly lent one from Ivan’s boss at work, but for the first month or so we wouldn’t even consider getting the thing out. If I’m with Ivan he can carry her in the baby capsule or in our Baby Bjorn carrier. If I’m on my own I put her in my sling. She’s so little and easy to carry, why not?
- Breast feeding chair. I bought a Sally Chair from TradeMe for $70. It’s comfy, sure, but breastfeeding is pretty comfy anywhere (in my experience). I love feeding her in bed – I just prop up some pillows behind my head and she sucks away quite contently. During the day I lean back on the couch and it’s just as easy. If you’re wondering whether or not to buy that chair – hold off.
- Baby monitor. Huh? Sorry, these things are the epitome of strange. We haven’t seen the need for one yet and I’ll let you know if we ever do. I wonder how our ancestors survived without them? BTW – Mika sleeps in our room with her bassinet within reach from our bed.
- Breast pumps. I have a lot of milk. They actually call it an ‘oversupply’ of breast milk. Sounds like a nice problem to have, but poor Mika gets drowned in the stuff and has some sore tummy issues as a result. I wondered if I should pump the milk into bottles and feed her that way instead. Do you KNOW how expensive breast pumps are? My midwife laughs at them and explains that I will get more full and more sore if I express my milk. I’m happy to take her advice here and save us the cost. Sure it’d be nice for Ivan to get up in the night and feed her from a bottle, but realistically my boobs will still swell up and I’ll wake up every 3 hours anyway expecting to feed her. Suck it up man, you already did 9 months, what’s another 9 months or so of being everything she needs?
- Diaper Bag. In the first month all she needs if we go out is a couple diapers, a change mat and some wipes. I also keep a spare change of clothes for her and me in the car, just in case. This does not require a mega expensive designer diaper bag!! I’m sure that as Mika grows, so will her potential needs for a daily outing – but until that day comes we will save our pennys. But I’m not gonna lie – both Ivan and I have been eyeing up some awesome bags to meet this not-too-far-in-the-future need.
And here are a few questions that I kinda wish I’d had a solid answer to prior to Mika’s arrival. But inevitably it will be different for everyone. Anyway – here’s my experience:
How many clothes do I need for my newborn baby?
NOT MANY. I was so worried that we would need at least 3 outfits per day (as many a google search informed me) due to messy poos and spews. But Mika doesn’t spew and her poos are well-contained. As a must-have list for us this includes:
- 3 singlets / tank tops
- 2 pairs of pants
- 4 body suits (a couple short sleeved, a couple long sleeved)
- A ‘sleep sack’
- A full body suit (long arms and long legs)
- 2 pairs of socks
- A couple pairs of mittens (we only used these for about 5 days though)
- A very woolly hat
- A not so woolly hat
Get everything pretty damn small. Mika was only 6 pounds 14 and now 3 weeks on she is about 8.5 pounds and she still fits the smallest newborn size clothing. People will bring you clothes. It is inevitable. And they will also most likely bring clothes that your baby will fit in about 3-6 months. So the only clothes you need to buy are the really small ones for the first couple months. Trust me! (And if I’m wrong and your baby is gigantic then you can send a family member/partner/friend to grab something in a size bigger).
Will my boobs leak?
Mine did. Oh wait – leak? No…they didn’t leak. They POURED. And I had bought these stupid awful natural organic cotton breast pads that honestly did nothing but stick to my sore nipples and let milk pass through THREE LAYERS and pour down my chest. Worst $30 spent ever. (Well… that’s a bit hasty, but I have no time to rack my brain for a $30 spent worse).
So on remembering something I overheard about wool breast pads that do amazing things for nipples, I sent Ivan off on ‘Mission: FIND BETTER BREAST PADS’. He came back with these. Yup, Lanowool breast pads DO feel a million times better than cotton ones. They kept my boobs feeling kinda cool and they never stuck to my nipples. But my boobs still leaked through 3 layers of them. Not cool. And at $20 for two pads it wasn’t overly cheap either. By now, I was feeling as though I would be doomed to stay within the confines of my home for the duration of baby’s breastfeeding life (1 year?!).
Again, Ivan came to the rescue with a quick google search and a trip to the supermarket. He came home with these. Disposable breast pads are WORTH IT. $13 for 24 pads and my boob milk hasn’t leaked onto my clothing yet. It actually kinda turns the milk into gel and stops it going any further – genius.
So $70 later and many a soaked bra and t-shirt, I offer this advice: Buy disposable breast pads.
Does breastfeeding hurt?
To begin with – yup. It felt like the wee thing had razerblades for a tongue and was carving some serious damage on my poor unsuspecting nipples. They had no idea it was gonna feel this bad. And now it bothers me that I no longer feel this pain because my nipples must be SO damn numb. NIPPLES OF STEEL. So yep, the pain subsided after about 3-4 days of feeding.
And now breastfeeding feels like relief. When I don’t feed, my boobs swell up like inflatable rocks and they throb and cry ’empty meeeeee’ and when Mika latches on with such determination and fury (she actually makes gobbling sounds as she lunges for the nipple) I can relax and breathe and my boob says ‘thank you Mika that feels SO much better’. (Yeah, sleep deprivation leads to talking boobs).
That is all for now.