What you really need (& don’t need) for your new baby

Oh the consumerist excitement that comes with a first pregnancy! One of the only consolations for the lack of alcohol and sushi during my first pregnancy was the prospect of shopping, shopping, shopping. And as I’m a project manager during my day job, I was obsessed with making sure that I had everything I needed all perfectly ready for the day the baby arrived.

My poor second baby was lucky that I bought him a new cot mattress.

Only because I’d already bought everything under the sun for my first, and we still had all those things. Some of them hadn’t even been used yet.

The internet will reveal countless lists of what you “need” to get for your baby. I duly studied these, collated them into a final list, and created a spreadsheet, including an estimate of my total projected spend. Seriously.

So I would like to save someone out there from going totally overboard like me. Therefore, here is my (hopefully) no-nonsense list of what I think you need before the baby comes, what you should wait to get until after the baby comes, and what you can leave in the store.*

baby clothes.jpg

What to buy before your baby comes

  • A cot for the baby to sleep in (obvs) and a brand new cot mattress.
  • A moses basket is also useful because the baby can then sleep in the living room or wherever you are around the house. But I would try to get a hand-me-down or charity shop one because you only use them for about 3 months and they can cost upwards of £60.
  • Bedding for the cot and moses basket: 3 fitted sheets for each.
  • 3 small cellular blankets to use for swaddling and out & about.
  • Those baby sleeping bag thingys. Gro-bag is the main brand but Asda does some brilliant (much cheaper) ones. They really are the best things for babies to sleep in right up until they move into a bed.
  • 8 all-in-one sleepsuits. Baby can stay in these day and night. White is a popular choice but I prefer colourful ones that hide the poo stains. These often come with built-in scratch mitts too – the stand-alone ones will be lost immediately.
  • 1 little newborn hat for right after baby’s born. I never used hats again until baby was much older.
  • My opinion is that you only need vests if it’s summer and very hot – and then baby can wear that on it’s own.
  • A couple cute jumpers/cardigans.
  • A cute little pramsuit or other warm going-outside suit. I like the ones with ears on the hood.
  • Nappies, nappy sacks & wet wipes along with a good changing mat.
  • A pushchair. For some they are practical; for some they are fashion. Up to you – but make sure:
    • you can fold & unfold it one-handed
    • you can put the brake on & off without struggling
    • it has a raincover and cosy-toe
    • it will fit through narrow doors and down the aisle of a bus
  • A carseat.
  • A playmat with flashing lights & music. I left mine laying on these for long periods of time.
  • A vibrating bouncy chair. This is a godsend when you need to get stuff done.
  • A baby bath or bath support & some baby bath soap.
  • Cotton wool pads (not balls). When they are really small you can use these for cleaning tiny poos and also wiping gunge off eyes and noses. You will quickly move on to wet wipes though.
  • Muslin squares, like 20 of them. You will go through loads of these.
  • A changing bag that makes you feel happy. Treat this like a handbag purchase because you will take it everywhere.
  • Even if you’re planning to breastfeed, get a steriliser, about 2 small bottles, a bottle brush and some made-up formula milk in those sterile bottles. The pre-made baby milk is perfect for midnight feeding panic moments.
  • If you’re planning to formula feed, I would go ahead a get a full pack of formula powder as well.
  • Metric arseloads of maternity pads.
  • 1 box of breastpads.
  • Lanolin nipple cream.
  • Hand lotion (your hands will be messed up by all the post-nappy-change hand washing)
  • Chocolate.
  • A couple of nursing bras in a size larger than your maternity bras, but don’t spend too much because your breasts will change and you will need to perhaps get different sizes after the baby comes.

Wait until after the baby comes to get…

  • Lots of bottles. You may find that your baby doesn’t like the teat on the bottles you bought, and so you’ll have to experiment. You’ll be annoyed if you buy a whole collection of one type of bottle and they don’t work.
  • A breastpump. You might be introduced to the magical world of breastpumps while you’re in hospital. This may well change your perspective on what sort of pump you would like. You may also decide you don’t need one. Don’t get a manual one!
  • A sling or baby carrier. Check for a sling library in your local area and try these out with your baby before buying. There’s a lot of marketing around these but everyone is different as to whether they can actually get the damn thing on.
  • Baby toys. People will probably buy these for you. If not, you can always order some online.
  • Dribble bibs. Not all babies dribble until they’re seriously teething, which might be months later. You can use muslins to catch milk drools. Wait until you need the bibs.
  • A nursing cover. You may find you want one, and you may not. Wait until you feel the need as they are pricey.
  • Same goes for nursing pillows. I just used a throw pillow or normal pillow.
  • Extra bottle-feeding equipment such as bottle warmers & carriers. You may find these aren’t necessary for the way you manage bottle feeding.
  • Nappy cream. My babies never got any nappy rash until they were much older and then my health visitor recommended different sorts of creams than I would have bought in my pregnant state.
  • A baby monitor. You’re not really meant to have the baby sleep in a separate room until he/she is 6 months old, so you might as well wait. The technology changes fast and it will be better to get a newer model.

