Newborn Must Haves

These are my favorite posts to read by other bloggers. Whenever I read posts like this, I found myself going straight to Amazon to buy what they recommend : )

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These are all items I would recommend having at home before you give birth. So much of the other stuff you can wait and see what you need. So without further ado, there are the things I couldn’t imagine the first month without:

Baby Connect app – I’ve mentioned this app before, but it’s been invaluable to track feedings, sleep and more. I’m letting Maze tell me when he’s hungry, but it’s great to still have a timer going from the last time he ate and which side it was on. Sure, you could use pen and paper, but then you wouldn’t have all the data available in the nice charts and things! I haven’t been 100% consistent with it (naps are hard to track if they’re very short) but it’s still a good estimate. And although it doesn’t really mean I get more sleep, I like waking up and seeing “You’ve been sleeping for 3 hours and 10 minutes” and knowing that was a good long stretch. I no longer track diapers (because it’s clear we are making lots of them over here!) but now I have added pumping, so I imagine we will evolve with the app as he gets older and we might want to track activities, solid foods, potty use and more. The app was totally worth the $4.99 I paid for it.

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Wrap/carrier – Whether it’s the Boba, Ergo, Moby or a homemade sling, I could not imagine these past few weeks without some kind of baby wearing device. We have gotten lots of use out of both the wrap and the carrier, but if I had to just get one, I’d get the carrier. The Boba has the ability to convert for newborn side, and I know the Ergo has newborn inserts (and I have friends that just propped their babies up with a swaddle blanket). This first month, baby wearing was one if the only things I could count on: he would almost always be calm when I wore him. Naps only happened against me, and having my hands free was invaluable.

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Nursing cover – I would never have ventured into public with a newborn without some kind of breastfeeding privacy. Using the cover isn’t ideal, but it is liberating to think that when you’re out, if the baby cries you just have to feed them. Having a cover made me comfortable feeding him in restaurants, on park benches and when I had visitors in my home. You could just use a swaddle blanket, but getting Mazen latched under one was pretty hard without being able to see him. I received a cover from Bebe Au Lait to review and love it.

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My Brest Friend

It really is!! Sure, you could just use a few standard pillows for nursing, but the reason My Brest Friend is great is because it’s firm, straps around you and has little pillows to support the baby’s head. The Boppy is nice, but sometimes I end up having to get in a weird position to get it high enough. Since you should always bring the baby to your breast and not your breast to the baby, it’s important to have them parallel to your breast, and My Brest Friend does this better than the Boppy. I like having two nursing pillows, though, because I use one downstairs and one upstairs.

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Baby Seats

We have a number of baby seats scattered around the house that are great for plopping the baby in when you need to run to the bathroom and wash your hands or take a shower. Some we bought; some were given to us. We have a swing, a Snugabunny bouncer, the iFeel Rocker and the Boppy Lounger. All have their perks and uses, but really, just having ANY seat is great. So get whichever you like! The important part is knowing you have a safe place for your baby to rest while you slip away for a moment.

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Disposable Breast Pads and a Milkie

If I hadn’t had disposable breast pads on hand when I came home from the hospital, I literally would have put a menstrual pad in my bra because I needed something to catch the milk! The cotton ones were just not that absorbent (or rather, I had more let down than they could hold) and I learned this the hard way – with a soaked shirt! I have been SHOCKED at how well the disposable pads absorb – ounces upon ounces. They are quite annoying to have to wear, but they do their job well. I like the Lansinoh brand the best!

I didn’t learn about Milkies until about 4 weeks in, but this let-down catcher is QUITE amazing! It’s made of BPA-free plastic and fits in your bra while you nurse. It’s quite large, so I don’t think you could actually wear it around (and if you bent over you might spill it all out!) but I just slip it in before I start each feeing. I have discovered that I let down about 0.5-1 ounce of milk on the non-nursing breast at each feeding. That means I’m collecting 4-6 ounces a day effortlessly! The one thing I haven’t figured out yet is if this is mostly fore milk and shouldn’t exclusively be used for a bottle but rather mixed with pumped milk that might include hind milk. I’m going to ask some lactation experts about this! (Please weigh in if you are one).

