As a first time mom I didn’t know what the heck I needed to care for baby. I know we needed a car seat, diapers, etc. and I thought I was OVER prepared. But then she arrived, and real life happened and I was so unprepared. I bought things out of desperation after things got BAD. When Cash arrived, I had my list of essentials, but I was shocked at how much had changed in just the three years between kids. As a mom of two kids and a newborn photographer, I get to see a lot through my own experiences and the new moms who work with me. Without fail, these are my top 5 essentials for new moms. Not all of these are obvious essentials, but they are crucial to keeping mom healthy and baby sleeping.
The doula was hands down the best thing I invested in with Cassian. My birth with Rory was traumatic, and I knew I wanted another advocate in the room with me this time around. We booked with The Ohio Doula’s and Deb and Lindsey supported us. At our prenatal appointments it became so clear how little I knew of my rights and the options. While I would say I still opted for a fairly traditional birth, it was so empowering to know what my options were and to consciously choose them. I also was nervous in hiring a doula because I knew I didn’t want a no medication, water birth, and I was afraid of judgement. After voicing that to Deb and Lindsey they immediately reassured me that HOWEVER I wanted my birth to go was sacred and 100% ok. It was also during these appointments I realized and felt validated in how traumatic my first birth was. During the birth they also helped Michael feel more informed and empowered to help me. It was one of the few things Michael said was an incredible support to him. There was something so healing in my birth with Cassian becuase of how empowered we all felt, how I felt I had an advocate and a support system who really got it, and was there for ME.
One of the most common things I hear is how surprised my moms are at how hard breastfeeding has been. It was something I was completely blindsided by with Rory. At the hospital I was refused a lactation consultant and told it was supposed to hurt- both by medical teams and my family. I took Rory home and after a week I was sobbing during every feed because I was in such pain. I finally made an appointment with a lactation consultant and was chastised for not coming in sooner with how injured I was. It took months to heal. It was completely preventable. With Cash, breastfeeding has been easier from the beginning, yet I STILL felt like I needed lactation support at the beginning. When they begin to cluster feed, and you are exhausted, you naturally start to lose your form, and it is incredibly helpful to have a well rested expert there to help you ensure you don’t get injured. Even if you are exclusively pumping they can help you ensure you have the correct fitting flange and help you ensure you’re getting the best milk output. I highly recommend just planning for lactation support ahead of time. If you decide to go with a doula they often can provide lactation support (Lindsey supported us from The Ohio Doula), or you could hire someone just for lactation support. The main thing is you want someone who is IBCLC certified. In the Columbus area Baby’s Best Beginning is highly rated.
I was one of those people who REFUSED to suck my kids boogers out with a straw. Until she was literally dripping boogers and the electric aspiration we bought just made bubbles with the boogers instead of removed them. We ran out to buy a Nose Frieda and immediately we were able to clear her nose and we could see the relief. I promise you, no boogers enter your mouth. A booger free baby, is a baby who can sleep deeper. The more sleep they get, the faster they recover. You don’t need this thing until you NEED it, and you don’t want to deal with running to the store to find it. We all hate to think about our babies getting sick, but it does eventually happen and it is helpful to just have this on hand for when it does.
This is one of those newer inventions that I didn’t have for Rory, that made a huge difference with Cash. I am typically an over producer, which leads me prone to clogged ducts and a lot of lost milk in other boob letdown. With the Haaka I was able to capture an extra 4-6 oz per feed and quickly built a freezer stash. That being said, the regular Haaka possibly led to a higher milk production, which for me was not needed. However, they also have this other design which is a much lower suction but still collects your sympathy letdown. I have no idea what that is called but you all know about the other boob leak. Even if you are chosing to not breastfeed, the Haaka would be worthwhile in those first few days as your baby is regulating.
Everyone asks me my secret during their newborn session. HOW DO YOU GET THEM TO SLEEP SO WELL?! This is it. It’s a swaddle. I know it seems like some baby’s fight it, but they really love it. You just have to swaddle them tight enough, which is impossible in my opinion without a velcro of some kind. We used the Embe swaddles and loved them, but I’ve also heard wonderful things about the Ollie swaddle (they were all sold out for months when Cash was born). The Embe also has a nice transition option for partial arms out and all arms out which was super helpful when Cash started rolling early. Keep that moro reflex under check and get some sleep.
BONUS: Newborn Photography
Ok, I know I’m a little biased in this sense. But seriously, the rate at which baby’s change is incredible. In the first few weeks they can literally wake up and have grown between naps. I know it’s exhausting thinking about getting out of the house and getting pictures done, but my experience makes it super easy: A massive wardrobe with dresses chosen for this stage of motherhood, shirts for dad, coordinating hair and makeup to arrive at your house or my studio. All you got to do is get in the car and drive to the studio and I will take care of the rest. The newborn stage is a blur. I look at my daughter and I honestly can’t recall what she looked like at 2 weeks. And that’s ok. I can look at our photos and instantly be brought back. I can see how she fit just in my arms, and see her sweet little profile that is still there, just bigger. This is going to be your life’s greatest work. It is valid, sacred, and worthy to preserve it in a way that feels beautiful to you.
That’s it! While I could say there are many other items I loved during the newborn stage, these are my top 5. What do you think? Did I miss any other essentials?