“Top 10” Things to Buy for Creating Postpartum Sanity at Home

After arriving home following the birth of your new family addition, the two weeks (at least) that follow will bring moments of joy, fascination, excitement and awe.  However, you will also get exhausted, frustrated, maybe even angry.  You will definitely experience some periods of sleep deprivation.  If you are married or in a relationship, your relationship could be tested to the limits.

Adjusting to such a big change does not happen over night.  That said, in those first couple of weeks home when you have no idea what you are doing, there will be times when you need a quick fix.  You might even find yourself praying (or crying) for a “life-saver” (and I don’t mean of the candy variety).

Upon reflection on the 2-week anniversary of our son’s birth, we’ve definitely had our share of all the moments mentioned above.  We made some serious “mistakes,” but we’ve also learned a tremendous amount in a very short period of time.  As such, I thought it might be helpful to share our “Top Ten List” for creating postpartum sanity during the first two weeks at home.  My beautiful bride and I collaborated on the list below.  Some of the items were submitted by me.  Some were submitted by my bride.  Some were offered by both of us.

In order to make the list, the item needed to make Mommy and Daddy’s life significantly easier.  Actually, every item on the list, no matter how big or small, no matter what the cost, was a “life-saver” in its own way.   Each item relieved stress, enabled more sleep, and/or generally contributed to a healthier and happier living environment for Mommy, Daddy and Baby.  This was crucial because happy Baby equals happy Mommy and happy Mommy equals happy Daddy, or as most of the guys I know would say, “Happy wife equals happy life.”   So here’s our list…

 

Baby Bouton’s “Top 10” Things to Buy for Creating Postpartum Sanity at Home:

  1. “The Happiest Baby on the Block” (Book & DVD)
  2. mamaRoo Plush Infant Seat
  3. Newborn Deluxe Rock ‘N Play Sleeper
  4. TrueWomb Sleeping “Swaddle”
  5. The Sleep Sheep
  6. Kimono Style Side-Snap Baby T-Shirts
  7. My Brest Friend
  8. Hospital Grade Double Breast Pump
  9. Nipple “Cream”
  10. The Belly Bandit

“The Happiest Baby on the Block (Book & DVD)

This book is a must.  We were first introduced to it’s “soothing” concepts in a class we took through our hospital on “Surviving the First Month” (incidentally, if you have a class like this available to you, I highly recommend taking it and do it at least a couple of months before your due date, if possible, so you can take tips learned from the class and prepare accordingly for the impending birth).  In addition to our introduction to its concepts in our survival class, The Happiest Baby on the Block was the only book that our pediatrician recommended.  I also recommend getting the accompanying DVD because it shows exactly how to implement the proposed calming techniques.  This was definitely a key to my success in putting the techniques to use effectively because I tend to be more of a visual learner.

In The Happiest Baby on the Block, Author, Dr. Harvey Karp, discusses what he calls the often misunderstood “4th Trimester,” or the time between birth and the end of your baby’s third month.  This is the time that it takes your baby to actually “wake up” after nine or so cozy months in the womb.  He then explains how babies have a natural “calming reflex,” which acts like an “off-switch” for crying.  Doesn’t everyone with a newborn want to know how to flip that switch?  Trust me, you do.  Finally, Dr. Karp presents an easy approach, called “the 5 S’s,” to calm even the most fussy babies.  Master the 5 S’s (Swaddling, Side or Stomach Position, Shushing, Swinging, and Sucking) and you just might enjoy “The Happiest Baby on the Block.”  At the very least, Mommy and Daddy will definitely preserve their sanity and get more sleep.

The book is available at major book retailers (e.g., Barnes & Noble), Babies “R” Us, and of course Amazon.com, among others.