Nursing Bras

On the topic of nursing, nursing bras are a must. I didn’t realize how much breastfeeding would rule the newborn stage! But you really have to be able to nurse comfortably and quickly all.the.time. I bought a couple of sleep bras (which are a must for the nursing pads) from Motherhood Maternity that I sleep in every night and this post includes the real bras that I like so far. A few nursing tanks are great too so you can layer and pulling up your shirt to nurse doesn’t reveal your whole stomach.

Swaddlers

Sure, you can just use a blanket to swaddle your baby, but the problem lies at 3 in the morning when you’re exhausted and don’t have the energy to put into a tight swaddle. The velcro ones are so great for this. We have 3 kinds of swaddlers: the Miracle Blanket, Swaddleme’s, and the Halo Sleep Sack.

The Miracle Blanket works by far the best. Mazen has yet to break out of it. The downsides are that it is expensive ($31 for one) and also a bit difficult to do when sleepy, but not too hard. It’s worth it for the good wrap. The Swaddlemes are the quickest and easiest to put on and are lightweight for summer, but they are also the easiest for him to get out of! The Sleep Sacks are medium putting-on level and medium getting-out-of level. I would get one or two of each because they all sort of serve different purposes.

A Swaddleme

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Water Bottle

I’m sure almost all of you have a water bottle already, but since you will be spending as much time with it as you do your baby, make sure it’s a good one. I think there must be something about latching on that makes the brain say “THIRSTY” because the thirst I feel right when he latches on is so intense! I bought this Camelbak Eddy because it’s 1L, sipable through a straw and doesn’t spill if you knock it over. Love it! I actually just bought a second one so I can have an upstairs and a downstairs water bottle.

 

Other Items That Are Not Total Must Haves But We Love

Video monitor (They are expensive and I had said it was silly of me to “need” to see him and hear him but I totally did! I bought this Motorola one the first week we were home which I love because the camera can pan and zoom)

Pacifier Soothies and a clip (we introduced them at 3 weeks – so helpful, especially for car rides!)

Motherlove Nipple Cream and Soothies – just in case you need them

The White Noise Lite app – for calming. Use on airplane mode!

Chicco Car Seat Caddy Stroller for your car

Oxo Wipes Dispenser (opens with one hand and looks great on our changing table!)

These vitamin D drops so when your doctor gives you the gross cough syrup kind you don’t have to make your baby taste it while you wait for a tasteless, natural kind to come in the mail!

aden & anais blankets (for the 1,000 other things you can do with them other than swaddle like keep the baby warm or block the sun in the stroller – we get so many compliments on our bee + owl ones!)

Happy Baby!!

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There are Amazon Affiliate links in this post – thanks for supporting BERF!

Breastfeeding: Angry Bird In A Swamp

My mom used to say that in the early days of raising us girls she slept in a swamp. Before having Mazen, I didn’t quite get what could be so….damp….about nursing. Now I get it!! Smile

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My perception of breastfeeding before actually doing it was like an on/off switch – if your baby suckled, milk came out. However, it is much messier than that! I leak on one side while he’s feeding on another (I learned this this hard way and soaked a shirt when we had company over!) Sometimes when I get out of a hot shower I’m already leaking. I leaked through washable breast pads and can only use the disposable ones right now. Mazen sometimes spits up all over me. We sweat together when we’re skin-to-skin when it’s hot. Sometimes his diaper leaks on me. It’s a SWAMP!

Going back to his birth, I was lucky that he latched on right away. He nursed for about 45 minutes right after birth. It didn’t hurt and sort of felt like you’d expect it would if a baby was gently sucking on your nipple. He also didn’t go through that 24-hours-of-sleepiness that most newborns do – he wanted to eat every 2 hours from the start! The nurses and lactation consultants said his latch looked great. A LC told me what a swallow sounded like – a little sigh almost – and I’m glad because it assured me he was actually getting colostrum.

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I’d say it was maybe the middle of day 2 when it started to hurt. My nipples just started to get sore. His suck was stronger, and he was tugging his way through the feedings. My doctor recommended these Soothies cooling pads, and I started wearing them all the time. They really did soothe.

