Last weekend Reindeer and I attended a friend’s baby shower. We had a lovely afternoon and were glad to share the celebration with her.
As a first time mum-to-be, knowing that I was so recently in the same position, she has been asking me various questions about what to expect and what she needs. Our gift to her was a selection of the personal items which I found most useful, but which she didn’t already have/hadn’t been told about. In terms of expectation I had to point out that my experience wasn’t exactly ‘normal’, but that I would happily share all the tips I received that I found useful.
In case anyone else is interested, I thought I would list some of the items and tips here:
- A nursing-front night dress or two – I was an idiot and packed normal pyjamas in my hospital bag. The top was totally unsuitable for breastfeeding and trying to remove and replace the trousers every time I went to the toilet was ridiculously painful, as well as putting unnecessary strain on my caesarian wound
- Disposable maternity pants – I laughed when these were suggested to me. Less than a day post-partum and I couldn’t go two hours without them. The thought of changing normal pants every time I went to the toilet, never mind finding the energy to wash them, was eye-watering
- Granny pants – see above. Once the bleeding reduces after the first couple of days granny pants are great for replacing disposable maternity pants. They cover your remaining lumps and bumps, keep your maternity towels in place and, if you’ve had a caesarian, keep additional dressings in place. They also don’t have to look awful – my mum (who is much wiser than I) ignored my breezy pregnancy comment ‘I’m sure I’ll be fine without them’ and bought some for me with pretty lace trim. I was pathetically grateful to receive these on my return from hospital!
- Maternity pads/ towels – whichever type of delivery you have, you will bleed for some time afterwards (I believe 4-6 weeks on average). For the first couple of weeks at least you will definitely need maternity pads/towels rather than ordinary sanitary towels – you can switch to those later. I seriously underestimated how many I would need – I bought one packet! – and had both my mum and my husband buying in extras for a while. An extra tip, if you’ve had a caesarian, is that you can use a pad against your wound to keep the area dry – micropore tape and granny pants will help hold it in place
- Lanolin – if you’re going to give breastfeeding a shot, this stuff is amazing. It isn’t cheap, but you only need to use a little after each feed and it really does help reduce the discomfort of those early days
- Breast pads – this is probably an obvious one but I’m adding it in for completeness. I use at least four a day – two after my morning shower and two when I get ready for bed. On a leaky day more are required. This works out at a lot of pads over 7-months (approximately 1,000 so far!)
- A cheap, oversized, nursing bra – in addition to the normal ‘day’ bras, this is really handy for night time as I use it to keep the nursing pads in place. In the early days I would just try and tape the pads to my pyjama top roughly where my nipples were. Inevitably the bed sheets ended up soaked in breast milk *sigh*. I say cheap and oversized as (1) having a baby is hugely expensive and I didn’t want to spend money like it was going out of fashion and (2) I didn’t want to wear anything restrictive and I found that if my breasts were going to engorge then it would be overnight so I needed the extra room
- Feeding chair – before baby arrives, have a think about where you’re likely to want to feed them. Once you’ve identified your feeding chair, keep nearby a selection of cushions pillows and a blanket to ensure comfort – you’ll likely be spending a lot of time there! 10 days after Reindeer arrived, realising that I was pretty much pinned down in the chair for half the day at least, my husband brought home a music stand on which I could put a tablet, phone, the notebook and pen and a muslin. This was so useful because I could sit and cuddle Reindeer while he slept and watch programmes on the iPlayer or read a book. I kept the stand by the chair and moved it to the relevant side before each feed – it was a lifesaver although it is also partly to blame for my addiction to GBBO…
- A notebook and pen – this might sound strange but for at least the first month health professionals will keep asking you ‘when did baby last feed?’, ‘how long for?’ ‘when was baby’s last wet and/or dirty nappy?’. I was in such a sleep deprived haze that I could never remember, so I kept a notepad, pen and clock by the chair where I fed Reindeer so that I could always write the time down immediately. I would also write L or R depending on whether I’d fed him from the left or the right; this meant I didn’t lose track of which side I was feeding on next. It was such a useful technique that I still write down feeds, nappies and anything else of interest, e.g., if we need to administer Calpol or teething gel, so we don’t lose track. One day, if I ever have time, I’ll be able to look back on those books as a neat reminder of how our life changed (yes, I’m a tad sentimental at times!)
- Day 5 post-partum – when your placenta formed in the first trimester it took over hormone production for the duration of your pregnancy. Five days after your baby arrives is about the time that your body suddenly realises your placenta has gone and it should have started producing hormones again, but hasn’t. Some women get past day 5 with no problems. I became a sobbing wreck. It wasn’t so much that I felt sad, it was more that every emotion was heightened. Happiness became elation, sadness became desolation, love became overwhelming. It was too much to take everything in and so I ended up crying randomly and for no apparent reason. Thankfully we didn’t have any visitors that day; depending on how you cope with things it may be a good idea to ensure someone you trust is available to support you around this time
- Metanium – thankfully, Reindeer has never suffered from full-on nappy rash, but with his teething nappies his bottom did start to get a bit pink. The metanium was recommended by our health visitor and was great at preventing a rash developing
- Snacks – eating can be tricky with a newborn. Finding time to make a meal isn’t always possible because sleeping, showering and using the loo are also important. Snacks can help get you through; cereal bars are great as is fruit. My Dad quietly made sure there were plenty of snacks available in the early days!
There are probably other things I’ve missed, or just plain forgotten in the months since Reindeer arrived, but I think this list covers the main points. Hopefully it will be useful for someone.