This guest post features a New Mom Survival Kit of things our guest writer, Lauren Flake from For the Love of Dixie, wish she knew. Check out her tips and add them to your new mom survival kit.
Being a new mom was tough.
It was exhausting both physically and emotionally, thanks to the trauma of childbirth, fluctuating hormones and constant feedings. There is nothing quite like being thrown into a brand-new, full-time job with very little training and no compensation.
In fact, I dreaded going through it all over again with Baby Girl #2.
But my prayers were answered, and having a baby the second time around was so much easier! This time, I was prepared.
I knew generally what to expect, was part of a supportive community of moms and had the supplies and resources I knew I would need.
New Mom Survival Kit: Things I Wish I Knew
Be gracious with yourself.
You will not do everything right, and you will never be perfect, so just get that idea out of your head right now. Christ died for us because none of us could ever be perfect on our own. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Forgive yourself for inevitably making mistakes!
But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
A recovering perfectionist, I was really hard on myself as a new mom, but this new mom survival kit is the perfect emotional boost I and many need.
I held myself to impossible expectations that I couldn’t possibly meet, and the self-imposed pressure was almost too much to bear. Everything after childbirth was more difficult than I had imagined–breastfeeding, recovering physically, working from home with a newborn, even maintaining quality time with my husband. I honestly felt like I was failing at everything.
Fortunately, for me, I finally realized that I’m not in control. God is.
Everywhere I fall short, the Savior grabs my hand and says, “Don’t worry, I’ve got it covered.” I just have to surrender my delusions of human perfection and watch Him work.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Millions of new mommies have struggled before you, and millions of new mommies will struggle after you. Learn from other moms who have been in your shoes before, and then pay it forward when you make it through alive!
My mother was already in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease when my first daughter was born, but my amazing mother-in-law came to my rescue. Her calming presence and servant spirit helped me through those first three months of sleepless nights, terrible lower back pain, and breastfeeding struggles.
Accepting help often means swallowing your pride and admitting you could use some assistance with certain things, even if it’s just getting a little break to take a nap or a shower! This is a must in any new mom survival kit. Create a list of friends and family you know will willingly help, and don’t hesitate to reach out.
And, while we’re on the subject, please let your baby’s father know specifically how he can help you. Don’t expect him to be a mind reader. Men fail miserably at that game, trust me. And always show your gratitude when he makes an effort to help out! Most fathers want to help, they may just not know how to help at first. (Be gracious with him, too.)
Find a community.
I’ve found crucial support and solidarity with other young moms in Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS). We pray for and encourage one another, we help one another in times of major life events (like childbirth), we learn, we laugh and we building lasting friendships.
Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 ESV
I wish I hadn’t waited until my older daughter was almost a year old to join this amazing community. These ladies quickly became some of my closest and most trusted friends. We love each other well. We celebrate together, and we grieve together.
When my mom died during my pregnancy with my younger daughter, my MOPS friends lifted my family up with calls, cards, flowers and food. I don’t know what I would have done without their care and encouragement. Great support is a must in the new mom survival kit.
Stock up on supplies.
You’ll want a few things to make your life a little bit easier. (And, yes, you can find all of these things on Amazon if you want to skip the store.)
- Laundry dye catcher – You don’t have to worry about separating all of those new baby clothes into colors for the wash if you have disposable or reusable dye catchers. I’m totally spoiled with low-maintenance laundry sorting now.
- Stain pre-treater – Whether it’s from breastmilk or formula, spit up (and there will be spit up) leaves oil stains on all of those precious baby outfits. You’ll want to pre-treat as soon as you take the clothes off of your little one.
- Variety of pacifiers – Make sure you try each kind for at least 2 days before you give up on it (although my second kid never took one).
- Herbal tea – Drinking peppermint tea (preferably, organic) throughout the day helps to regulate your milk supply in those first three months if you have overproduction like me. Or, try drinking fennel tea to help boost your supply if you have the opposite problem.
- Probiotics – I did find one thing out the hard way the second time around. If you have to take antibiotics during your pregnancy, make sure you also take a good probiotic (affiliate link) to help prevent subsequent yeast infections, which can be shared with your baby through breastfeeding. My favorite strain is Lactobacillus GG (Culturelle), because it is not killed off by your stomach acid before it makes it to your intestine.
- Prefold cloth diapers – Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats a good cotton prefold as a burp cloth. They are super absorbent, the perfect size and hold up really well to excessive washing and drying.
- Bamboo/cloth wipes – Washable wipes are more effective at cleaning and gentler on sensitive skin than disposable wipes and can save you a lot of money in the long run. Homemade wipe solution is easy to make using water and a splash of vinegar with a few drops of therapeutic grade lavender and melaleuca (tea tree) essential oils.
- Extra virgin coconut oil – This kitchen staple is also the most gentle, soothing anti-fungal diaper rash ointment and moisturizer. (Add a drop of the above essential oils to make it extra soothing.)
- Nellie’s Laundry Soda – This additive-free, concentrated laundry detergent comes in a cute little tin and is perfect for washing baby clothes and cloth diapers.
- Summer Infant SwaddleMe – See the 5 “S”s below. This pre-made velcro swaddle makes late night feeds and swaddles easy.
- D drops – Your pediatrician will probably tell you to give your breastfed baby vitamin D3. I like these pure drops because the liquid vitamin D supplements available at grocery stores and places like Target are full of dyes, artificial flavors, etc. (and made our newborn vomit).
Prepare with helpful resources.
- Dunstan Baby Language (DBL) – Oprah show sensation, Priscilla Dunstan, has mastered the universal language of newborns. I know it sounds crazy but she’s totally on to something. The “neh” (hungry) sound was the most obvious one with my babies.
- Dr. Karp’s 5 “S”s – Learn the 5 “S”s of soothing a crying baby BEFORE they arrive! You will thank yourself later. Swinging shushing and swaddling were lifesavers with our babies, for sure.
- KellyMom – Kelly Bonyata, a lactation consultant and mother of three, provides a wealth of evidence-based information on breastfeeding and more. If you’ve got a question, she’s got an answer.
- La Leche League – This is a fantastic source for all things breastfeeding, including local support groups. An article my mother-in-law found on their website about overproduction and forceful letdown actually kept me from giving up on breastfeeding altogether.
You will get through it.
When you’re a brand new mommy, covered in sweat, tears, poop and spit up, just remember, it does get easier. You will get through it. Showers will become a regular thing again. Sleep will eventually happen. One day. This new mom survival kit isn’t about physical things as much as the emotional support you need during this time.
Until then, lean on your community, use your supplies and consult your resources.
And, most importantly, enjoy the ride because the old adage is so true–the days are long, but the years are short. You won’t believe how quickly time flies and how desperately you’ll miss those baby days once you’re on the other side.
Lauren Flake writes about the joys and heartaches of her Christ-filled journey as a wife, Alzheimer’s daughter and mother to two beautiful little girls in her native Austin, Texas, at For the Love of Dixie. Her #texasstrong fundraiser has now raised over $140,000 for Central Texas Memorial Day flood victims, in memory of her mom, Dixie.
(“Lauren-Family-Photos-28″ Photo credit: Amber Snow Photography)