The Happiest Baby on the Block snapshots 2

Learn more at www.happiestbaby.com

mamaRoo Plush Infant Seat

Even with two parents at home to share in household and life responsibilities, there are times when everyone needs a break.  The mamaRoo Plush infant seat (actually considered a “bouncer”) enabled us to catch needed breaks by helping with the 4th of the 5 S’s – “Swinging.”  For an added bonus, it also has the ability to perform the 3rd of the 5 S’s – “Shushing” or white noise.  As a result, we have nicknamed this futuristic looking advice, “The Babysitter.”  Other than attempting to soothe Baby in our arms, this was the one thing we could go to that would keep our little one asleep during the day.  It was a miracle worker.  It enabled us to catch up on lost sleep, or more often allowed Mommy to nap during the day while Daddy did household chores (e.g., laundry, cleaning up, dishes, prepping meals, etc.), ran errands, or performed any of his numerous new roles since coming home.

The mamaRoo Plush Infant Seat from 4Moms keeps your baby occupied with impressively innovative and entertaining features.  It is fully loaded with five unique motions (we tend to like “Car Ride” the best) and five adjustable speeds.  It also has five built-in nature sounds and a hookup for any MP3 player (e.g., iPod).  So you can either turn on the “white noise” for relaxation and sleep (we tend to like “Ocean” the best) or keep your baby “dancin’” with iTunes (maybe a little Flo Rida?).  The seat also reclines to allow Baby to lie back and relax or sit up and play (probably for when Baby is larger and more active).  Finally, it features a mini mobile overhead with interesting ball toys.  The mamRoos’ combination of features can provide the perfect distraction for your little one when it’s time for you to get a hands-free moment.  At 14 lbs., it can also be moved easily from room to room.

Though its price tag is a little steep ($240), it is worth every penny.  If money is a concern, maybe have family and/or friends pool resources for an essential shower gift.  You can find these at Babies “R” Us, Buy Buy Baby, and giggle.

mamaRoo snapshots

Learn more at www.4moms.com

Newborn Deluxe Rock ‘N Play Sleeper

This was recommended by a friend and was truly a life-saver at bedtime.  We found early on that our little bundle of joy did not sleep well while laying flat on his back.  We have a wonderful Moses Basket that looks very comfy and has soft snugly sheets.  Unfortunately, our boy just hasn’t taken to it yet, and we think it’s due to the fact that the Moses Basket does not have an option for sleeping on an incline.

After the first attempt with the Moses Basket, The Newborn Deluxe Rock ‘N Play Sleeper by Fisher-Price filled the nighttime sleep gap.  It differs from the Moses Basket in that it enables Baby to sleep at a slight incline, which is more comfortable for babies who need their heads elevated, (e.g., if the baby is prone to spitting up, has reflux, etc.).   It’s also extra deep with a structured insert that surrounds Baby in comfort and makes him/her feel secure. This nifty sleeper is so very plush and snugly that I’d probably want to sleep in one…if I was only a couple of feet long.  I so wish there was an adult version.

Finally, it can be rocked very easily and is very lightweight (weighs less than 9 lbs.) so it’s easy to move around your home.  We keep it right next to our bed at night so we can “finger rock” it when Baby starts fussing.  At $75, we think it’s a bargain.

Newborn Deluxe Rock ’N Play Sleeper by Fisher-Price

This item is sold exclusively at Babies “R” Us.  Learn more at www.babiesrus.com

TrueWomb Sleeping “Swaddle”

Remember the first S of the 5 S’s?  “Swaddling.”   Good swaddle blankets are crucial tools for surviving the “4th Trimester.”  Learning to swaddle quickly and effectively is an essential skill to learn as soon after Baby’s birth as possible.  That said, it will take some time and practice to get good enough, and fast enough, where you will feel comfortable swaddling in the middle of the night, when you are sleep deprived and your precious little one is screaming like a banshee.   In times like this you need the Sleeping Swaddle by TrueWomb.

On our first night home with Baby, we had one of those nights mentioned above.  When all was going wrong at 3am and we needed to quickly swaddle and un-swaddle our little Tasmanian devil, our life-saver came in the form of the TrueWomb Sleeping Swaddle.  I realize that there are a lot of other brands out there that are advertised as “sleep swaddles” (e.g., Halo Sleepsack Swaddle, SwaddleMe, etc.) and I’m guessing that some of them are ok, but the TruwWomb Sleeping Swaddle has features not found in other options.  Specifically, it is made of “stretchy” cotton so Baby can actually move around a bit inside (e.g., extend legs or maintain fetal position), and it incorporates “pockets” in the two wings so the arms of your little Houdini actually stay secure even under the most impressive attempts at escape – see image below).

