Desperately Seeking Unsolicited Advice

You know that piece of advice you would give if only you were asked? Well, I’m asking.

A long-time blogless friend (Hi Rachel) is having a baby in November. Her immediate community is not filled with families with young children. So, I’m asking all of you for your best advice, your best assvice, the thing you want to tell new mothers but they don’t ask … it’s all fair game here. What pieces of gear were must haves? What could you do without? What would you do differently this time? I think everything’s on the table.

Something she could use is a good answer to, “may I touch your belly?” You’re all thinking clearly, give her some ammo.

And if you don’t have a baby? I’m sure you have advice too, this isn’t just fun for the breeders.

Take over the comments people! She needs our combined wisdom.

22 smart people left their mark:

  1. melissaz, 16. August 2008, 14:43

    Ok…things you need to know:

    1. If you are breastfeeding, expect to leak. A lot. Keep cloth diapers handy to have on the non-feeding breast to take care of let downs.

    2. You need some sort of baby carrier. I used a sling, but snuglis are good too. Find what you are comfy with.

    3. Sleeping through the night is medically defined as FIVE HOURS. Sorry. You won’t get any sleep for about two years.

    4. Trust yourself. There are so many books and people out there that are going to undermine your confidence. Don’t listen to them. As long as your baby is healthy, happy, and thriving, you are doing a great job. And if you feel like something is wrong, do not hesitate to go to the doctor right away.

    Oh, and CONGRATS! Cherish this time because it goes by so fast.

    melissazs last blog post..Going up?

  2. Tiffany, 16. August 2008, 18:53

    Most important gear to have for a new baby:
    1) Boppy. Helps with breast feeding, and is a nice snuggly place for babies to nap. When they’re older, you can use it to help them sit up, and later as a pillow for watching TV. This is the BEST THING EVER!

    2) Swing. Its fun, and its a great place to take a nap. (for the baby, not for you.)

    3) Invest in a good diaper pail. We used the “Diaper Depot” from Babys R Us. Its been good to us.

    4) If she lives in Colorado, definitely purchase a zippered car seat cover/snuggly for those cold days. Keeps the baby warm without the extra bulk.

    5) Sleep sacks, keeps baby warm without the fear of her/him suffocating under blankets, although those are better for slightly older babies. Newborns usually like to be swaddled. But don’t bother buying the Swaddlers from BabysRUs, they don’t work.

    6) Invest in a sturdy rocker or glider. We still sit in ours to read Chloe bedtime stories every night, and it saved me when I was nursing every two hours.

    Things to avoid:
    1) Diaper bags. Just get yourself a nice, sturdy backpack and buy a separate changing pad to put in it. The diaper bags never seem to last long, and they are often more expensive.

    2) If you haven’t already bought one, don’t get the travel systems (ie the carseats that snap into the strollers.) Its MUCH easier to get one of the stroller frames that the carseat can snap into. Its a lot lighter and far less bulky. Then, when the child is older, invest in a decent umbrella stroller. Same reason.

    3) Convertible cribs. Actually, if you make sure you buy one where you can purchase a rail that you can install when its time to change it into a toddler bed, then its fine. We assumed ours did and of course it didn’t, and now we have to use rolled up blankets tucked in Chloe’s sheet to keep her from rolling out of bed.

    Tiffanys last blog post..Chloe finally has HAIR!

  3. Matt P, 16. August 2008, 20:12

    Baby Wipe Warmer. That’s it.

  4. Tracy B., 16. August 2008, 20:44

    I just had a baby so this is pretty fresh in my mind.
    1. The first three months is the hardest. Seems like when my daughter hit three months, it got so much easier. Just something to think about/look foward to when you want to pull your hair out.
    2. It does not matter if your house is clean or laundry done. Do not worry about it, let it go, don’t do it or let someone else.
    3. Don’t worry about the things you need for the baby and getting everything on your list. I did not need half of the stuff I was told I would need. After she came I realized that there were things I wanted or made things easier and I just got it after she came. One way to save money if you don’t want to spend a whole lot on stuff you are not sure you will use I went to consignment sales. A good one is “just between friends” you can google it to get the website but their things are gently used and very reasonably priced, the sales are only twice a year and are throughout the US. For example I didn’t know if I would be a stoller mom or a baby bjorn/sling/carrier mom. I got a $200 stoller for $100 and a $100 bjorn for $15. If you don’t use them you don’t feel so bad about the money.

