Admit it. The moment you got that positive pregnancy test, you started Googling all the things you’d need. For me, it was maternity clothes (because I’ll take ANY excuse to go shopping). Before long, you’ve got full carts all over the internet, Pinterest boards for everything from pregnancy diets to baby clothes to newborn photo ideas to nursery decor. And you’re not the only one. Any proper BFF has their own set of vision boards, for the baby shower of the century and all the best gift ideas for your new little bundle of joy. Now that we’re in the middle of this seemingly never-ending pandemic, we’ve got a whole new world of Zoom baby showers and online baby registries to sift through. The question remains, though: “What do I really need?”
Well, now. As a mom of 3 and a lactation consultant, I’ve had my own fair share of baby showers and I get to see plenty of new families with houses crammed full of new baby gear. I hate to break it to them, but they’ll probably never use half of it. So many products out there are marketed under the guise of “making your life easier”. They have new (un)expectant parents thinking they’ll be able to carry on with their lives the way they’ve always done, and now they “can’t live without” this gadget or that contraption. They come clambering into the hospital with the cutest swaddle wraps and the most gigantic breastfeeding pillows and it’s almost like I can see the future. Why? Because most of those products? They will do more harm than good. They will clutter up your house, drain your bank account, and the worst part? They will harm your breastfeeding relationship with your baby. There, I said it.
“Postpartum depression is on the rise, simply because new parents aren’t getting the care they deserve.”
Ahh… felt good to get that off my chest. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a good party. This is your baby and you only get nine months to celebrate and prepare, so by all means… throw ALLLLL the parties. Have the cupcakes and the punch with the sherbet on top, and the due date pool at work and all the things. I’m just here to make sure you get what you really need when it comes time for your family and friends to choose the perfect gift. Ok, so really. What DO you need? When you create your baby registry, what SHOULD be on it?
Here it is. Let me just say that you’ll find a few affiliate links below, but I can promise you that I will never recommend a product that will interfere with breastfeeding or make your life harder. Just my little tips for you, from one tired mom to another.
- Grocery Delivery
Many grocery stores offer online ordering and contactless delivery. This service is even more readily available since Covid-19 came along. If they don’t deliver, they may have curbside pickup. (Why yes, yes I have nursed my screaming child while waiting for my grocery order to be loaded into my trunk and no, no the attendant did not have a single word to say about it.) Ask your friends for gift cards to your favorite grocery store, or a gift card to a delivery service like Instacart. You may even help another mom earn a little extra spending money, shopping for your groceries in her spare time!
2. Comfortable Postpartum Clothing
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was actually naïve enough to think that immediately after giving birth to my little 8 pound peanut and losing a whole belly full of amniotic fluid, that I would miraculously fit into my pre-pregnancy pajamas while still in the hospital. HA! Not a chance. (P.S. modal cotton wasn’t a thing yet and stretchy sweatpants were soooo 1990. We were still pretending elastic wasn’t cool. Honestly, we weren’t that smart.) Thankfully, a dear friend of mine had brought me a brand new set of the comfiest pajamas just a few days before, and I had had the good sense to throw them in my hospital bag. So, when you’re creating your registry, don’t forget about yourself. Ask for nursing friendly, flowy, stretchy, flattering loungewear to wear around the house during your 4th trimester. Check out Kindred Bravely for clothing so comfy and flattering, you’ll feel beautiful lounging around with Baby, running errands or taking a nap. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s stretchy enough to nurse your baby, with easy access to your boobs.
side note: dark colors do a great job of hiding milk, spitup and poop stains. 😉
3. A Ring Sling or Wrap
Walk through any of the big box baby stores (or visit their website) and you’ll encounter an entire aisle of baby carriers, then another aisle of strollers, infant car seat combos and every which way to transport this tiny human. They all have their place, but as a lactation specialist, I have to tell you: most of these contraptions have the potential to negatively affect your breastfeeding experience, your milk supply, the bond between you and Baby, your back, and your bank balance. “Wow, all that from a stroller?” Well, that’s a bit extreme, but yes. I’ll put it simply… the best way to increase and regulate your milk supply is to keep your baby skin-to-skin as much as possible. The best way to keep Baby skin-to-skin? BABYWEARING! Investing in a good ring sling (and finding proper education on how to use it safely and comfortably) can save your sanity in those early days and weeks. Some great slings and wraps, along with some hands-on training, can be found at my favorite local baby store, Colorado Baby. Your baby will be in their favorite place on your chest and you’ll have two free hands!
Bonus! Want to try nursing while wearing your baby?? Check out this handy tutorial featuring my dear friend, @mamawilder.
