Phew. It’s so hard to believe that it’s been
6 weeks 7 weeks 3 months 4 1/2 months (OMG, how?!) since our little guy has made his arrival.
And, truth: the thing I am most proud of in the last 4 1/2 months have been: taking care of myself, my body, my mind, my spirit, my family and my beautiful baby boy. I’m proud of eating well. Proud of re-balancing my hormones naturally. Proud of asking for help. Proud of my body and what’s it done. Proud of learning how to be a beginner at something (in a big way- ha).
One thing is for sure: having a baby is a huge life transition. And like any big transition, it can be a steep learning curve. You can get all the advice, read all the books and blogs in the world, but at the end of the day, every baby and family is so different. You have to learn how to tune in, and find what’s gonna work best for you.
So much so that I hesitated even writing this post. Like it’s even more advice being added to the mix.
But after talking to so many mamas- new and seasoned, or those that want to be in the future, there is so much richness in sharing our stories. About what has worked, and what hasn’t. And how we’re keeping things together, balancing a lot of things that are all important. Or at least trying our best to each day 🙂
So while I’m still very much figuring things out over here too, I wanted to capture all the things that HAVE helped, the things I wish I knew about earlier, the game-changers and life-savers, and a collection of my favorite things: ranging from actual baby things and tools, to healing after birth, to self-care, etc.
And after going at this new mom thing for the last couple
weeks months (ha), I also know that I’ve gotten so much wisdom and help and ideas from THE MOM CLUB (the secret underground network of mamas that I didn’t even know was a thing: texting you just to check in, or when they’d dropped off some food/a baby swing/front packs/wrap carriers to try out without you asking, sending amazon links to the secret things that you didn’t even know you needed (more on this below), asking the right questions and just giving you emotional fist pumps).
When I talked about this being one of the biggest surprises of motherhood on my post on instagram, someone commented it’s like, when you’re a mom and you see a new mom walking down the street, you lock eyes and without a word are saying: Yasss sister. You got this thing. Mad props. I see you and I get you, and you are KILLING IT right now.
It’s so true.
So, in hopes that this post can serve as a little dose of that. Because I know that I wished that there were more baby favs (aka necessities) and a master list IN ONE SPOT, from someone I trusted and felt similar to in age, style & vibe, so here we go: all the things that have helped me these last few months making the transition to a new mama with more grace and joy instead of stress and pure exhaustion.
Tools: (to make sure you are eating well & nourishing your sweet body):
Daily Harvest: I had heard of these before, but truthfully, making my own smoothies has never been something that’s overwhelming to me. But, now with just one hand, I totally see the appeal. These are pre-made smoothie cups you keep in the freezer and just dump in the blender and add your own milk or water to blend. I love that this enables me to always have something nourishing and good in the house, even if I haven’t ordered groceries or we hadn’t had a meal brought to us by friends. Plus, I actually approve of all of their ingredients, which is just so rare: it’s all actually clean & great, not just great marketing.
Check them out here and extra bonus: get your 1st 3 cups free with the code “simplyrealhealth” at checkout!
Thrive Market: if you’ve never heard of it, this is like a online Costco for clean groceries, pantry staples, household & beauty products. I’ve been using them to order pantry essentials/have a well stocked pantry to throw stuff in the crockpot/instapot and it shows up at my door. This not only saves time at the grocery store if I get the chance to go, but I also get better wholesale prices on the stuff we use all the time, with free shipping if it’s over $25. And no more lifting heavy bags with cans of tomatoes or chicken stock (because, hello, my hands are full anyways with that new carseat life). Also they have a app which makes it so great to add stuff to my cart as I think of it and order all at once when I’m ready. The best part? For every yearly membership they get, they give one to a family in need.
Instacart: as someone who loves loves going to the grocery store, the first time I used instacart was when I was pregnant and so so sick, but had a cookbook photoshoot the next day. Within a few clicks I had ordered all my ingredients from PCC and it arrived on my doorstep a few hours later. Aka, magic. And in the early weeks of having a babe, leaving to go to the grocery store just wasn’t up there on my list of priorities. Aka, I had more important things like TAKE A SHOWER or get dressed if I had 15 mins to spare, instead of getting packed up, driving to the store, getting him settled in the stroller, shopping and doing it all over again to go home. So, I’ve been ordering our weekly produce and good quality meat and basics from PCC or Whole Foods, and getting the pantry staple stuff from Thrive and it’s been working great. 4 month update: I went ahead and signed up for the yearly Instacart membership (around $100) for free shipping and delivery on every order = so freaking amazing. It’s like a Amazon prime membership for food delivery. SO worth it. I use it weekly, and have been pairing it with my quick weekly menus in my Easy Dinner Meal Plan for 5 minutes and DONE with my grocery shopping.