Things you don’t even need

  • Non-bio washing detergent. Unless unusually sensitive skin runs in your family, I could never see any issue with using bio. It gets out the poo a lot better.
  • Baby socks. Baby socks are the world’s most pointless things. They fall off immediately. If you must have some for cuteness purposes, invest in some sock-ons. Those things work pretty well. Booties are also purely for cute and you will probably receive at least one pair as a gift.
  • Special towels for the baby. Hooded towels are cute, but if you use a normal bath towel you can make it kind of hood-like without spending extra money.
  • Cot bumpers. They are pretty but they’re dangerous for baby. So you’ll just have to take them off before using the cot which you won’t want to do when you haven’t slept for more than 2 hours at a time in the last week.
  • Top and tail bowl. Sometimes these come in cute packages with the baby bath, and you can get one if you want, but you can just use any old bowl!
  • Nursing tops. I found that these exposed more boob than just lifting up a standard (more attractive) top. If you like wearing dresses though, nursing dresses are worth the investment.
  • An Angelcare mat. These are mats that monitor your baby’s movements and set off an alarm if they don’t move for a period of time. These will send your nerves into overdrive as you will get lots of false alarms. My sons had them in hospital and they went off several times a night for no reason whatsoever.

What were your must-have baby items? What things did you buy and never use?

*Disclaimer: This is all just my opinion based on experience. I’m not an expert on shopping … but I’ve had a lot of practice.

 

 

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Birthing babies is a messy business – my postnatal anxiety

I’ve mentioned before in my breastfeeding post about the traumatic birth I had with my first son. Without going into too much detail here, I was induced, I had an emergency c-section and he was in special care with pneumonia for 10 days after he was born.

This all threw me for a massive loop. I had planned a natural water birth with only gas and air in a midwife-led birthing centre. I’d been doing pregnancy yoga and was convinced my body was a childbearing temple and I could have the birth I wanted if only I thought positively about it.

What a load of bull!

I had a drip and was strapped to a foetal monitor which kept bleeping in alarming ways that made me think my baby was dying. I had an epidural after being pricked in the spine countless times, and finally was rushed to theatre (after 20 hours of labour). I was so scared and addled during the surgery that I sang all the songs from The Sound of Music to my anaesthetist. Apparently, that was a first for him – but he was quite young.

And I hadn’t even considered, nor had anyone mentioned to me, the possibility of my son going to special care and being in one of those plastic oxygen boxes. I thought that only happened if your baby was premature. Turns out, special care happens to loads of mums for all sorts of reasons. But nobody warns you ahead of time.

Birth trauma and its effects

By the time I finally brought my son home from hospital, I was seriously messed up. I was convinced he was going to spontaneously die. We couldn’t fit his cot in our bedroom, so I slept in the nursery with him (away from my husband). I lost so much sleep, staying awake listening to make sure he was still breathing.

I remember that every night I would go to sleep repeating to myself, “Please God let him be okay. Please God let him outlive me. Please let him grow to be an old man.” My anxiety about his survival was all consuming.

And other times, when he had colic and wouldn’t stop crying, I wanted to throw him out of the bloody window. And as soon as that thought crossed my mind, I would be overtaken with guilt.

When I think of myself back in those days, I see a woman walking around in a sleep-deprived haze of constant anxiety around my baby’s well-being. Who couldn’t go on a buggy walk without me stopping to check on him every couple of minutes. I hated his rear-facing car seat because I couldn’t see him – we had to buy a mirror.

When well-meaning people would try to hold him or feed him a bottle, I was liable to hover and even yell at them, criticising their techniques – even though these were people who had children of their own and knew what they were doing.

I wore the same clothes day and night – a nursing top and baggy elasticated-waistband trousers. They were inevitably covered in baby sick and the crumbs from my attempts to eat toast without putting the baby down.

I was lonely but I couldn’t maintain a conversation. The days and nights ran into one another. Each day it seemed like I’d be stuck forever in my dark living room, curtains drawn, trying to soothe my screaming baby. Each night was spent begging forgiveness to the universe for being such an ungrateful and unworthy mother.

