This post, New Mom Ultimate Guide is a gathering of books, ideas, experiences and gear that I have encountered as I have been a mother. I group the ideas into the following phases:
- Miscarriages, Infertility, Stillbirth and Infant Loss
- Preparing for Birth
Like many other mothers I have done a lot of research, but I put this guide together to save a soon-to-be mother, or new mother, some time and effort. This page contains affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission which helps keep my blog up and running but won’t cost you a penny more)! Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
I have been taught for a long time to write about things that I know and care about, so this post is long overdue. I have three daughters, and I have enjoyed preparing for their arrivals and learning to enjoy when they do come Earthside. You can read my birth stories here, here and here.
I care about women having good experiences as mothers, and I have spent a lot of time learning about how to make that happen for myself. I suspect I have invested so much time learning because I knew I would need extra help to do a decent job. I am not a perfect mother, and I still learn everyday how to do it better, but what I know I want to share.
Knowledge is the first step in making good decisions as a parent. Don’t wait too long to begin knowing what your options are. I am going to share my favorite resources (books, ideas and products) that helped me before, during and after my baby was born. I hope that these resources will be helpful to all who come across it.
I will only share some books I wish I would have known about before trying to conceive. I have not read these…yet, but they come highly recommended from other sites and I have seen them on the shelves of the midwives I have worked with. We have three girls so you can imagine that we are eager to have a boy if we try again.
For Miscarriages, Infertility, and Stillbirth and Infant Loss:
I have a sister who has dealt with miscarriage multiple times; I have compassion for those that deal with any of the trials of having to wait to start or re-start your family. A pattern in what I hear from couples who deal with these issues is to be sensitive, respectful of their privacy and sympathetic. Here are a couple of books to consider if you or a loved one are faced with these challenges:
Preparing for Birth:
These are the books (and one movie) I read/watched that helped me. I have had all three of my girls without medication (“naturally”), but don’t check out just yet! Although I do believe natural births are ideal for most women, I am most interested in women knowing their options and being able to make choices that they love. I am completely aware that every woman is different and I respect woman’s agency. I also believe that our society does not prepare girls and women to understand the birthing process, only that it the pain can be taken away.
I believe that women should be active participants in the birth of their child. Preparing for birth should require as much or more work than running a marathon, losing weight or generally looking good–things women spend lots of time learning about and acting on.
I am eager for women to be aware of their bodies and make informed decisions. I believe that giving birth is as much mental work as it is physical. Our minds, bodies and spirits are connected and bringing life into this world requires all three to work together. For my second birth my mantra was “three will set you free”–Maurie was born in three hours. For my third birth, my mantra was “two will bring anew”–Brooklyn was born in two hours. My experiences are living proof of how powerful our minds are.
There are so many books and pamphlets on this subject, but I can vouch for the value of these books. Each has shaped me holistically and positively.
Birthing From Within: An Extraordinary to Childbirth Preparation: If you only read one book, read this one. This is about mentally and spiritually preparing for birth. Take the exercises and ideas seriously and your experience will be enhanced.
The Business of Being Born: I love this movie because it ends unexpectedly. I learned the value and need for modern medicine and surgeons, but I also saw and appreciated the beauty of natural birth.
**I highly recommend a Doula! Find and employ a doula. The research on the effectiveness of having a doula is amazing. Read about research showing that “Expectant mothers matched with a doula had better birth outcomes.” here. Read about what a doula is, what they do and why they are important here and more research showing how they reduce Postpartum Depressive Symptoms here!
I had a doula for two of my three births and when I had the support of a doula, my husband and the midwife, I felt at ease and supported. There was a significant difference in my fear levels with my first daughter (no doula) and my second and third girls’ births.
If you have trouble breastfeeding, these are the items that helped me press forward with some hope.
Nipple Shield-Yes, I know many discourage its use, but it allowed me to breastfeed longer than I would have without it. There are different sizes so consider that before you
Pump– This is the one I used and I was able to get help paying for it through my health insurance, so look into it.
Simple Breastfeeding Must Haves:
Nursing Bras– I seriously did not own a nursing bra when I brought my first daughter home! Get them before you bring your little one home.
Take Care of Yourself
I block out two weeks after my baby is born to do nothing but eat good food, breastfeed, sleep, heal, read, go to appointments and simply only do what I want to do. I believe two weeks is minimum, but as much time as you can take, take it. Let family, friends and anyone help you.
I will never forget the kindness of people after my babies were born. After my first birth, I required stitches for vaginal tears (I didn’t tear with my second and third births). Someone brought me Dermaplast (numbing spray), hemorrhoid pads, and nipple cream. They were seriously life savers. They were balm to a wounded body and soul. I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but I really was in pain, physically and mentally.
Another time, during a difficult time breastfeeding my second, a wonderful fellow new mom donated some of her breastmilk so that I could feed my baby. When we picked up the milk, she apologized that the dinner was not ready. She wanted to send me home with a hot meal. What? She was a new mom with three other children, had spent extra time pumping for me and my baby, and she wanted to send me home with her milk and a hot meal? That, my friends, is compassion and goodness. Isn’t it the best when people surprise us with their goodness?
Let the meals, the gifts, and the kind words come. Be deeply grateful for everything and remember to pay it forward when you can.
Please take care of yourself completely. Do not shortchange your time to heal because it will catch up to you eventually, and you will wish you had done it earlier.
I cannot comment much on parenting. I am in the thick of parenting my small children and there really isn’t anything expertly to say about the subject. The books above are good though.
My only advice is to pray everyday that you can do a little better than the day before and be open to being guided as you attempt to help these precious spirits become who they need to become. God loves and knows these children he has sent to you on loan, so let him and others help you figure it out! Read this post for some mothering motivation.
Gear You Actually “Need”
I have a hard time using need because this word need is subjective. A new mom in Africa would laugh at our needs, but they feel like needs to us “first world” people. I have kept the list to a minimum, even though I am notorious for thinking I need all the things every time I have a new baby. I always bought something new before each of my children were born. Some have been worth it and others were a total waste…I blame my pregnant brain. =) I obviously did not share any of the items that were a waste.
When they are really small, anything plastic that they can grab, chew and can be washed easily works as a toy.
When they are older, a box, a stick, some friends and the outdoors are the best.
Baby Carrier-What I used once they outgrew the wrap.
Baby Carrier-What I used for my newborns
It has taken me a really long time to put together this list with links to the books, ideas and products, but it will be worth it if one person has a better experience as a mother because they read this.
I truly wish every mother the best! Our greatest strength will be in supporting and love one another during the ups and downs of motherhood. Of course I recognize that husbands are just as eager to be good parents, and I hope that partners can find value in this post as well.
Here is to learning and living well as parents!