Meal Train: having a friend set this up and send it out a few weeks after Noah was born has been amazing: 1) to have some homemade meals to eat, but 2) to help coordinate all the visitors. I had a strict rule of no more than 1 set of guests a day, and this has helped me to schedule that. Because I’m sure people are terrified to cook for me, I could make notes like any recipe from the cookbook was great, and list out a few of our favorite to-go options (WF gift cards, the local taco truck, Evergreens salad, grass-fed burger spot, gf pizza spots, etc) if people would rather pick something up.
The Instapot: Ok. I finally caved 🤦🏻♀️. Sometimes I do this thing where if people are so obsessed with something, I automatically resist it and am super skeptical. I’m not a bandwagon kinda gal ya know? Being antidiet also makes me anti- trend sometimes. But sometimes—- it’s dumb I do it. Take essential oils, for example. I resisted for sooooo long and now it’s truly one of my favorite parts of the day. Like, there’s a reason people are obsessed.
Next up? The INSTAPOT. As a pretty extreme kitchen minimalist, one more gadget just wasn’t appealing to me. And I have a crockpot. And they’re confusing to figure out. B.U.T. Lentil soup in 15 minutes? Split pea from the cookbook in 30 (plus warm up time)? Not needing to plan 6-8 hours ahead for a hands off meal? The ability to turn pantry staples into a meal in 30? And pressure cooking making beans and grains way easier and healthier for our bodies to digest? Also,#momlife and efficiency and still wanting to eat all real food, made me cave. I’m SUCH a newbie at it, and am still trying to figure it out, and I hate to admit it….. but I think it’s kinda game-changing.
The Easy Dinner Meal Plan (or full Spring Meal Plan): My big goal, always: to eat well even when life is a little crazy. Especially when you are NURSING AND STARVING most of the time. Because when you’re able do that, everything else in life gets easier. So, it’s been far from fancy or perfect these days, but after the past few months testing and trying meals out with the goal of being even MORE efficient than usual, I came up with a flexible little framework that’s totally been working like a miracle for us over here. So I started frantically taking notes. Making scribbles. Testing it out for a few months, just to make sure. So from my kitchen to yours, I put together the exact meals and dinners we’re been making here lately (I say “WE” because sometimes it’s my directing from the couch as I feed- ha).
Post Birth Healing Supplies for the Newborn Mama:
Ok, so this is going to sound so obvious, but childbirth is no joke my friends.
I had heard about items that were helpful for recovery but I don’t think I realized that you end up using this stuff for sometimes 8-10 full weeks after– it’s not just the first few days or week. You’re healing from a big body trauma, and I just didn’t realize how long it takes.
I know I’ve mentioned it before but reading the book The First 40 Days was so so inspiring to me (along with my amazing doula, Katie) to really just chill and actually take the healing process seriously, as well as the importance of setting up help and support from family and friends. As much as the baby needs to be cared for, there needs to be people and food in place to do the same for the new mama. I didn’t realize how physically I felt things, and for weeks and weeks after.
As my doula described, the size of your placenta is the size of the wound that’s inside your body that needs to heal. As someone that’s kind of a busy-body and loves being active as much as possible, this was hard to wrap my head around. But once I was home, I saw how important it would be.
Here are the things I could not imagine living without the first 8 weeks especially, personal care wise:
Placenta encapsulation: this is a heated debate topic, but it’s something that I decided felt right for me, especially reading about all the benefits it could provide: a natural balancing of hormones after birth, mood stabilization, blood energizing and nutrients to help in that post-birth life.
While there are no scientific studies that say or prove this per say, most women I’ve talked to report feeling so much better postpartum by encapsulating their placenta and taking it in pill form, warding off postpartum depression and anxiety. In my mind, I thought why not… especially with a great rec to a women who did it locally from my doula. I, of course had the initial week or so of just pure hormonal EMOTION: happy tears gone wild, but with starting to take my placenta capsules that next week, I felt pretty great and stabilized on the emotion and all the feelings front. And have since. I’d do it again for sure. But as with all things, do your own research and see what feels best to you.
