Breastfeeding, Parenting

Things You Need To Survive The First Few Weeks of Motherhood

A&E kissing

A&E kissingMy life is now dictated by these tiny little overlords

When I had my first daughter, I was a wreck. She didn’t sleep well, I couldn’t put her down, she fed around the clock, I had terrible breast engorgement and enough milk to feed triplets (not even joking), and she was grizzly all the time. I was sleep deprived, constantly drenched in milk and sweat (it was a hot summer), and actually terrified of my own baby because I had no idea why she was always crying.

Being a new mum, you are also learning on the fly what you need to survive. I had to constantly send my husband out for all sorts of things- dummies, baby sling, gripe water etc..and even for more nursing bras bless his heart.

The second time around, we were prepared for the worst- to do all the shushing, rocking and walking all over again. We knew what we needed to survive and got them all ready. And then…it turned out we got a dream baby. That’s right, we made one of these mythical babies who hardly cry and even seem to enjoy sleeping in their own bed. So far the first week and a half has been great. I thought I would be crying everyday with two kids but I haven’t cried at all. It obviously also helps to know what to do now and be prepared.

So it got me thinking of all these things I researched and ran around like a headless chicken for the first time around. These are things that helped us survive a grizzly baby and tough breastfeeding, and some things I wished I knew beforehand about newborns:

For breastfeeding (Note: I am on the oversupply side of things):

  • Nursing bras
  • Breast pads 
  • Breast shells (If you want to store leaking milk.)
  • Breast pump to relieve engorgement (If baby doesn’t want to feed and pain is unbearable, pump just enough to relieve fullness and massage out lumps- don’t pump too much as this will signal your body to keep making more milk.)  
  • Moisturizer (I always have some on hand for every feed to massage my breasts and rub out any lumps. Remember to rub lumps towards the nipple.)
  • Nipple cream (Apply religiously for first few days if you’re a first time mum.)
  • Ice packs to soothe engorgement. (Tip: Newborn nappies make wonderful ice packs. Just wet the insides with some water, put them in a Ziploc bag and chuck them in freezer. I put two in a bag- one for each breast. When they are frozen, open them up apply to wherever you need. I apply them after each feed at night to help me sleep.)
  • Nursing cover (If you don’t feel confident breastfeeding in public without some coverage.)
  • Breastfeeding pillow (To save your arm/shoulder muscles.)
  • Elastic bracelet (Don’t stress yourself with jotting down times and lengths of feeds. Just feed on demand and switch an elasticated bracelet between wrists to indicate which breast to start on for the next feed. Saves you from digging out your phone to check your notes before each feed.)
  • Face towels (If you have spraying milk that makes baby come off in the middle of feeds, tuck a face towel into the bottom of your bra and pull it up as soon as baby comes off. It also helps to nurse “uphill” lying down if baby has problem handling the strong flow.)

Note many babies feed like mad the first few days- even every hour or less. I think Miss A never left my boob in the first 4 days it took for my mature milk to come in. All they need is colostrum which is already produced during pregnancy. The amount of wailing and feeding newborns do may make you question your supply and wonder when your mature milk will ever come in, but just stay patient, keep feeding, monitor nappies and weight loss, and trust your body. Remember all babies lose weight in the beginning. Miss E fed wonderfully and frequently from the start but still lost 9.1% of her body weight in the first 48 hours. Thankfully though, my mature milk came in the next day and by the following day she already put on 70 g and was back to her birth weight within a week. Just trust your body!

For soothing

  • White noise app on phone
  • Gym ball to bounce 
  • Baby ring sling (Easy to wear without disturbing baby when they’ve dozed off in cradle position at breast.)
  • Upright carrier (e.g. Ergo) with newborn insert (Good for reflux babies or those who have trouble getting air up. I have Miss E in the Ergo now and she has burped 3 times in her sleep while writing this post.)
  • Dummies (If breastfeeding is going well and baby is feeding regularly and gaining loads of weight I personally see no problem with using them. They were a great help with soothing Miss A.)

Misc

  • Nasal aspirator + saline (A must for little stuffy noses.)
  • Gripe water (If you wish but I personally felt it didn’t help.)
  • Co-sleeper baby bed (I found co-sleeping really saved my sanity.)

So these are some things I have personally found handy. Every mother’s experience is obviously different and you may choose to do things differently to me. but I just hope this gives you a rough idea of things you need for baby besides the obvious like nappies and clothes! Good luck!

Also see: 20 Things New Mothers Should Know

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