Men, you can just skip this one…no hard feelings.
As promised, here’s my list of pregnancy, nursing and baby recommendations. Keep in mind, that we did all of our research on all-things-baby in 2009 when we found out we were expecting Analiese. Most of these items were purchased or gifted to us during that year or in early 2010 before Analiese was born. The baby world is always changing, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these items have already been trumped.
As with anything, we put a lot of time into researching what would be best for us and our Baby Girl without breaking the bank. I read books and blogs as well as consulted with friends and family to figure out how to make pregnancy as comfortable as possible, labor as natural as possible, nursing as convenient and efficient as possible, and living life with a baby as easy as possible.
The following is a list of items that I purchased (or received as a gift), used and would recommend to others.
1. The Business of Being Born – Watching this solidified my decision to plan (and pray) for a natural birth experience. It’s graphic and powerful.
2. Baby Bargains – My cousin sent this to us immediately after hearing the news that we were expecting. It was such a helpful reference as we registered for some of the bigger, more expensive items. It also served as a real check list when it came to determining what was really necessary and what we could do without. (i.e. does anyone use those diaper stacker things?)
3. Exercise Ball – It was really hard for me to only sleep on my side every night. I tried to favor my left side (like you’re supposed to), but would go on my right side from time to time to change it up. However, I still craved the option to lay on my back. (I think it was more of a mental thing where I knew I couldn’t do it, so I wanted it even more! Pure torture!) I used the exercise ball to stretch my back: kneel on the floor and lay over the ball with your arms and head the way you would if you were laying on your stomach…and stretch! This is also a great position for a massage!
4. Bellaband – There are other brands out there that probably work just as well. Sometimes, I’m just a sucker for a label. I had a deep love for my bellaband…
5. Maternity Underwear – I have no idea why I waited so long to purchase these. Once I did, I didn’t even think about wearing regular underwear for the rest of my pregnancy. They were SO much more comfortable.
- Chiropractor – Mine treats tons and tons of pregnant ladies. She has a special table that accommodates the baby belly. Your body moves so much differently when you’re pregnant, so it would be a great time to go on a regular basis throughout your pregnancy if you’re not already.
- Magnesium – My midwife suggested taking magnesium to help with the headaches I started to get.
- Vitamin D – Ask your doctor how much she would recommend you taking. I started taking a lot more than I usually did because I was so deficient and planned to breastfeed.
- Homeopathic supplements: Arnica – to avoid physical trauma associated with childbirth; prevents excess blood loss, shock, and trauma to soft tissues; Caulophyllum – natural source of oxylocin; helps produce effective contractions; can be used to initiate or enhance labor; will not bring on contractions if the woman is not ready to go into labor and may relieve excess pre-labor toning contractions; Cimicifuga – to ease fear of giving birth; aids the uterus to contract in a coordinated and effective way; Red Raspberry Leaf Tea – to tone my uterus; Black Currant Oil – to soften the cervix. You can read more about these items here.
- Thank you cards – My mother-in-law stock piled me with cute packs of thank you note card sets from TJ Maxx and I pretty much used them all between showers and gifts after the baby was born.
- Prenatal yoga – I went to one class and wished I could have made time for more. I did not do a very good job at exercising throughout my pregnancy and it probably would have paid off during labor if I had.
6. Lily Padz – I always felt limited with what I could wear from my wardrobe that was nursing friendly. I had two nursing bras and two nursing camisoles that I had to wear under everything. I also have washable nursing pads that get inserted into either the bras or camisoles. They are totally necessary to avoid leaks showing through, but tend to make your chest look lumpy. The disposable pads are thinner and a little smoother looking under clothing, but I don’t find them as comfortable. Lily Padz stick to your breasts and are silicon, so they are lump-free. I got them to wear under a dress with a stretchy knit top for a wedding. You can wear them under anything without a bra or camisole. Works like a charm.
7. Medela Swing Pump – I’m so glad I got this one. Medela is the leading brand for breast pumps. I was tempted to get the more expensive option with two pumps, but opted for the single, electric pump since Iwasn’t going back to work and wouldn’t be as pressed for time to pump throughout the day.
- Breakfast items you can eat with one hand – I started baking scones once a week. I’m was typically very hungry when I fed Analiese first thing in the morning (mind you, I’ve never been a big breakfast eater). I needed something to grab quickly and eat while I was feeding her. Breakfast bars are good, too. I had a basket next to the chair in her room that I usually kept stocked with snacks and stuff, too. (Thanks for that, Pamela!)
8. Uniden Video Monitor – We should really be getting some sort of commission from Uniden for our consistent endorsement of the “Wireless Video Surveillance Portable Security System” monitor. It’s not advertised as a baby monitor, but we LOVE ours and have recommended it to anyone who is in the market. We can count at least four couples who have taken our recommendation and have not been disappointed.
