Now that we’ve had Nina for five weeks, I finally feel like I’m starting to learn what works for us and what doesn’t. Here’s my list of “gotta haves” and “can do withouts.”

Love ‘em:
•   My Brest Friend nursing pillow: This is like a Boppy, but different. It’s made out of molded foam (I think) and wraps all of the way around your back and closes nice and tight with a buckle. It’s got raised bumps where baby’s head should be while nursing so that her body is properly aligned. It’s also formed so that the edges of the pillow are very well defined 90 degree corners versus a soft edge where mama meets pillow. The well established edges prevents baby from falling into the “crack” between the soft, curved edge of a Boppy and mama. I put this on my list of loves, but with a caveat. I loved this pillow in the hospital. I loved this pillow for the first few days at home. I hated the pillow for a week or so after coming off of my pain meds. I love this pillow once again.

The reason I hated the pillow for a while is because even though there is a strap that keeps the pillow nice and tight around you, it also puts a decent amount of pressure on the area below where the pillow is sitting. In my case, that means the area of my belly that is the most sensitive. After coming off of my pain meds it was too painful to use the pillow because the pressure it put on the area between my belly button and my incision was just too much. Eventually I determined that if I put another pillow underneath the nursing pillow, it would hold the nursing pillow up, which effectively eliminated the pressure on my belly, which made the My Brest Friend regain its status as a must have item. I love that I can walk around the house with the pillow strapped around me and Nina nursing away if I need to. I can also do things with two hands while she eats since she is held in the perfect position. Plus the pillow has built in back support, which is so nice. I got my pillow on ebay for $15…quite possibly the best $15 I’ve spent on baby related things so far.

Gilligan & O’Malley (Target) nursing tanks: Love, love, love em. I own 4 different colors of these and wear one every day. I bought a couple of nursing bras before Nina was born and haven’t worn either one of them yet because I love the tanks so much. The main reason I love these tanks is because my belly is completely covered while nursing. The thought of wearing a nursing bra doesn’t appeal to me whatsoever since it would mean exposing my flabby, still-stained-black belly. The tanks are somewhat tighter than I expected, which has turned out to be an unexpected benefit as it helps to smooth out the extra belly flab that I’ve got lingering around. I should mention that even nursing I’m only a B cup, so I can’t vouch for how well these would work for someone more well endowed than I am, but for my mini-boobs, they work great. I’ve noticed that they seem to run small though, so a size larger than normal is recommended.

Kissaluvs size 0 and prefolds: Yes, that’s right, I love our cloth diaper stash. We didn’t start cloth diapering Nina immediately because we were waiting for her umbilical cord to fall off. After a week and a half, two trips to the store to buy more diapers, and $20 flushed down the toilet on said diapers (after going through about 75 disposables handed down from a friend) I decided that enough was enough and we would just be very cautious of her cord and start with the cloth. (Thank goodness I didn’t wait until her cord fell off as it didn’t come off until she was three weeks old.) A small part of me was hesitant to start the cloth since it was so easy to use disposables (especially the ones with the wetness indicator line), but I felt like if I didn’t get started soon, I may just chicken out and not do it at all. So one day I decided it was time and I haven’t really looked back since. I feel comfortable having her in cloth and don’t think twice about it, but my husband is a little less enthusiastic about it. He’s ok dealing with it at home, but if we go out for a long enough time that a diaper change would be required, he requests that we put her in a disposable and that we carry disposables with us in the diaper bag. He also won’t touch the diaper laundry, which is fine with me…I’m too paranoid he’ll put fabric softener in with the diapers or do something to otherwise harm the diapers. I have to say that I’ve been more than impressed with his willingness to use cloth as I didn’t think there was any way to get him to even consider it.

For right now we are using mostly prefolds and KL0’s, though we do have some other diapers in our stash. I’ve tried our Bum Genius Organic One Size All In One twice (once was fine, the other time it leaked, though to be fair I hadn’t prepped it fully, so I can’t blame the leak on the diaper) and our Grobaby twice (same results as with the BG, though I think this might be a fit issue too…the soaker seems to bunch up a whole lot since the diaper is folded down so small). I’ve got a Best Bottoms that I’m looking forward to trying as well as a Smartipants. Once Nina gets a little bit bigger, we’ll be doing the Jillian’s Drawers cloth diaper trial to see what will work best for us in the long run and we’ll work on selling off her newborn diapers and building a new stash of bigger diapers.

Itzbeen Baby Timer: I honestly don’t know what I would have done without this little gadget during the first couple of weeks. Our hospital provided us with a book on newborn care and a small section included a log of feeding and wet and dirty diapers. Every time the nurses would come in to check on us, they would ask things like how often is she eating, how long does she eat, how long since her last wet diaper, etc. The timer really helped me to keep track of all of those things. It also helped me to make sure that I took my meds on time once we were out of the hospital because you can set alarms to remind you to do things after a certain duration of time. It’s not something I’ve used a whole lot lately, but I found it to be a big help during the first couple of weeks.

Dunstan Baby Language: I’d never heard of this before the DVD arrived at our house as a gift from my aunt. The basis of it is that newborns (0-3 months old) have 5 basic “words” that they use to communicate what they want/need. The words are really just certain sounds that babies make when they need a specific thing. For example, when a baby is hungry, the cry will start with an “n” sound and the cry sounds like “neh.” I was kind of skeptical at first, but once Nina arrived, I could definitely pick out certain sounds in her cries and knowing these five “words” really helped me to know what she wanted. It’s not always easy to pick the “words” out of her cries, but more often than not, I am able to figure out what she needs and provide it for her. These first few weeks with a newborn are hard enough as it is…being able to know what Nina wants has been such an advantage and helps me to feel like I’m not completely clueless or incompetent.

The Happiest Baby on the Block: Before I got pregnant, I’d heard a lot about this book being a lifesaver for new parents, so when I found it at a garage sale last summer for $3, I snatched it up. I started reading it a few months before Nina was due, but didn’t get very far into it. At my shower, a friend gave me a copy of the DVD as a present, but we never really got around to watching it before Nina was born. It wasn’t until about a week after Nina was born and I was extremely frustrated with the fact that I couldn’t get her to sleep anywhere but on me that we actually watched the DVD.

I really, really wished that we had watched it before Nina was born as I’m sure that it would have saved me a lot of lost sleep. I’m pretty sure that the book would have been explanation enough, but given the fact that I hadn’t bothered to read the whole thing before the baby was born, the DVD was a much appreciated shortcut to learning the 5 S’s.

While the swaddle worked just fine for us in the hospital, it caused nothing but screaming and crying at home. It wasn’t until we watched the DVD that we realized the swaddle alone wasn’t enough to calm little Nina and that it was completely normal for her to get even more upset being swaddled. We learned about the shh’ing and swaying and put that into practice and were amazed to see how well it actually worked. Watching the DVD saved my sanity and my only regret is that we didn’t watch it earlier. This is definitely a must have for any new parent.

And since this post has been sitting on my computer for nearly a week now waiting for me to finish writing it, I’m just going to post my “love ‘em’s” for right now. Stay tuned for my “leave ‘em’s” coming soon…