If you are expecting and putting together your registries, or just making lists of initial necessities, seriously consider adding this essential item.  If you are friends, relatives, colleagues of someone who is expecting or just gave birth, seriously consider getting them this essential item.  It’s easy to use under fire, quick to “install,” and it neatly secures all flailing body parts.

TrueWomb Sleeping Swaddle Snapshots

Learn more at www.truewomb.com

The Sleep Sheep

Once you get your little bundle of joy swaddled up and in a cozy sleeper of some kind (e.g., mamaRoo, Rock ‘N Play Sleeper, etc.), some kind of background noise, or white “noise” can be helpful, and/or essential to tame your savage beast.  Mommy or Daddy can achieve this by performing the 3rd of the 5 S’s – “Shushing”.  This works well when you are calming Baby in your arms, but you might not want to “shush” for say 45 minutes straight.  At 3am, this can be particularly exhausting.  This is where the Sleep Sheep can become one of your best friends.

The Sleep Sheep by cloud b is basically a plush stuffed sheep with a hidden removable sound box that plays four distinctive sounds (Mother’s Heartbeat, Spring Showers, Ocean Waves, and Whale Songs).  The soothing sounds can make for better sleep, for Baby, Mommy and Daddy (we prefer Ocean Waves).  We also like it because it is portable so can be used anywhere you need some white noise fast (e.g., Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom, nursery, Family room, wherever).  That said, if you want a more stationary solution, it has a velcro strap for easy attachment to crib or bed.  It requires two AA batteries so the auto-shut-off (in 23 or 45 minute options) comes in handy.

The Sleep Sheep can be found at giggle, Babies “R” Us and other specialty retailers.

Sleep Sheep snapshots

Learn more at www.cloudb.com

Kimono Style Side-Snap Baby T-Shirts

For the first two weeks of your baby’s existence, you probably won’t need much in the way of clothing other than a bunch of “kimono style” side-snap baby T-shirts (preferably 6-8 short sleeve and maybe 3-4 long sleeve), a couple pairs of pants and a baby gown or two (preferably “convertible” so the gown can turn into a baggy “onesie” with pants).  You’ll need the option for “pants” so you can take your little bundle of joy in a car seat (e.g., ride home from hospital, first pediatrician appointment, etc.).  Most of the cute stuff you get from your shower(s) will be useless for the first couple of weeks and you probably won’t get these at baby showers.  So plan to stock up on these kimono style T-shirts yourselves or ask a close friend or relatives to help you out with some.

You might be wondering why you probably won’t get these at your shower(s)?  First, they are not typically very interesting or stylish.  They are typically non-descript white or off-white t-shirts.  Some brands will get creative and make a solid blue or pink, depending on Baby’s sex (e.g., Better Basics by giggle).  Second, even if you are specific on your registry(s) about what you want, and more importantly, what you NEED, most well-minded folks will ignore what you say you actually NEED, and get you something that they like, or that they think you need, or that they think is cute.   Since these are a must from day one after Baby’s birth, stock up BEFORE you get home.

Why side-snap or kimono style?  First, medical professionals recommend these because after Baby’s umbilical cord is cut, it takes a week or so to heal and you don’t want snaps or zippers irritating the wound site.  Second, onesies, baby bodies, things with a bunch of snaps, things that you need to pull over Baby’s head are a pain in the ass to change, especially when Baby is screaming bloody murder, which happens to be most of the time he/she is getting a fresh set of duds or diaper “installed”.

You are asking for trouble if you try to get too fancy in the first couple weeks with cute and style.  If you want cute and style, get some swaddle blankets with cool patterns and/or colors and stock up on colorful skull hats.  We do have one cool outfit for “going out” that has a matching kimono style T-shirt and pants (we actually got the matching booties and hat as well).  In 2 weeks we only used it once, on day 2 for our first checkup with the pediatrician.

