Having a baby can be one of the most beautiful experiences of your life. Becoming a parent completely changes the way you see the world, and your life (and time) will never be the same again.
As a first-time mom, excitement over your unborn child can often be dampened by the anxiety and uncertainty that come with pregnancy and birth.
Will I be a good mom?
Will I make it through a natural delivery?
Which bottle brand is the best?
Which bum cream should I use?
These are just a few of the questions that race through the mind of a mom-to-be, and they can leave you exhausted and overwhelmed. In a world of perfect belly pics and Pinterest-worthy nurseries, new moms need honesty, support, and information from other moms that is actually helpful!
If you are a mom, you will completely understand the frustration of receiving unnecessary gifts (or advice) from well-meaning friends and family. You can also become overwhelmed by all the gifts and advice and find yourself nervous about impending motherhood.
So, let’s chat about what new moms really need to help them transition as they enter motherhood and things they could seriously do without!
10 Things Every New Mom Needs
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but as a mom who has been doing this for a while, these are some of my top picks for new moms.
1. Nipple Cream
This might not apply to every new mom as to how you choose to feed your baby is a personal decision.
But if you have decided to breastfeed, then a good quality nipple cream is essential. Your body is incredible, and the fact that it can feed your baby is a gift. But you really have to look after your boobs if you want them to be up to the task.
Newborns eat every few hours, and constant feeding can dry out your nipples. Good nipple cream will keep the skin moisturized and supple, allowing you to feed in comfort. Apply generously after each feed, and you can avoid cracked nipples because, believe me, that is one of the most painful things I have ever experienced.
Be sure to keep a tube in your bag, your nursery, and next to your bed (or wherever you feed your baby most often), so you always have nipple cream on hand.
2. Mesh Underwear
Yes, we are going to talk about all the motherhood essentials that no one tells you about!
Nothing makes you feel as unattractive as the mesh underwear they suggest you take to the hospital for after-birth comfort. I remember looking at them in the store and deciding to skip them when I was pregnant with my first son.
My mom had gifted me an economy pack for my hospital bag, and although I only packed them to make her happy, I was so thankful I had! They are game-changer in the comfort department. Soft, stretchy, and breathable. All the things you never knew your post-baby body needed!
Whether you have a natural birth or C-Section (I have had both, so I know what I am talking about!), they are just the thing for those first few tender weeks.
3. Wet Wipes
You can never have enough!
I remember staring at the many packs I received in the lead-up to my son being born and being sure that I would never have to buy another box. I was wrong. They lasted two months.
As a new mom, you completely underestimate the amount of gross stuff that will come out of your adorable newborn. From spit-up and projectile vomiting to poop explosions, your baby will cover you and all nearby surfaces in bodily fluids!
Trust me, you will want to have wet wipes available in every room of the house, the car, your bag, and maybe in a fanny pack (just kidding, kind of).
4. Baby Sling
So, some moms have said they didn’t take to babywearing, and that’s their choice. But if I’m honest, I don’t understand it. I loved having my babies tucked against my heart in a cozy sling.
I also loved the freedom I had when they were happily sleeping, and I had both hands free! This became more important when I had a toddler. Whether it is a baby wrap, sling, or carrier, find the one that works best for you.
Babywearing is not only good for your newborn, but it also allows you to have a measure of freedom that will help you feel more like yourself.
No, I am not asking you to take even more pictures of your sleeping baby!
But make sure you get photos of yourself and your baby. It’s easy to stay behind the camera, happily snapping every moment of those first few weeks. I also understand that you have no desire to document your unwashed hair, sweatpants, stained shirts, and tired eyes.
But those are the moments your should capture and cherish. Those early days are a blur, and you won’t remember them. Having some raw and real photos of you and your baby will mean everything to you when they are bigger.
So, whether you snap selfies or ask your partner to take a few, make sure that your motherhood journey is documented.
6. Help In The House
Keeping your house tidy should not be your priority in those early days.
You should be basking in the newborn goodness and enjoying the slow days that make up early motherhood. Trying to keep up to date with housework, laundry, cooking, a new baby, and taking care of yourself can feel overwhelming. Don’t try and do it all on your own!
Ask for help! When your friends and family offer to help, let them. Ask your partner to throw some laundry in the machine and empty the dishwasher.
I know you can do it, but that doesn’t mean you should. This time is short so take the time you and your baby need and let others help with the more mundane tasks.
7. Empathy (And Grace)
This one is for those of you that have a new mom in your life. They are going to need all the love and empathy you can give them. Having a baby is a hugely emotional journey that nothing can prepare you for. Not to mention the crazy hormones!
As a friend or family member, you need to give them space to deal with all the feelings (and hormones) in a safe space free of judgment and expectations. And mama, you need to give yourself grace!
You are going through a life-changing experience, and you will feel scared, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Take it one day at a time and give yourself the grace you need to learn how to be the mom your baby needs.
