When I was pregnant, I spent hours searching online for the ultimate list of new mum and baby essentials. I was going to be SO prepared. Oh the lists I made, the things I bought…
Some of the time, I was genuinely onto something. Some of the stuff I got was totally brilliant and got used constantly. Other stuff was totally useless (and a waste of money!). Regardless, during the first few weeks of motherhood, my husband had to make MANY emergency trips to the shops for things I hadn’t realised I needed, or things I hadn’t stocked up on.
Tiny squish man, a few days old... about when I realised how unprepared I was!
Babies can be expensive, especially if you buy stuff you don’t need, or have to get things at the last minute (and can’t shop around for a good deal), so if you’re looking to be prepared and save money, I strongly suggest that you check out my top list of new mum essentials that got me through those first few weeks.
I was very fortunate to hear about babywearing before I became a mum, and so I was somewhat prepared for this one. I bought a stretchy wrap and practiced a few times before my little one was born. And thank goodness – because this totally saved us.
Within a few weeks, I ended up buying two other types of carriers (a ring sling and a structured carrier) because we were using it so regularly, and to give us some more options for different purposes (quick shopping trip, nap, walk at the beach, husband wearing, one carrier in the wash due to poo explosions/spew, etc.). If you plan to wear your baby, I strongly recommend buying more than one carrier, especially since you can often sell them secondhand on a buy/swap/sell page without losing much value if you don’t end up using them as much as you’d like (you haven’t got much to lose!).
In hindsight, and now with more experience in babywearing, I wish I’d also got a woven wrap earlier on, as they’re my favourite carrier type with my now 6 month old. I’ll definitely be using one with my next newborn though!
Breastfeeding Friendly Clothes
I was a bit naïve and didn’t give a lot of thought to what I’d wear to breastfeed my baby. I bought two cheap nursing bras and one nursing singlet. But with the messiness of the early days, constant breastfeeding, and fiddling with bits and pieces of clothing to try and get a fidgety newborn latched on… I ended up wishing I’d thought more about what clothing I could wear for easier access.
Especially in the beginning when you’re still figuring out breastfeeding, and you’re maybe not totally comfortable with being exposed yet (it gets easier), the right outfit can make a huge difference.
I ended up investing in quite a few more nursing bras, nursing singlets, and other items of clothing. I especially like wearing a loose cropped shirt over a nursing singlet or stretchy top/dress, so that the underneath layer can be pulled down, and the cropped shirt can be pulled up, without having too much bulky fabric around baby’s face.
I would say that a new mum would need at least 3 good nursing bras and 2 nursing singlets to start with, and then you can always buy more of what you use most often.
Meals and Snacks
I was totally unprepared here. I actually left all my meal prep plans to the last minute, expecting to go overdue and need to keep busy. But then I went into labour on my due date and so came home to no food in the house. We were so busy keeping our baby alive those first few days, that we barely ate. My husband actually lost about 3kg…. oops. And I’m sure it didn’t help with my recovery and milk supply.
So please, learn from my mistake! Prepare well ahead of time with frozen foods, or let your family know that you expect cooked meals for at least a week after you come home from hospital. Or buy takeaway (but try to get healthier stuff!). Basically don’t plan to spend more than 5 minutes prepping any meal in your kitchen for awhile, as you’ll be too tired/busy.
Also on that note, think about good snacks to eat while breastfeeding. If it’s relatively healthy, you can eat it with one hand, it gives you energy, and maybe even boosts your milk supply (like lactation cookies!), it’s a winner.
I didn’t plan to pump at all, so I didn’t buy a breast pump. I had genuinely expected to not need to, simply because I didn’t plan on being away from my baby. But life had other plans. Apparently, you can need to pump for other reasons too, like bumping up your supply levels, relieving engorgement (owww), or even just setting aside a freezer stash, just in case.
I used to gawk at the price on a good breast pump, but trust me… it’s worth it. You don’t want to put up with anything dodgy, especially if you’re pumping everyday. So don’t be like me – invest in a good pump – otherwise you may find yourself scrambling to do the research and buy one while wrangling your newborn. Or sending your partner to buy it!*
***Full disclaimer: it’s great if your partner will do this! Mine totally went to the shops for all manner of personal/lady/baby products for me in the newborn period. He rang up, spoke to pharmacists, and was just generally fantastic. In fact, maybe mentally prepare your partner for this likelihood, just in case ;-)
I bought one box. You will probably need more. As it turns out, those first few weeks can be rather messy and leaky. One box may not last long!
I also wish I’d realised that there are different styles and shapes. My advice is to do a rest run before baby is born and try some different sizes and shapes on to see what you prefer. Ask for samples if you can. I ended up going through several brands before I found one that was comfortable, and then I had to find stores that actually stocked them.
Brooke had a great experience using Nature’s Child cloth breast pads too. They are available in a range of sizes.
Looking back, despite how prepared I felt at 9 months pregnant, I was completely unprepared for what lay ahead! But becoming a mum is a huge shift in your needs and daily routine, so it’s only natural to feel a little bit lost in the beginning.
Hopefully you can avoid a few of my mishaps by reading this list and the advice from other mamas! And also ask your circles of mama friends for advice on what they found essential in the early days. While we’re on the topic… Brooke’s amazing Kangatraining mums shared some of their best advice on Facebook – I’ve listed some of it below, because it’s too good to not share!
Honestly though, the best thing you can do is go with the flow, have back up and help on hand, and save some extra cash for potential last minute purchases – just in case!
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I thought it was time to talk about shopping while babywearing. After all, it’s a bit of a different experience than shopping with a pram ;-).