Also, short sleeves are better than long sleeves.  Long sleeves are also a pain in the ass to get over a squirmy newborns arms that don’t like to straighten.  Unless you are in the arctic tundra or you keep your home as frigid as your refrigerator, long sleeves seem like an unnecessary nuisance to me.  If you are concerned about keeping Baby warm, he/she should be swaddled in a blanket most of the time during the first two weeks anyway, so should be plenty warm with short sleeves if his/her arms are kept tucked in.  An extra blanket at night, appropriately tucked in on each side, can be used if you keep the heat down late at night.  Though we did have a few long sleeve side-snap tees, after a day or two we tried to only use them at night (if then), unless they were the only things clean.

We went with Better Basics organic cotton side-snap T-shirts from giggle, but many brands exist.  Carters and Kissy Kissy seem to also be popular choices by others.  The last thing I suggest is to only use the same brand so you can get used to where the snaps are located; they are all different.  It just so happened that on the worst night we had in our first two weeks, it was also the one night that we grabbed the “wrong” side-snap T-shirt that was a different brand and it just exacerbated an already nightmarish diaper and clothing change.  Save yourself the stress.  Find a brand and style you like and stick with it.

You can find kimono style side-snap baby T-shirts at giggle, Babies “R” Us, Buy Buy Baby, etc.

Baby Side Snap T-Shirt snapshot

My Brest Friend

A newborn baby typically needs to eat 8-12 times per 24-hour period or every 2-3 hours.  If Mommy is breastfeeding, she will be spending a lot of time feeding your new little bundle of joy and to ensure she sticks with it, comfort is key.  Thus, a nursing pillow is a must, but all nursing pillows are NOT created equal.

The My Brest Friend Deluxe Wearable Nursing Pillow has absolutely been one of Mommy’s “best friends” during the two weeks since Baby’s birth.   This pillow makes it easy to stay comfortable and secure while nursing Baby because it is designed to help eliminate lower back pain due to improper support while nursing as well as minimize the movement of Baby during feeding.

The wrap-around design secures to the body to help Mommy and Baby maintain ideal positioning and latch-on.  The arm and elbow rest eliminate shoulder stress while the adjustable silent release strap naturally adjusts to all different sizes.  Small mounds on the top of the pillow (“feeding risers”) raise the baby’s head, aiding ingestion and digestion.  It even has a convenient pocket for nursing accessories (e.g., nipple cream, breast pads, stopwatch, etc.).

The My Brest Friend Deluxe Wearable Nursing Pillow is used by many hospitals and is highly recommended by lactation consultants.  It can be found at Babies “R” Us, Buy Buy Baby, and other specialty retailers.

My Brest Friend snapshot

Learn more at www.mybrestfriend.com

Hospital Grade Double Breast Pump

If Mommy plans to breast feed, at some point she will need a breast pump for a variety of reasons.  It turns out that my beautiful bride is very fortunate and is a prolific milk producer.  Thus, early on, she needed to “express” above and beyond what she was feeding our little piggy to help with discomfort associated with extremely full breasts.  This might not be the case for everyone, so the benefit of a breast pump in the short-term will depend on how well Mommy’s breast milk is coming in, what your lifestyle is, etc.  For us (or actually for Mommy), it was a must for some needed relief.  An added benefit is that we were able to start stocking up on breast milk (or “liquid gold” as I like to call it) from day three or four after birth and our freezer is almost already overflowing.

We like the hospital grade double pump for a few reasons.  First, it is a simple, robust piece of equipment that is easy to use, especially combined with a “hands-free” nursing bra (purchased separately).  Second, the double pump saves time because Mommy can express from both breasts at the same time.  Finally, our medical insurance provided reimbursement for breast pump rentals from the hospital so we minimized money out of pocket initially.

As for brands, our hospital only rented Medela breast pumps.  We went with the Medela Symphony Double Breast Pump and Mommy seems very content.  Check with your hospital well before your go into labor to determine if they rent, what they rent, and when you need to reserve one.  Also check to see if your medical insurance will cover the rental.

Medela Symphony Double Breast Pump

Nipple “Cream”

Breastfeeding can wreak havoc on Mommy’s nipples.  If her nipples get irritated, or worse (e.g., chapped or cracked to the point of bleeding), then it will be very difficult for Mommy to continue breastfeeding.  A good nipple “cream” can be part of the solution to keep Mommy’s nipples in tip-top shape, which should help with breastfeeding going forward.

