If you’re pregnant with your first baby, you have no idea what’s in store. Learning to be a mom is like no other adventure you’ve ever taken. It’s wonderful and grueling all at once. This article will hopefully help you prepare for all of the bumps and burps at the beginning. The first piece of advice for new moms is to prepare as much as possible before you deliver. Superstitions aside, the last thing you want to do when you get home from the hospital is your laundry or read directions and assemble products. So, take out your pump, make sure you know how to mix formula, sterilize bottles and wash a few onesies while you’re at it.
This article is a collection of must-have items for new moms for things for breastfeeding, nursing gear, nursing clothes, healthy products, lingerie–all excellent gifts for new moms for baby shower. And as I always say up front, I got many of these products for free. Many that I received did not end up in this article but the stuff here is a combo of gifts from friends and brands. Feel free to assume everything was not paid for personally. But that said, you really can’t buy the love. When you get tons of stuff for free, it stops feeling so special.
Postnatal Recovery Kit
After you deliver, you’re going to be in an immense amount of pain, so you need to make sure you’re ready to take care of yourself first (kind of like the ol’ familiar airplane PSA which instructs you to put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others).
Make sure you take advantage of the hospital supplies offered to you. I was told to bring an extra suitcase to the hospital to fill with supplies like the ever-so-attractive granny panties they give you to wear (Trust me, you can’t find these anywhere else). Be sure to take diapers, wipes and pads–and pretty much anything else that’s not nailed down.
The hospital also provides ice packs, but I recommend having some at home as well. You can make padsicles (very sexy, I know) to help soothe your nether regions. I fortunately didn’t end up needing these, but if you are really swollen, I am told they’re very soothing.
Other must-have supplies to have on hand just in case include: Tucks Pads with witch hazel, Preparation H Cream (again-just in case), and New Mama Bottom Spray.
In case you didn’t know, you’re going to be bleeding for a few weeks after the birth. Yes, just another joy! Always Infinity Overnight pads are great because they are super absorbent and ridiculously thin. If you have to wear a diaper, you may as well go for the smallest one, right?
In case someone hasn’t warned you, breastfeeding is challenging. Very few people have an easy time with it at the beginning. Just know that with persistence and hard work, it can work for you—most of the time, anyway. If it’s not for you though, don’t sweat it! It’s a personal choice and don’t let anyone make you feel badly about what you decide is best for you.
If you do choose to persevere, your first few weeks will probably be fraught with sore, cracked and uncomfortable breasts. While this is pretty standard, there are some superstar products that can help ease the pain.
I recommend using The Honest Company Nipple Balm because it’s very easy to spread (you’ll see when you’re sore that this is crucial). Just be careful not to get it on your clothing as it will leave greasy stains. I also really found the Earth Mama Nipple Butter to be useful.
Another amazing product is the Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads. These provide cooling relief and can be stored in the freezer for an even cooler sensation.
If you need to keep your shirt off of your ailing breasts, the Medela Soft Shells are amazing.
Medela’s Pump in Style has always been the gold standard of breast pumps for new mamas. However, Medela released the Sonata pump early in the New Year: its quietest, most responsive personal-use breast pump with hospital-level performance. Many moms (including myself) experience one obstacle after another during their breastfeeding journeys. I personally couldn’t produce much milk from pumping sessions and between clogged ducts and thrush, I pretty much retired mine in the corner. That’s why I was psyched to try Sonata which promised hospital performance in a personal and portable breast pump. Its modeled after the Symphony, which is what most hospitals use. When I use Sonata, I feel less pressure on my breasts but experience the same level of production when I finish. The controls are super intuitive, it has a much more modern appearance and best of all? It can be charged so you don’t have to stay tethered to an outlet!
Sonata is responsive and offers consistent pumping everywhere. It uses sensors that can detect changes in moms as well as the environment that may impact vacuum pressure and it adjusts to give a strong pump whether you’re in your bedroom or on a flight. For moms who have been in pain while pumping, the typical noise of a breast pump can send shivers down your spine. Sonata is much quieter than other pumps to avoid not just irritating mom, but also to avoid waking a sleeping baby or disrupting a work phone call. Sonata also connects via Bluetooth with Smart Solution, a comprehensive breastfeeding support app. Oh and it has a timer! This may sound like a small feature, but as someone who pretty much forgot to time herself at EVERY pumping session, this is an excellent new feature.
Breast Pump Accessories
I highly recommend investing in two sets of the accessories because you have to wash and sterilize them all after each use and sometimes it’s time for your next pumping session before you’ve had a chance to clean them.