When I look back at the woman I was in those early days of first-time motherhood, I almost don’t recognise her.

Getting better

I never sought any help for my condition. I didn’t realise it was a problem. I thought it must be normal. In retrospect, I know it wasn’t normal.

As time passed, the trauma of my birth and my son’s illness faded.  Eventually, my son started crawling. Seeing him be independent and robust relieved some of my anxiety. By the time he was 1, I was feeling more like myself.

I was lucky that I got better in my own time. But it would have been much better if I’d realised what a state I was in and that there was help out there for me.

That is why this is the first post in what I’m hoping will become a series on maternal mental health. My next post will deal with the PND I had after my second son. And then I’m hoping to commission guest posts on the topic. Not just on diagnosed PND or anxiety, but about any mental health challenges you might have faced as a new mum. These could be shared on my blog anonymously if you like, or you can put your name to it.

If you would like to contribute a post on maternal mental health, please email me at themumreviews (at) gmail.com.

If you are feeling down, anxious, lonely or depressed after having a baby, you are not alone.

You can find support and information on http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/. Please also consider speaking to your GP or health visitor, and seeking support from family and friends.

My Petit Canard
Tammymum
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Losing the baby weight: Myths vs reality

Once you get pregnant, not only do people start telling you what is safe and unsafe to eat, they also keep reminding you not to “eat for two”. Well, sod that. If I can’t drink and I can’t eat the best cheese, if I’m sick, tired, hormonal and my boobs hurt, you know what I’m going to do? Eat cake. During both of my pregnancies, I ate cake and ice cream and mountains of curry, pizza and peri-peri chicken. And both times I did gain weight which took a lot of time to lose. Plus, I wasn’t exactly skinny to start with. But I don’t regret a single mouthful of sugary goodness, because pregnancy made me feel awful and the cake helped me cope. If you feel the same as me, then you should cake away. Tell any judgemental friends or family that someone on the internet (clearly an expert) said it was fine.

Once you have the baby, the health police stop banging on about how not to poison your baby and gain loads of weight, and start banging on about how to lose the baby weight. Luckily, these days celebrities are being a little more honest about how bloody difficult it is. But there are still countless articles trying to give you “realistic” tips about how to use the weight-loss tricks of celebrities. I’ll tell you how celebs lose baby weight. Two things:

  1. They have bottomless pits of money to hire personal trainers and diet chefs and nannies to look after their babies all night.
  2. It’s their job to lose the weight.

So I’m here to tell you a real person’s view on losing baby weight. I think there are loads of myths about losing the baby weight that are propagated even by our well-meaning friends and family. These conspire to make new mums feel worse about their shape. And the worse you feel, the harder it is to make the changes you want to make. So here are my biggest baby weight-loss myths and some tips (from my humble experience) to help you actually lose the weight in real life (if you want to).

Biggest baby-weight loss myths

“9 months on and 9 months off”

This one has a good intention behind it, implying that it takes as long to lose the weight as it does to gain it. But in my experience, 9 months is not long enough. It took me the best part of 2 years to lose the baby weight after my first, and I’m still working on the weight gained from my 22-month old. The problem is, raising babies is hard work. It’s physical, emotional, mentally straining and you don’t get much sleep. These factors combine to make you reach for the nearest chocolate-y sugary fatty-fat-food full of energy to help you get through another day. You might not have time to cook proper meals or if you do cook them, you may never eat them. My first son used to cry like clockwork whenever I sat down for a proper meal. As a result I used to eat like I’d been stranded on a desert island living on coconut water for the last year.

“Breastfeeding helps you lose the baby weight”

This is a big one that they like to roll out in those wonderful guilt-trip pamphlets and signs as displayed in hospital and given you by health visitors. Now, as I’ve explained in my breastfeeding story, I was only able to achieve mixed-feeding with both of my children. So perhaps that is why breastfeeding didn’t do jack for helping me lose weight. But whether or not your baby is fully, partially, or not-at-all breastfed, don’t feel bad if it has no correlation to you losing weight. Breastfeeding makes you produce all sorts of hormones that you don’t normally produce. Plus, if you’re on the pill, there are only certain pills you can take when you’re breastfeeding and one of the side effects of progesterone-only pills is weight gain. I have never been able to achieve any significant weight loss until I’ve stopped breastfeeding.

“Just eat a bit less”

Someone actually said this to me when my baby was only 3 months old. I was tucking into a fairly modest plate of pasta and he’s all like, “maybe you should have a smaller portion?”. Pfffft. I had my stomach cut open 3 months ago. I was up all freaking night with a baby hanging off my boob. You try it and see if you want to eat less sodding pasta.