    Sorry to have gone on….but enjoy your baby! It is awesome being a mom. I was truly terrified and it really wasn’t necessary to worry so much. ENJOY!

  5. Pamela, 16. August 2008, 20:55

    1. Do not be afraid to tell people to shut the ____ (insert your choice here) up when it comes to her telling you her child’s birth story. If she wants to tell you, trust me, a) you do not want to hear it and b) she is exaggerating. Because you don’t actually remember the physical feeling of giving birth.

    2. There is a lot of post-birth leakage. This tidbit seems to be left out of every Birthing Handbook I’ve ever seen. The No-Sex-For-Six-Weeks thing? Because you are leaking. Unless you had a c-section.

    3. The No-Sex-For-Six-Weeks thing? Is a suggestion, and is flexible, depending on how the person who pushed a watermelon-sized human out her itty-bitty special place is feeling about sex.

    4. Baby towels and washcloths (es?) are a total racket. So are outfits for newborns. Pajamas are the way to go. You’ll be wearing yours for a good long time, let the poor kid wear hers/his, too. Less laundry.

    5. Cloth diapers. Are.Not.Gross.So.There. And I ***HATE*** poop and fluids of all kinds. I love my cloth diapers. I mean…the kids’ cloth diapers. I am totally potty trained.

    6. Aaaaahhhh, the Boppy. Didn’t have one for #1 and #2, had one for #3. Totally in love and proposing marriage if I get pregnant again.

    7. Most importantly, to echo the genius melissaz, TRUST YOURSELF. We have never had a situation, in almost six years of parenting three children, where someone else knew our child(ren) better than us. You are not wrong. Unless you are shaking the child, or have decided to no longer change diapers, or feed the child crack. Those things are wrong, everything else: pretty much right. You will be fine. It’s hard to break a baby, they’re very flexible and made entirely of cartilage.

    Pamelas last blog post..houston, we have a problem

  6. Pamela, 16. August 2008, 21:01

    Oh, and to the May I Touch Your Belly People: Are you kidding? No. No you may not.

    And to the Touch Without Asking Crowd: touch them right back. Ask when they’re due. Ask how the gastric bypass went. Or if their kidney stones have cleared up. Or their syphilis.

    Don’t feel bad. They deserve it.

    Pamelas last blog post..houston, we have a problem

  7. shauna, 17. August 2008, 16:13

    ear plugs, a bottle of vodka, and a manual on the least bloody/tragic/painful way to kill yourself.

    i AM an authority on this, trust me. i have 4 kids.

    we did not have a television so there was little else to do. and yes, we have one now because everyone knows that pregnancy leads to a baby, thus the reason for the items listed above.

    you’re welcome.

    oh, and congrats. it’s true–they grow up way too fast.

  8. Tracie, 17. August 2008, 19:06

    I don’t have my own baby…and I can only give advice on step parenting a very young child. But I hope that one day I have a baby and can’t wait to remember all of this wonderful advice others give. But I say…touch the stomach! I think it would be great!

    Tracies last blog post..Welcome home sweet boy

  9. Lynn, 17. August 2008, 22:23

    Write whatever? OMG, is there a limit?? After 2 kids… oh where to begin???

    First: Congrats! Love that baby, don’t let anything come between you and loving that baby.

    Things I thought I’d need and never used:

    Bottle sterilizer. Dishwasher and hand washing works just fine.

    Wipe warmer. I’m sorry, but the baby gets used to the wipes in about a week. The baby’s already got a lot of weaning ahead of it, why intro one more thing into that category of “let’s see how we can piss you off and you’ll never know why.”

    Swing that goes front and back only. Get a cradle swing that goes both ways.

    Infant Toys… Both kids loved Yoplait Yogurt cups after we cleaned them out. We of course did have toys… but they both loved things we made for them. Just give them a spoon! You’d think they just discoverd the wheel.
    Things I love:
    Sharpies. Great for Breast milk storage bags and Ziploc storage bags, see below.

    Gerber (no other brand) milk storage bags.

    BUMBO. From the time they get head control until the chuncky thighs can’t fit in it (3-8 months)… this little seat was the greatest. I’d put it up on the counter (even though they told me not to.

    Large Ziploc Storage bags. Have these ready in the closet. When 0-3 months is coming to a close, just toss your clothes in there. Have a sharpie.

