What You Really Need to Keep a Baby Alive

I’m still working on our birth story. The writer in me wants it to perfectly portray the truly amazing experience that was our son’s birth and so it has been a slow process ripe with revisions. Long story short, we had a lengthy, unmediated home birth and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Michael Ryan will be six weeks old on Sunday and I finally feel like I’m physically recovering from the most strenuous thing I’ve ever done and mentally recovering from the postpartum fog. We’ve got the sweetest little babe in the world whose only newborn issue is a little projectile spit up and an aversion to me consuming dairy in even the most minuscule amounts.

Although we tried to keep our baby preparations simple and really didn’t purchase much of anything ourselves, we still managed to accumulate as bunch of baby stuff that’s been not so useful. If a bundle of joy is in your near future, here are five things you really need (assuming that you’ll be breastfeeding, cause you ought to… I’ll  jump on that soapbox in another post):

1. A Boppy Pillow (or another brand horseshoe-shaped nursing pillow)- I didn’t successfully latch MR without the use of this thing for almost a month.  Newborns are floppy. New moms are exhausted. This invention prevents head flopping and tired arms. After a few days practice, you’ll be able to nurse hands-free with the support of this pillow, facilitating the application of a little mascara or the enjoyment of a plate of spaghetti.  Baby can also easily doze in you lap between feedings. The Boppy is also great for grandmas, grandpas, and little cousins who aren’t accustomed to the strain of supporting an infant.

2. Nipple shield: I was committed to breastfeeding 100% and had prepared myself for every imaginable problem. Nevertheless, nursing my child has been ten times more difficult than twenty-one hours of natural labor. It just so happened that a friend popped one of these lifesavers into her shower gift. Lactation consultants and the like usually don’t recommend nipple shields for a variety of reasons. So far, mine has relieved me of horrific engorgement on day three and protected a cracked nipple for almost a month while it healed. MR had no issues going back to nipple au naturale and my supply didn’t suffer. It’s nice to know that if I’m terribly sore for some reason, I can always pop it back on for instant relief. Do your own research, but this thing provided a ray of hope during my darkest breastfeeding days. Nursing with a shield is better than giving up and not nursing at all, no matter what the experts say.

3.  Sleepers with snaps from neck to toe- Putting a newborn’s head through a neck hole is traumatizing for them and the nervous new mama or daddy who just changed the diaper that exploded all over his or her last outfit. Newborn gowns seemed like the smartest option and so I asked everyone for them and collected about twenty. They’re the most annoying garments imaginable and will wind up around baby’s chest in an instant.

4. An assortment of nipple butters/ creams/ salves- Up until a week or so ago, I had only used lanolin. I found a tube of lanolin-free nipple butter in my shower stash and oh my goodness, it is heaven. I should have branched out sooner. Lanolin is great for protecting cracks, but other problems will creep up on you, too. Even six weeks in. Get all the nipple ointments you can find and use them all until you find one that helps.

5. A rocking chair- No need for a custom designed glider upholstered in special ordered fabric. Beg for your grandmother’s tried and true rocker like I did or get an inexpensive but sturdy one from Cracker Barrel. The combination of back-and-forth motion and a little boob is a baby tranquilizer.

These five things alone will get you through the first six weeks of motherhood without tripping over brightly colored playmats, fighting with the buttons on tiny baby blue jeans, having reoccurring dreams that you nipple is falling off, or going broke.



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