The first few weeks of becoming a mother are intense. Baby blues didn't hit me until a week and a half, because up until then I was running purely from my logical brain of "what does baby need" "what do I have to do" and figuring everything out on the fly with my partner. On the third night, bub was crying at 2am and Sam and I just looked at each other and said "what the f*ck do we do??" and ended up passing her to Mum who was staying with us for the first week, so she could settle her while we rested.
As always, I love to share my experiences and lessons to help others, generally in the mindfulness and personal development area but also extending to pregnancy and parenthood, so I've put this blog post together to potentially give someone else the preparation and navigation to make their experience even the slightest bit easier.
So this is my experience of the first week, the items I could not do without. Keep in mind that every persons experience and needs are different and we all need different things, depending on we birthed our babies and how our bodies handled it. Personally I had a vaginal birth, no tearing, internal labia grazes with dissolvable stitches, a small placenta which means a smaller area needing healing internally, and am breastfeeding, so these recommendations are based off these different elements of my experience! Take what you need from it 💕
Silverettes — I will shout this product from the rooftops of the world. Breastfeeding was so important to me leading up to the arrival of our little one, not only for the health benefits for bub (our body's capabilities are insane!) but also for an even greater bonding experience with her, so I did my research on what potential issues I could run into and how to solve them, and prepared. I'm 3 weeks into breastfeeding on demand and my nipples are as fresh as a ten year olds 😌 People say to rub your breastmilk into your nipples, well how about having your nipples actually soak in the milk?! Even if they weren't soaking in the milk inside the silver cups, I couldn't imagine not wearing a cover over my nipples and have them touching my bra, shirt or breast pad when they are so raw, ouch. Invest in these babies, they will change everything and make breastfeeding so easy. PS. If you feel you might need the XL size, then just get them, I'm so glad I did.
Nipple balm — I was super lucky to be abundant both with my colostrum and my milk, but if you don't leak like crazy, then pop nipple cream/balm on in between feeds again to keep your nipple moisturised and nourished. My right nipple pours out milk (it used to be pierced) but my left doesn't, so if it feels tender then I'll use my balm. Mere Botanicals is the only brand I would use, as the product is organic and natural enough that you don't even have to wipe it off when bub feeds (I do though).
A mother — A mother, doula, mother-in-law, aunt, sister, just someone who can help you out for the first week while you navigate motherhood. I was so lucky to have my Mum take a week off work (and a week off looking after my stepdad who's just battled cancer, plus her other 3 kids) to come stay with us. She kept the house immaculate, kept Sam and I so well fed, did all our food shopping and baby shopping (there'll be things in that first week that you didn't realise you needed!), filled our fridge and freezer up with meals, and was there in the middle of the night when we had freak outs like if bub was choking or just would not settle (the change form colostrum to milk was a bit of a change for her little belly). The help from family is invaluable and I'm so grateful for her (also grateful that her love language she gives others is acts of service!)
Bare Mum Kit — I'd almost make this #1! As part of my preparation for postpartum, I purchased the "vaginal birth care kit". This is so so worth the money, as every single item in this box was well used and appreciated. The peri bottle was used at least twice a day to stay clean and prevent any infections, I kept the foam in the fridge for cooling relief, and the padsicle was honestly a heaven send for that first week when everything's just swollen and sore.
Adult nappies + maternity pads — Bubba Bump adult nappies made nights so easy, I would have a shower then just throw one of these on and not worry in the slightest about leaks or overflow. I underestimated how many maternity pads I needed for day time (3 weeks on I'm still bleeding consistently all day and night) so be prepared. Personally I only needed one pack of the adult nappies as my bleeding slowed quite quickly, but again that's from my personal experience and you may need two packs.
Hemorrhoid balm — More healing for your most sensitive areas! Chances are that if you pushed a baby out, you also pushed out some lil butt grapes. You can get hemorrhoid cream from a chemist, but I loved the natural one from Blissful Herbs (treat yourself during pregnancy and order a few things from this site!)
Soft flannels — You're gonna use flannels (facewashers) more than you think! Sure you can grab cheapies from Kmart, but you'll be wiping your baby's face with them when they have little spews, be tucking them in your bra to catch excess milk when you feed, wiping your breasts/nipples, using them for bath time, so you want a softer material that's gentle on your skin and bub's. I love the Kiin washers and muslin cloths, and have 6 of each.
Feeding pillow — This was a late purchase as pre-baby I thought the feeding pillows were overpriced and unnecessary. Then I started breastfeeding and my arms would just about fall off 🙃 Bub can feed for 1-2 hours at a time, and that's a long time to hold their weight up. I bought the Snuggle Me Organic feeding pillow and it's already made its money back in value for both day and night feeding 🙏🏽
Night light/salt lamp — Something that I think has helped bub sleep so well at night is creating a different environment to her one during the day. When we go down at night, the bedroom is only lit by a salt lamp and a night light that's conveniently the same colour as the salt lamp. The night light is charged via USB and is portable, which makes it super useful for night changes as I can move it beside her to see where I'm wiping, and I can also see if she's had a little spew while falling asleep without turning any bright room lights or lamps on.
