My Postpartum/Newborn Must-Haves [Part I]

So, I really thought I was prepared to bring these babies home from the hospital. I really thought I had done the research and had stocked my house with everything I’d need for newborn life. The naïveté! No amount of making checklists, reading blogs, and watching Tik Tok videos could have prepared me for what my babies and I would actually need during the first few weeks of their lives. I ended up returning a lot from my registry and rebuying things with the money, although even with gift cards and store credits, I still ended up spending a small fortune.

Every baby is different (as evidenced by the fact that I have literal twins who are total opposites), so what’s below isn’t gospel, but hopefully what I’ve written here is more helpful than the online registry checklists that say non-specific things like “4-8 onesies.” I hope this is helpful to any prospective moms out there who are (like me) clueless about what the proverbial “fourth trimester” brings!

Hits

  • Kindred Bravely Pumping Bras – Don’t make the same mistake I did. I didn’t buy a single pumping bra while I was pregnant. I bought a pack of nursing bras, thinking I’d tandem nurse twins (LOL). I saw so many hacks online of how to turn regular or nursing bras into pumping bras that I thought buying pumping bras would be a waste of money. Stupid! Run, don’t walk, to Kindred Bravely’s site and get the pumping bra bundle. These are SO comfortable and supportive and miles better than the cheaper pumping bra I bought on Amazon, the insert, or the Medela bustier I have. I’m planning to try this budget-friendly bra as well, but I’m so glad I splurged on the Kindreds.
  • Pads – Remember menstruating, that thing you haven’t done in 9+ months? Turns out you bleed for 4-6 weeks after having a baby, whether you deliver vaginally or by c-section. Another thing that they really should advertise!
  • Postpartum support garment – So, no one told me that after you give birth, you still look pregnant, but instead of your tight round belly, your insides turn to jello. I’m six weeks postpartum and my belly still isn’t totally back to normal. My abdominal muscles are shot—I doubt I could do a sit-up. A support garment is a huge help in the early postpartum days when it’s hard to even get out of bed. I imagine it’s also helpful for toning up and returning to your pre-baby body, but I am too exhausted to care about my appearance these days.
  • Mommy Knows Best lactation cookie mix – I can’t really tell if these cookies actually work, since I’ve been eating them along with taking supplements, eating other galactagogues, and power pumping, but they are friggin delicious and they give me an excuse to eat cookies every day, so I’m calling that a win. This is by far the best flavor…I think I’m addicted. These are also good in a pinch if you don’t have the bandwidth to bake, which, fair.
  • Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump – Maybe I’m hallucinating, but I swear I get better output when I use the manual pump. (This is my electric pump–it was covered by insurance!) Basically every brand makes a manual pump, and I’m sure they’re all as effective, but this pump takes the same bottles as I use to feed my kids, so I spend less time washing parts.
  • A wearable breast pump – Because you can’t always be plugged into the wall. I went with the Freemie Liberty II; it’s hundreds of dollars cheaper than the Elvie or Willow and I get about as much milk with this as I do with my regular pump.
  • Haakaa silicone breast pump – I CRY thinking about how much breast milk I wasted before I started using this thing. You suction it to your opposite breast while you’re nursing or manual pumping and it collects letdown…there are times when I get an extra ounce without even doing anything. It’s also a great shape as a receptacle for hand expression.
  • Bottles – I had registered for bottles and bottle warmers, but ended up returning most of them. I really recommend either waiting to buy these until the babies are born, or registering for the same brand as your breast pump (and on that note, check what type of breast pump they use at your hospital or birth center!) Brigham and Women’s (where I delivered) uses Medela pumps and accessories, so staying with the same brand means that all of my bottle gear (including the stuff they gave us at the hospital) is compatible. This is so goddamn convenient. (This is my favorite bottle warmer—it’s not the same brand, but the basin is super wide, so it accommodates every type of bottle. I caved and bought a second one after the second week home, because making one twin wait to eat was causing an insane amount of screaming.)
  • Formula – Even if your plan is to exclusively breastfeed, like mine was, you can’t control if and when your milk comes in, so you may need to supplement. My pediatrician recommended either the pre-mixed Similac Advance or Enfamil. I was hoping to just buy the one bottle and switch over to exclusive breastfeeding/pumping, but formula became a (possibly permanent) part of my journey. Formula is expensive, but don’t let anyone tell you differently—breastfeeding is also expensive. Between the pump, replacement pump parts, lactation cookies, storage bags, supplements, etc, it’s a huge investment of both time and money. I know “fed is best” is a total cliché at this point, but it’s true, and you can’t beat yourself up for not producing enough. Now if only I would take those words to heart and stop beating myself up. You could also buy donor milk from a local bank (my kids drank donor milk in the hospital and for the first few days home), but it’s expensive as fuck and I can see how someone might be sketched out by feeding their kids some other woman’s breastmilk.
  • Legendairy Milk products – Legendairy’s Liquid Gold supplement (also available at Target) was recommended to me by my lactation consultant. Their NipDip is my favorite nipple cream I’ve used (I also have Earth Mama‘s), and the Pumping Spray makes lubing up your flanges so much easier. I’m trying Pump Princess right now, along with Sunflower Lecithin. If I continue to see results (I literally just pumped almost 6oz. before typing this), I’m going to try Lactivist.
  • Earth Mama Organic Diaper Balm – WAY better than Desitin. Trust me. We also love Burt’s Bees Ointment.
  • Sleep and Plays (with zippers only-no buttons or snaps!) – For some reason, I didn’t seem to get that newborns only wear footie pajamas. I had (literally) two sleep and plays in each size for each twin…as though there aren’t days where they pee through five of them. My favorites are Gerber (super lightweight for underneath sleep sacks) and Carter’s with the two-way zipper. I’d say have at least 5 per child in each size, and be mindful of the material. Winter babies will need fleece, summer babies will need light cotton, etc.
  • Muslin swaddle blankets – You will find 1,000 uses for these things. Unfortunately, for some ungodly reason, every single person you know will give you blankets when you have a baby. News flash—babies can’t actually use normal blankets, as they’re a suffocation risk. The lightweight muslin blankets can be used as swaddles, bottle props, a shawl for mom, a breastfeeding cover—you name it. We’ve lined our changing pad with them so the cold pad material doesn’t shock the babies’ skin, and we’ve also pulled them taut and tucked them in as a sort of makeshift bassinet sheet. Donate all of the useless blankets you get as gifts (except the hand-made ones!) and buy these instead.
  • Sleep sacks – As I mentioned, babies don’t use normal blankets, so you have to buy wearable ones. I had bought swaddles and cocoon sacks, but as my babies were born in the fall, they needed something more substantial to sleep in. My son loves the Love to Dream swaddle (my daughter hates it), and they both use the HALO SleepSack Swaddles as well. Just be mindful of the TOG (Thermal Overall Grade) Rating (i.e. how warm the swaddle is), and the weight range for use.
  • HALO Bassinest – We have the twin version, so your mileage may vary, but this thing absolutely rules. It swivels, so I can attend to the needs of both babies without moving. The single bassinet is really affordable (as compared to the SNOO) and as far as I’m aware, they have similar functionality (minus being controlled by an app). I’ll get into this more in the “flop” section, but you don’t need baby gear that’s controlled by an app, except perhaps a baby monitor.
  • Baby Tracker app – Game changer. I actually bought the paid version for $5. Before I found this app, my husband and I were trying to keep track of all of their feedings and diapers by handwriting them in a notebook. It was so hard to format and keep up with, as the feedings, diaper changes, and my pumping sessions were all on different pages. This app can be updated by multiple users, so my husband can log info while I’m sleeping and I can update it while he’s at work.
me and my son, leo, in the solly wrap