“Try some postnatal fitness classes”

I actually highly recommend these. But not because they will necessarily help you lose weight. They might, or they might not. I did baby yoga with both children, walked miles and miles pushing buggies around, and tried some more difficult mum fit classes too. None of these resulted in weight loss (any calories burned were replaced with sleep-deprived-chocolate-binges). However, the exercise improved my mood and I met other mums for potential friendship/coffee drinking/joint chocolate binges. The baby yoga was also a lovely way to bond with my baby.

“You can get back to jogging 6 months after birth”

Maybe if you are Jessica Ennis-Hill or Paula Radcliffe. My dabbling in running before both of my children was not fortifying enough to get back to it easily. I tried to start jogging again when my youngest was 6 months old. It lasted for about a week before I put my back out and caught the latest virus that was going round Eldest’s preschool. Get back to your usual exercise when you’re ready, but don’t feel bad if it doesn’t work out, because babies are hard work. You will eventually be able to resume (vaguely) normal service.

“You have to lose the baby weight”

You may actually be comfortable in your skin post-baby just the way you are. If you are, then chill. Don’t let anyone tell you what your body should look like. The way you feel is the only thing that matters.

Things that helped me lose baby weight

What works for me might not work for you, but I’m going to tell you anyway in case it does.

Finding the right diet

When you’re ready to watch your diet, that is. Based on my experience, I wouldn’t recommend dieting before baby is at least 9 months old, sleeping well at night, and until you’ve stopped breastfeeding.

There is no magic bullet for dieting, but what I’ve found is that each person can find something that works for them. I’ve had friends who’ve lost the weight and kept it off successfully with Weight Watchers, the South Beach diet and Slimming World. But for me, it was The Fast Diet. Even before I had kids, I could never stick to any sort of diet or even so-called “just eating healthy”. But The Fast Diet, also known as 5:2 or intermittent fasting, has been a miracle for me. You limit your calories to 500/day for just 2 days a week and eat reasonably (i.e. whatever you want without totally bingeing) the rest of the time. After both children I’ve lost around 2 stone (24 lbs) with this diet, after never being successful with any other. It sounds crazy but if you read the book it makes sense, and there are loads of other health benefits from fasting. It’s made me crave healthier foods. I’m currently obsessed with avocado, and that’s a phrase I never thought I’d say.

Finding a realistic exercise programme that fits into mum life

The only thing that has worked for me for getting fit and keeping fit is the Couch to 5K programme. It’s a running programme where you gradually work up, through interval training, from being a “couch potato” to being able to run 5K. It seriously works, no matter how unfit you are. It helped me get over a dislike of running. And it’s a great solution for a mum, because you can do it any time and with no special equipment. However, you may find something else is your thing. The biggest thing is to remember is that any exercise is good. Even if you aren’t consistent, one gym session a month is better than none.

Getting your brain on your side

I’ve found that I’m enjoying my exercise sessions more lately and I think it’s due to things that I’ve changed in my life that keep my mind busy while I’m exercising. In the past, I found exercise so boring! But since I’ve started blogging, I’m coming up with post ideas in my head the whole time I’m running and the time flies by. I forget I’m running. I’ve also subscribed to a music streaming service, and it’s really helped to always have fresh, new music to listen to. It’s also helped me to set a goal/reward to look forward to. For me, I’m hoping to look and feel awesome in time for my 20-year highschool reunion next summer.

Enlist support from your family

If your partner resents the time you spend exercising, or hates the food you cook on your diet, you are not going to succeed. Talk to your partner and explain how important it is to have his/her support. Support your partner’s diet and fitness goals as well, and see where you can cooperate in meal planning and family scheduling. If you have older children, you can also get them to join in on your exercise. My 4yo loves a bit of stretching or calisthenics.

Accept setbacks

Being a mum is a bloody hard job. If your child gets sick, or you get sick, or you have another life emergency, or a bereavement, or you get injured during your exercise efforts (I’ve had a hundred bad back or twisted ankle incidents), you might end up having to take a break from diet and exercise. Try not to let it get you down. It’s real life. As long as you keep trying whenever you realistically can, you’re doing great.

As for me, I’m doing okay. My youngest is not yet two, and I have about 5 more pounds of baby weight to lose. Then I can tackle what I like to call my “beer and burrito” weight.

Are you eager to lose the baby weight or are you happy just how you are? Do you have any weight loss and fitness tips you’d like to share?

Cuddle Fairy
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