There are many nipple creams and ointments on the market.  I’m sure that all have their own redeeming qualities, but be forewarned that not all nipple “creams” are created equal.  My beautiful bride actually started with Mustela Nursing Comfort Balm, which seems to be an adequate solution for daily nipple maintenance, however when breastfeeding really kicked in at first, and Mommy just couldn’t deal with the discomfort of sore nipples, Lansinoh HPA Lanolin came to the rescue.

Lansinoh HPA Lanolin provided soothing relief with medical grade lanolin.  It’s completely natural and hypoallergenic, so you don’t need to remove it prior to breastfeeding.  You can find it at Babies “R” Us, Target and many other locations.

Lansinoh HPA Lanolin Snapshots

Learn more at www.lansinoh.com

The Belly Bandit

Nine months of pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum recovery can all create physical and emotional changes in Mommy.  As a result, after Mommy has blessed you with a beautiful new addition to your family, she will need to recover both mentally and physically in a variety of ways.  On the physical side, she will probably need to reduce discomfort, and want to look slimmer, instantly.  Introducing, the Belly Bandit…

The Belly Bandit by Bamboo is a simple belly wrap that helps tighten and shrink a woman’s belly, waist and hips post pregnancy.  It is a seamless wrap that hugs a woman’s body for a comfortable inconspicuous fit under most garments.   While wearing it, Mommy will look slimmer instantly.  The Belly Bandit will also help Mommy reduce discomfort and lose inches faster, while assisting with the healing process – it supports Mommy’s back and legs, and improves posture. The Belly Bandit also helps to minimize stretch marks and adds support while breastfeeding. On the emotional side, it helps to restore Mommy’s confidence.

We found Mommy’s Belly Bandit at A Pea In The Pod.

Belly Bandit snapshots

Learn more at www.bellybandit.com

Other Essential “Items” for Creating Postpartum Sanity at Home:

There are a couple of other essential “items” that you can’t really purchase, Family and Friends and a Loving and Supportive Husband.  To be clear, my wife made me include this last one (she actually had it on her Top Ten List).  I just needed to get that out of the way up front so I’m not accused of being arrogant or self-serving.

Family & Friends:

You cannot underestimate the value and importance of a support network, especially from those people who you love and who love you.  We found that there was no shortage of people who wanted to see our new addition, but also who were willing to help us out in many ways.  Whether it was bringing us meals from our favorite restaurants (which believe me is more helpful than you might expect), to offering to go shopping for last minute necessities.  We’ve even lined up a long list of future babysitters.

Sometimes it’s just nice to feel connected to the outside world.  I love my bride and I love my boy, but sometimes I just need to carry on an adult conversation with another adult who is not my spouse.  Also, baby talk is fun for a while with our bouncing baby boy, but he doesn’t respond much and that gets old.  So don’t be afraid to ask for help from your family and friends.  There is nothing like the birth of a baby to bring family and friends closer together.

A Loving & Supportive Husband:

Being as loving and supportive as possible was a given for me.  I decided early on in the pregnancy that I was going to be a pro-active participant in my wife’s pregnancy, labor, delivery, and post-partum recovery.   Let me be clear, it’s not always easy during the first couple of weeks.  Daddy will also get sleep-deprived, exhausted, and frustrated with both Mommy and Baby.

However, how could I commit to anything less than being loving and supportive during this trying challenging time when she did all the hard work carrying our “little” devil for nearly 42 weeks, THEN going through a brutal labor experience and delivering a 9.5 pounder?   She blessed me with a beautiful and healthy baby boy, so I figured the least I could do was be a loving and supportive team player.

As I mentioned before, all the items above were “life-savers” for us.  They made our lives easier, reduced stress and worry, and/or allowed us to get a little more sleep during the first couple of weeks at home after the delivery of our little bundle of joy.  Our “Top Ten List” was easy to come up with, but I’m sure we missed something.  In addition, every Baby is different so some of these might work for you, where other items might be more appropriate.  We’d love to get your comments on this list and hear from you about the things that helped you get “safely” through your first two weeks home.

