A few years back when I had hit the one year mark of motherhood I wrote a list of my favorite things. I figured I had hit the place where I could look back and see what was useful and share it. It’s been a great feeling to have friends and family let me know that that list helped them decide what to add to their registries as new parents. I tried to keep it to my ultimate best items. Not everything you need clearly, but the ones that made the most impact.

I am now 9 months pregnant with baby number two, and while I still agree with everything I put on my list I realize it’s missing a few things. From the fog of early motherhood I couldn’t see past the things I used for my kid, to the things I used most for MYSELF. Now as a second time mother one of the things I know that needs to be cared for in all this the most, is my own needs. So here it is, another list. Of stuff that wasn’t just for my baby.

Before You Pop

Long before you have that baby, the world of motherhood marketing starts spinning it’s web around you. SO many things pop up into your Facebook feed and your brain goes…. wait DO I need a brand new bag for the hospital? Why is this stretch mark cream $85? Are maternity clothes like really necessary? The answer is….maybe, no, and again depends. Here are some things I’ve loved for during my pregnancy.

8 sheeps organic magnesium lotion 

Organic Sleepy Body Lotion

As we grow babies for some reason, our bodies are terrible to us personally. One of the things many of us suffer from is leg cramps, soreness, and lack of sleep. This lotion has magnesium in it which naturally helps with relaxing of the muscles and leg cramps. Real key to avoiding those middle of the night charlie horse screams, that wake up your husband who thinks the house is on fire. NOPE JUST MY LEGS BUDDY. It’s also nice and moisturizing.

Morning Sickness

Preggo pops are some people’s favorites. Personally what worked for me was… nothing. Just carbs. Sorry I’m totally useless in this regard, other than meds prescribed by my OBGYN and eating enough that my stomach never got empty, nothing really worked.

Maternity Clothes

Bullwinkle is still my best child.

Here are some items I found key. I love fashion, but these are mostly basics. Because you can still use some things from your regular wardrobe. Long tees, over sized sweaters, and maxi dresses were used my entire pregnancy. Also if you are plus sized most one piece bathing suits have ruched sides and still fit for most of the pregnancy. You will also likely need to get new bras. Sorry ladies. Best to size up, and go with no wires, and if you plan on nursing get ones that clip.

A BIG ASS PILLOW

Yup you know what I’m talking about. This kind, that envelopes you in a pillow wall keeping your partner in another territory. You love them but they cannot give the back support you need. I also like a wedge one for under my belly, so one side is my exit. Some people like the ones that are a big U, but I found that too hard to get out of to pee 7 times a night.

Belly Oil or Lotion

So this is entirely optional. But I like having an oil for my belly. This one is great from the honest company. You could also use coco butter lotion. It’s all fine. I like oil because I tend to get weird belly break outs during pregnancy and lotion made them worse. Stretch marks cannot be prevented, they are mostly genetic, based on how elastic your skin is. But your skin stretching does itch, and moisturizing it can help lighten them. Mine this pregnancy are much lighter than last. One because I’ve already done this stretch before, and also because I am taking better care of myself. Also works great on tattoos or stretched out boobies and can be used on your babe later. Also nice for massages *hint hint, wink wink dudes*.

For Your Hospital Stay

It’s in the bag. Whether you have one already (sweet most small duffles or over nighters will do) there are two methods of packing a bag that I have seen. One is keeping it super light because you’re gonna be there a very short period of time and the hospital provides a lot. The second is bringing everything you could possibly need because you have no idea how long you’ll be there. I fall in the latter camp, I like having a few outfits, an ipad or computer, phone charging cord that is super long, my own pillow, etc etc forever. Here are a few of my things I have purchased for this part of the journey.

A cute robe

Yup I am that vain. I wanted a cute robe. I looked like a dead body in my pics and hated my hospital gown. I wished I had had a robe that was comfy and soft and maybe even matched my baby’s swaddle for first day pics. Also great for once you’re home and breastfeeding when you are giant and pregnant. Just overall it feels good.

Comfy pants and an easy wear nursing tank, slip on shoes. They can totally still be maternity clothes. Your feet will likely be swollen. Don’t try to wear anything that would be tight or constricting but having a tank that is for nursing with clips will be key, because you’ll need a few items in that area you don’t normally. Moving on.