Natural pads/underwear situation: for the first week I def wore the giant diapers from the hospital, filled with ice packs and witch hazel pads and their mesh underwear (I wish I grabbed a few more pairs of these). Maybe even 2 weeks, without the icepacks in week 2. Everyone told me to get diapers (depends silhouettes), so I ordered them but never could get myself to use them. From there I switched to natural pads & boy shorts…. for weeks after. I tried a few different brands and ultimately loved Whole Foods brand overnight maxi pads and then this brand for the later weeks.
Earth Mama Nipple Butter: just get it
Earth Mama Perineal Spray: just get it
Primally Pure Baby Balm: another great option to have around for a multitude of things these first few months. Also so great for mama too. Use the code “simplyrealhealth” for all things Primally Pure at checkout to save you $!
Milkmaid Tea: so helpful in the first few weeks as my milk started to come in. Yup… it took my body like 2 weeks for it to fully come in, so this tea nightly was a must! Plus I loved the taste with a little honey.
Underwear: sized up, and not even needed until week 3 or 4 at least, because #meshunderwearlife
Mattress Cover: nursing, babies, healing bodies, you know. There’s a lot of liquids going on, so just to be safe.
Motherhood Maternity Nursing Tanks: my personal favs, with a built in shelf bra. Someone told me to get cheap amazon brand nursing tanks, but I disagree– you don’t want anything scratchy, you want something that will stand up to lots of washes and still feel soft, or to have to wear any more layers than you need to.
Sweats: Alternative Apparel (from Nordstrom Rack) makes my favorites one, as does Target. Extra cozy is necessary.
Grippy socks: helpful for wood floors/stair situations when carrying a little one and/or for grandparents or family members carrying them around the first few months.
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy: I cannot recommend this enough. If you have insurance that covers it, just GO. There are so many things that happen to your core, stabilization muscles, posture, etc, not to mention everything that’s shifted internally. Getting everything optimized again will help you in your future workouts, marriage, etc. Talk to you friends and midwives and get a recommendation for someone you trust and just go. Self care, to the 100th degree and a great investment in your health and body for the future.
Baby Gear, Supplies & Resources That Have Been Gamechangers for Us:
THE SNOO BASSINET: ok, you should know before reading that I am now like the WALKING POSTER CHILD of the Snoo. If you have a naturally chill or sleepy newborn, this probably won’t make much sense to you. But you don’t, let me tell you something. If you haven’t ever heard of the SNOO, it’s a smart bassinet that can read your baby’s sounds and cries and adjust it’s movement appropriately to soothe them. For real, it’s like having a night nurse.
This is coming from someone who had a small (always hungry, gassy, colicky babe) that no matter what we did (shushing, bouncing, squatting, swaddling, pacifiers, noise machine, a dark room, etc all at once, and our little guy just could not be calmed or soothed). Especially at night, and especially trying to get him to go back down to sleep in the middle of the night. It would take 45 minutes after a feed every time to get him back down, so I was skeptical that anything would work.
Truth be told, we got the Snoo from Kyle’s co-worker, otherwise I’m sure the price alone would have been something I would have never even looked at (it’s pretty pricey). We put him in it the first night we got it (around Week 5), and after ONE minute, he fell asleep immediately. We looked at each other and I almost cried of relief. Since then, it’s been a game-changer for us, especially at those middle of the night feedings- he’s back to sleep in a minute or less = waaaaaaay more sleep for me.
Just in the last few months they’ve now come out with a monthly rental program where you can test out one of the bassinets at home for a month for around $100. I wouldn’t have known about this or would have been so sketched out that anything could work, but HI LOOK AT ME NOW. This isn’t sponsored, but I wish I could be. Ha! It’s also worth checking ebay, offerup and craigslist for a great re-sale market on them.
We did the math later. It was getting us an extra one to three hours of sleep per night in those beginning weeks, which was gamechanging. If we had bought it new, it would have come out to $1 per day for extra sleep if you use it to the 5 month mark as suggested. And then, you know, reselling it is a hot market in its own. Anyways, this one investment made things mentally, emotionally and relationally SO MUCH LESS INTENSE for me, and our family for my health and sleep and sanity, so I can’t not mention it here.