Speaking of cleaning, you need to make sure you have Breast Milk Removal Soap and steam bags. The Quick Clean Medela Wipes are also great for when you’re at work, traveling or are just feeling exhausted in bed at your 3 A.M. pumping session. In addition, the Quick Clean Micro Steam Bags are also a must. They allow you to disinfect your accessories in approximately three minutes by popping them in the bag and putting it in the microwave.
My personal favorite pillow for nursing (Trust me, I tried three different kinds) is the My Brest Friend. It’s the perfect pillow because it provides back support and puts your baby exactly where you need him or her to be. It also has a strap that keeps it in place. There is also a nifty little pouch attached where you can put a bottle of water or nipple cream. The covers are removable so you can pop them in the wash when necessary.
The Boppy Pillow is the original C-shaped nursing pillow and a standard for the industry. This pillow is a great basic and reasonably priced pillow to purchase. It’s lightweight. However, it does not have additional back support and since there is no strap, it can allow baby to slip towards mom if you’re not nursing in a chair that you can use to wedge it and hold it in place. Boppy recently came out with the Boppy Best Latch Nursing Pillow, which we have heard great things about. One side is firm and the other is softer and more snuggly so you can choose the support you need.
Your body is undergoing so many changes—it’s crazy! Don’t buy your nursing bras too early because you don’t want to end up with the wrong size. I was told to get measured around 8 months. I was told that this is about what size I would end up with after my milk production stopped fluctuating. I recommend doing this and buying several bras to have on hand. Yummy Mummy on the Upper East Side recommends starting with at least five nursing bras. I was told that you just needed a couple, but nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I found that you will want to change your bra every day. Truth be told, I often changed mine twice a day if I was lucky enough to score a quick shower. You’re hot, there is milk leaking, you get the picture…
Hands-Free Pumping Bra:
Unless you plan to hold two funnels to your breasts for 15 minutes every time you pump, Medela’s Easy Expression Bustier is a necessity. Order this before you deliver and have it washed and ready to go. I would actually purchase two so you can have one in the wash while you use the other. Medela just recently updated this bra. I tried both and believe that the new one is far superior. This is because it has reinforced openings, no-slip support and an integrated top hook to keep those bad boys inside. Plus, it’s also machine washable.
Comfortable Bra with Support
Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra is my top pick for a comfortable every day bra. This bra has incredibly (let’s say buttery) soft 4-way stretch fabric that molds to your (seemingly ever-changing) shape. I especially love that it is seamless and wire-free. It also uses Silverbreeze technology which prevents growth of odor-causing bacteria. Therefore, every time you wash it, it feels brand new again. Its soft fabric and removable inserts gives a great, smooth appearance. The soft fabric also doesn’t squeeze your back fat but is still extremely supportive. The nursing clips are easy to use with just one hand, which allows you to discreetly nurse with as little hassle as possible. I felt comfortable purchasing this before I gave birth because the sizing is easier than most bras—it’s available in S-XXL. This bra is completely meant for comfort, I wouldn’t necessarily wear it out to a fancy dinner though because it doesn’t quite give that heavy level of support (at least for those of us larger-chested ladies).
Sexy Nursing Bra
Bella Materna makes sexy designs to keep you feeling like yourself even during maternity. I am obsessed with the pretty, yet sexy t-shirt nursing bra. I saw it at a store and instantly fell in love with the style. In fact, it’s so pretty that they even make it for when you’re not nursing. It has flexible wire and delicate sheer which make it comfortable, but completely sexy. I also wore this during pregnancy and its infinity rings convert your nursing bra to a regular bra when you’re done breastfeeding. Did I mention that the materials are also toxin free? Score!
Nursing Sleeping Bra
I have two favorites for this category. The first is Medela’s Nursing Sleep bra. It’s tag-free, seamless and smooth as butter. It won’t bother even the most sore nipples and will keep you comfortable all day long. Its criss-cross front design ensures easy access for late night/early morning feedings. It also has a wide band to prevent it from riding up. These will definitely be with me for many years to come post-nursing.
I’m also in love with Belabumbum’s Bamboo Sleep Bra. It offers light support while you sleep and its stretchy cups give you room to grow and shrink throughout the cycle. It’s super soft made from rayon made from Bamboo and has moisture wicking and antibacterial properties. LOVE. I bought this one day when sore doesn’t begin to describe what I was going through. Needless to say, it offered welcome relief.
Sweet Nursing Bra
If you’re looking for cute, Cake Maternity makes the sweetest bras in adorable colors and cute designs. They name everything after dessert and what woman doesn’t like that? My favorite styles are the Macaron and the Sorbet. All of their products have beautiful lace detailing on the outside, but also strong structure and comfortable features like covered seams to avoid irritation.
