Having a baby can be a very daunting thing, especially if it is your first. When I was pregnant with my first, my husband and I signed up to our local NCT. I am so glad that we did, because not only did it prepare us for the birth, we made some lifelong friends (one couple we met are now the Godparents to our second baby and vice versa!).
We were the first couple to have our baby and when I got home, I sent an epic email to all my new NCT friends with some handy hints.
I thought it might be nice to share these tips to other expectant mums, so grab yourself a coffee, a pen and paper, get comfy and here goes!
Before your bundle of joy arrives
Make sure you have everything set up in your house for when baby comes – the practical stuff – take it ALL out. This even comes down to your changing station. Get everything out, so you’re ready to go when you get home.
My husband and I thought we had everything out and ready, but we didn’t have any of the changing stuff out, so when we got home from the hospital at 1am, we had to run around trying to pull everything together. We created a little “changing station” on the floor in our bedroom with nappies, wipes, disposable nappy plastic bags & hand sanitizer in a little basket. We also had a couple of towels laid over our plastic changing mat and some spares to hand, because changing mats are cold and it also helps if and when you have poonami explosions (you’ll wonder what world you walked into, when you experience your first one of these!). Have a few spare onesies to hand as well, for those nighttime changes.
Play around with your car seat, get it installed (Halford’s used to offer a car seat installation service) and practice putting it in and taking it out of the car. We had ours installed by Halfords, but never got around to working out how to get the capsule in and out, or how to adjust the straps. I mentioned above that we got home a 1am, which meant we were discharged quite late in the night. I remember standing in the car park of St. Peter’s Abbey Wing maternity ward in Woking, with my husband and our new baby, trying to work out how to get her into the car! Not fun!
At the hospital
- Buy yourself black high waisted underwear and pack some in your hospital bag. Should you have a caesarean birth, you want comfortable underwear that sits high above your waist.
- Don’t forget to pack nursing tops, socks (it can get cold in the hospital!), a dressing gown, comfy jogging bottoms. I really liked the H&M breastfeeding nursing tops.
( Click here for more information on the tops pictured)
- If you think there is a chance you may have a very small baby, make sure you have at least 5 popper baby suits in petit newborn size & vests. I had a couple of tiny baby things, but most were newborn/0-3 size & were way too big for my daughter. Mama’s and Papa’s have a lovely petit range.
- If you are open to having an epidural, make sure the midwife knows this as soon as you arrive at the hospital. Advise her that you would like to go on the list to make sure you receive it within the window. It’s good to make sure you are quite assertive with the midwife when it comes to your pain relief and if you can’t be, make sure your birthing partner is ready to be your spokesperson!
Breastfeeding is not as easy as you read in the books. Babies kick, they cry, they wriggle around, they get their hands in the way, they latch on, take a few sucks and then they fall asleep!
There are a number of different helplines available, so don’t be afraid to call them if you are having difficulties breastfeeding.
- NCT Breastfeeding Line 0300 330 0771 (8am – midnight, 7 days a week)
- Association of Breastfeeding Mothers 08444 122 949 (9:30am – 10:30pm, 7 days a week)
- Breastfeeding Network Supporter Line 0844 412 4664 (9:30am-9:30pm, 7 days a week)
- La Leche League 0845 120 2918
- The midwives will visit you at home after you’ve had your baby. They will be able to help you breastfeed, so make sure you ask them for help if you need it. I struggled with breastfeeding, so was glad to have this support and guidance.
- Before you sit down to start breastfeeding your bubba, get everything you need within reaching distance from you – mobile phone, snacks, bottle of water, tissues, muslin cloth etc, because once you sit down to feed, you don’t want to have to get up again with babe attached, to get something.
- Pop a hair tie onto the wrist of the side that you need to breastfeed from next. It is really easy to forget what side you last breastfed from!
- At the beginning of your breastfeeding journey (if this is the path you decide to take), put a nursing pad over the nipple you aren’t breastfeeding from, because when your milk comes in, it can go everywhere!
- Invest in Lanolin nipple cream – truck loads of the stuff! Be diligent in applying it after every feed.
- When your milk comes in, your breasts go hard and it can be quite uncomfortable and sore. I bought Lansinoh Therapearl Breast Therapy Soothing heat packs from Boots to help soothe the pain. A hot shower also does the trick. It usually only lasts a night or two.
- Put a dim night light in your bedroom, that you can switch on when you need to feed. My bedside lamp was way too bright and when I tried breastfeeding in the dark using my mobile phone for light, that ended up being a bit of a disaster! I purchased these Lindham Nursery Nightlights which were great. They gave off enough light so I could see what I was doing, but weren’t bright.
( Click here for more information on the Lindham Nursery Nightlights)
If you decide to bottle feed, or combination feed, then I highly recommend investing in the Tommee Tippe Perfect Prep machine, otherwise known in our house as the ‘Babychino machine’ !
It will absolutely save you, when you have to get up in the wee hours to make a bottle. This wonderful machine makes a fresh bottle of milk at the right temperature, in under two minutes!
( Click here for more information on the Tommee Tippe Perfect Prep machine)
- My daughter wouldn’t settle in her moses basket in the early days. My midwife suggested I put a hot water bottle in there to warm it up before putting her in. That advice was worth its weight in gold! Common sense, but make sure you take the hot water bottle out and check the sheet is not too hot, before laying baby down.
- We also used these great sleeping bags for our babies that kept them nice and cosy. They were from Mamas & Papas and had a zip, which made it much easier during night time nappy changes. These are great for little ones who always fight out of traditional swaddles!
- We never really got along with our moses basket, so ended up investing in a Snuzpod when we had our second baby – what an absolute godsend! It connects to your bed and has a zip down wall for easy access to your baby, for those night time feeds and settling (I have read that the new one now has a reflux insert). To save your pennies, I would look into purchasing a secondhand one that is in excellent condition and just buy a new mattress.
( Click here for more information on the Snuzpod)
The stuff no one talks about!
- If you have stitches, get a spray bottle filled with salty water to help the healing process & Andrex wipes are more comfortable to use than toilet paper.
- I took Arnica tablets after I gave birth to both of my babies. Arnica tablets are a natural homeopathic product that aids in healing swelling.
( Click here for more information on Arnica tablets)
- Eat lots of grapes, kiwi fruit, fibre – this will help with constipation which you may get from the drugs you may have had during your labour. You can also purchase a product called Lactulose from the chemist, if you need a bit more ‘help’ in that area.
I hope these handy hints help. This is just from my experience with having my babies. I would love to hear any other tips people have, so please comment below and share the love!