On day two at lunchtime, my parents brought me my first placenta pills from home (I had my placenta encapsulated and it was ready just about 24 hours after the birth – more on that in another post). By that evening, my boobs were hard as rocks, and my real milk had come in! I’m not sure if the placenta was entirely to thank for the quick arrival, but I think the timing was pretty fast for a first time mom otherwise.

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The rest of week 1, my nipples hurt pretty badly. They started to get scabs and one time (I’m very lucky it was only one time!) one of them bled enough that Maze spit up some of the blood. It was quite horrifying, and thankfully didn’t happen again.

Part of the reason it hurt is that his lower jaw would just not open quite wide enough. LC’s and nurses had me tugging it down on it to encourage him to open wider, but it just felt like he was chomping with his lower gums rather than making the complete duck lips. Imagine if you had a cut on your arm and someone was pushing on it with a screwdriver. over and over and over. That’s kind of how it felt! I tried using lanolin, but I found it incredibly sticky and it hurt to rub on. I found the Mother Love Nipple Cream (which I had ordered in advance upon recommendation) to be SO much better. But it didn’t seem to be helping me all that much with the soreness. Now that I’m less sore, though, I can tell this cream does help reduce surface pain a bit. Love that it’s all natural and it rubs on so well too.

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One night when it hurt particularly badly and I was tired and not looking forward to another 8 hours of feeding and rocking, I broke down in tears. I totally understood why women give up on breastfeeding. Matt offered to watch Maze for more of the night so I could get better sleep and gave me an encouraging pep talk. It helped a lot.

That evening, my friend had told me that her midwife told her that the Soothies pads were better for short term use and that when used 24/7, they prevented healing. (I still use them on occasion – chilled – after a rough feeding, but don’t wear them full time.) Apparently open air (and sunlight!) was the best thing to “put on.” So that night, I slept topless.

And I believe that night was a turning point.

During the next few days, Maze seemed to open his mouth wider. Rather than chomping like a fish when I offered, he started holding his mouth open like a baby bird. We were making progress. Now I understand why breastfeeding is something that both mom and baby have to learn together.

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I decided also to put more effort into getting his latches right. I went to KellyMom.com and watched videos on You Tube. I observed what “drinking” looks like in comparison to “nibbling.” He was doing a fair amount of nibbling at the end of his feedings. His latch looked good though and he was clearly “drinking.” I worked on pointing my nipple up to the roof of his mouth, which also helped to get it in a better position. And I learned how to unlatch him without pain (pry the finger in and open the jaw before attempting to pull out!) Before I was afraid to unlatch him because that hurt almost as much as the bad latch itself!

Lastly, I went to see a volunteer from Le Leche League to give us some tips. She helped me with positions and said his latch was great – of COURSE he latched perfectly for her! It was still a helpful visit though, and I was glad for the reassurance. He put on his birth weight very quickly and making plenty of dirty diapers, so although I was being sent through the wringer, I knew he was happy.

Week 2 still hurt a lot, but we were getting better. We had a day or two of really good feeds followed by a bad day. By the beginning of week 3 [now], things are 90% good. Still a little pain with the latching on, but not the toe-curling, grunting, cursing kind from earlier.

Pillows

I brought the Boppy to the hospital, but once we were home I realized how much more supportive My Brest Friend is. It’s our nursing pillow of choice upstairs, and I use the Boppy when I’m down on the couch (sitting cross-legged it’s easier to use because I can bring it up higher). I’m glad I have both so I don’t have to lug a pillow up and downstairs all the time. I actually think nursing him without any pillow is kind of nice too, but it’s way too tiring on the arms to do that more than a little. I used to make fun of the little pocket on the Brest Friend pillow – it’s so little and seemed pointless! But then I realized it’s actually great for storing an extra breast pad, nipple cream and a burp cloth at all times. If only it had a built in water fountain too! We also do side lying position at night, which hurts more than the other positions, but we’re learning! My whole upper back actually was REALLY sore during the first week – despite the pillows, it was hard not to hunch. I was also picking him up a lot, which contributed to the tired muscles.

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Necessities

When it’s time to nurse, there are 3 things that I must have nearby:

1) My water bottle. A MUST! So thirsty. Thanks many times to Matt for rushing it to me filled with ice water.