About Your Boobs

Nipple Pads

You’re gonna leak, or you’re gonna be sore. Either way a soft bamboobie pad is gonna be needed. I got rashes from the disposable ones.

Also great are these ice packs, and soothies. When you first start nursing it hurts. Your baby may not be latched right or even if they are your nipples have never ever gotten this kind of play. They may crack, sometimes a cream is good. I never found one that helpful but I did rely on different types of cold relief. Soothies were great because they are gel so they were moisturizing and I would put them in the freezer for extra relief.

PUMP IT UP

The two ones I hear people talk about the most are the madela pump in style, and the spectra. Some breast pumps can be covered by your insurance. Contact your insurance company to see if these two can be reimbursed, they can be expensive. But a good pump is a great thing to have so that anyone literally anyone, CAN TAKE AND FEED THIS BABY OTHER THAN ME. Warning! Using a pump makes you feel like a dairy cow.  I also like having a hand pump and a catching cup. That way no milk goes to waste if you are in a weird position like being out longer than you meant to sans pump. Whoever said don’t cry over spilled milk has never pumped. That shit is liquid gold and you WILL cry.

Things you don’t need but advertisers will try to sell you on.

Special teas, cookies, or snacks that “increase milk production”. The only thing that really increases milk production is eating enough, drinking a shit ton of water, and constant nursing and pumping. My mother is a lactation consultant and she swears power pumping is about the only thing you can do to increase your production. Those cookies are good though, never turn down a cookie. Just don’t pay for them. Let your friends make em.

I wouldn’t buy special pads, the ones they give you at the hospital work fine, steal many of them. Unless you prefer adult diapers, which some women do, that’s totally legit. Freeze a few with witch hazel soaked into them for ice packs for your vagine, that lady needs some care. But not too many because possibly you’ll have a c section and have a dozen frozen pads for no reason like I did. Same goes for anything else they’ve got in your room. Steal it daily. That shit is yours.

For When You Nurse After You Leave the Hospital

If you nurse, which I’ve primarily written about here, because that is what I have experience with, there is some things that make it an easier.

A night light

Yup because you now will be up at all hours of the night, but the harsh light of your lamp is painful to your sleep withdrawn eyes, plus you really just want to put that baby back to bed as quickly as possible. They are likely in your room, so this is your nightlight. Choose one you really like. I like this touch tap type bc I don’t want to have to click anything.

A breast friend pillow

Yes, another pillow. This pillow is now your literal breast friend. It positions the baby just right for when you are both learning to nurse. If you have a c section it protects your incision. It clips around the waist so it doesn’t move and has pockets for snacks and your phone. Yup that’s your buddy. I know you thought that was what a boppy was for, but boppy doesn’t fit all body types, doesn’t stay in place, and doesn’t have a snack pocket does it? DOES IT?!

Nursing Tank Tops

Yes, of course anything that has easy access can be used for nursing. I didn’t like bras when I first had my baby. But I needed some support and easy access. Simple cami’s became my go to. Then I would put any tee or tank over it so I could just show my nipple enough to nurse and not my entire chest or belly.

A cover

I like a cover I can still see my baby in. To ya know make sure they’re eating or whatever. Also my daughter got less upset if she could see me, than if she was eating under a giant napkin. So this kind with a hoop was great. I thought I’d be all like “screw you guys my boobs are for feeding YOU LOOK AWAY IF YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE! I AM A FEMINIST!”. But it turns out my entire life of covering my breasts made me kinda shy about showing my breasts in public, unless it’s mardi gras and I have had many drinks. Weird how social conditioning works. So this cover was really great for me.

Things that cannot be bought are most important of all.

As of this moment, this is all I can think of. When it comes to the space between pregnancy and becoming a mother and what helped me and not just my baby these are quite good. What I can tell you is that though these products were helpful, the best things for me were how I talked to myself and treated myself. The support of other women. With gentleness. Treat yourself as just as important as your baby, because otherwise you’ll disappear into the ether. It’s easy to be swallowed up by motherhood.

But you are still a woman, a human, that has needs, wants and desires. They are just as important as your child’s needs. As you become this new version of yourself and provide for your tiny human that you’ve brought fourth into the world, be kind. While you have birthed another person, you’ve also been reborn. A new version of you will stand and look in the mirror and she will look different than before, but that woman she was is just the base of the person you have become. That is a truly beautiful thing, for she is far stronger than you could ever have imagined.