Reality of life with a newborn looks different for every single child and caregiver, and it shifts and changes a hundred times a day depending on the minute or the mood or the moon. No matter how a person births—or if they’re the birthing parent at all—those first weeks of new life are tender and trying and require more than the average amount of care and compassion.
Here, a few finds focused on the brand-new parent navigating those blissful and blurry newborn moments. They’re consistent with the kinds of things that have been (or might have been!) helpful and useful to me, but without a doubt other folks will find comfort in different sorts of things. The value of hospital-issued mesh underwear, simple plastic peri-bottles, and friend-made padsicles are not to be pooh-poohed, but in the land of make-believe, here are a few special somethings to support new parents:
+ A very perfect three-piece lounge set for feeling human and cozy both at the same time.
+ An insulated water bottle (with a straw!) to keep bedside just in case someone NEEDS WATER IMMEDIATELY but happens to be stuck under a tiny human. Ditto lip balm. (The desperation is real.)
+ Multiple pints of a favorite ice cream.
+ A trio of postpartum relief in the form of a cooling spray, an herbal sitz bath, and a simple nursing balm.
+ A set of organic cotton gauze wraps in sunrise colors, for swaddling a babe, or protecting clean sheets, or pulling over your head and letting out a good cry.
+ A mini moon organic pillow for propping a tiny human, or helping with feedings, or generally snuggling up with.
+ A body bar for demanding massages.
+ Washable postpartum underwear with a special pouch for comfort and support post-delivery.
+ A set of three reusable ice packs to rotate, in case cooling comfort is what you need.
+ A soft silicone breast pump/milk collector to stop breastmilk from soaking the third shirt of the day and to make sure each precious ounce is accounted for.
+ Permission to hand-off the baby for feedings and bottle nipples that screw directly onto a standard-mouthed mason jar.
+ A nursing bra that’s soft and comfy without any fuss.
+ A roomy basket for keeping all of the essentials wrangled nearby.
+ A tushy, otherwise known as a serious upgrade from the hospital-issued peri-bottle.
In an effort to ground this make-believing in something a bit more down to earth, here are a few very real places to direct our attention:
+ Know the risk factors for postpartum depression. For many new parents, the postpartum period can be far from blissful. Up to 80 percent of new mothers experience postpartum “baby blues” and between 10 and 20 percent suffer from more acute symptoms of postpartum depression. Help is available, but knowing the signs and seeking help for yourself or your loved ones is crucial. This NYT Parenting Guide is a helpful starting place; ditto this Life Kit segment from NPR.
+ Black mothers in the US suffer disproportionately poor health outcomes. Better understand the issues at stake by downloading the Black Mamas Matter Toolkit, a collaborative resource from The Center for Reproductive Rights and members of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance. On April 11-17, the third annual Black Maternal Health Week will serve to “amplify the voices of Black mamas and center the values and traditions of the reproductive and birth justice movements.”
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The Haaka silicon breast pump is a GAME CHANGER. I had an oversupply with both babies, and with my first I soaked through a pile of washcloths a day- with my second I filled my freezer with milk that I was able to donate. It’s so easy- I’ve used it while taking a shower, while driving, but mostly while nursing my baby on the other side. It’s simple, cheap, and so, so satisfying.
Also my number one recommendation to new breastfeeding parents! So much more gentle and effective at the beginning than my electric pump.
Oh my goodness, I’m ordering one immediately! Also an oversupplier… Due next week with my second, and am not eager for a repeat of trying to capture geysers of extra milk from the other breast during each feeding… used mason jars last time– cheap and did the trick more or less, but what a pain! Thanks so much for the tip, Erin!
Oh I wish I had known about that breast pump when nursing! I too was an overproducer, and that looks so nice and low-key.
It’s awesome- the best part is, it is completely hands off- you suction it on by hand (easy) and the rest is totally passive. Love it!