9. UPPAbaby Vista Stroller – We were blessed to have our stroller purchased for us by some very generous family members. But we still did a fair amount of research and visited Buy Buy Baby multiple times to try them all out. There are so many different kinds of strollers–umbrellas, travel systems that accommodate an infant car seat, joggers. Ultimately, we wanted a versatile stroller that wasn’t super bulky to lug around. The UPPAbaby Vista is pricey, but we absolutely love it. It comes with a bassinet (for when they’re itty bitty–you can swaddle them up and lay them right down without having to buckle anything) as well as a reversible (can face you or out) and adjustable (can sit straight up or recline in a few different positions) stroller seat. The front wheels can lock so you could use it as a jogger, but it’s not really meant for that. The foam wheels are also so much better on rougher ground than the typical plastic ones. Another reason we really liked this one is because by the time baby #2 comes along, we can still use it with the rumble seat for A. Really, the only thing I don’t like is that it doesn’t have a “tray” of sorts at the handle bar for carrying cups or water bottles. However, they recently came out with a snack tray attachment for baby which has come in quite handy. The storage underneath is awesome and so much more practical than the ever-popular Bugaboo.
While most travel system strollers can be used with a specific, matching infant car seat, the Vista works with three different infant car seat brands as long as you have the right adapter.
Note: The Baby Jogger City Stroller has recently entered the stroller scene and it seems to have the same versatile features as the UPPAbaby Vista. It’s also a little cheaper, but the bassinet kit is sold separately. Of all of the features of the Vista, the bassinet is probably the one thing we could have done without.
10. Chicco Key Fit 30 Infant Car Seat – Of the three infant car seats that work with the Vista–Chicco, Graco and Peg Perego–we chose the Chicco Key Fit 30. Compared to the other two from a cost perspective, it was right in the middle. It ranked high in our Baby Bargains book and we found a pattern–“cubes”–that was gender neutral and wouldn’t show stains too easily.
11. Chicco Ct. 0.6 Ultra Light Umbrella Stroller – My mom and I took a trip to Florida with Analiese when she was about 10 months old, and we decided to invest in a cheaper, light weight umbrella stroller that would make walking through the airport a little easier. There are definitely cheaper options out there when it comes to umbrella strollers, but we wanted it to last a while without having to be replaced when future kids enter the picture. Chicco has become a brand we like and trust given our experience with the infant car seat. Although we don’t use it day-to-day, having the smaller option has been helpful when we need to pack a stroller with us for a car trip.
12. Ergo Carrier – This carrier came highly recommended by many baby-wearing friends at church. I would not call us baby-wearing parents at all. Ross always opted to carry Analiese when we were out together. I, on the other hand, liked giving my arms a break and would use the Ergo on walks with the dog or when she was very little and I felt empowered to attempt a “nap on the go” so I could be social during her nap time. Eventually, I committed pretty hardcore to a crib-only nap routine, so my baby-wearing days were short. When I did wear it, I always comfortable and felt that Analiese was very secure.
13. Miracle Blanket – If you plan to swaddle your baby at sleep time, this is the blanket to use! It’s awesome.
14. Comfort Blanket – Pick one style and get 3 or more of them. We introduced a “lovie” when Analiese was around 10 months old. She always has it when she sleeps and it’s a source of comfort when we’re in a new place. Regardless of how often a baby uses a lovie, it is bound to get pretty gross after a while and will need a washing. But what happens when you take the comfort blanket away…or, gasp! it gets misplaced or forgottten? You get a clean one out that looks exactly like the other one!
15. IKEA Gulliver Crib – It’s safe and cheap.
There are just a few things that I wish I would have known beforehand or put a little more thought into before the arrival of Miss Analiese:
- Choosing a pediatrician – All of a sudden it was on our to-do list (along with ten thousand other things) and I felt rushed to figure something out.
- How babies sleep – Around week 3 I decided I wanted to have Analiese on a sleeping/eating schedule versus on-demand feeding and sleeping. You may have a different approach, which is totally fine. Ultimately, our method came from a variety of sources: friends, family and a few books: the baby whisperer and it’s counterpart, healthy sleep habits, happy baby and the happiest baby on the block (dvd). I felt like once we decided to do sleep training with Analiese, we were in a rush to figure out exactly what would be best for her. It was super stressful and I started doubting myself a lot. If I had known what a challenge it was going to be, I would have read some of these books while I was pregnant so that I was more prepared and had an idea about what approach I wanted to take. I think I would have felt more confident during the first few weeks of sleep training if I had put more time into the research beforehand. You can read about A’s sleep journey here, here and here.
- Nursing takes a while to get the hang of – Don’t be discouraged! It’s ok that this is ALL you will be doing for the first few weeks…it’s all you’re supposed to be doing during that time. It took me a while to accept that and to stay focused on both teaching Analiese and learning from her.
- Freezer meals are a Godsend – I recommend doing a mega cook session. It was so nice to have homemade meals ready to go in the freezer…that ross could prepare instead of me. If doing a mega cook session seems overwhelming, you could start doubling recipes that freeze well.
I know this is long and opinionated, but I hope it’s helpful to someone!