The first 6 weeks: 12 Essentials

It's a little bit surreal to write this post. It feels like just yesterday I was walking my 38 week pregnant butt up and down the coastal trail trying to get little Ben out into the world. But it's true, this week Benjamin is 7 weeks old, he has completely outgrown preemie and newborn clothes, he smiles, coos, and follows my voice around a room because he knows I am his mama. Sweetest thing, I tell you!

I know I have a plethora of things to learn as a mom, and I know that all babies and mamas are different, but I put together a list of the things that I have found handy since he was born and I hope you find them helpful. Let me know what your faves are as well!

1. {{Newborn Clothes}} I know that this is not everyone's case, but my baby was particularly tiny when he was born. It was was estimated he would be around 7 lbs. but he only weighed 5 lbs. 15oz. Everyone told me to forgo the small clothes and only buy sizes 0-3 to start, this meant that Benjamin had not a single piece of clothing that did not swallow him. My advice: Remember that weight estimates are just that, estimates, so go ahead and get at least one outfit of each size and save yourself a trip to Baby Gap.

2. {{The body silk seamless nursing bra}} Not only a soft, comfortable bra, but also incredibly useful whether you nurse or pump. You can decide if you want to use the removable cups, but I tell you, back when I had sore nipples, those cups were lifesavers. I tried 8 different types of nursing bras and by far this Bravado Designs model beats them all.
Extra tip: Also super helpful is the {{Medela Sleep Bra}}

3. {{Aden and Anais classic swaddles}} These are in constant rotation in our house. Babies love being swaddled because it reminds them of their former womb quarters. Aden and Anais swaddles are long and soft. Pretty much the only way to get Ben to sleep tight.

4. {{A water bottle}} A lot of the weight you lose after giving birth is water weight. It may sound odd, but the best way to get rid of that water is to drink more water, plus keeping hydrated improves your milk supply, so drink up!

5. {{Mustela Stretch Mark Prevention Cream}} A little goes a long way with this cream, I only used 2 tubes throughout my entire pregnancy and I'm still using the second one. As we know the stretching of the skin by weight gain can cause stretch marks, but FYI, shedding those pounds can also give you some. I lost all the baby weight 2 weeks postpartum so you better believe I've generously applied to belly and boobs alike. Knock on wood, not a single stretch mark yet.

6. {{Motherlove Nipple Cream}} Nursing did not come easily or naturally to me. I could write an entire blog post on those woes, but for now know this, a good nipple cream is paramount in keeping your ta-tas scar free, and I swear by the Motherlove products. All natural ingredients so you don't have to worry about your baby ingesting it by accident, and it totally works!

7. {{Medela Manual Pump}} I'm sure you know by now that according to the Affordable Care Act, your health insurance provider is required to give you a breast pump at no cost to you. Go ahead, use it! But what if you are not at home and you are literally busting at the seams? Thanks to my friend Steph I learned that this handy manual Medela pump can be stored in my purse/diaper bag in case I need to use it on the go. Hellooooo pump freedom!

8. {{A swing}} Bounce and sway, baby, bounce and sway. There are lots of swings to choose from, we went with the mamaroo.

9. {{A stroller/car seat combo}} It was important to us to be able to use a compact stroller that was compatible with a car seat, meaning that when I go to the grocery store, I take Ben in his car seat, click it onto the stroller base, and off we go. The Stokke has gone with us from Nordstrom to the Forest Fair in Girdwood, it's compact, easy to maneuver, lightweight, and compatible with our car seat. Love it!

10. {{A baby sling}} There are tons of these in the market and you just have to find the right fit for you. The Solly Baby wrap and a sling that I borrowed from my lactation consultant have been great for me and Tim to baby wear.

These last 2 essentials are not things but people without whom, without exaggeration, I would not be here today.

11. {{A lactation consultant}} As I said before, breastfeeding was a challenge for me. Fortunately I had not one, but two incredible lactation consultants. I cannot tell you how helpful these women are! Constantly checking on me and Benjamin, making sure we found the right way to feed him while listening to my wants and needs, they have been key in making sure I take the right first steps in motherhood. I am eternally grateful for their patience and care.

12. {{A good partner}} Tim came with me to every single appointment, from the time we found out I was pregnant to my 6 week postpartum appointment. He held my hand through 19 hours of unmedicated labor, helped me figure out a feeding plan, holds me when postpartum depression gets the best of me, and is an incredible father to Benjamin. I have been fortunate enough to have not only him but my mom and many friends help along the way. The best advice I can give you is to make sure you have at least one person who believes and cares for you 100%, because when you're 2 hours into pushing a baby into this world, in the nursing trenches, or changing the 12th diaper at 3 AM, you will need their support. Whether it is your partner, mother, cousin or friend, remember, it takes a village.


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