Happiest Baby Swaddles: a genius design from the same people of the SNOO, that straps them in with their hands down, then zips over the top. Way easier than any other swaddle we tried (and I think we tried them all). Even if you don’t have the snoo, they make these without the wing attachments and we use it for naps in the crib/dockatot.
Dockatot: I’ve talked about it before, but having a portable place to set them (while you shower, grab food, go to the bathroom) and then if you travel anywhere too, this is one of our very favorite and very useful things.
TakingCaraBabies Newborn Sleep Class: this was SO HELPFUL for us. @TakingCaraBabies is a neonatal nurse and baby sleep expert, with an amazing online class you can watch and do anywhere, that helps parents help their newborn sleep better ($79). Also her instagram & IG stories are so helpful! This & the SNOO were probably the best investments we made for our own sanity and health the first 3 months!
Uppababy Stroller: we went with the Vista, just to have more options, but I know people love the Cruz too! Be sure to check OfferUp, Mom’s groups on facebook and craigslist for a lot of baby gear: people are always getting rid of them all the time when their kids grow. But this stroller has been amazing for ease, travel, our daily walks, and it’s light enough for me to pop in and out of the trunk. We got ours at Nordstrom just in case anything were to ever go wrong with it, and it came with the rumble seat, and bassinet (also key for traveling!).
Nuna Pipa infant carseat & base: I get stopped all the time on the street with people asking about this carseat. It’s small, super light, and has sleek little magnetic pull down shades for naps on the go. I chose it because it goes with the uppababy (with an adaptor), and also had the least chemicals/fire retardants on any on the market.
Nyla changing basket: we have a normal changing pad upstairs, but I wanted something downstairs too, so we wouldn’t have to keep climbing the stairs everytime a diaper needed changing. I waited for weeks on ordering this, because it seemed kinda expensive/not necessary but I FREAKING LOVE IT. I don’t mind it being out in the middle of our living room, because it’s pretty cute to look at. I ordered this mini mattress pad on amazon for it, and we use one of these waterproof bamboo quilted liners over it to make it easy to wash whenever we need. I use the same liners upstairs under our changing pad too!
Ollie Swaddle: we borrowed this one from a friend– it was so helpful for our little houdini baby who escaped every other swaddle we tried (until we got the Snoo and did the happiest baby ones above, but that was in week 5). The Ollie is amazing because it can fit so many sizes, and gets them wrapped up real tight and cozy, with a elastic on the end = quick and easy changes in the middle of the night when normal swaddling was so overwhelming to me.
Wildbird Ring Sling and the Solly Baby Wrap: both of these were so great to have around, because he was too small for most other carriers (and hated carriers in general)– I know, so weird for a newborn. So if he liked these, I’m sure other babies would love it! I borrowed the Solly Wrap from a friend, so if you know someone, it’s a great thing to borrow so you can test and see.
This baby carrier: One of my best friends brought this to me after I was explaining how he was too small for/hated carriers. For whatever reason, this one was the exception– he happily went in it early on, and continues to beat out all the fancier ones I’ve tried. $30 ain’t bad.
Zutano Fleece booties: lesson: baby socks are silly– they fall off everywhere. But these fleece booties snap on = no losing them, and soft cozy feet. I loved the grey ones because they matched with everything. You don’t need more than 1 pair when they’re small.
Loved Baby onesies (for premies/small newborns): it was so hard to find clothes that fit our little guy in the first few months, and these were just perfect! I’ve since ordered one in each size as he’s grown because they make so much sense and are so nice and neutral for daily wear.
This bouncer, in mesh: I waited waaaay too long to order this. I’ve been such a minimalist on the baby gear (I hate clutter so much and so many baby things are just so ugly), but this is KEY to set your babe down to do a few things in the kitchen, take a shower, etc. Everything else we had had him laying flat which didn’t work right after he ate. You can move it tabletop or countertop too (hello family cooking nights!), so they’re at eye height, and easily move it around the house. I love the mesh one so it’s breathable for him in all seasons. Our new fav thing around here!
Pottery Barn Neutral Playmat: speaking of eye-sores, this one is not. A great thing when they get past the 2 month mark!
Bibbs bpa-free pacifiers 0-3 months: the only pacifier that actually stayed in his mouth!
This pacifer clip: KEY if you plan on traveling— no pacifiers falling on the gross floor.