Whitney Leigh Morris of the Tiny Canal Cottage has written about her family’s experience with their bidet (which they love!) — it’s something people in America don’t talk about enough. I recently moved into an apartment equipped with a bidet and I couldn’t get on board — the water was COLD, and the lowest water pressure was really strong, and I found that I still used the same amount of toilet paper post-spritz. I think they take some adjustment (literal, toilet and home plumbing adjustment). If others use one, I’d love to hear more stories from commenters!
I bought my husband a travel bidet on Amazon for something like $15, and it’s been a game changer for him! A low-investment way to test the bidet waters, haha. Here’s the exact one we got: https://www.amazon.ca/Brondell-GS-70-GoSpa-Travel-Bidet/dp/B008CSDKSQ
Thanks for reminder of how hard the newborn period can be for most everyone. I’m just over two weeks in with my second. All the feelings—the good and the bad— are very real including the nighttime desperation and loneliness. The loungewear is lovely!
Postpartum underwear! How amazing!
Thanks, Laura! We created Fourthwear underwear after being really let down by the (scant!) products available to help us heal after giving birth to our babes in 2017. This unique design enables people to hold an ice/heat pack securely within the garment to help with healing x
Hi Erin, can I ask about the sustainability and environmental factors associated with modal? Most of the essential maternity products that Storq sells use this fabric and it isn’t clear to me how environmentally friendly it is. If you know could you please share? Thanks!
Not an expert here either, but I know that Modal is generally considered a semi-synthetic fabric made from FSC certified wood pulp that’s been chemically processed. I believe the process is closed-loop, which means those solvents get reused instead of disposed of (though I believe to a lesser extent than in manufacturer Tencel’s other main fabric: Lyocell). It’s my understanding that both Lyocell and Modal are certified compostable and biodegradable. Like lots of other “performance” fabrics, there’s definitely compromise being made here. For my part, owning a few quality Storq items made from Modal has allowed me to be comfortable in stretchy and durable fabrics in a moment when not much feels comfortable! Semi-related: the lounge set from Storq shown above is 95% cotton and 5% spandex. I was given this set as a gift a few months ago and can vouch for it being extremely comfy. Hope that helps some!
Thanks so much Erin, this was a very helpful reply!
Just also want to add to this comment: I bought their basics bundle when I was 4 months pregnant and I still continue to wear them almost weekly and my daughter is 2.5. So while it might not be *the most* environmentally friendly, it’s got legs in terms of wear! Everything that I have purchased has outperformed my other clothes in spades and still looks new , with a ton of wear. I mean I wear the dresses and skirts weekly and the yoga pants multiple times a week. I am still nursing and my daughter has yanked the neck down often and it just glides back in to shape. They are by far the comfiest clothes I wear, too. And I get to feel chic at work without the guilt of new clothes!
Hi Heather, thank you so much for this comment! It is really helpful to know that the Storq basics are so durable and long lasting! It seems like they are perfect basics to invest in for the long haul!
Same here! My storq pencil shirt is actually one of my favorites several years postpartum —I did admittedly go for the smaller of 2 sizes I would have potentially fit, but no regrets. The leggings are harder for me to pull off now but have been passed along and still going strong!
I also would like to speak in favor of storq. I bought their t-shirt dress second hand from eBay and it has become my favorite; to the point where I do not plan to part with in the near future. It stretches for feedings quite well, managed to be light and flattering. Now I would buy the entire starter pack from them instead of collecting pieces from other companies
Can I turn back time and get some of those lovely postpartum undies for all three of my pregnancies?! Dang it! *heart eyes*
My baby is almost two, but I wish I could go back in time and have someone get me that bathrobe and multiple pints of my favorite ice cream.
Never too late!!!
Another (cheap, sustainable) lifesaver postpartum: filling little muslin bags or 100% cotton socks with rice and heating in the microwave for 20 seconds to make warm compresses that you can tuck into your nursing bra. So comforting and soothing on engorged or painful breasts in the early weeks.
