New Parents Guide to Baby Essentials
Eeeeeverywhere you look there are gorgeous glowing mums-to-be just ready to pop, and we feel fortunate to capture their bellies and sweet baby bundles. But aside from a maternity and newborn portrait session, we thought we’d share some of our favourite essentials for preparing for and surviving life with a new baby!
Hire a doula
Choosing to work with a doula was without a doubt the best labour and delivery decision made! To the point where I would not hesitate to hire a doula for any subsequent pregnancies. We felt lucky to work with Fiona Dill, though there are many fabulous women here in Bermuda offering Doula services. (We also attended Fiona’s Birth Matters workshop, which I highly recommend whether you’re opting for her doula services or not!). During the class we learned about our options when it came to writing a birth plan and pain management, but come labour SO much of that went out the window. Having a doula who was intimately familiar with our specific preferences made it so much easier to make a decision when events deviated from the plan (and they definitely did!). The L&D nurses are fabulous, but they can’t tell you what to do. You doula won’t do that either, but she will clearly be able to present the situation and the A or B options. As a labouring mother, I was hugely comforted by having access to the knowledge of Fiona as our doula. Mark will tell every dad-to-be he sees to make sure they hire a doula for their own sake - as apparently it can be pretty emotionally overwhelming on the partner’s side, and for him having Fiona with us let him minute when needed and to grab a bite to eat! I had an 18 hour labour, so we appreciated the extra support - but my sister-in-law had a super quick delivery (lucky duck!) and still was thrilled for the support her doula provided. Definitely an investment into the labour and delivery experience I HIGHLY recommend — particularly given the amount of unknowns!
Invest in a coffee pot
Yes, we went bonkers and registered for all the fancy swings and carriers and new fangled devices that are supposed to make life with a newborn a piece of cake. Some were well worth it, some we could have done without. BUT the one thing you never think of that should be top of your new baby survival list — a legit coffee maker. Unless you love iced coffee, in which case you are going to become a top barista of ice coffees (it’s a pretty easy designation actually…you make hot coffee, forget you made hot coffee, remember your coffee which is now cold, and drink cold coffee). In the middle of winter, we longed for a cup of piping java and eventually broke down and bought the best new baby device ever - a Breville Grind Control. Whole beans ground fresh with each pot, an insulated stainless steel carafe that keeps your pot hot and fresh tasting for LITERALLY THE WHOLE DAY. Do yourselves a favour and pop on down to the Chef Shop and start a baby registry for the one essential item that will revolutionise your soon to be under-caffeinated life!
Hey Ho! YoYo!
On the fence about which stroller to splurge on? Hands down, it’s gotta be the YOYO. Mark and I yo-yo’d back and forth about which to go with, and ultimately ended up registering for a different brand that was compatible with our carseat. We loved it, but soon grew tired of our entire trunk being consumed by the 25lb pram. Our YoYo was a splurge because it’s our second stroller, which we purchased ahead of our first vacation but is now our daily go-to. We still love our bigger travel system buggy, which is great for longer walks on the trails, but we tell each other all the time that if we had to do it again we’d go with the YoYo from the start. They’re sold at Nest, and Lara’s demonstration alone on how easy it is to open and fold the thing open will blow your mind!
Priscilla Dunstan is your new best friend
Back in 2017 during the last newborn session we photographed before our son arrived, two very wise new parents relayed information to us that we now tell everyone and anyone who will listen. Google Priscilla Dunstan. (You’re welcome). She now apparently has a website and an app and stuff but all you need to do is watch her segment on Oprah. Priscilla has a photographic (or audio-graphic? or something?) memory for SOUND. She has conducted studies on thousands of babies globally and has discovered they all make the same five pre-cry noises. Needless to say, we thought this was going to be a real hoax, but cannot tell you the number of 2am meltdowns that were prevented by being able to recognise Neh from Heh.
The not so scary sleep training
Sleep training was something that had me on the fence for a really long time. Our son was always a decent sleeper….right until he WAS NOT. Having tried, and been really turned off by, the more common sleep training options (think Ferberizing), I was desperate for a solution that would show him how to sleep without sending my already frazzled mummy hormones completely off the wall. Enter Kim West. I stumbled across an article praising her gentle sleep coaching methods on parenting.com, which seemed legit enough a source to dig further. There are SO many sites out there claiming to be the best way to teach your baby to sleep that it’s so hard to get a sense of what is junk and what is worth your time and energy (especially when you are exhausted with zero energy!) The online training course was $29 and we were at a point where we’d rather burn thirty bucks and give it a shot if there was at all a chance it might work. SERIOUSLY. It worked, AND we didn’t feel horrible in the process. I’ll be completely honest, Mark was the real trooper and did the coaching - and if you’re a nursing mum you may find having your partner do the majority of the early legwork is best (since it’s hard smelling so milky delicious all the time). Teaching our bub to sleep was probably two of the longest weeks in our first year, but he has been a consistently amazing sleeper since. To the point where now if he wakes up through the night we know that it’s for a reason requiring our attention.
The fridge is your friend
Nursing mothers unite! How many of you are sick of the constant wash and sterilise and wash and sterilise of your breast pump parts!? I see your hands, and this is what I tell you….the fridge if your friend! After each daytime pumping session, pop those mammary milkers in the refrigerator, they’ll still be clean for subsequent pumping sessions and will save you some sanity (because lets face it, the pump sound is haunting your dreams enough). Each evening after your last pump session, wash and pop those bad boys - girls? - in the steriliser fresh and ready for tomorrow. I forget the saint who passed on this piece of advice, but what I do know is that I had already been pumping for the majority of my 11 month stint and wished I had thought of it WAY sooner!
I hope these tidbits of advice come in handy for some of you! Any new mama’s out there with advice to share? Let us know in the comments!