    BPA free bottles. I went with “Think Baby”. Some people say that it’s a myth that chemicals are harmful…. while might be true I just figured, why chance it?

    My breast friend! I had a boppy the first time, which was great for in the rocker, but on the couch, the MBF gave a lot more support and lifted the baby up.

    Don’t give away anything from your first baby that they didn’t like (Taggies for example)… second one might love it.

    Nollie car seat covers. OMG amazing…. perfect for colorado!

    Spoons. When you go out to eat, ask the waiter for about 5 spoons. just keep giving them to the baby to keep them occupied.

    Newborn picts. Get these done the first week. Find someone now. If you’re in CO, I LOVE Babycakes. Kiddie Kandids is great too!

    Advice for comments: Roleplay situations. Prepare your responses to the following:

    1) Babies R US personell says, “Oh wow! Twins!!??” Response: NO. I”m sorry, but don’t they teach you etiquette in your training class?

    2) You’re having Sex A and people with Sex B tell you how amazing Sex B is and how much easier they are than Sex A (and they only have a Sex B). Response: You do just realize you’re poo-pooing my relationship with my baby, which you have no idea what it will be like because you only have a Sex B baby. If you think Sex A is really problematic, you need to go to therapy and figure that out before you have your next kid, which could be a SexA.

    3) Target personnel says, “Wow, You’re really big.” Response: You do realize I’ll probably go home and cry now. And I’m going to talk to your manager.

    4) After your baby is born and someone says (they don’t even say Hi to you), “Wow! look at how big (s)he is!” Response: Hmmm… I rather think of him as beautiful. (raised eyebrow stare and hang.)

    5) Grocery person says, “Wow, you look tired.” Response: “Wow, that’s not a comment that’s giving me a warm fuzzy.” OMG, she died and apologized.

    Things I wasn’t prepared for and didn’t read in a book.

    In the first trimester, my libido was sky-high. It was amazing. Second trimester too actually. Take advantage of it.

    As long as I’m bfeeding, I have no libido. Apparently the hormones are drying you up. should have gotten it that first/second trimester.

    When they say you’ll experience bleeding for a few weeks after the birth… you could very well go 5-7 even.

    Dreams are SSSSSOOOOO vivid… I woke my husband up one night from shrieking and then almost fell out of bed. I’ve socked him in the middle of the night. I’ve screamed, “I HATE YOU AND I WANT A DIVORCE. I”M GOING TO KILL YOU.” All seperate nights, mind you.

    Have a talk with your partner now. “When the baby is crying at 3am… what’s our plan?” You don’t want to have that talk at 3am. You don’t want to have that talk 5 days into it and you are a mess and flipping out. You want to know from the beginning if you’ll have help. It’s fine if the partner won’t be there to help, but find that out NOW.

    When you lie down for a nap and you wake up with chills, sweating and your boob feels like you’ve had a dagger run into it… get on the phone with your dr. and tell them you have mastitis.

    My best piece of advice is re: breast feeding. All the literature says 6 months is best. My 1st didn’t bfeed well, lasted 2 weeks. I pumped for 7 months and Hubby fed her. I didn’t get to bond with her much.

    I vowed on the second, if bfeeding didn’t go well, I would never do that again and we’d go to formula. Bonding comes from the interaction. I’d place bonding heads/tails above getting that breast milk. Love your child and you will both be better off… just looking at your child over a breast or bottle is the most amazing experience and you should have kleenex ready for the love-fests.

    Call ahead before the birth to find out about lactation support. Do you have to request it? When will they be by? Can you come by after the hospital visit? If not, find another lactation consultant for after the birth. Just have the number available.

    Is that enough? LOL! buy the book “what to expect when expecting”

  10. Pink Asparagus » World Traveller (Pingback), 18. August 2008, 6:31

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  11. Grandy, 18. August 2008, 21:17

    WOW~ Some great ideas!! My “baby” is 12 now so I’m sure most of the things I used for him have been outlawed 3 times over.

    Just a note to the new mother, that I had never considered. They’re slippery when they first come out so hang on. :)

    Grandys last blog post..Hey Cranky Pants!

  12. Judith, 19. August 2008, 20:05

    #1. I can’t believe that no one has had the decency to warn her (her being the mother) that she’ll be swaddled in a maxi-pad blanket the size of a windshield post delivery. In fact – I was sent home with several and still have them to this day.
    Possible Uses:
    1. Table cloth
    2. Sun Blocker for windshield on warm summer days
    3. Apron
    4. Hammock
    5. and my personal fav: My son wore one like a Cape not to long ago. A real true to life CAPE that is now in a toy box somewhere I presume.