This might seem like a strange one, but having convenient snacks on hand will come in handy.
You are not going to feel like making meals and often won’t have the time. It’s possible your fridge might be empty if you haven’t thought about going to the store! Have some quick, easy, and nutritious snack options on hand when you are too tired to even consider cooking.
If you have chosen to breastfeed your baby, making sure you have had enough to eat and drink will be vital for a healthy milk supply. A selection of healthy snacks will make this process much more manageable.
As a new mom, particularly if you have other children, having time to eat can be a luxury, so snacking while you feed your baby is a good option.
I can’t stress this one enough!
As a new mom, you expect to experience a new level of tiredness, and I’m not suggesting you push for eight solid hours of sleep every night. Sadly, that is probably a few years off still!
But try and get one or two better nights each week because being exhausted for a sustained period will take its toll. Not only will your body have a more challenging time regulating your hormones, but you will become impatient, moody, and feel overwhelmed more easily.
Ask your partner to help with feeds to give you an extra 2 or 3 hours of sleep, and you will find that new motherhood is made just that little bit easier.
The old saying, ‘the days are long, but the years are short’ can be so irritating to hear when your elbow deep in diapers and dishes, but it really is true!
Those early years fly by so quickly, and one day soon, you won’t remember their sweet baby smell or the late-night post-feeding cuddles. Take the time to soak up those early days.
On the flip side, though, take the time you need to keep yourself happy and healthy. Motherhood and martyrdom should not be synonymous. Raising a family can take everything if you let it, and it is easy to forget that you need to include yourself in the care you provide.
A bath, a good book, a run, a solo trip for coffee, whatever it is that brings you joy. Make sure you take the time to fill your cup so you can be the mother you want to be.
5 Things Every New Mom Could Do Without
Now, you might not agree with all of these, but they are topics I feel very strongly about!
1. Stuffed Toys
Please don’t gift a new or expecting mom a stuffed toy!
She doesn’t need more, and the baby certainly isn’t going to use them. They take up space in the nursery or end up being packed in a box or cupboard, never to be seen again.
Sure, you could have one or two sentimental or themed toys but leave it at that. If you really don’t know what to buy a new mom and are reaching for a stuffed toy, just wait. Take a minute and re-read numbers 1-10 of this list.
Instead of a useless teddy, buy a frozen meal, a massage session, or a snack hamper.
2. Unsolicited Advice
Keep your opinion to yourself! That is the long and short of it.
Being a mother is difficult enough without having people telling you how to do it. Now, I’m not saying don’t share your knowledge, but maybe consider how and when you do it.
New moms are tired and emotional, and no advice, no matter how well-meant, will be well received. Why not ask friends and family to write down some of their best parenting tips and put them into a scrapbook for the new mom to browse through at her leisure.
And mama, don’t forget that no one else can dictate how you make it through early motherhood. Take the advice that is helpful and leave the rest!
3. Unexpected Visitors
Do not arrive at the house unannounced!
Those first few weeks at home are about settling in, and friends and family need to respect that. A new mom needs to be focused on herself and her baby, not worrying about the state of her house (and her hair) when guests drop by unexpectedly.
If you have been rude enough to arrive unannounced, you better make sure that you don’t ring the doorbell, that you bring a frozen meal, and come prepared to clean and tidy up.
And for heaven’s sake, don’t ask to hold the baby, particularly if you haven’t washed your hands!
4. Diaper Bag
Ok, let me caveat this. You do need a bag for nappies, wet wipes, bottles, and other essentials.
But it does not need to be an unattractive bag designed purely for functionality. Motherhood consumes you, and so much of your life changes to suit the littlest human in your life. So, why not have a bag that looks good?
There are so many unique (and practical) bags available that you could use as your diaper bag and handbag. Babies come with so much stuff that you don’t want to travel with more than necessary. Having a stylish diaper bag that doubles up as a handbag will make traveling more convenient.
5. Pressure From Friends And Family
This pressure can come in many forms.
Whether they are expecting you to be out and about with your baby or parenting in a certain way, don’t let your friends and family pressure you in these early stages.
No one else is walking your motherhood path, so it really isn’t any of their business. If you don’t wash your hair, have a messy house, wear the same sweatpants for a week, and don’t leave the house, then that is your choice.
If you decide to formula feed, co-sleep, or use cloth diapers, that is your choice. Don’t let other people’s opinions about your parenting choices dictate the mother you want to be.
And there you have it, 10 things every new mom needs and 5 things she doesn’t.
Oh, mama, I know it is hard. I know that everything feels new and uncertain, and you are adjusting to this little person and a body that feels alien. But you are going to be just fine.
The impulse to buy all the books, bottles, and gadgets is strong when you find out you are expecting. But you don’t need all the stuff. Actually, you need very little when it comes to material things.
What you really need is empathy, love, and understanding. You need a support system to help you adjust to motherhood. But more than any of that, what you really need is the belief that you are exactly what your baby needs and that you are enough.