Yes! Agreed! Give me all the heated up rice bags!
A note relating to PPD: the articles linked don’t mention intrusive thoughts of harming your baby. It’s a very real thing. Most of us will not harm our babies—but the thoughts are scary and painful and feel real. Do seek help, even though it’s so hard to fight for it. Go to the hospital if need be. I had a 5 day stay in September. I was safe, and so were my kids. I could calm down there without the pressures of home.
It is very brave to identify this feeling publicly, as it is one of the most shameful feelings imaginable. I too experienced PPD with my second, and knew that I needed help the moment the thought crossed my mind. You think, “sure, you think it, but you would never DO it,” and hopefully that is always true. But to even have the thought of harming a child (one you love more than your own life, at that) is indicative of a very unbalanced hormone load, or other factors that need addressing. I called my family and my doctor when I hit rock bottom postpartum, and thank God every day that I had the courage to do so. I didn’t know PPD could come on so quickly, but it can. Not trying to induce fear, but rather encourage anyone who is thinking, “can this possibly be normal? Will this ever pass?” — tell someone! anyone! We needn’t go it alone.
Erin, I came to your blog today for some serious inspiration. I am ten weeks pregnant with my first baby. I currently live in a three bedroom, two bedroom house and ever since I’ve gotten pregnant, I just want to sell it (and most of what is in it) and downsize. My life is so busy and full, as I started my own Montessori school this year. Everyone thinks I am just crazy with pregnancy hormones and keeps telling me that once you have a child you need lots of room. Anyways, just wanted to share that your blog is helping me think about the kind of parent I want to be (present, engaged, reflective), and reminding me having kids doesn’t have to be about buying more and more and more.
Congratulations Rachel! Trust yourself on this one. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the cultural expectations that one needs more space before having a baby. I had my first in a small condo in the city, and just had my second in a house about twice the square footage with two stories. While there are many reasons why our current living situation makes sense for us right now, I’ll share that it in my experience it was so much easier having a baby while living in the smaller space, where I could stand in one spot and see the entire unit, where I was never more than a few steps from a toilet, sink, trash can, clean diaper, fresh water glass, etc., where I never had to navigate stairs while carrying the most delicate of creatures. And there are loads of other reasons. All of these small practicalities can get lost in the abstract conversation about living space most of us find ourselves in. There isn’t a wrong choice, and I wish you the best in figuring out what makes sense for your growing family!
Thank you for using your platform to give BMMA and BMHW a signal boost!!
I am glad you mentioned BMMA! For our baby shower, we directed people to Black Mamas Matter and Mass Audubon in lieu of gifts. It was helpful for us in minimizing “stuff” while spreading the word about important issues. Many of our guests had no knowledge of BMMA and the racial mortality gap among birthing humans.
Expecting my second any day, and I recommend this book: https://motherbees.com/pages/book-the-first-forty-days
I certainly can’t follow all of the recommendations to a T, but my goal is to do a better job of caring for myself postpartum than I did the first time around. This book is lovely and the recipes are delicious. Thinking of you Erin, and hoping that you find the time to care for yourself once the newest little one arrives!
Thank you so, so much for posting these postpartum underwear. I have a chronic pain disease that makes me feel like I have a UTI a lot of the time, and I think these could be a game changer.
Hi, the buckwheat moon pillow idea stuck with me ever since you wrote this post, and now halfway through my second trimester I’m wondering what you think of it. How was it for pregnancy sleep support? How is it for feeding position help now that Calder is here? I love the idea of one multipurpose item for pregnancy and feeding, especially because the popular polyester filled ones don’t look like they’d offer the height or support I’m craving. Thank you!!
I really loved it! Didn’t use it much for feeding support, but not because it’s wasn’t helpful—it’s just not my habit. We use it now on Silas’s bed to keep him from rolling off; for propping Calder etc. No regrets!
Thank you for the review!! It seems endlessly handy and lovely to look at to boot.
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