Until soon…thank for listening.

 

 

Comments

  1. Tina Tang says:

    in expecting triplets next month and so relieved to have found you. can we all get together soon? I want to meet you baby jake and give him kisses.

  2. Bobby Revaeb says:

    My wife is having trouble lactating. Do you have any suggestions for how to help her milk come in better? I noticed you guys eat a lot of jalapeños. Des that help the milk supply or will that hurt the baby.
    Great blog. Thanks for the advice!

    • Bobby,

      I must admit, I’m not a lactation expert. My advice would be to discuss this with your pediatrician and/or contact a lactation consultant. Even though my beautiful bride was fortunate enough to have the baby latch on from the start and is a prolific milk producer, we recently met with a lactation consultant to address some oversupply issues. The lactation consultant was extremely knowledgeable, provided some great advice about when and when not to express, offered some great tips on breastfeeding techniques, and even put together a short-term plan for my wife. I’m not sure where you are located, but we went to Herself Moms and they facilitated her lactation consultation. I recommend you check them out at http://www.herselfmoms.com. If you are not in our area, I suggest checking with the hospital where your wife gave birth. They should have some resources and/or suggestions at the very least.

      As for the jalapeños, my wife is more a fan than I am and I have no idea if they help with milk supply. I know my wife enjoys them and I figure at the very least if she is less stressed, then her body is more inclined to perform as it was designed. As for whether or not they “hurt” the baby, I don’t know of any definitive evidence that they have any effect on babies, good or bad. We asked our pediatrician about my wife’s ingestion of spicy food and how that might affect our little one. He felt that “gasiness” and “fussiness” in babies is less connected to Mommy’s diet than many seem to think. He acknowledges that infants might have allergies to certain foods.. For example, he suggests that dairy and soy are usually the first two culprits to watch for. However, in terms of spicy foods, he suggested that folks around the world in other cultures where spicy foods are prevalent (e.g., India, Mexico were specific examples he provided) have been having babies for a very long time without changing their diets and can raise healthy and happy babies. He also is not a big believer in the notions that greens, broccoli and other whole foods negatively affect infants as a result of breastfeeding. All that said, all babies are unique and every individual situation is different. My advice would be for your wife to eat what is comfortable for her (if she likes jalapeños then you shouldn’t necessarily be afraid of them) and monitor if there are negative consequences with your baby after the next couple of feedings. Sorry I could not be of more help.

      I’m glad that you find the blog useful. Thanks for reading and good luck to you, your wife and your little one.

      Sincerely,

      Dad Bouton

  3. Delaney Hunter says:

    Ok, since you went “there” and used the word nipple I have to tell you a that my number one life saver was a nipple shield – made by Medela. It helps protect mom and I theorize that it helped later on with the transition to bottle feeding when I went back to work. Second life saver was Mylicon for those times when what I ate did not agree with my babies. A few drops was like fairy dust..seriously! Call me if you need anything at all….I do laundry like a boss! Love you guys.

    • Delaney,

      Thanks for your comments. I’ve been wondering about the effectiveness of the nipple shield. Did its use pose any challenges with latching on during breast feeding?

      As for the gas relief drops, we have used those as well and probably would have made a “Top 12-15” list though it has been difficult to know their actual efficacy because we have been experimenting with multiple options to calm our little one. For example, we’ve tried gas relief drops, gripe water, changes in Mommy’s food consumption (e.g., eliminated dairy for the past couple days at the suggestion of our pediatrician), we started him on probiotics (also at the suggestion of our pediatrician), and we are more actively focusing on soothing via the 5 S’s.

      Sincerely,

      Dad Bouton

  4. Janet Cassie says:

    What a wonderful resource this is for new parents. 25 years ago, when our “little devil” was born, I did not have access to such information and was almost psychotic due to lack of sleep and being overwhelmed! She only slept for 2 hours at a time for the first six months, and the methods we used to calm her and encourage sleep seem so antiquated today (I.e., placing the baby seat on top of a running dryer, and going for a REAL ride In the car!). Keep up the good work, both of you are doing a stellar job of parenting a newborn! Love ya.

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