Honest Company Diapers: Before Noah was born, I bought like 3 packs of Seventh Generation newborn diapers just to have ready. I like that they didn’t have any chemicals, plastics, phathales or any other chemical irritants. But… he was so small that even the newborn sized was too big and baggy on him. Someone suggested Honest Co and they worked great. I ended up doing their diaper subscription so they come right to your door (always being a fan of automation and getting one more thing off my mental list of to-do’s). They’re not as “pure” as the Seventh Gen ones, but they at least avoid all the big chemical irritants, fit great for us and don’t leak. Plus they come in so many cute little designs. Now we use a combo of both– Seventh Gen around the house, and Honest Co when we go out/overnight, etc.
Water Wipes: chemical free natural baby wipes to buy by the dozen!
NATURAL CLEANING, HOUSEHOLD & BABY PRODUCTS
Branch Basics: this is an amazing company that makes natural household cleaning products. And with a baby, you’ll probably need them all at some point. Aside from being a small business run by young moms themselves, I love how they package their goods: the starter kit comes with one bottle of concentrated solution and 6 bottles that show you the fill line to mix the cleaning solution with water for your: bathroom, windows, all purpose, laundry, handsoap, etc. Plus a natural version of oxyclean boost, which is KEY in those early weeks. The kit lasts forever and makes it so easy to refill whatever you need in the moments you need them most!
Puracy Natural Stain Remover: just trust me, you’re gonna need this with a newborn. Way less toxic and scary than bleach or most commercial stain removers, and I feel so much better about using it because of it. They also make great laundry detergent too.
BREASTFEEDING & FEEDING:
So, my milk took 2 weeks to fully come in. TWO WEEKS PEOPLE. It was a little bit of a crazy time, figuring out if my body was just being slow (as it typically is with most things), or if it wasn’t going to produce at all (and then figuring out a Plan B).
But, it DID come in. After 5 different lactation consultants, a baby that was dropping weight too quickly and hungry, and a doctor that was worried, here are the things that did help! Is it a long list? Yes. But I’m always a fan of making sure I’m doing everything I can that’s in my control before moving on to the next options.
So here are the things that helped me, in combination with each other:
1.Eating enough. Before I would have rolled my eyes at this. Because I feel like I always listen to my body. And after birth, I just didn’t feel that hungry. I was eating like normal for me, listening to my body. After a super nauseous pregnancy too, I never had the eat-everything-and-anything mentality. A few days after birth, I had already lost 10 of the 20 pounds I had gained (the baby, fluids, placenta, etc).
Of course I had heard that nursing makes you hungry, and has a big burning effect on your body. But I wasn’t feeling any different, so I didn’t eat any different. They also say that eating grains helps with milk production- especially oats. Being gluten-free and pretty sensitive to most grains, I wasn’t jumping head first into oat land…..until my milk wasn’t coming in. Then all bets were off. Oatmeal in the morning, every morning. Making lactation cookies. I even sent Kyle to the store in those early weeks to get me some gluten-free beer because I head it might help get things started. (I did notice like a slight uptick).
However, my pediatrician eyed me the next time we went in. She asked if I had dropped below the 10 pound range that was left from pregnancy. I said yes– not trying to obviously, I was just letting things take their course. She mentioned that for some women, milk won’t come in if you’re body mass is on the lower side, so to be extra vigilant about my meals and getting lots of nutrients in. You know, in a smart way, not going crazy or anything.
I did more research and found that it was true in a lot of cases. And that some women’s bodies needed a lot more healthy fat, protein and grains to produce milk. I was willing to try anything at that point. My vanity and (let’s be honest, my natural urge to want to wear my normal clothes and get out of those maternity clothes), was set aside.
And, you guys. It worked.
It wasn’t just something that people say. I’m so sensitive to that stuff, especially around food, because I feel like our society is always messaging- when in doubt, eat. Which isn’t the most helpful in most circumstances, but in this one, it was.
And for so many women, just nursing alone is enough of a burn that they’re right back to their normal weight (or even less). They don’t have to change anything about what they are eating and doing, and it all works.
For the other half, (like me) it’s the opposite– they probably return to their normal weight AFTER the stop nursing, because they need so much fuel to keep it going. So, it’s something to just think about, mindfully. Not as an excuse to eat whatever you want, but putting some extra intention on your meals, and making sure you’re getting in as many nutrients as possible when you do it. It’s about NUTRIENTS, vs calories.
