Don’t you just love those lists of baby “must haves”? My favorite of all is Pop Sugar’s list of 100 (yes, you heard me right, 100) Must Have Baby Products. It was like the car crash you can’t help but watch. Tirzah Mae probably doesn’t have 100 items total, much less 100 separate items.
That said, I have found a few products that have absolutely saved my sanity during these preemie and newborn months (months we’re now leaving behind!)
Hospital Grade Electric Breastpump
Tirzah Mae received expressed breastmilk almost exclusively in the hospital and during the first month at home (we breastfed one to two times a day “straight from the tap.”) This meant that I was pumping a minimum of eight times a day. The Medela symphony the hospital loaned me during Tirzah Mae’s NICU stay saved me. It was fast, quiet, and comfortable.
Once Tirzah Mae was home, I used the Medela Pump-in-Style my insurance provided – and let me tell you, it’s a world of difference. I did everything I could to avoid pumping. I’d pump a couple times a day, hand express a couple more, and empty myself as best I could in the shower. Thankfully, I had plenty of breastmilk in the freezer, so the fact that I let my supply dwindle didn’t hurt Tirzah Mae (I worked intensively over a week to get it back up after I realized what I was doing). But if I’d have had less of a supply initially and was trying to exclusively pump after I returned, I’d have ended up quitting. The Pump-in-Style took longer, was noisy, and gave me blood blisters on my breasts (probably because I was increasing the pressure too much in an attempt to make it as efficient as the Symphony.)
By the grace of God, we were able to switch to exclusively breastfeeding (at the breast) around Christmas-time, meaning an end to my pumping days. I know many mothers of preemies are not so fortunate. I’ve got one word of advice for those mothers – RENT A HOSPITAL GRADE PUMP. It’s totally worth it.
Hands Free Pumping Bra
Despite Tirzah Mae being born early, I had an abundant milk supply – which meant that I only pumped 15 minutes at a time (with the hospital grade pump). But even pumping for a shorter time than many women, I still spent at least 2-3 hours a day pumping (and much more than that cleaning parts and labeling and storing the breastmilk). That’s a fair bit of time to spend doing nothing with your hands. Being able to pump hands-free meant a lot to me. (Initially, it allowed me to massage my breasts while pumping – relieving the clogged ducts I had from the beginning and helping to increase my supply to prodigous amounts. After my supply was established and clogged ducts were less of an issue, it let me email my family updates on Tirzah Mae, read a book, or browse blogs.)
Now some of you may wonder about the best hands-free pumping bras. I can’t help you with that one. I just had my husband buy cheapo sports bras, which I cut slits into to allow the flanges through. I wore them alone at night and over my nursing bra during the day. It worked great for me (although if I were to have needed to continue pumping exclusively, I would have done a buttonhole stitch around the slits and possibly used a tube top for the same purpose during the day for increased wardrobe flexibility.
Supportive Nursing Bra
At first, I thought maybe the backache I had almost immediately after delivery was from the c-section weakening my abdominals. And undoubtedly that contributed. But the biggest contributor was swollen milk breasts and insufficient support. Having delivered two months before expected, I didn’t have any nursing bras already ready – and there was no way my mom-breasts would fit into my second trimester bra (I hadn’t yet gone shopping for a third trimester one despite the fact that it was becoming clearly necessary.)
Since no one carries nursing bras my size (actually, very few stores carry bras, period, my size), I had to create my own nursing bras. I went to my local Dillards to get fitted and was delighted when the salesclerk announced that they’d just increased the size range of my favorite bra up to the size I was currently at. I took them home and used this tutorial to make myself some well-fitting nursing bras (I used the hooks and eyes off of several old bras, how’s that for being a frugal genius – or a packrat who can now justify herself?)
My back felt better almost immediately.
Get a good bra. Your back will thank you.
I’ve known for years that I wanted to be a baby-wearer. But I was plenty willing to admit that babywearing is just one of many legitimate ways to carry and care for a baby. Now I’m convinced that the MOBY has absolutely saved my sanity.
You see, when we were in the hospital and when I was reading books about preemies, I kept hearing one thing: preemies must NOT be exposed to crowds. No shopping malls. No movies. No church. For a year.
Now I don’t have any problem with leaving movies and shopping malls behind. But church? I can’t just not go to church for a year.
I talked with Tirzah Mae’s neonatal nurse practitioner about it and she agreed with my proposed solution. Tirzah Mae would go to church with us in the MOBY. The MOBY holds her close, covers her up and sticks her face in my chest – meaning that no one else can get very close to touch her or cough on her (they’d have to get pretty close to my chest even to just breathe on her.)
We took her to church the Sunday after she came home and she’s been to church with us every week since then (except the week where none of us attended because I had mastitis).
Yes, the MOBY saved my sanity by letting me worship with the body weekly.
When it comes to clothing, babies aren’t picky – which is a very nice thing. They don’t care how stylish clothing is or whether it’s matched or anything like that. What they do care about is getting in and out quickly without too much pulling and tugging. Moms care a little more about matching and cuteness and all that.
One-piece sleepers answer both. Mom doesn’t have to worry about matching clothes bleary-eyed after baby has a blow-out at 1 am (after mom has gotten exactly 7 minutes of sleep, none of them consecutive, in the past 24 hours.) Baby doesn’t have to worry about something going over her head. And, if you choose the sleepers that snap all the way up the legs, you can avoid uncovering that little chest during non-blow-out diaper changes (which is a nice plus.)
I put Tirzah Mae in the adorable little onesie, pant, and sock combos often enough – but when things got crazy and I was at the end of my rope, the one-piece sleepers were sanity savers.
Looking back on your kids’ infancies, what baby products did you find absolutely essential? What were your sanity-savers? Pray tell.