    … and that my friends is what they are going to tuck into her mesh underpants.

    To this day my husband reminds me how incredibly touching that moment was … me, him, our beautiful baby and that big ass pad sticking out of my underpants. Which by the way is so heavy it pulls your mesh underpants down far enough to expose your butt crack … because why start feeling sexy when there’s a 6 week “waiting” period.
    Side Note: you may be physcially ready after 6 weeks but the emotional scars of parading around with that tarp last a lifetime.

    #2: The only other thing that comes to my mind is a Bissell Steam Carpet Cleaner … just in case you invite your friends over and their cute-as-a-button little girl over- doses on nutella filled wantons and comes waltzing across your newly cleaned carpet and decides in her chocolate induced haze to semi-squat and pee on your carpet.
    While her mother (you know who you are) and I laugh hysterically and just start screaming for our husbands to do something. Obviously we couldn’t get up as that might have spilled our wine.

    and in closing – she should enjoy every moment she has with her baby – it goes by so incredibly fast and every phase was our favorite and continues to be our favorite. Simply – being a parent is the best thing most of us will ever do in life so enjoy it … maxi-blanket humiliation, soiled carpets and all …

  13. Abbey, 20. August 2008, 14:09

    I’m not a parent, though I like to think of myself as having very “mom” tendencies. I also really like to read “Mom Blogs” and they all give great advice and fabulous stories!

    And today I found a list of “Things I Must Not Forget When I’m A Mom” over at Marta Writes…she is getting ready to be a first time mom herself.

    Here are some of my favorites:

    02. paintbrushes and a bucket of water on a sunny sidewalk creates instant and harmless masterpieces.

    06. believe in the power of the bribe.

    08. let them make decisions. (but not every decision. remember who’s in charge.)

    13. keep dating my husband. try to find more subjects than the kids to chat about. remember to ask him about his life too. even if mine gets super overwhelming. remember what it’s like to be thick in a career.

    21. buy them the book of their choice; let them learn to love to read.

    22. sing them each their own lullabye and say prayers every night.

    25. say i love you. because you can never say it enough. yet refrain from yelling it to them from the car window on the first day of junior high.

    Abbeys last blog post..A Fanciful Twist

  14. Sara Lacey, 20. August 2008, 18:45

    Never say never. As in:
    -I will never use formula
    -I will never give my child candy as a bribe
    -I will never park my child in front of the television while I guzzle vodka tonics in the front hall closet
    -I will never forget this moment (the beautiful ones pass so quickly, write a lot and take pictures)
    -I will never feed my child anything that is not organic, free-range, hormone-free, blah blah blah
    -I will never have an epidural
    -I will never eat Chicken McNuggets
    -My child will never behave like THAT

    These things set you up for failure, and fodder for being hard on yourself. You don’t know what’s coming, you can’t say what you will or won’t ever do. Instead, be easy on yourself and your children, and trust that you are a good and loving mom.

    Sara Laceys last blog post..Classic-Car Cruise Caters to Nostalgia

  15. Rachel Hanson, 21. August 2008, 20:16

    (ooh, second try here, my first one got an error message.)

    I have a few tidbits to pass on to the new mom:
    -go for the epidural.
    -sleep when the baby sleeps.
    -sleep with the baby, really my favorite was naps on the couch with the baby on my chest, both of us sleeping.
    -don’t be afraid to put the baby in its own room at night. they make lots of noise while sleeping. you’ll sleep better at night.
    -try really, really hard to make good sleepers. good nappers and good at night make good kids. you’re the mom, even if they have to “cry it out” you are in charge.
    -this one is cliche but true, enjoy every moment. if you blink, they grow up. time really does move too quickly!

    (is the the Rachel I know? Tell her congratulations for me!)

    Rachel Hansons last blog post..Americans for the Arts

  16. Halimah, 22. August 2008, 8:01

    The one thing I wish someone – anyone had mentioned is that it doesn’t feel like the baby is coming out through the vagina. It feels like it is coming out of your rectum. Sorry. Harsh, but true. Go for the epidural.