2) My phone or tablet to use the Baby Connect app (so helpful for tracking these early weeks).

3) A burp cloth.

Do not try to breastfeed without a burp cloth! It will inevitably be the time when he spits up while he’s drinking – double the milk everywhere! We received a lot of burp cloths at our baby showers, and I use them all all the time!

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Clothing

I also didn’t realize how much breastfeeding would affect my wardrobe! At home, it’s not a big deal to pull up my shirt or just wear a bra (because if I went topless there would be lots of leaking!), but when we go out in public, I really have to think about the logistics of feeding him somewhat blindly under a cover (I feel most comfortable under a cover at this point in time.) This bra by Bravado is my favorite – so comfortable and surprisingly supportive for a seamless bra. I also bought a handful of nursing shirts from Motherhood Maternity and this Bravado tank that I LOVE but it has been too hot to layer too much with it. I have never been able to go braless in a tank top (even one with a built in bra) – until this one. One major drawback to breastfeeding: wearing a dress (that is not a nursing-specific or wrap dress) is pretty much impossible.

Covers

I have been using this cover in public and when my family was here, which I received from Bebe Au Lait to review on the blog.

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I have good things to say – the peek-a-boo neckline is super helpful (latching under a swaddle blanket is not nearly as easy to do) and the fabric is more than plentiful to cover 3/4 of my body and let his legs get some air. Just like the My Brest Friend, I laughed at the little pocket on the front when I first saw it, but I have since come to realize how handy it is for holding a breast pad while nursing!! Brilliant addition : ) My only complaint about the cover is it gets very hot under there. In the warmer months, this is a pretty big problem, however, once winter is here, it will be a huge plus! I’m not sure how to get around that in the summer – perhaps a more breathable fabric for warm months? But overall, very glad I have this because there’s nothing as convenient if you’re a little modest like me. It has allowed me to nurse at the mall, in restaurants, and whenever someone is visiting without showing anything.

Still need to learn: how to nurse in a sling/carrier!

Maze + Me

And now the important part: Maze is so cute when he nurses. He makes the funniest faces and raises his eyebrows at me. He looks up at me like a little whale with one eyeball. And after he’s done, he pops off and rests his head on me, using me like a little pillow, as if to say “Ahhhhhh this is the life.” After that he does these cute little stretches where he puts his arms above his head and flexes his biceps and squishes up his face. The silliest thing he does is what Matt and I call “Angry Bird” – he’s like a little woodpecker popping on and off and darting his little head around. It’s quite hilarious!! We have no idea why he does it. These are my favorite moments together.

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I’m still looking forward to the day when he latches on without any pain, and hopefully that day isn’t too far off.

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Until he gets teeth, that is!!

The First Weeks

How is motherhood going?

It’s been pretty much exactly what I expected, so far. Hard and frustrating at times and pure bliss at others. A roller coaster of ups and downs that changes by the minute. The selflessness that comes along with caring for this little baby of mine has manifested deep within me. And I swear just after breastfeeding I feel huge rushes of oxytocin in my veins – rushes of love and emotion like you’d feel during a wedding ceremony or when you watch a family reunite after a long time apart.

Some comments on how it’s going:

-The Baby Connect app has been wonderful. I love tracking feedings and sleeping, as it gives me an idea of timing. I’m feeding him on demand – whenever he cries or roots – but it’s been helpful to know that it’s been an hour and a half and he will probably want to wake up and nurse any minute or that I’ve been asleep for 53 minutes since we last woke up at night.

-My house has always been spotless and decluttered. Obsessively so. Now, it’s more lived in, and I don’t mind a bit. As cliché as it sounds, our house feels more like a home. Baby swing in the kitchen and all.

-We’ve been aiming for “12 hours of bedtime” a night. I put that in quotes because it’s not really all sleep. I’m up anywhere from 5-7 of those hours nursing, rocking, swaddling, diaper changing. But getting in bed early when Mazen does has really helped us out on the sleep schedule. And despite the fact that this is the least amount of sleep I’ve ever had in my whole life, I feel pretty darn good in the daytime. When the sun is out and I’m up and dressed for the day, I don’t really feel tired at all. It’s really only nighttime that I very realllly sleepy at times.