4. A Haakaa
Now, you won’t hear me endorsing many name brand products because I generally feel that we already have most of the gear we need (i.e. mammary glands). HOWEVER… that said, go add a Haakaa to your registry right this second. As we all know, human milk is pretty much liquid gold. And any chance you get to collect and save that milk? Take it. The Haakaa, or other similar brand, uses no electricity or cords. It creates its own suction and attaches to your breast to collect your letdown while you nurse your baby on the other breast. You may also want to consider a milk collector like the Milkies Milk Saver to wear inside your bra in between feedings, to collect any leaking breast milk. You can store this milk just as you would store pumped milk, and it may even cut down on pumping time!
5. A Postpartum Doula
Do you have a group of friends looking to go in together on a big gift? Consider asking for postpartum doula hours. Postpartum doulas are quite possibly the most underrated necessity for the 4th trimester, like, ever. These amazing humans provide personalized care for YOU, so that you can provide the best care for your baby. They come to your home and do whatever needs doing, whether it’s holding Baby so you can take a nap or a shower, helping you with meal prep or laundry, teaching new parents about bathing and diaper changing, making sure you have ready-to-eat snacks and a full water bottle, and a plethora of other helpful tasks. Many postpartum doulas offer hours that can be divided up over a period of time, so you can spread out the hours for when you need help the most.
6. A Good CC Cream
Okay, maybe this one’s a given. But when you’re sleep deprived and it’s hard to find 10 minutes to shower in peace, and leaving the house is out of the question, your mental health can begin to suffer. It’s important to find tiny ways to help you feel good about yourself. While your postpartum doula is holding your baby, go take a nice hot shower, then put on your perfectly casual loungewear and quickly smooth on some tinted CC cream to give you that glowy, no-makeup, “I woke up like this” look. When you feel good, your baby will feel it too.
7. Prenatal Classes
Like many new parents, the first time I saw a flyer for a breastfeeding class, my first thought was “Why do I need to take a class on how to let a hungry baby suck on my boob? How hard can it possibly be??”. So, of course, I never made time for any class, I only read What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and I thought I was all set. Spoiler alert: I was very much not all set. So do yourself a favor. Make the time for a birth and breastfeeding class. One good side effect of this pandemic is that you can now take these classes online, from the comfort of your own home! And lucky for you, I happen to teach one! Colorado Baby offers a Labor Skills Class, followed by my Hello Breastfeeding Class, on the 3rd Saturday of every month. Add both of these to your registry and make sure you’re prepared for your birth and the months to follow.
8. House Cleaning Service
Seriously though, this should be a gift idea for anyone, ever. But ESPECIALLY for someone who’s just pushed out a brand new human. The last thing that family wants or needs to be doing is cleaning. This is another one that can be a little pricey for one person but not outrageous for, say, a group of your co-workers ;). If everyone pitches in, they could provide you with at least one or two good house cleanings after Baby arrives, for about the same price as that fancy baby swing you don’t have room for. And trust me, the relief of not having to stare at those dust bunnies under your coffee table while you nurse your baby and drink your *hot* coffee in peace, is priceless. Check with local cleaning services, or even ask around in mom groups on Facebook. Often, you’ll find other moms who clean houses part time. I’m sure they would love to make some extra cash and put together a postpartum cleaning package just for you and your needs.
9. A Home Visit with a Lactation Consultant
Obviously. Did you really think I’d leave that off the list? When you’ve just had a baby, the expenses can add up quick… and I’ve heard some hospitals have begun presenting you with the bill before you even head home with your new little miracle. So when your family asks what you need for Baby, send them a link to purchase a gift card for a lactation consult. When you need help with breastfeeding, you’ll get a home visit with me, and get breastfeeding off to a great start. You’ll also save money on all those other “band-aids” that claim to help with nipple pain and milk production, not to mention the outrageous cost of formula!
10. A Meal Train
Whether this is your first child or your 5th, a meal train may be the number one necessity after having a baby… which is why I saved it for last! New parents need nutritious, prepared meals but they don’t have the energy *or the hands* to cook right now. It’s acceptable to initiate one of these yourself, but it may be better received if it comes from your best friend, mother, sister, or anyone else close to you. If you’ve never seen a meal train in action, it’s simply a schedule where your friends and family sign up to deliver a home cooked meal to you on a certain date, or order something from a restaurant to be delivered to your door. Ideally, the meal should be enough to feed your whole family – hopefully with leftovers to spare. Casseroles are great, as they can be frozen for later if you end up with too much food at once. If you are a member of a church or local moms’ group, this is a great program to have in place for any member expecting a new baby. A meal train is easy to set up at takethemameal.com.
The internet is full of gift ideas for new and expectant parents. Most of those gifts are for the baby. Now, I’m not ever going to tell you not to splurge on that adorable onesie or hat or baby booties or whatever cuteness you can find. Just make sure to pair it with something for the one who’s done all the heavy lifting for the last 9+ months. After all, when she birthed her baby, she became a mother. TWO new people were born that day (more if she had twins or more).
Make sure you create a registry that takes care of them, too. 😉