    Halimahs last blog post..Mr. Fluffums

  17. Pink Asparagus » Guest Post Haiku (Pingback), 22. August 2008, 8:24

    [...] you go please leave your words of wisdom for an expectant [...]

  18. jenn in holland, 23. August 2008, 7:24

    So much very good and very needed advice here. It really pays off talking to those who have done it…especially those who will give the real scoop on how it all goes down.
    So I will add my choices for best equipment:
    Sling, Swing, Big Swaddling blankets
    And my two cents on living arrangements:
    Sleep with baby. You will all sleep better together and they don’t stay in your bed forever… my 15 year old has been absent from my bedside for years now!
    And finally, my echo of the best advice:
    Savor it. It really does go faster than you can even imagine. Even the yucky bad times.

    jenn in hollands last blog post..Counting Constellations

  19. Halimah, 23. August 2008, 7:44

    Adding another thought/memory: If your milk does not come in, as in my case, don’t feel like a failure. After 3 weeks I had become so stressed after having The Minion that I wasn’t producing anything. I would even pump to see how much there was – less than half an ounce – needless to say, the baby was crying constantly, making the stress even worse. My MD saw us and we started him on formula right there in the office. He sucked down 4 ounces and he stopped starving. I was part of the 2% of women whose milk just doesn’t happen.

    Nobody told me how my breasts were supposed to “act”. I thought everything was fine until I knew it sure wasn’t. Talk to friends who have breastfed or ask your MD what should be happening. If you can’t nurse, it’s just the way it is. The important thing is that you tried.

    Halimahs last blog post..Mr. Fluffums

  20. Mel, 24. August 2008, 1:19

    Well, with so much good advice here, what could I possibly add?

    -DO NOT be afraid/embarrassed to ask for help. I lived a 14 hour drive from my family when my son was born and moved back home two months later, at which point it was too late to get the postpartum help I needed. You need help then too, but not as much as in the first several weeks, before they start to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time.
    -DO what my cousin did when she was out and about while pregnant/carting around a newborn: “I don’t know you, so no you cannot touch my belly/baby.”
    -DO take lots of pictures, digital recommended so you can delete any that are blurry or already printed
    -DO write things down, like birth measurements, dates of first bath, smile, etc. — even if you want to put them in a baby book, scrapbook, etc., write them down in a notebook you won’t lose so you don’t forget these memories; also keeping a journal is very rewarding
    -Stuff that rocks: Button-down shirts, can be pajamas or flannel for home, dress for that first post-baby date with your partner (cheaper than nursing shirts and they work just as well — and you may already have some); a gliding ottoman for that glider — trust me you’ll want to put your feet up (hit garage sales for deals on these, my parents got a glider/ottoman set for $25); wearable sleep blankets; Boppy pillows; onesies and sleepers for the first three months or so (“big kid” clothes are cute, but not as comfortable)
    -Stuff I didn’t need: the Baby Bjorn carrier — we received a sling, too, and my son grew exponentially after about 10 weeks old, and was too big for the Bjorn before we knew it, while the sling still fit because it’s adjustable (also they’re not hard to make if you know how to sew); all that 0-3 months clothing! shouldn’t have bothered buying any myself, I got so much from the showers (many places will exchange for different sizes or give you the current sale price as a refund, even without a receipt; Babies R Us, Target, Kohl’s are some), again my son grew really fast; all the rattles and infant toys (I mean we must have received twenty, you really only need four at most)

    Oh, and DO take all advice given you with a grain of salt. If you don’t like or trust an opinion, get another one, from a friend, OB or pediatrician, book, etc. Pick and choose what works for you. Only you (and your spouse) will know your baby best. Don’t let anyone talk you into anything you’re not sold on, i.e., breastfeeding/formula-feeding, co-sleeping/crib sleeping, no tears/cry-it-out,

    Mels last blog post..Why Kroger rocks

  21. Kelly O, 26. August 2008, 11:45

    I wish I had known that sometimes breastfeeding hurts, A LOT, even if you’re doing it right. But by 3 weeks it gets easier, and by 3 months it’s pretty freaking handy. Way easier than bottle-feeding (which I did after 6 months for kid #2 for various reasons).

    Kelly Os last blog post..Tattoos: And so it begins

  22. Sara Lacey, 2. September 2008, 22:48

    Me again. Just looked up these maternity tees to combat the “Can I touch your belly?” issue:

    Sara Laceys last blog post..Tips to Keep Your Carpool Running Smoothly