-I absolutely LOVE all the little faces he makes! Especially right after he nurses, he reaches his arms up and stretches and makes the funniest little frog face. And his burp face is too cute. I love the way he looks up at me while he’s nursing with one eyeball open. And when he smiles (intentional or not) it’s priceless!! I haven’t been able to catch one of those on camera yet…

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-Everything about our nursery is going well. I am SO GLAD we decided to keep the bed in there. It has been a lifesaver for getting quality sleep as we trade off. And great for breastfeeding too – I can sit up or lie down. Maze has been sleeping in his Rock and Play next to the bed and that’s going fine. He has slept in his crib a few times too, but the RnP is just a little easier and makes me feel better to have him closer.

-Speaking of having him close, I totally went out and bought a video monitor. I still like the Angelcare for when he sleeps in the crib – the peace of mind of the motion sensor is great – but I could not leave the room without coming in to check on him every 5 minutes! I was so worried he would roll over (seriously, it wouldn’t surprise me if he did because he’s been close!) The video monitor is GREAT and I wish I’d known how much I would like having one (well I sort of did know, but they are expensive so I talked myself out of it). It’s been fun to play with Matt on it too – “I SEE YOU!” from the kitchen : )

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-The biggest surprise about baby care is how hard it is to get him to go to sleep. Feeding him is easy. Playing with him is easy. Changing diapers is easy. But getting him to sleep is HARD! According to the books I’ve read, babies this young need help with soothing to get them to sleep, and ours is no exception. He cries out and asks for help as soon as he’s tired, and he goes from wailing to sleeping in seconds when we get the soothing just right. Sometimes the process takes minutes (he loves to sleep in his Boba wrap and I can get him to settle quickly most of the time) but other times it takes 45 minutes to get him to sleep. During the night is hit or miss – sometimes he goes right back down; other times it takes a hour and then he gets hungry again and we start the process over from the start!

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-Speaking of soothing, what on earth would we have done without the Happiest Baby on the Block techniques?! That book is LIFE CHANGING, and every new mom should read it. Lots of our medical professionals have recommended it too (pediatrician, baby care classes) so I think it’s pretty well respected. The 5 S’s have been so helpful – Maze would probably still be screaming if we didn’t know about them.

-I just spent YEARS teaching myself how to eat slowly and savor my food and that has all gone out the window. I am eating faster than ever because otherwise I might not get to finish my meal while it’s hot!

-The second hardest part about all of this is just that my body is still recovering from birth and my boobs, from the breastfeeding shock. Now 2.5 weeks out, my body feels pretty good, but in the beginning it was hard to walk and get in and out of bed, sit in a chair, etc. Add baby care on top of that 24 hours a day (I can’t imagine having a c-section incision! Although I guess you trade that for the complete bottom soreness.) And if I could just get over the hump of breastfeeding pain, I think we’d all be better off. I have only had a few moments of tears – generally breastfeeding is going well – but I can totally understand now why a mother would turn to formula. I’m lucky that he is nursing well, but I can’t say I look forward to each session yet. Unless Downton Abbey is ready to play… : )

–Matt and I both wonder if he loves or hates the fact that we kiss him constantly. We are leaning toward loves : )

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-When I was pregnant, I was totally overwhelmed by the thought of having a toddler, a child or a teenager. I could only focus on the little newborn that would come out. But now that he is here, I can’t WAIT to see what he’s like when he’s older!! I’m not wishing away this age at all – he is too precious – but now that I can see his looks develop and watch is personality unfold, I’m truly excited for the years to come.

-Every day gets a little easier than the last as we figure this whole thing out. Single parents – I bow to you. Because having Matt home is a difference in night and day. Just having another set of arms to rock, change and play with him makes everything 100% easier. Even though I’ve worked from home for years, the house seems lonelier when it’s just me here. I can see why “it takes a village.” I sometimes just stop and say “You are doing it. You are being a mom.” It’s so surreal at times. I don’t even have a sense of time passing – I’m living in a bubble right now. A bubble of love and joy!

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