For many expectant moms, one common right of passage is developing a baby registry of all items you think you’ll need once baby arrives. If you look at any current articles or discussions online about registry must’s you will see things like carseat, crib, bouncy seat, humidifier, sound machine, maybe even a bottle warmer, the list goes on. Most of these things (minus the bottle warner) are essential items for baby in his/her first few months of life. However, if you surveyed mothers who have been in the trenches, it’s likely they would add a few other essential items, some maybe you can’t even put a price tag on them. Up until recent years most of the postpartum focus has been on the baby, leaving a mother’s needs a bit neglected. Just because the baby is finally here, doesn’t mean a mother’s physical and emotional needs stop. The following list is the from the perspective of a therapist and second time mom. This list focuses on the essentials of helping mom stay healthy, more prepared for the adjustment, and hopefully sane. If you are a mom expecting, add these items to your list. Registry sites, like Babylist allow you to register for things like a meal train, or contribution to a doula or house cleaning. If you are a mom expecting, don’t hesitate to add some of these items to your baby registry, or asking for similar help from a concerned family member/friend. If you are a loved one or friend with an expectant mom in your life, be sure to add one or two of these items to your shopping list, or having a conversation with the mom to be about ways to make some of these items a priority for her.
It can be hard for new moms to ask for their own needs without feeling selfish. This list is a great way to take care of mom and baby at the same time. A health mom means a healthy baby.
Well Being Registry
*Have these things at home and in place ready to go, just like you would the crib, carseat, etc.*
1. Prepared Meals
- Anyone who offers help, or asks what to bring: ask for gift cards to food delivery services, Instacart for groceries, or even ask them to make your family a meal.
- Have foods in your home for you that are easy to grab one handed from the fridge or counter (cut up fruit and veggies, pre made PB&J, etc).
2. Individual Therapist and/or New Mom Support Group
- Have a therapy appointment or support group set up in advance for about 3-5 weeks post delivery. This is no different than having your typical 6wk post partum check up with your OBGYN. Both appointments and professionals are assessing essential aspects of you and your current life. You can even take this one step further and have a psychiatry intake appointment set up around 4-6 weeks post delivery. Therapy and psychiatry can have a wait for taking new patients. This obviously is a terrible system, because for most moms in need, if they are nuking the call their mental health can wait 4 weeks to get into an appointment. By you setting it up in advance you bypass the wait. Worst case scenario as you get closer to the appointment for the psychiatry appointment, if you feel you don’t need it, and you’ve discussed this with your therapist, then cancel the psychiatry appointment with advanced notice, and no harm, no foul.
(Please make sure your therapist and psychiatrist has experience and training in postpartum related issues).
3. A Sleep Plan (and a backup sleep plan)
- Plan ahead with spouse about sharing nighttime/feeding shifts if possible. Even if you think you can handle the sleep disruptions because you’re not working, it’s not sustainable to be the only person waking up with baby at night.
- If breastfeeding, what can spouse do to help you go to bed earlier or sleep in later to help offset the nighttime wakeup?
- If this is not an option, considering paying for your sleep: Night Nurse/Doula
- Ask an In-law to spend the night to help both parents get some sleep
- Real sleep makes a BIG difference
4. Reserve 1 hour (minimum) of time for you, baby free.
- Where do you need a little break from baby? Is it after being home all day with your child/children, when spouse gets home from work? Is it first thing in morning? Try to identify the most ideal time, and try to make it work with where you can get someone to take over baby duty.
- What this hour could look like: shower, Target run, sleep, Netflix, a walk in your neighborhood, eating without holding and rocking a baby.
5. Help with Needs around the House
- Ask/accept contributions towards cleaning service, or if in-law or friend visits, ask them to help you with a load of laundry while they sit and visit. This is not a time to be too proud. You can ask family and visitors for the littlest things to help you keep your life at home in somewhat of an order. Ask them to take the trash out for you, a quick walk for the dog, etc. People who truly love you just want to be of use to you. They want a role, so give them one!
6. Text Support
- The initials days and weeks of being home with baby can be isolating. When they can’t visit, do you have identified text buddies that you can just send the occasional complaint or question to, to help you feel connected and supported? Best friend, neighbor, fellow new mom from birth class?
7. Postpartum Friendly Clothes
- You have tons of onesies and diapers ready for baby. How about for you? In addition to those 10 year old sweatpants you plan to wear, have a few nursing bras (the good kind!) on hand, breathable, loose loungewear that you will feel good about if guests surprise you with a visit. This is an easy and common place moms would be sacrifice their own needs and spending because there’s just so many new places your resources could be going right now. Don’t deny yourself of feeling good while your body heals and goes through changes.
As previously mentioned, some of these items you are able to add onto your registry. If for some reason you can’t, elect a trusted friend or family member to spread the word to the others looking to provide a gift for mom that what you could use are items and contributions towards your wellbeing, versus actual items. Asking for help isn’t easy, but it is beyond necessary when becoming a mom/parent. Everyone has their moment of giving and their moment of receiving. Right now at this moment, you are to receive.