Sporty Nursing Bra
I love Cake’s seam free and stylish Yoga and Pumping Bra. It’s layered cross over is cute, yet comfortable and you can simply peel up the under layer for easy feeding access. These are super stylish and comfortable for you active mommies out there.
If you’re really modest about nursing like I am, then having nursing covers that are easy to use are a must. Here are a few of my favorites.
My favorite is Tykes and Tails 5 in 1 Breastfeeding cover (also car seat canopy, shopping cart cover, high chair cover and can be used as an ultra-soft lightweight blanket). It gives so much coverage and makes it really easy to see your baby. It’s also super cute and cheap. Just ten bucks on Amazon!
Boppy’s Infinity Nursing Scarf – Looks like a totally normal scarf but then transforms into a stylish nursing cover. I love its peek-a-boo panel made of mesh so you can see the baby the whole time. It gives mommy and baby uninterrupted eye contact which reinforces bonding. It is made of modal which is really lightweight and breathable. An added bonus is that you can machine wash and dry.
Bébé au Lait’s premium muslin nursing essential set comes with one muslin nursing cover and two matching contoured muslin burp cloths. I love this cover because its patented Rigiflex™ open neckline allows me to see my baby by keeping the fabric lifted off of my chest. This allows a lot less fussing for the both of us. The cotton is super breathable and multi-functional For example, it can also be used as a sunshade on a stroller or car seat. The burp cloths are contoured for full front-to-back coverage. They’re all machine washable and get softer after every wash.
The Nuroo nursing scarf is also an excellent choice. I personally love it because it gives great coverage and it is also stylish enough so you can wear it normally. You can even wear it in four different styles. Super soft.
Cake Maternity makes the sweetest robe. I love its satin tie and discreet pockets. It uses Oeko-Tex Standard 100 to ensure it’s free from harmful substances.
The Belly Bandit has cornered the celebrity market when it comes to gear to get your body back in shape. Celebs like Kourtney Kardashian tout the benefits of Belly Bandit products all over tinsel town (and their Instagram accounts). Being a mom brings so many wonderful things, but your post-pregnancy stomach isn’t one of them. The good news is that there is something else you can do to help yourself (besides working out and dieting). The Belly Bandit is an elastic girdle-like piece of fabric that fastens around your tummy. To be honest, I didn’t really believe in its benefits before I tried it. Even my skeptical baby nurse couldn’t deny that in about ten days my stomach had gone back to 90% of the flatness that it was pre-pregnancy without any working out at all. All you do is wrap it tightly around your tummy and simply go on with your day. It helps suck in your stomach, gives you better posture and helps alleviate the discomfort of your post-baby belly. It’s not comfortable and you have to wear it for at least 4-6 hours a day, but now I’m a believer.
Nursing discreetly ain’t easy and finding cute clothes that allow easy access is quite a task. I was thrilled to find Loyal Hana, an amazing nursing line for postpartum moms. Every piece is expertly crafted with hidden zippers allowing for easy access for nursing and pumping. This clothing is classy and things you could (and I will) continue to wear post-nursing.
I also continued to be obsessed with Seraphine. Love their nursing clothes, though they don’t have a ton of options.
For comfy nursing jammies, I turned to Belabumbum. I love how soft and stretchy everything they have is. They have great pajama sets that come with soft wraps so you feel comfortable when you have company. Their PJ’s offer soft lace, nursing access, adjustable straps and flattering elastic waistbands.
Just when you thought you could ingest anything you want, you remembered that nursing continues the beautiful bond between mother and child. This means any harmful chemicals that go into mommy can be transferred to baby through your milk. Therefore, using healthy products that you feel comfortable with is critical. My favorite brands are California Baby and The Honest Company. I feel safe using anything they make on the baby and around the house. For mom I am also obsessed with Sally B Skin Yummies, which has the EWG seal of approval.
I was especially concerned about using a healthy deodorant since your underarms are particularly close to your breasts. Some of my favorite brands include Jungleman, Beeyotch and Noniko.
If you still want to wear a fragrance but don’t want to bother your little one, I go for LaVanila healthy fragrance. It uses high-quality essential oils, organic sugar cane alcohol and most importantly, no phthalates, propylene glycol or aldyhydes.
Disclosure: Some of these products were given to me for review purposes for my blog. Other products were given as gifts that I registered for and many others were desperately purchased on Amazon in the middle of the night. To be perfectly honest, with the lack of sleep and overwhelming joy of having a baby, I can barely remember what came from where. I did not receive any additional compensation for anything or any opinions in this review. You can’t buy the love here.