So, in combination with these other things I’ll mention below, I think this one is worth mentioning. Now, 4 1/2 months PP, I have to be careful about trying to keeping 5 pounds on me if I want to keep feeding my baby. Anytime it’s dipped below that, my supply goes down. Your supply always tells you what’s working and what’s not, so just use that as your guide 🙂
It’s been my first lesson in sacrificing my wants and needs for this little one. But you know what? SO WHAT?! I’d rather be 5 lbs up and able to feed my lil babe than worrying about fitting into my favorite pair of high waisted jeans. That’s just my personal choice and something that’s a great mentality check for me. But if that doesn’t feel good to you– do what feels right and best for YOU. A happy mama = a happy babe, hands down.
Other things that also helped sooo much, that I wish I knew about in those first few weeks:
2. Checking your babe for a tongue tie or frenulum tie. I went back and forth on this for so long. One lactation consultant said he didn’t need it, and our doctor and another LC said he absolutely did and it would help. He latched fine, it was just a matter of how much suction/milk he could get. We ended up getting it cut around week 3 or 4 and the first few days made it even HARDER to nurse (I cried thinking we’d made it worse). But then it got so much better after a few days. Have your pediatrician check for this, and then get a second opinion (or two).
3. Motherlove More Milk Plus Supplements. Natural herbs that help with milk production. I’ve noticed a big difference with these!
4. Legendairy Milk Supplements. Some women notice more of a difference with these vs Motherlove brand. This brand is all fenugreek free (because some women that actually makes their supply less and can cause more gas in some babies.) I’ve tried the Pump Princess and Liquid Gold and and like alternating them with the Motherlove ones. Some a great for making your milk more nutrient dense/fatty, some are great for production, etc. I love their starter kit of 3 bottles so you can try out a few to see what works for you.
5. A Hospital Grade Pump: I had no idea these made such a difference. In one of our lactation visits in those first weeks (at the Lytle Center for those of you in Seattle), I tried one and it was INSANE how much milk I got compared to my regular Medela pump at home. You can rent them monthly or longer and this has been such a helpful thing over here. I have the Medela Symphony and it feels like we’re in a relationship.
6. The Spectra S9 travel & rechargable pump: Because the hospital grade pump was pretty much attached to me for the first 3 months, and my original Medela pump got ZERO milk for me, I was skeptical about anything other than the big kahuna. But after packing it with me for 4 trips, and now as I start to get back into more full time work, doing events, etc, I needed something I could pack more easily, or pump and do other things (my makeup, make food, etc). Enter the Spectra. I’d tried a friend’s S2 model which took a little longer than I was used to (25 min pump session) but did get milk out, and it was rechargeable and therefore more portable. Then my other friend told me she ordered the new s9 (the size of iphone and thickness of 1 inch), and it worked for her. I ended up getting it too and LOVE it as a option on the go, driving places, or around the house. It does take longer (25 mins ish) than my hospital one, but it’s so nice to have. I watched ebay to get a good deal on one, but they have them here too.
7. Lactation Cookies/foods with lactation encouraging herbs infused. There are so many great herbs and foods that naturally help. And the most common way people infuse them is in cookies. You could add to smoothies too, or oats and also be just fine. I came up with my own little recipe here and I don’t know if it’s mentally that it feels like a treat and a boost, but hey. No complaints about eating a cookie with magic powers ok? Also so helpful to have in your fridge? The Granola Ball Bites (from the cookbook). You need stuff that’s nutrient dense & one hand friendly in those first few months especially. Having great quality gf rolled oats, flaxseeds, brewers yeast, etc in your pantry is a great move if you’re nesting and getting your pantry ready.
8. Eating nutrient dense foods, more often that I was used to. Meaning good healthy fats in the morning (like in my golden milk latte on the blog), and having protein and fat at almost every meal (loaded up smoothie bowls, quinoa bowls, soups, stews, etc). And having 3 meals a day plus snacks when I was hungry. After the first 2 months, let me tell you, the HUNGER has kicked in. Now I feel starving all the time which has been a nice change from feeling like all food was revolting for 9 months.
9. Baths/Showers: I don’t know if it’s the mental part, or physical too, but either way, BATHS and SHOWERS were magical for me. Still are (as someone who avoided showering as much as I could before, this makes me laugh). I think it was just nice to have a few minutes to myself, and to relax and de-stress, which could only help with the milk flow. Epsom salt baths were key for any clogged ducts too (or filling my hakaa with epsom salt and warm water and letting it soak, mini bath style, if I didn’t have time).