Flops

And no post of this nature would be complete without a list of the shit that I thought I’d need but ended up either hating or not using.

  • Newborn-sized long-sleeved onesies – These might be good for older babies to wear with leggings or sweatpants, but since newborns are always in pajamas (see above), layering a long-sleeved onesie underneath is too bulky.
  • Nursing bras – Obviously, if you exclusively nurse, then this would not be a flop purchase, but since I pump and supplement with formula, I have zero use for these. Pumping bras clip down into nursing bras, so you get way more bang for your buck if you just buy pumping bras.
  • High-waisted postpartum underwear – These are actually cute and flattering, but I ended up stealing a bunch of mesh underwear from the hospital, so by the time I got around to wearing these, the bleeding had died down significantly. I’ll keep these to wear under dresses, but they’re too high to wear with normal pants.
  • Dermaplast – So, I actually didn’t buy this (I took it home from the hospital), but I ended up hating it. Earth Mama’s Herbal Perineal Spray is a thousand times better.
  • Twin baby carrier – This is obviously specific to people with twins, but the double baby carriers are not it. They’re baffling to try to figure out, and at least in the newborn days, the circumstance where you’d need to wear both babies, or even that both babies will be awake at the same time, is rare. Get a Solly Wrap—worth every penny. They’re so soft and actually really easy to use if you read the instruction manual. If you do need a double carrier, I recommend the Weego.
  • Twin breastfeeding pillow – I registered for the My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow, which I have yet to use even once. LOL at the idea that I was going to tandem nurse twins. I also got the Twin Z pillow, which we use every day. I set them down in this when they’re awake and I’m caring for them solo, and you can also use this to bottle feed them both at the same time. When I actually do breastfeed, if I use a pillow at all, I use a regular Boppy.
  • Owlet Smart Sock – So, to be fair, I probably will use these when we transition my twins to sleeping in their nursery, but they’re definitely not necessary (and expensive as hell). It’s basically an at-home pulse ox your baby wears to sleep. It’s not a substitute for safe sleep (meaning that unless your baby is on their back on a flat surface with no blanket/pillow, they need to be supervised), but it might give anxious moms the peace of mind that their baby is alive and breathing. As cool as the technology is (it sends alerts to your phone), there is really no reason why healthy, full-term babies needs to be monitored at home with a pseudo medical device (the company is pursuing FDA approval but the situation is murky at present). I’d say, unless you are experiencing legit postpartum anxiety, save your money and invest it in a newborn care class.

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