Disposable change pads — Look, I'm all about sustainability and being eco-friendly wherever possible. BUT 😅 newborn life is tricky, and being able to just throw a change pad in the bin when she pees mid nappy change, or hasn't quite finished her poo and just sprays it all over the mat, is super freakin' convenient. We just buy them from woolies, but we'll be using the EcoNaps change mats once we have more confidence in everything 🙈 (use code CAITLINPOTTS15 for a discount 💕)
Bamboo reusable nursing pads — Whilst we're talking about EcoNaps, I've been using their nursing pads from the very first day. I only bought one pack (3 sets/6 pads), but will be buying at least one more pack because you're changing them nearly every feed and washing them every single day, so you'll need a few! It's so worth not going through boxes and boxes of disposables and just throwing them in the bin though (CAITLINPOTTS15 for a discount with EcoNaps)
Sleeping bags — These are fantastic for bub to sleep in, especially as she's quite good at escaping her little hands from swaddles. There are different types, so I only had one of each to start with to see if our girl likes sleeping with her arms up (Love To Dream) or across her chest (Ergo Pouch). She loves her hands up, so I now have 3 Love To Dream sleeping bags to always have on hand for poo explosions or vomits. We just have her in a light 1.0 TOG with a singlet underneath (Pure Baby is my favourite singlet brand) as she cosleeps with me in bed which is quite warm and we also have the air con to maintain temperature during winter.
Onesies — The trick here is to dress baby in onesies that have two way zips (not buttons, they're too annoying/fiddly) for ease of nappy changes, and foldable cuffs on the hands and feet to avoid scratching their face or having cold footsies. Pure Baby and Bonds are my favourite brands (I love the Pure Baby singlets too!)
Mittens & booties — For outfits without foldable cuffs, which is literally any cute outfit, again to avoid scratching their face and to keep warm. Socks are a must, but I'd forgotten about booties for when we're out and about
Drink bottle — You're gonna be thirsty 24/7 if you're breastfeeding, so you'll need to keep water on you at all times. I only drink the iciest cold water so I bought a Bink Mama Bottle as it has a mouth wide enough to add icecubes in for my middle of the night feeds to stay refreshed. It's an expensive drink bottle, so maybe add it onto your baby registry as a gift ☺️
Maternity bras — I thought I'd only need two or three maternity bras, but you only get one days wear out of them before they're stained with milk (even with nursing pads and silverettes) so you're gonna need a few on hand! I've just been wearing the Bonds Maternity Wirefree Contour Bra, but will update if I come across a comfier style
Nice To Have
Skip Hop Moby Bath — I don't bathe bub more than once a week as newborns don't get dirty (they're not crawling around on the floor) and they have natural oils, but she does poo, spew, sweat, and gets dirty in her precious little chubby creases so we rinse her off with a flannel in her whale bath, or bring her in the bath with me.
Bluetooth speaker — I use mine to softly play binaural beats during the night, and during the day if she won't settle then I play white noise, usually womb sounds.
Baby carrier — We haven't even used our pram yet because I wear bub on my chest when we go for walks so I can gain my muscle back and also be able to continuously support her weight as she grows! I have the Chekoh wrap carrier and sling carrier (both for newborn size), and Sam has an Ergo Baby carrier for when she's a little bigger. My wrap carrier is a lifesaver for the days that bub wants to stay close to me, so I can have her cosy on my chest with both my hands free to tidy up, make a meal and put the washing on 🙏🏽
Dressing gown — I'm soo glad I bought a snuggly and fluffy dressing gown from Target before giving birth. It's so easy to throw on in the middle of the night when your baby is stirring but you need to quickly run for a wee or grab your water and snacks, and very comforting to pop on when you get out of the shower. I treated myself to new Peter Alexander slippers too 🥰
Download the app Baby+ to track feeds, nappies and naps
Preparation will be your greatest ability in these first few weeks
Keep snacks on hand for throughout the day and night, bags of fruit (I love apples, pears and raspberries), chopped up banana bread in snack bags etc
If you have the opportunity and have people to look after bub, have a shower when you wake up and when you go to bed. That time to yourself is so refreshing and personal.
Use your time wisely. Silly me at the start was using my windows of bub being asleep to build a whole new website and write blog posts, instead of catching up on sleep or looking after myself. Now, I prioritise the necessities and preparations as soon as she goes down, and then look after myself with things like a 15 minute postpartum yoga flow, or journaling (you're gonna have a lot on your mind!) and then 'work' stuff or projects can come after that (which you probably won't have time to get to 🤪)
Pillows are incredibly useful/lifesaving when breastfeeding if you don't have a feeding pillow. Use a normal bed pillow with a cushion on top for height, or put a pillow across your belly to support bubs weight so you're not holding their whole weight with your arm.
Have a breastfeeding basket! I keep mine by my side at all times and it contains:
Reusable breast pads
Flannels (spews + excess milk)
What We Haven't Used
The cot, as pretty as it is, but I barely even step foot into the nursery let alone put her down in the cot! She's either in the bassinet in the living room with us during the day, or in our bed at night. Of course we have the cot put together and handy for when she does want to sleep on her own, some mothers and their bubs struggle to sleep in the same room together as baby can smell the milk and mightn't sleep well, so the cot is useful for then. We also haven't used the baby monitor at all yet as she is always in my sight. I also haven't had to use the heat/ice breast pads (they're still in the freezer) or the lactamo ball, as I haven't had any feeding issues. They're just there in case I should struggle with mastitis or discomfort!
And that's it! If there are any other products I find useful then I'll share them on my instagram stories, so you can keep up to date with me there 🤍 I hope this is useful for the wonderful mumma's out there, and if you're here for gift ideas then remember to check in with the new mother by asking if she's okay and what you can do to help out and make her day easier 🏼