10. Pumping After Each Feeding: this might be obvious to some of you, but pumping immediately after feeding helps tell your body to make more milk. So even if I wasn’t really getting much, I did this… and still do this to keep my supply up.
11. Salt Lamp (for night feedings): I love and use this one. Ok, this doesn’t affect your milk supply, but it was such a nice and needed thing for night feedings. There is a dimmer switch I could turn with one hand, and apparently salt lamps give of negative ions to soothe and calm our nervous systems. I loved it so I didn’t have to wake up entirely to feed, and it didn’t wake him up either.
12. My Breast Friend Nursing Pillow, and the Boppy. After lugging my breast friend (ew, I hate typing that), up and down the stairs every morning and every night, I finally ordered a Boppy nursing pillow (with a cute cover from Etsy) that could blend in to our downstairs decor a little more, and I’m so glad I did. Worth it! Having good posture and body mechanics help so much with all the hours you spend feeding.
Other helpful feeding supplies:
- Extra large water bottle with straw: this one has not left my side from pregnancy to nursing life.
- Nursing tanks: these are my favorites. They are soft but durable and have a built in bra.
- This hands-free pumping bra with a tie (instead of velcro… so much easier).
- Dairy Fairy Bras: a really great option for mama’s going back to work or those wanting to feel like themselves again.
- Hakaa Milk Catcher: this helped me catch so much more letdown milk (and I used instead of a hand pump if I was ever out and about, driving, etc).
- A cute cover up with a wire so you can actually see what’s going on while feeding: for mid-walks, on airplanes, in coffee shops, etc. There are so many cute ones on Etsy! I made the mistake of getting a tight one (the ones that double as a stroller cover and it was just too tight, I couldn’t see anything and it made me sweat. Ha.
I also loved and found Danielle Walker’s post on feeding babies with formula so helpful (her suggestions on cleaner brands and taking the stigma out of it). In week 2 or 3 as we were waiting on my milk tricks to work (see all of above), I ordered the Lebenswert Bio from this website 1 brand, just to have in the fridge, for emergencies, and then, thinking it wouldn’t be a bad thing to just see IF he would take it. It’s still sitting there, but it’s existence soothes me as a backup (or… for a date night if my milk didn’t pick up).
Emotional Support & Self Care:
- Joining a PEPS or MOPS group: this could be especially helpful for those that have just moved cities, don’t have a friend group that has already has babies, or if you don’t know other new moms. Although extra support is always a good thing, and getting out of the house too in those early weeks. Your support system is EVERYTHING at this time, so setting yourself up well by who you are surrounded by, can make a big difference.
- A group text thread with other new-ish moms to laugh, share, cry, whatever the feels are that day. This has been one of the best parts about motherhood for me. Shoutout to my MOM CLUB 🙂
- Making self-care dates : a workout, a walk alone, a shower, pedicure, lunch out on the weekend, walking the aisles of a grocery store or Target alone, or taking an hour to yourself a few times a week can help soo much.
- Doing something for yourself every single day: sometimes this was rubbing in my favorite body oil, mixing in some sandlawood or frankincense essential oils to my rosehip oil at night, doing a face mask, taking a shower, getting out for a walk, doing a few yoga stretches, putting on some natural self-tanner on my face. Whatever it is, make the time, ask for help, and make sure your soul is being nourished and filled so you can keep giving.
- Workout classes that allow you to bring your baby: search for Baby & Me Yoga classes, some Barre3 studios & most gyms have this as an option, which gives you a little me-time and a little self-care time all in one!
OK, I have to much more to say on specific topics (traveling with a newborn, date night, being a working mama, self care with a baby, fitting in workouts, etc), but this post is getting outta control long. So if there are any specific topics you guys would find helpful, let me know!
Also, please let me know below what YOUR favorites are too! I’m no expert by any means, and these are just the things that have worked great for us. But every baby is so different. So if you have something you love, add it below and we can get one big resource list going.
Other posts you may find helpful:
Love this post? You’d love the cookbook then too. And be sure to check out the brand new Food Academy, and the seasonal meal plans (and the new Easy Dinner Meal Plan!). And NEW: check out this little podcast workshop I created for you, called: Simply Real FOOD: Real food, finally explained. Check it out here!