The First Week, my survival guide

Instructions not included. Your mileage may vary.

While I was pregnant, I obsessively researched the hell out of nearly every baby product available. I read reviews, compared prices, googled blog posts, pinned on Pinterest. I even made spreadsheets for the more complicated decisions (strollers, cloth diapers) and I made lists after lists. I constantly updated and revised my baby registries on Amazon and Target and I loved reading other people’s registries. I admit that by the time Miriam arrived we had amassed quite a collection of baby clothes, diapers, bottles, and gear. As of yet I have no idea what will ultimately be useful, useless or destined for the charity shop, but I there are a few things that I’ve found to be indispensable over the past week. The first few days and weeks at home with a new baby you’re essentially just in survival mode, so here are the things I’ve found that have helped save me. I had a c-section, so my recovery needs are a little different than if I’d had a vaginal birth, but I think a lot of these things apply to both situations.

Depends. Yep, I’m just going to admit that. The hospital may give you those mesh panties and the “mama diapers” maxi pads, but you should have a stock pile of supplies at home. I was initially a little embarrassed buying these, but boy am I glad I did. You can combine these with the Always Overnights (in the purple wrappers, nothing but the purple wrappers are good enough!) for maximum protection and absorbency. Not only do the Depends add more protection, but they save your underwear and fit much better and more comfortably on your tender post-partum jelly belly than any pair of granny panties.

Swaddling sleepsacks. We tried to emulate the L & D nurses’ crazy-fast origami swaddling skills, but were not successful. Our little girl’s flailing arms freaked her out, and she couldn’t sleep or get comfortable unless they were tightly secured at her sides. There are different brands out there: the Miracle Blanket, the Halo Sleepsack, Summer Infant Swaddle Me…if you can get a variety used or as hand-me-downs you can figure out what works best for you.

Organizer basket. I quickly became frustrated with trying to gather everything I needed in order to feed Miri and be comfortable where I was, and realized I needed “nursing stations.” I either feed her in bed or on the couch, and I just tote my little basket to wherever I’m sitting. It’s packed with everything I need while feeding or holding her: nursing pads, lanolin, tissues, chapstick, water bottle, iPad, phone, note pad, etc.

Wedge pillows. As much as I complained about how uncomfortable I was sleeping in the hospital bed, it wasn’t until I got home and tried to take a nap that I realized I couldn’t lay flat comfortably due to my incision, and I hadn’t had to for days because I kept the head of the hospital bed elevated. This (along with hormones and exhaustion) led to a flood of tears, but Matt found me these wedge pillows at Bed Bath & Beyond and they absolutely saved me. I could sleep comfortably and also lean against them while breastfeeding Miri in bed.

There are plenty of other little things that I’m finding to be indispensable this week as well, such as disposable nursing pads, lanolin and nipple cream, good comfy nursing bras, very soft loose-waisted pants, but a lot of these things are per your personal preference. The things I listed above were items that I was surprised would be so important to me in these first few days.

Daddy: this one is the most indispensable, important, life-saving thing in my life at the moment. Sorry, he’s not sold on Amazon.

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