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Little Things PDF Print E-mail
Written by Laura Maxson LM   



Meals are lined up, the freezer is full, diapers are ordered and the car seat has been installed. The basics are covered, but here are just a few more little things that just might save the day.


Make a sign or two. The hospital’s “anyone, anytime” visiting policy seems friendly and accommodating, but it can actually be extremely unhelpful. Privacy is the gift everyone can give to new parents (who might not even know they need it.) Make a sign for your door (can be used at hospital and at home) with a space for your own personal visiting hours or a suggestion to come back next week. Looking back on the first week, parents often wish they had limited visitors, phone calls and other distractions to maximize precious resting and bonding time. Visitors, even those you love, take energy and focus from the baby and new mother’s needs.


Trim your nails. There is a learning curve when it comes handling a new baby. Between diapering and positioning a baby for nursing or burping there are plenty of opportunities for an unintentional jab or scratch. There is absolutely no time for nail trimming between birth and holding a new baby in arms.


Ok, at least trim one nail! Often in the first hours after birth a baby might need to be calmed for a moment - for a specific procedure, from hard crying or when mom isn’t instantly available (like she’s in the shower.) Babies calm most easily by simply being placed skin-to-skin on mom’s chest, but when that’s not possible, letting the baby suck on a finger for a minute can do the trick. A pinky finger with a trimmed nail fits the bill nicely. Place a (clean) pinky in baby’s mouth, with the pad of the finger against the roof of the baby’s mouth, and give it a little wiggle. Most babies will begin sucking and calm right down. It’s important to remember, especially in the early weeks that if baby wants to suck, it should be on the breast.


Keep a head of green cabbage in your crisper. Some time in the first week after birth many women experience breast engorgement when the milk comes in. Breasts that were soft just a few hours ago, can suddenly feel full to the extreme. This is a temporary situation, but it can be uncomfortable and make breastfeeding challenging until it resolves. Many new moms have found some relief by placing cabbage leaves against the breasts after nursing (or pumping). They can be worn (just slipped in a bra) for at least 20 minutes Washed and dried leaves can be stored in a bag in the fridge ready for use. A rolling pin or the side of a bottle can be used to flatten and slightly crush the leaves just before applying to the skin.


Put a bag (or two) of frozen peas in your freezer. Engorged breasts can benefit from cold – put a bag of frozen peas right on top of the cabbage leaves (mentioned above) for 20 minutes. These can be reused many times for ice packs – but then probably shouldn’t be eaten – buy cheap, not organic.


Get some inexpensive, sensible underwear. Plan to toss a few pair of cheap underwear when they get stained and save your Victoria’s Secrets. And FYI: maternity-sized pads just don’t work in a thong.


Find a good spill-proof water bottle (or at least some bendy straws.) Nursing makes moms thirsty. A spill-proof bottle that can be opened with one hand is the best bet to keep water handy. A woman’s partner or other attentive postpartum helper can be ready to offer a sip of water with a bendy straw when both her hands are busy.


In the winter buy or borrow a space heater. Keep mom and baby warm while nursing and resting skin-to-skin by creating a microclimate – just heating one room instead of the whole house can save money in the long run.


Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Anyone can leave a pot on the stove or a candle burning – and sleep deprived parents are no exception. A new baby in the house can be the final push to actually go buy the newly required carbon monoxide detector (just $15 dollars at many stores.)


Prepare to settle in. Be ready for those hours spent nursing. Now might be the time to get signed up for Netflix or maybe ask for a kindle, ipad or other book-reading device (as a shower gift?) to help pass the time. A low-tech stack of paperbacks and a book light will work too.


Everyone has tips to share that can make things go a little smoother. Ask friends what one thing they wish they had done in advance or had to run out to get in the first weeks. Little things can make a big difference.



Laura Maxson, LM, CPM, the mother of three grown children, has been working with pregnant and breastfeeding women for over 20 years. Currently she is the executive director of Birth Network of Santa Cruz County and has a homebirth midwifery practice. Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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