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I've done the "new mum" thing three times in the last 5 years. Each time has been different, a different ratio of unbearable to wonderful. Each time would have been easier with the following 5 things. I had none of them the first time, some of them the second time and all 5 this time. Despite having 2 whole other children to care for this time, it has been hands down the easiest newborn time yet.
So if you are having a baby or know someone who is, try to get all of these things sorted before the little bundle of 'joy' (exhaustion) arrives...
1. A thermos flask
If you don't own a thermos, get one. They will come in so handy. For warming up bottles in the night (take boiling water to bed in your thermos and save yourself from going downstairs in the night, every short cut helps at 3am). Or for breastfeeding mums, always make your tea in the thermos and increase your chances of drinking hot liquid 10 fold. Also when they are older and you spend half your life taking them outside to run off some energy, nothing beats the smug feeling of drinking hot tea in the park! Major mum win.
2. An extra long phone charging cable.
For the many hours of being (happily) trapped under your sleeping or feeding baby with nothing but your phone to occupy you. There's nothing more lonely than feeling stuck under a baby you can't move and your phone dies. Of course sometimes being phoneless is actually lovely and calm and relaxing, but if you're having a hard day it can be a lifeline to someone else who is going through the same things as you (see number 5).
3. Dry shampoo
Dry shampoo is a godsend for those days when a shower (or one long enough to include a hair wash) just hasn't been possible. If you are about to have your first baby I know, I know: YOU won't be that person who can't even manage to wash yourself... But maybe, just in case? Get yourself some dry shampoo.
4. A comfortable bra
I'm a combination feeder myself, all 3 babies have had happily had both breastmilk and formula milk. I breastfed the boys for a year each, so have been wearing nursing bras for half of the last 5 years. Comfortable boobs can make or break you during the new mum phase. First time around I bought some really nice looking (on the website) lacy numbers thinking that I would feel all womanly and 'like my old self'. I did not. I felt bizarre shoving a breastpad into a sheer lacy number and mostly unsupported (breastwise, not emotionally). The second time I bought cheap white nursing bras from the supermarket, which quickly became grey. I felt mumsy and a bit drab but better supported...
This time around I was sent a Bravado Silk Seamless Nursing Bra to review. I wore it during my pregnancy and have been wearing it for the past 3 months of breastfeeding (not continuously!). It's genuinely my favourite bra... Of all time. Excluding a lovely turquoise satin one I had pre-kids when I was at my wedding weight and had basically no boobs at all... Ah those were the days!
It's more like a sports bra than an ordinary bra and feels soft but supportive and gives a nice shape (anyone else ever found normal nursing bras made their boobs look sort of triangular?).
If it was less weird, I would but this bra as a new mum gift because it's so comfy and uplifting (I do mean emotionally this time: the bra doesn't give you enhanced cleavage but it makes me feel better than when I'm wearing my less nice bras).
5. Your Village
Most importantly, you need to forge yourself a village, because it truly does 'take a village to raise a child'. Sadly none of us live in small, family focused communities anymore. Many of us don't live 2 minutes from our mums or mother in laws (although, after 2 kids I in fact did move 'home' for the benefit of 2 Grandmas and Granddads within a 10 minute drive!). If you don't have helpful family on the doorstep, get out there and make your own village. Find some other mums who have been or (preferably) are going through the same things as you. Your village can be anyone: old friends who live miles away but are always on the end of the phone, local women you meet at a baby class or antenatal group, or even total strangers you can share with through social media. My village consists of all these and more. I feel really lucky that there are so many women who I get support from and who (I hope) I support right back. With my first baby I didn't have this and life was extremely hard. Looking back I can't believe I tried to 'go it alone' and I'm in no way surprised I struggled. Find some other mums, share your experiences and support each other. I promise it will make life with a new baby much more enjoyable!